~ The famous Querce Bettina Oak; dominates the vineyard as well as the estate’s folklore ~

Querce Bettina is a family owned and run farm on the southwest slopes of Montalcino at an altitude of around 440 meters above sea level. The husband and wife team of Sandra Barenghi and Roberto Moretti bought the 29 hectare estate in 1990 and following years of research into their specific terrain they planted approximately 2.5 hectares of Sangiovese in 1999.

So, the story goes like this….

The name Querce Bettina comes from a local legend dating back to the late 19th Century which tells of a kind, old lady who sat under an imposing oak tree spinning wool and relating eccentric, fantastical stories of witches and wizards to young shepherds that passed by. The lady’s name was Bettina. She was elusive and nobody knew where she lived or even where she came from; she just appeared and disappeared leaving a wake of mystery behind her. Everybody used to say they had met Bettina at least once, but if asked where, they would say:  “oh, you know, near Querce Bettina”.

~ The folklore of Querce Bettina, the old woman who used to spin wool under a gigantic Oak Tree; Querce in Italian ~

The team at Querce Bettina is a capable one and one which is passionate yet humble.  Sandra illustrated the latter recently:  “Our wine is made in the vineyard and we do our best not to ruin it in the cellar.  That is the essence of Querce Bettina. What this amounts to is minimal intervention in the vineyard in order to harvest perfectly healthy grapes; stringent fruit selection via green harvest, hand harvesting and carefully supervised sorting tables to ensure every grape goes into the winery in the best possible condition.”

Querce Bettina employs both Slavonian Botte and French Barrique for their wines; though the former is applied only to their Brunello and the latter to their Rosso di Montalcino; the only two wines – along with a pittance of Riserva Brunello when the vintage permits – that the winery produces.

~ Sangiovese maturing at Querce Bettina. In the distance you can see the entrance to the winery and offices ~

Today we’re reporting on the fruits of Sandra and Roberto’s labor and given the fact that this was the first wine produced from the vines they’ve nurtured since 1999, I am impressed.

The 2005 Querce Bettina Brunello di Montalcino is a deep ruby color that presents a slight fade to iodine at the rim of the glass. The color in this 14 year old Brunello belies its age a bit.  The taster is greeted by a complex array of wonderfully aged Sangiovese aromas.  Ripe cherry, worn leather, chestnut, spice and balsamic notes are complex and woven intricately.  I love how this smells.

On the palate, the wine is ripe and rich with fruit that is still forward in an elegant frame.  Crushed cherry, hints of dark chocolate, reduced leaves and mulch and dried pipe tobacco are gorgeous.  The tannins have mostly resolved, yet the wine has ample structure and freshness from acidity that is wonderfully balanced.  Long and vibrant, this is still rather fresh and not any danger of being over the hill.  Drink now and with confidence over the next 5 years if properly cellared.  Bravo!  95 points.  Current vintages are a nice value around $45.  Find this wine.

~ The 2005 was fermented in stainless steel and then transferred to Slavonian Botte for 36 months. A further 12 months of bottle aging is concluded before release ~

Salute e buona fortuna!

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