Overlooking a stunning natural Tuscan landscape, this medieval castle expresses the speechless poetry of Montalcino. The origins of the castle, historically named “Poggio alle Mura,” or “Walled Hilltop,” can be traced to the ancient Etruscans, but its deepest historical niche was carved during the Middle Ages. The fortress served as the Republic of Siena’s first line of defense against attack from the south and was awarded by the city-state to an eminent nobleman, Count Placido Placidi, in recognition of his valor. His descendants remained at Poggio alle Mura for over 500 years. Though damaged during World War II and reduced almost to a ruin, the Mariani family’s acquisition and loving, careful restoration in the late 20 th century brought it back to its original splendor, making it the hospitality center of the Castello Banfi estate.
On the gentle western slopes facing the Mediterranean of our 2,830 hectare estate, one-third is cultivated in noble vines, and the balance in olive groves, wheat, truffles and plums, alongside forests filled with deer, wild boar and pheasants. The soil is poor; vines grow deep. Grapes grown in our maritime soils produce wines of elegant and subtle character, unique to southern Tuscany.
Our terra, rich in clay and calcium, regulates growth and adds complexity. Stones, rounded by the Orcia and Ombrone Rivers, impart distinctive minerals to our white wines. Amid our vineyards, paleontologists recently unearthed one of the greatest discoveries of its kind, a 5 million year old whale fossil completely intact. It is the influence of the prehistoric ocean bed that once covered the hills of Tuscany that today makes the grapes of Castello Banfi so expressive in character. Our decades of clonal and enological research, especially focused on the native Sangiovese vine, have been registered with the European Community and shared with all. These endeavors gave rise to the renaissance of Brunello and the creation of “Super Tuscan” wines.
The vineyards are our soul; the winery is our heart. Fulfilling the promise of our land with minimal, positive influence on the gifts of nature requires a marriage of tradition and innovation. A winery conceived as “state of the art” remains so only through constant study, upgrade and improvement. Our most recent concept of hybrid fermenters combines the hygienic benefits of temperature-controlled stainless steel with the natural oxygenation and deep character imparted by oak staves. Our wines are unfiltered and we bottle under nitrogen; reducing sulfites and histamines to result in more pure and natural wines. The artisan approach of micro-vinification nurtures the inherent richness of our grapes and focuses the character imparted by each single vineyard.
Noble vines are planted on choice parcels that comprise just one third of the Castello Banfi estate, which sprawlsover 2,830 hectares of rolling hills and lush valleys, speckled with fruit orchards, fields of grain and dense woodland. Our constellation of single vineyards, at varying heights, positions and exposures, encompasses over three dozen varying subsoils. Their inherent characteristics were carefully paired to complementary grape varietals, native and international, white and red, highlighting their nuances. In the case of the region’s historic Sangiovese, three decades of intensive and nprecedented research in conjunction with university scholars isolated a selection of optimal clones, subsequently registered for all to share, that when woven together yield consistently outstanding Brunello. The results of this study, along with our natural, sustainable vineyard and winery practices, are published in a highly detailed tome, aptly titled “The Pursuit of Excellence.”