In 2006, Andrea Cortonesi put a lot of miles on his car. Already the founder, proprietor, vigneron and winemaker for the Uccelliera estate, he was also running his own restaurant in Siena called Il Casato. It was in his capacity as restaurateur that the Voliero label was born: in researching all of the best possible local products for the menu, a friend of his in Montalcino offered him grapes from his vineyard in the Canalicchio cru in northern Montalcino to make a wine just for the restaurant. There was never enough Uccelliera wines to go around, so he accepted the idea to produce a second label.
Andrea is described by many as “salt of the Earth,” and we won’t dispute that. While many other producers with excess demand would have simply blended this extra fruit into their own wine to increase their flagship production, Andrea felt this would not only be dishonest, but also a disservice to his clients who have come to love Uccelliera for being 100% from Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Voliero, however, could be different. In keeping with the theme of the Uccelliera name (literally “the birdcage”), Andrea emblazoned the label with a feathered, flying woman. This is also a sly reference to the higher altitude vineyards from which Voliero is sourced. 2006, 2007 and 2008 came from Canalicchio, but from 2009 onward, Andrea found other high elevation vineyards closer to home from which to source Voliero.
In 2010, Antonio Galloni was visiting the estate and tasted the Voliero wines. He flipped his lid for them:
“The Voliero is made from one of the most prestigious vineyards on the northern side of Montalcino. As such, it provides a fascinating contrast to Cortonesi’s wines from Uccelliera, which of course come from the southern part of the zone. This is a taut, energetic wine that shows off the dazzling freshness and vibrancy typical of this part of Montalcino. It is an impeccable, totally refined Brunello, especially when compared with the decidedly wilder, more sauvage Brunello from Uccelliera.”
Now in its 11th year of production, some things have changed at Voliero, while most have remained the same. Production is still very limited, with only about 600 cases of Brunello and 400 cases of Rosso produced each year. The vinification, as always, has been fairly traditional: spontaneous fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel with fermentation/maceration lasting about 20 days. The wine then goes into large Slavonian oak casks of 20 hectoliters and larger for 30 months.
The source of the fruit has migrated from Canalicchio to closer to the winery: the vineyards are now located in both the higher elevation areas of Castelnuovo dell’Abate and Sant’Angelo in Colle. Andrea describes the differences between his two labels eloquently: Uccelliera is a single subzone wine, and reflects the very specific and determined characteristics of Castelnuovo: power, fruit, and profundity. Uccelliera’s vineyards are near Ciacci’s Pianrosso (about 150 meters above sea level), and reflect the warmth of the area, the flavor profile showing chocolate, leather and “amarena”—sour cherry. Voliero comes from vineyards 200 meters higher in elevation than Uccelliera, and gives the idea of the classic blend of Montalcino Brunello. It combines two high altitude vineyards of Castelnuovo and Sant’Angelo, and plays on the elegance, finesse and brightness that its elevation imparts.
NOTES ON WINEMAKING:
Both Brunello and Rosso from Voliero ferment spontaneously in temperature-controlled stainless steel for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation occurs without the addition of bacteria, and then the wine is put into large French and Slavonian oak casks (20, 30 & 40 hl). Brunello remains in cask for 30 months, while the Rosso remains in oak for about four months.
LIBRARY WINES AND CURRENT RELEASES IN STOCK:
Rosso di Montalcino 2013
Andrea Cortonesi: “An extraordinary wine. This will give you a window into the 2013 Brunello. I didn’t make a riserva in 2013. Life isn’t about making money. It’s about honesty. Honesty in nature, and honesty with my clients. In my work I answer to nature, and not the economy. There is a pure expression of fruit here and a lot of muscle, but it doesn’t have the complexity of a riserva vintage.”
WA 91: “Andrea Cortonesi’s 2013 Rosso di Montalcino Voliero is a gorgeous expression that I happily recommend to anyone looking for a solid Rosso to pair with their steak dinner. The wine shows a great sense of restraint, with richness and opulence that never goes over the top. You’ll also love the way it feels on the palate. It caresses the senses with soft layers of cherry and blackberry fruit. At the end, you get a playful touch of oak spice – with toasted almond and vanilla – that comes thanks to 10 months in barrel. This is the ultimate food-friendly Rosso.”
Rosso di Montalcino 2014
Andrea Cortonesi: “This was not an easy vintage. I did not produce Brunello for Voliero, so all of the best fruit went into this Rosso. It has beautiful floral notes of roses, rose petals, and a lightness and freshness that invites you to drink it.”
Rosso di Montalcino 2015
Andrea Cortonesi: “I really shouldn’t have made a rosso in this vintage! This wine is really Brunello. But in order to make the very best Brunello, I did declassify some fruit. It’s complex, with great tannic structure. It’s a wine for the cellar that will age effortlessly and give you beautiful results over time.”
WS 90: “Lush, with cherry, raspberry and earth flavors, this red has a smooth texture and firm structure. Balanced, leaving a mouthwatering impression.”
Brunello di Montalcino 2011
Andrea Cortonesi: “This is extraordinary wine. Many clients actually prefer it to the 2012. It’s elegant and fresh, and plays with pleasure and drinkability. I don’t taste it and think ‘wow, how important this wine is’, but more ‘how much of this can I drink?!’”
JS 94: “Big and juicy still with loads of ripe-fruit and meat undertones. Full body, velvety tannins and a long, flavorful finish. Powerful for the vintage.”
WA 92: “Andrea Cortonesi’s 2011 Brunello di Montalcino (from his second brand, Voliero) shows much of the winemaking detail and care that you find in his bread and butter brand, Uccelliera. The wine shows some signs of vintage ripeness. Bold cherry and blackberry aromas are followed by spice and toasted tobacco. This is a clean and focused Brunello that performs well on all the senses. It offers soft tannins and bold fruit flavors. The style is youthful and approachable. The finish is exceptionally silky and smooth.”
Brunello di Montalcino 2012
Andrea Cortonesi: “It’s not easy to find words for the explanation of vintages. They represent what nature has to say. But it’s important to explain the diversity between the two labels. Uccelliera is inextricably tied to Castelnuovo. While Voliero is tied to the terroir of Montalcino in general. Higher elevation Montalcino. Perhaps a more classic Montalcino. The 2012 has more of everything. But it will need time to express itself.”
WA 94+: “The Voliero 2012 Brunello di Montalcino is a very pretty expression with dark fruit and an impressive sense of purity and primary fruit authenticity. At its core, you will encounter savory tones of spice, tobacco and leather. The bouquet also offers those beautifully polished Sangiovese-driven aromas of licorice, blue violets and balsam herb. The mouthfeel is succulent and rich. This is a very respectable Brunello that should age forward for at least ten years.”