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Winemaker Federico Radi

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The ghost of Dr. Franco presides over this mythic Montalcino estate as a new team takes over

Preserving a legend at Biondi-Santi

A decade ago I had the great fortune to spend time with Franco Biondi Santi at his family’s legendary estate that created what we know of as Brunello di Montalcino.

At the time – two years before his death at 91 – I was working on a cover story for the Wine Spectator. And I came to know “Dr. Franco” as a man of firm ideas about what Brunello ought to be.

Given his nature and his strong patriarchal role in the family I imagine he would not have been an easy act to follow. And in 2017 his heir Jacopo sold a controlling interest to the Descours family and their French luxury goods firm EPI, owner of Champagne brands Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck. Two years ago, all the rest of the shares were sold, leaving Biondi-Santi without a Biondi Santi family member.

This fall I had the chance to return, this time to check in with the new winemaker Federico Radi about the delicate changes being made—and not made—in Biondi-Santi’s vineyards and cellars.

“All of us feel the weight on our shoulders to keep the legacy,” he says.

Read my full report on Radi and his team here at