~ At home in the cellar, always tasting, always adjusting, always watching ~

It is with a heavy heart that we report that Rudy Buratti, Chief Winemaker for Castello Banfi, passed peacefully on January 13, 2018 at the age of 56 in Tuscany, Italy.

Born in Bleggio Superiore, Trento, Buratti graduated in 1981 from Italy’s prestigious Agricultural University of San Michele Alto Adige, one of the world’s premier enological schools. Upon graduation he decided to “go south”, as he liked to say with regional Italian pride, to serve an internship at the nascent Castello Banfi estate in Montalcino; “at least for a vintage or two to see if I could learn something.”

Buratti formally joined the winemaking team at Castello Banfi in 1983.  Fittingly, one of his first duties at the estate was quality control; a concept that he, along with the winery’s proprietors, held in the highest regard.  In 1999 he was named Chief Winemaker, succeeding his long-time mentor Ezio Rivella. At the time of his passing, Buratti oversaw nine managers and fifty cellar workers, enjoying a direct rapport with the Mariani family proprietors of Castello Banfi. His team and his colleagues in the winemaking community noted his untiring efforts and unwavering leadership at the winery; those who witnessed his presentations both directly in Italian and through translators could not help but be mesmerized by his “evangelical passion” for Sangiovese, for Brunello and for the unique terroir of Montalcino.

Buratti was part of the original team that isolated and registered 15 optimal clones of Sangiovese to make consistently outstanding Brunello di Montalcino tailored to the micro-climate of the Castello Banfi estate.  He supervised “zonation” studies designed to pair grape varieties to ideal soils and sites on the estate. He was a co-author, together with colleagues at Banfi and professors from the universities of Pisa and Milan, of  “The Pursuit of Excellence”, an extensive case study detailing Castello Banfi’s research and development over the past three decades.

~ We tasted with Rudy in the cellars at Castello Banfi this past May ~

Most recently, Buratti led Castello Banfi through its third technological makeover since its inception in 1984, overseeing development of “Horizon,” a new micro-vinification area for the estate’s top wines. This included the creation of new and innovative wood and steel fermentation tanks developed and patented by the Castello Banfi winemaking team to incorporate the best features of each material. Buratti also implemented a move away from filtration for Castello Banfi’s top estate wines and upgraded filtration systems for premium wines to enhance individual expression and flavor.

Buratti is survived by his wife, Ursula Ciola, and two daughters along with a legion of friends who will miss his smile, his infectious passion and his guiding expertise.  Riposa in pace.

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