The Banfi Brunello Ambassador Club
Fine wine is a beautiful thing: a convergence of exceptional terroir and unrivalled know-how. But it is also a collection of memories and emotions – an experience designed to be shared. It is this ethos that convinced Banfi to create the Banfi Brunello Ambassador Club: a VIP association designed to celebrate the brand’s early supporters.
On 5 June 2023, the organisation officially welcomed its first 60 members during a glamorous investiture ceremony, held at the legendary Castello Banfi in Montalcino.
There are few finer destinations in central Italy: hilltop villages, cypresses, olives, vines, rocks and woods suggest paradise on earth. Addressing the assembled party, CEO and second generation Banfi family member Cristina Mariani-May told the distinguished guests that: “Pioneering has always been one of our core values.”
She added: “Being pioneers was part of the vision that guided my father to create Banfi, and today it is a pillar of our corporate identity. Establishing a special club, made by the people who shared this value since the beginning, is something we felt we had to do, to thank them for the past, and ask them to accompany us into our future.”
The inaugural members of the Banfi Brunello Ambassador Club represent a diverse cross-section of Italy’s wine community: distributors, buyers, restaurant owners, and sommeliers. At present, membership is only open to Italian wine professionals, however Banfi will extend its remit to international partners in 2024.
Many of its associates, both current and future, will remember the parochialism and rusticity that defined Montalcino in the 1970s. Its signature red wine style – Brunello di Montalcino – was seldom exported during most of the 20th century. However, it has since become an object of passionate desire among collectors and connoisseurs, largely thanks to the groundbreaking work of this wine brand.
In the 1970s, Banfi was seduced by the timeless beauty that defines central Italy. The owners planted hundreds of acres in the diverse soils of Montalcino, producing a singular interpretation of the Sangiovese grape. This unprecedented investment ensured that Brunello di Montalcino found an enthusiastic audience. For more than 45 years, this quality-focused wine company has been a custodian of the DOCG’s reputation. Today Banfi produces a range of wines (the producer also owns vineyards in Chianti, Chianti Classico, Piemonte and Bolgheri) that have become the very embodiment of all things Tuscan – aregion with an iconic image worldwide.
Prior to the Banfi Brunello Ambassador Club inauguration ceremony, Mariani-May sent each ambassador a missive detailing the rationale behind this exciting new venture. The letter noted: “It was back in 1978 when my father, John, together with Ezio Rivella, one of the most excellent and most successful international wine managers, decided to give life to a dream: to demonstrate to the whole world that the impossible was possible and that Montalcino could have become one of the wine references of the entire planet.”
Mariani-May continued: “The ingredients for success were all there: the awareness of being able to count on a territory that is unique in the world and with as yet unexpressed potential; then there was Sangiovese, the main vine of Italian enology but still not sufficiently known; finally, Brunello di Montalcino, a wine of great personality and immense potential but still unknown to most people, especially in the world outside Montalcino. Today, more than 40 years after the first bottle of Brunello was sold on the Italian market, we have the pleasure and honor of recognising and celebrating the value and significance of your trust and intuition.”
Members of this exclusive community will enjoy substantial benefits, described as “special opportunities and experiences” that are not accessible by normal visitors to the Banfi winery. Details will be released to each ambassador in due course. The opportunity to sample rare vintages will surely be at the top of everyone’s list: Banfi’s Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura is one of the appellation’s most renowned red wines, bourne of a long-established pedigree, and ancient soils.
Innovation and tradition are equal partners in this timeless scene. A longterm vision for the estate is rooted in a micro-cru viticultural philosophy, with site-specific and terroir-driven wines representing the future of Banfi’s wines. A recent change of governance was also instigated to ensure “cultural continuity.” Meanwhile a firm commitment to sustainability, coupled with an awardwinning tourism offering, underlines Banfi’s credentials as a progressive, 21st century winery. The Banfi Brunello Ambassador Club is the most recent example of its willingness to take a leadership role in Montalcino, inspiring others to pursue greatness. As Mariani-May would say: “Sometimes dreams come true.”