Mission Codename: Return of the Wolf

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Secure an exclusive Brunello di MontalcinoDOCG for our operatives

Mission Status: Accomplished

Current Winery: Le Benducce de Tornesi

Wine Subject: 2006 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Winemaker: Maurizio Tornesi


Brunello di Montalcino occupies a special place in the hearts of all Wine Spies. Coming from a very distinct and designated (DOCG – officially designated in 1967 as one of Italy’s first DOC classified wines) region in Tuscany about 70 miles south of Florence, Brunellos typically are the best wines produced from the Sangiovese grape. By regulation, Brunellos must be produced by using a 100% Brunello clone (Grosso) of the Sangiovese grape, hence the mystic and lore of this exceptional wine. Typically, Brunellos are among the most expensive Italian wines, which is why today’s wine is such an exceptional offering.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Brilliantly clear ruby red with bright streaks through its core and subtle garnet to pale brick along the edges. Springy when swirled, leaving very slow and tightly spaced fat legs that broaden as they descend.

Smell – Initially a little tight, but be patient for as this bold wine opens aromas of zesty dark cherry, black licorice, soft toasted oak and aged woods blend with the added complexity of aromatic floral notes, earthy undertones, hints of savory meat and dried herbs.

Feel – Tangy on the attack with firm and finely grained tannins this full bodied and dry wine has a classic youthful rustic character that will certainly smooth as it ages and evolves in the cellar. Vibrant acidity and classic dusty minerals linger on the palate.

Taste – Ripe, rich and dense black and red cherry fruit blend with soft toasted oak and black licorice flavors that intensify at mid-palate. The other complex notes of earth, herbs and floral violets mingle on the palate in unison as the ripe and tangy fruit lingers.

Finish – Extremely long with the lingering flavors of tangy red and black cherry lasting as the wood, licorice, earthy and other flavors fade, each leaving a hint that warrants another sip to explore this wine.

Conclusion – We have had a chance to taste and review several of the great wines from Le Benducce de Tornesi including several vintages of their Brunellos and today’s selection lives up to the high standards of this boutique winery’s classic but rustic elegance we’ve grown to really enjoy. The 2006 Tornesi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is a delicious and classic example of the region’s unique terrior. Perhaps too young, if you enjoy this wine now, be sure to let it fully open up, or cellar for five to ten years. A lovely wine to pair with savory Tuscan cuisine, aged cheese or roast meat.

Mission Report:

Below is a recap of our original mission when we visited Tornesi

ring… ring…

My spy communicator again. Does it ever stop ringing?


The voice on the other end, obviously electronically disguised, said, “Dead drop. La Loggia. 3rd Arch. Mark plus 18 hours…. Mark.”

The line went dead.

Who was that, how would I possibly make it to Italy in 18 hours, and how do I know it wasn’t a trap?

Requesting detailed analysis, I sent the automatic recording of the call to Central Command, where Agent Red was the acting Ops Chief. A few minutes later, Red reported back, suggesting that the source could not be verified – but that the 3rd arch of La Loggia might have some significance.

Approving the mission, Red arranged transport and I was underway. 14 hours later, well rested and ready for action, I hopped into my rental car and sped through the Italian countryside.

On arrival at La Loggia, a 14th and 15th century construction which consists of 6 beautiful archways, I noted that the area was filled with tourist throngs. On a beautiful day like today, I am not surprised.

Making my way to the 3rd arch, a young man catches my eye. He smiles at me as he passes me and looks down into his hand, which is clutching a small package. I follow him with my eyes and watch as he sets the package down next to a waste can before walking on.

Making my way to the can I casually scoop up the box and carry it to a nearby bench. I set my spy communicator on top of it and key it to analyze the contents. Almost instantly, the screen displays: “Findings inconclusive, handle with caution.”

Alarm bells ring out in my head. Looking around at all of the people, I decide that it would be best to deal with this right here, rather than risk upsetting whatever might be inside.

I remove a hairpin from my hair and use it to open the box (only spy hairpins have a finely sharpened edge). The box now open, I hear a distinct ticking sound. My heart races. I delicately remove layers of paper packing material to reveal two boxes, one large and one small, the ticking sound coming from the latter.

I take out the bigger box. There is liquid inside. Wine Spies don’t do bombs, for goodness sake, we sleuth out wines. The most danger I have ever experienced was when a corkscrew malfunctioned and I cut my thumb.

Gently, I open the larger box. Whew! It is just a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino inside. Relieved only for the briefest moment, I suddenly remember the smallerticking box!

As I begin to remove the box, a soft voice above me says, “Maybe these will help”.

Looking up, I see a grinning Agent White. He has two wine glasses in his hand and a huge smile on his face.

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The Montalcino region can be viewed in this satellite photo.

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