JAZZ & WINE 2017 - the 20 year anniversary

In the summer of 1999 I arrived in Montalcino as a young Swiss woman traveling on her own. I expected beautiful views, great wines and sultry summer nights - but I had no idea that those nights would be accompanied by the soundtrack of a young and little-known Jazz festival with an incredible lineup. 

Nearly two decades have passed and I'm still here, but many things have changed: I have two kids (with an Italian, of course), wrote a book - music plays a big part in it too - about a side of Tuscany that is hardly known and Italy has been stuck for years in an economic crisis which saw harsh cuts to the funding of the country's cultural life. However, the first music festival I ever attended in Tuscany is still here and still going strong. 

Founded in 1997, Montalcino Jazz & Wine celebrates its 20th anniversary this July. I'll be toasting along with lots of wine, as the week of world-class Jazz in Montalcino's medieval fortress has been making up for many a winter spent in the cultural void that comes with year round living in the Tuscan countryside.

The program of Montalcino Jazz & Wine 2017

New names and hightlights of the 2017 edition include Israeli pianist Yakir Arbib (on July 18 in the courtyard of Castello Banfi) and 2012 Grammy Award winner Robert Glasper (July 20 at the Fortezza in Montalcino). Bigband lovers won't want to miss out on the Tankio Band on July 13 and the Jazz & Wine Orchestra on July 19. The Roy Hargrove Quintet on July 21 doesn't need an introduction, just as Enrico Rava - the trumpeter is by now a household name in Montalcino (and at most other Italian jazz festivals), as is Italian pianist Danilo Rea, who, a few years ago has played one of my favorite concerts ever here. 

MONTALCINO JAZZ & WINE: July 6 to July 23, 2017

The loaction of the pre-festival - the first three concerts from July 6 to July 18 called 'Waiting for Jazz & Wine' - is the courtyard of the main sponsor, Montalcino's Castello Banfi winery (this venue is lovely, but small so make sure you book in advance). Also, it can get hot here, so dress lightly. 

The concersts of the main festival will all take place in Montalcino's airy fortress (sometimes airy equals very windy, so bring a jacket, just in case). 

Door opens at 9pm. Concerts start at 9.45pm. There is always space even for late arrivers at the fortress (Fortezza di Montalcino), but come early if you want a table up front.

Ticket reservation Montalcino Jazz & Wine 2017: 
Banfi winery +39 0577 840111 Email: marketing@banfi.it 


Sommeliers at work at Benvenuto Brunello
Sommeliers at Benvenuto Brunello 2016

Some important changes have taken place during the last few years in regard to Benvenuto Brunello. The Consortium of Brunello wine and its yearly fair are now located in the newly restored Sant Agostino complex (a beautiful former monastery in Montalcino's town center).

But even more importantly, in 2017 access rules to the Brunello preview have been changed. It always used to be a press and trade fair, but producers got tickets they would share generously with friends or clients (see my Benvenuto post here). However, several winemakers told me that this will be no longer the case. From 2017, the rules are more similar to Verona's Vinitaly fair with producers having a minimum amount of tickets that grant free access to Benvenuto Brunello. 

Hence, Brunello lovers no longer need to nice talk a winemaker for a voucher but can book their Benvenuto Brunello ticket directly from the Consortium (prices start at 15€ if you have an invite from the consortium or a producer). It will be interesting whether this new system stops the crowd which used to get mad on Sundays and Mondays (Saturdays has always been reserved for journalists only). Knowing the Italian talent for spotting a loophole I wouldn't bet on it. 

Benvenuto Brunello 2017: Saturday February 18 to Monday February 20. 

The wines of the Sesti estate
Sveva presenting Sesti's Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino at Benvenuto 2016


MONTALCINO JAZZ & WINE: July 12 to July 17, 2016

All concerts take place in Montalcino's medieval fortress with the exception of the first night when the Johnny O'Neal trio will open the festival in the courtyard of Castello Banfi on July 12. Concerts start at 9.45 pm. There is always space even for late arrivers at the fortress (Fortezza di Montalcino), but come early for the gig at Castello Banfi since space is more limited at the courtyard of the Banfi winery.

  Johnny O'Neal (one of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers) live in New York

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