Pian dell’Orino is one of the shining stars in Brunello di Montalcino. The estate is located right next door to the most famous name in Brunello history, Biondi Santi. Pian dell’Orino is one of the top estates in the region and is run by Caroline Pobitzer and Jan Hendrick Erbach, who both co-own the estate and are extremely passionate about producing the highest quality wine in the most harmonious methods possible to protect their environment. Consequently, the estate’s six hectares of vines have been farmed completely organically for many years and are now cultivated under biodynamic principles. Neither Caroline nor Jan are natives of Tuscany, as Caroline was born in the Süd Tyrol in a large Renaissance castle known as Castel Katzenzungen. Caroline managed the family property for several years, and amongst her charges at the property was an enormous, six hundred year-old grape vine that is the oldest and largest existing grapevine in all of Europe. Jan was born in the small city of Karlsruhe in Germany, not far from the Rheinpfalz region, and studied both viticulture and oenology in Germany. He worked for several years as an oenologist in France as well before meeting Caroline and moving to Montalcino.
Caroline and Jan run Pian dell’Orino with all of the passion for excellence and purity that one would expect from a great estate dedicated to ecological responsibility and sustainable agriculture. However, the quest for a gentle carbon footprint and a wholesome vineyard ecosystem does not take precedence over a quest for great quality in the finished wines, and every step is taken to ensure that the wines of Pian dell’Orino are as fine as can be in every given vintage. In the vineyards of Pian dell’Orino only Sangiovese Grosso is grown (other than small plots of cabernet and merlot for their Super Tuscan bottling, Piandorino), and yields are kept to a very low level, with green harvesting practiced in every vintage to reduce yields to only four bunches per vine. Meticulous oversight in the vineyards during the entire growing season ensures that only the finest quality fruit is still on the vine at the time of harvest, and the harvest is conducted solely by hand. Once the grapes reach the cellar they are treated as lovingly and as naturally as possible, and no modern cellar wizardry such as cultured yeasts, extraction enzymes or added grape must is ever utilized, with the wines fermenting on their indigenous yeasts gently and thoroughly before being aged in a combination of barriques and large botti for one to several years prior to bottling, depending on the wine.
The Pian dell’Orino Rosso di Montalcino is aged for one year in barrel prior to bottling, with its malolactic fermentation taking place in barrique. The estate’s Brunello di Montalcino is fermented similarly to the Rosso, but with a longer maceration period of five to six weeks (as opposed to two weeks for the Rosso), at slightly higher temperatures, and then aged from two to three years in cask prior to being bottled unfiltered. The wines of Pian dell’Orino, be they the outstanding Rosso di Montalcino that can be enjoyed immediately upon release, or the classic and hauntingly beautiful, ageworthy Brunello di Montalcino, are amongst the finest examples of their respective appellations to be found in Montalcino.