WINERY LOCATION: Montalcino, Tuscany
VINEYARD LOCATION: Montalcino, Tuscany
VINEYARD LAND: 156 acres (63 ha)
GRAPE VARIETIES: Sangiovese; smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino
TOTAL WINE PRODUCTION: 300,000 bottles (225,000 liters)
OWNER(S): Giacomo Neri
WINEMAKER(S): Giacomo Neri and Giovanni Neri

Sitting next to the infinity pool at Casanova di Neri’s new on-property relais and gazing up at the silhouette of the hill town of Montalcino less than 3 miles away, it’s pretty easy to start dreaming about becoming a Brunello producer yourself. Giovanni Neri had that dream 50 years ago, although he didn’t have the infinity pool at the time. Neri wanted to establish a new winery here in one of the most hallowed venues in the Italian wine world, the commune of Montalcino, home of what many consider the best Sangiovese-based wines anywhere—indeed, among the very best Italian wines of any description. 

Even back then, vineyard land in the production zone for Brunello di Montalcino was very expensive and hard to find. But in 1971, Giovanni Neri was able to purchase a plot east of the town—the Cerretalto vineyard—that was less desirable because the area was considered too cool for proper ripening. Understanding the limitations of the location, Neri took a new approach in the viticultural practices, accepting a lower yield in order to achieve top-quality grapes. In 1978 Casanova di Neri produced its first Brunello. Over time, climate change has worked in Neri’s favor, as the Cerretalto vineyard with its natural amphitheater overlooking the Asso River now has no problem reaching optimum ripeness.

Vineyard acquisition has been a continuing goal for the Neris, and the estate has grown to include seven different vineyards in various parts of the denomination, totaling 156 acres of vines along with forested tracts, arable fields, and 50 acres of olive trees. The vineyards have been planted or replanted mostly with cuttings propagated from old Sangiovese vines in the Cerretalto vineyard that produced distinctive, high-quality fruit.

In 1991, Giovanni’s son Giacomo took over the management of the estate and the winemaking duties. Giacomo Neri was among the first Brunello producers to move away from the traditional practice of normale/riserva approach, putting his efforts into single vineyards or multi-site bottlings. The wines are vinified separately to express the terroir and show the uniqueness of the vineyards. The Cerretalto single-vineyard Brunello has been produced since 1981, Tenuta Nuova appeared in 1993, and the single-vineyard Pietrodonice was launched in 2000. Since the 1990s, Casanova di Neri has been among the most consistently and internationally lauded Brunello producers. 

The facilities at the winery’s location are an important part of the equation that has led to Neri’s success. The winery building is mostly underground, incorporating principles of low impact and gravity flow, all as a way of treating the wines gently while at the same time requiring minimal energy for heating, cooling, and pumping. Adjacent to the low-slung winery is the tasting room and the Fiesole vineyard, and across a ravine is the new relais with 10 luxurious rooms and that infinity pool for Montalcino-gazing.