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


Montalcino jazz and wine 2015

The program of the 18th edition of Montalcino Jazz & Wine brings one of my favorite Italian musicians to Brunello town on the evening of the 17th of July. Sergio Cammariere may not be known as well as Paolo Conte out of Italy, but his music will definitely be enjoyed by the fans of the latter. 

The seven concerts of the 2015 festival have something for every taste: two Saudade inspired nights on the 14th and 19th of July and an evening in the footsteps of Django Reinhardt with French gypsy jazz guitarist Angelo Debarre on July 16. Debarre also offers a master class on the afternoon of July 15 (contact if you'd like to participate). 

For bepop lovers the highlight of the music festival in Brunello town will be the Cookers on July 18. The American members of the septet look back on half a century of jazz music played in the company of the most famous names of the genre (Art Blakey, Sony Rollins, Dina Washington, Art Pepper, Miles Davis and Stan Getz to name but a few). Considering that the Cooker's band name was inspired by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's 1965 Blue Note album, you'll know what you're in for. 


Tickets: 15€. Reservation of tickets and tables via Phone: 0577 849 331. Concerts starts at 9.45 pm. 
A simple dinner can be eaten beforehand at the fortress (prepared by Montalcino's neighborhoods). Banfi's red, white and sparkling wines from Montalcino and northern Italy and small bites to eat are available during the night. In the case of rain, the concerts will take place in Montalcino's Sant'Agostino church (next to the museum). 

Can't make it to Montalcino (yet)? Here's a beautiful video of Sergio Cammariere's entire gig in Milano's teatro Strehler, to be watched with a glasso of Brunello in hand wherever you are. 

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