Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Previews: Annata, Etichetta and Vigna 2018, Riserva 2017, plus back vintages

Benvenuto Brunello 2022

Drawing 2018 vintage connections between breezy Annata and resolute Cru, overall less “Mediterranean as a vintage,” high acid 2017 Riserva plus retrospectives with Col d’Orcia and Biondi-Santi

Montalcino sunset

In November of 2022 the latest edition of Benvenuto Brunello was held in Montalcino. As an Anteprima the main purpose and focus was to present the latest vintage of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG wines. As a journalist the goal was to taste as many iterations as time permits in just over two days time. Looking back now the 2018 vintage for the sangiovese of Montalcino are a unique set, apropos of colour which is ironic considering this anteprima fell on the heels of the region’s first Rosso di Montalcino event held last June. “Red Montalcino” showcased the 2020 Rosso vintage and hue was the operative word, for style and just how we think about these appellative DOC wines. Fast forward to November 2022 and journalists from around the world were seeing red once again, yet this time the syndicate of sangiovese concerned the similarly tailored Brunello. I have been covering Montalcino vintages for more than a decade (and buying/drinking them for two-plus) but don’t recall such a crystal-clear, joyous and immediately gratifying set of wines. There are of course several variables involved and many 2018s are structured to age but we must always be reminded that sangiovese are like snowflakes. No two are exactly alike and yet there is a thread that binds a 2018 Brunello to its peers. Never before has tasting nearly 200 Brunello provided such a pleasing experience.

Related – Simply Red: Rosso di Montalcino

Looking north from Montalcino

The list of adjectives this report alone will use to describe the 2018 coterie of Brunello di Montalcino is long, winding and synonymic. There will be tasting notes referring to these sangiovese as accessible, amenable, beautiful, breathable, bright, crushable, drinkable, effusive, fluid, halcyon, handsome, lithe, open-knit, traditional and transparent. The vernacular goes on and on to describe this vintage. Many ’18s are fit for early consumption because of producers abiding by the fruit available to design wines reflective of the climatic conditions of the season. Yet there are some pockets of Montalcino where a more serious and structured Brunello could be made and those who took advantage of this opportunity were able to make wines that will endure amongst the best of the best. The areas of Canalicchio and Tavernelle are frazioni where nature and climate conspired symbiotically but we must also look at pockets to Montalcino village’s immediate north by northeast, as well as west by northwest. Southerly vineyards showed remarkable consistency for sangiovese because of less hydraulic and overall stress. There are also other valleys and rifts here and there from which top wines were produced. For the vineyards around the northerly Montosoli hill the 2018 season may have been less of a hyped one – but these are consistently wines in the regions’s upper echelon because that promontory of a cru has been holding such a distinct advantage in recent times.

Related – Montalcino Previews: 2020 and 2019 Rosso, 2017 Brunello Annata, Vigna and 2016 Riserva DOCG

La Fortezza di Montalcino

My discussions in Montalcino with four prominent and experienced yet precocious producers points to a vintage summation that supports if also adjusts the aforementioned general theorem. First up is Caprili’s Giacomo Bartolommei. “The weather was the complete opposite of 2017. Cooler temperatures and some winter snow, even in the southern part of Montalcino,” he tells me. “Also good rainfall during the year with lower average temperatures.” Bartolommei sees the 2018 Brunelli as “lighter wines but with good potential for aging, much like 2013. Those are showing beautifully today.” Giacomo is quite convinced the ’18s will do the same. Adds Katia Nussbaum from San Polino. “I don’t yet have the 2018s under my skin and you need that. We only just bottled this past September. We’ll see.” There are always two sides to every story.

With Tommaso Cortonesi and Francesco Rippacioli

Tommaso Cortonesi contemplates the thought. “A vintage where you can recognize the link between the producer and the terroir,” he begins. “Because it wasn’t one of the warmer (recent) vintages and 2018 does not show its potential in the first two years in bottle. The wines of 2007 were like this.” So interesting to see different producers trying to make connections with the past. “But 2018 has a deep link with the terroir. I taste the real Galestro soil from the southeast of Montalcino, the soil of Poggiarelli.” Cortonesi explains that it is the northern sector that usually speaks with the greatest clarity but in 2018 others zones did this, and in balance.

As for Canalicchio di Sopra’s Francesco Ripaccioli, his first harvest pick was on September 10th – a green one. The last rain took place on September 16th and then the Tramontana wind arrived, right on time, to dry the grapes. The later or second pick was on September 20th and at a time when Ripaccioli was looking for “dimension” in the grapes. Concentration of sugars and acidity also occurred but the vintage was not one of chronologically developed phenolic maturity. So at harvest Francesco considered this ripeness factor to be a 7.5 or an 8 on a scale of 10. Three passes of selection were made, to achieve the best possible outcome. “Remember,” explains Ripaccioli, “ten doesn’t exist and I don’t want to reach it. The pH would be too high. Maybe 8.5 is a number to reach.” In any case without the winds Francesco admits the vintage would have been a disaster.

There is no one I would rather taste Italian wine alongside other than La Miha. If you know of her grace, intelligence and palate then, well you know.

My trip to Montalcino this past November was one of the shorter, quicker and fastidious ones with less time afforded to paying estate visits. My arrival was late in the evening ahead of the two-day Benvenuto Brunello sommelier tasting held in the Chiostro Museo Montalcino. Flight delays were the root cause and were it not for the hand of an angel (that being Chiara and if you know here then you know what I mean), well, I might still be waiting in Firenze. At the conclusion of each of the two tasting days there were visits paid to Biondi-Santi and Col d’Orcia. Each involved memorable retrospective seminars, discussions and tastings. The first at Biondi-Santi was with CEO Giampiero Bertolini and oenologist Federico Radi. We looked at Tenuta Greppo 2016 Annata, Riserva and the 1999. The next day was with Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano, his son Santiago Marone Cinzano and Filippo Bartolotta. Father and son gave a most poignant retrospective look at the history of Montalcino before pouring six Rosso and Brunello on the ‘8s dating back to 1968. The breakdown for Godello’s 2022 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Previews are as follows: 96 Annata, 28 Etichetta and 22 Vigna 2018, 20 Riserva 2017, plus 14 back vintages. That adds up to 180 wines tasted and reviewed across two and a half days in November.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Agostina Pieri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Perfumed ’18, roses and bright red fruit and that early scent of structure. Surprisingly glycerin and full in mouthfeel which makes for an impressive and impressionable transition. Doesn’t seem to finish which is a sign of positive portents to come. Should live a long life with slow developments and the prolonged of ever so gently descending decline. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Albatreti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Deep clay depth, like Santenay, in a way. Sangiovese of darkening fruit yet serious, of salumi cure, a touch skin musky and if not quite brooding then at least contemplative. No lack of extraction which also brings and extra layer of herbaceous ness and earthy-savoury elements. Meaningful. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Chic, modern, silky and suave. Full, rich, layered, tightly compact in that regard and of all the sweetest things. You too will love the generosity and ease of such a beautiful and amenable Brunello. Not to mention the scent and flavours that come along with markedly obvious oak aging. Barrique special. Early drinking example. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

Argiano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Perhaps considering the vintage there would be expectation for an easy, fluid and liquid Argiano 2018 but think again. The notion is immediately about tradition and structure, most definitely as noted in the serious, finely chalky and deft set of tannins. The fruit is more than there in fact there is a 10 foot swell of the stuff cresting and waiting to crash over the palate, surely on repeat. Yet Argiano is built for a long haul, like many that have come before. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Much ado about everything in a Brunello 2018 that swells with fruit, brings the extraction and the extract, doles resolved tannins and pushes immediacy like few others. Yet there is an underbelly or underbrush of herbs, earth and cured prosciutto to see complexity and layers still to unwind. A true now wine that will drink well for five to seven years. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted November 2022
Easy, immediate and wholly gratifying access to 2018 Brunello Annata in the great accumulation of fruit and persistent sweetness of unlimted structural components imaginable. A sangiovese to discover right now for those who know, wish to know and don’t really know where else to begin. For the people. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

Sommeliers at BB 2022

Beatesca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Wood off the top, vanilla swirl with white chocolate, white pepper as well. Good fruit on the mid palate keeps this sangiovese moving forward and the structure is no doubt a part of the equation. Some green tannin however so don’t keep this for too long. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted November 2022.

As expected or better said anything but unusual is the full compliment and intensity of fruit to define Bellaria’s 2018 Annata. That and a most generous amount of wood in how vanilla and also chocolate and graphite dole in aroma and then texture. Thick and unctuous though also blessed with important and elasticizing tannins. The bones and flesh are there so this will live long, eventually morphing into a Brunello of fungi and tartufo. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022
Camigliano surely got things right, correct and proper in 2018, all three important messages, redundant and on repeat. These are sangiovese tannins exclusive to the variety because they comes from skins and to a much, much lesser extent the casks. The wood is noted yet secondary and the wine will drink well after just another season has come and gone. So long as winter actually comes go Montalcino. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Campogiovanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Great fruit and wood swirl from Campogiovanni’s 2018 in ways correct, expected and forecasted for how a specific wine will become and we know just how it will get to its vanishing point. In low, slow and expressive exfoliation, inhalation and exhalation until all settles into a calm and tranquil state. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022
How can one not see and feel how this as an Annata from Francesco Ripaccioli and family just stands out as a most mature and experienced Brunello meeting expectation beyond the years of its collective experience? What comes from aging is purely spice and texture. The true style, body politic and beautiful mind of the wine is delineated by the purity and agricultural capture of fruit in an emotive state of phenolic fruition. This is a real deal in Brunello di Montalcino. Bank on it. Drink 2024-2033.  Tasted November 2022

Capanne Ricci – Tenimenti Ricci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Resides on the firm and tart side of the vintage with some Ribena showiness in the potpourri floral tendency of the high-toned aromas. Surely less indicative of the vintage as compared to dozens upon dozens of 18s. Crunchy and just a bit too volatile. Drink 2022-2023.  Tasted November 2022

Beautifully sweet scented in red berry and flower perfume which can’t help but tell us about this hallmark and potentially halcyon style that is the 2018 vintage. No drama here and nary a moment of trying to be something its not but my how the creativity and charm of sangiovese emerges and emits in Brunello Annata form. So much to love and embrace. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022
Some wines carry with confidentiality all they need and you can tell from the get go how they move and show what form they’re made of. This from Caprili is a mature beyond its years example of 2018 Brunello di Montalcino. Fruit so full and confidently suave yet never of ego. Working diplomatically with father figure like tannins that encourage yet never demand, neither attention nor success. They only wish the best for their children, in health and happiness. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022
Lovely high-toned sangiovese from elevation in south Montalcino yet of fruit so light and bright. That said do not sleep on how much wood this is currently working through and the kind of underlying structure that will assist in merging the parts over a good long period of time. Here the vanilla, cherries and brush are nearly together and will likely get there in two years time. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Brunello dinner at Capanna

Casanova delle Cerbaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Bright, fresh and frazione indicative Annata here in purity plus vintage honesty from Casanova delle Cerbaie. Good attack of fruit and especially acidity from the vintage that while not a heavy one it is also not necessarily high acid either. Crunch from that fruit, pop from the acids and grippy yet suave tannins down below. Strange but true affinity with quality nebbiolo. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

And now for something next level in ways that must be experienced to understand. The generosity of fruit, sweetness of floral meets savoury perfume and most supple of tannins makes for a complete 2018 Annata package. The quality and acumen involved are special, singular and preeminent. Permanence is observed in a Brunello that will live infamously in longevity. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Casanova Di Neri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

So very Casanova di Neri and truthfully how could it not be yet something understated is spoken in such a handsome sangiovese. The fruit is classic Neri gather, from the plots and blocks that layer and compliment, get together on one single page. There is nothing out of place or wavering in this Annata and one exuding major confidence. So professional, firmly entrenched in 2022 style out of stoked 2018 desire and clearly spoken vernacular. The style is Neri’s and it is owned. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

The Annata 2018 from Casisano is a Brunello of two parts because there is the feeling of sweet fruit access now but also a next level structure to imagine ulterior drinking moments later. Very much a textural and glycerol example, gloriously liquid and soothing as it moves across the palate. Refined through and through with the ability to improve. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022
Castello Romitorio is so bloody on point from out of the 2018 vintage and the profundity of this assessment matters in personal ways because this was the great wine resting in casks when a first meeting with Filippo Chia opened the doors to his, his father’s and their estate’s perception. My what a matter of meaning is culled and concentrated upon from an Annata in extension of olive branch, a working team’s dedication and just plain formidable bones to see this forward 15-20 years. The 2018s can deliver greatness and yet not all are looking for decades of aging. Romitorio’s is in another league. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022
Maturity and acumen increase, improve and travel forward from vintage to vintage for a Montalcino producer that is surely on the cusp of something special. The work put in and humility expressed will only keep the train on the track for sangiovese to occupy the minds and hearts of all who know. Within the framework of a peppery reductive 2018 the fruit here expands and oscillates in swells on repeat though each and every wave stops short of crashing upon a tannic shore. For the first time after tasting 30 Annata the sweetness of acidity really stands above and without tart edginess. Grande. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Suave is the obvious operative, stylish too and yet there is a feeling of extraction and weight in the 2018 Annata. Neither taut nor tight, surely smothered by what texture and tannic sweetness the barrel has provided. A vintage wine that chooses to go for it without projecting or thinking too far into the future. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

Montalcino, November 2022

Lovely and traditional or rather lovely in its rustic attention to experience in a Brunello 2018 that captures heart above mind. Full extraction and wood compliment, vanilla sweetness and an approach to speak of a highly specific style. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

Cerbaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Cerbaia, classic and specific to a place where sangiovese comes to be this and only this. A fine swirl of fruit and beautifully volatile compounds that bring a lyrical lilt in high-toned notes in the wine. Everything points toward grace and charm in expression, even in the face of some edginess and musky behaviour. There is no matter, only parts yet to be integrated and needing time to settle in. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Classic and I mean classic Col d’Orcia, the kind of Annata that wears heart on sleeve and puts cards on table while imagination runs wild. Pedigree and experience tells the story of foreshadowing, knowing full well that dreams do come true in a future where a 2018 Annata is poured and its full glory is revealed. Could be 2028, ’38 or ’48. One never knows from Count Francesco Marone Cinzano’s wines but this structure over fruit dominant ’18 might just own that kind of stuffing. The next ten years will be the best but bet on more, more and more. Drink 2023-2033.  Tasted November 2022

Oh my what a lovely swirl of sangiovese, cask and time for Brunello in real harmony as only the place that gave it life would wish to do. The cherry tree gave it up to fulfill wishes, dreams and imagination but not to worry not a berry was harmed in the process. The fullness of this wine, its grace and its charm is obvious and celebrated. Yes the wood has much to say and express but like so many sangiovese of this ilk there must be time granted. If not the story becomes one of haste and respect would so sorely lacking. Be kind, exercise patience and wait for a just, but most of all loving reward. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted November 2022
Quite amazing how one instant moment of a nose into a glass can pull perfume to cause a mind to recall the producer. What a talent that is for estate to emit with such precision and consistency. Here a sangiovese so silky smooth and studded with spice but most of all a sliding scale of necessary structure. Collematoni has this Annata thing down to an artful craft with a minor in science to make the most well-rounded Brunello that simply marches to a wholly created and owned beat. Pure, honest, wood managed and integrated. Really fine. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Collosorbo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Both rustic (at least from the tannins) and elevated in volatility (by the acids). Fruit is lithe and transparent, surely not atypical and the mid pacing of this Annata is steady and lovely. Keeps composure through the back end and a there’s driven finish. Those early issues dissipate and this can be seen aging quite well. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Corte Dei Venti Brunello Di Montalcino 2018

Always steeped in tradition and clearly knows where it comes from with a distinct connection to the past. This experience and attention to a history of successes but also failures equips Corte dei Venti with the goods to power forward with a structural Brunello of fine but also austere tannins. Longevity is the name for a wine of this style and ilk. Need to wait for grace and charm. They lay waiting around a few corners. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

More exuberance and high toned beauty in the Mannella 2018 and it would seem that Tommaso Cortonesi chose a longer maceration for his high quality vintage fruit. The levels of extract and approaching glycerin texture are elevated and yet the underlying issue involves a tannic chain that means some purposed business. Drink this in and feel the layers, imagine the possibilities and count on what great next steps are en route. Great savoury finish. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

A vintage we’ve been waiting for from this northerly Montalcino estate because after a few formidable ones there will surely be forthcoming the greatest measure of grace. The reality is just this in exactitude, warmth and exceptional liquidity. Everything works and works beautifully, expressive in so many ways, perfumed, gathered, integrated and if there is wood (and there is) there is no sign of its work. All play and done with truth, gentility and honesty in mind. The clarity is astounding. The tannins so incredibly fine. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Elia Palazzesi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

One of the more hard to get, stoic and structured 2018 Annata in this Palazzesi glass with no great hurry to come out and please. Fine intoxicant of perfume without that rush and were more people wearing this sort of aromatic delicacy than rooms would be scented without excess. And so the wine is one you want to get closer to, snuggle in and take in the scent, allow imagination to swim and thoughts to ruminate. The palate shows more wood and even more held back character. Quite the mysterious Brunello, intriguing and filled with quiet wonder. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Fanti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

So real and proper Annata from Fanti once again, apposite to all previous vintages and yet so consistently procured to define a vintage. That being one of ripe and tart fruit, easy if spirited acidity followed by mild, sweet and cruising tannins. Terrific palate presence to be sure, of secure barrel couverture that accomplishes its work into succulence. Feels ready and yet five-plus years will open so many new doors. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Fattoi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Fattoi brings the joy and the wealth of healthy ripe fruit to the Annata vintage fore. A fine chalkiness mixes with the tart and the tang though not all parts are exactly together this early in the game. That is coming soon, around a corner and when it happens there will be great times to be had by all. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Barbi’s is a Brunello interpretation of yet another diplomatic and democratic vintage, structured much like 2016 and yet more openly getable like 2015. There seems little connection to 2017 but only because that vintage was such an outlier. In fact the lineage is in tact and as it is well known, a Barbi wine is tethered to history and tradition as almost no Montalcino other. The real, direct, honest, correct and purposed deal. Every time out. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Fossacolle Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Fossacolle is most definitely parochial in style and without hesitation it is said that the sense of place is exactly what expresses from this glass. A tar and roses kind of ideal, tart and spirited, fresh as it gets and so, so very sangiovese. Liking the portents and intent, the trenchant view of a vintage and a wine that abides by the season. Truth spoken without excess, certainly not in extraction and therefore also tannin. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Franco Pacenti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

It takes but a nano second to recognize the two-part harmony in the Franco Pacenti 2018 Annata because fruit so high tethered to tannins so low are of an unbreakable and seamless symbiotic kind. This sangiovese sits in the mouth with trenchant purpose and in layers so powerful yet also in this amazing state of grace. This is the real red fruit sangiovese and an example that speaks to the east and slightly veer to the north of Montalcino as being a location to see the best out of 2018. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted November 2022

Gianni Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Le Chiuse di Sotto 2018

Terrific presence from the Gianni Brunelli 2018, both on the vintage stage and also in how it performs, especially on the palate. There is some wood to resolve as the doubling down of tannins keep the performance from remaining light and ethereal but time will do what in necessary. For now just enjoy aromatics that come from the land and flavours crusted by those persistently agitated tannins. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Giodo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Giodo’s is fine, a vintage snapshot captured but with fruit run through, including the mid-palate reached where 2018 sometimes fails to access. This full and substantial capture makes for a drink early Annata which in this kind of case makes sense and really works well. Lovely and retable wine. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Gorelli Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Serious aromatic concentration yet in a most elastic and expressive way there arrives the immediacy of Gorelli’s Annata. The reality continues on the palate for a quantifiably gregarious and rich sangiovese of layers upon layers of fruit and structure. Not a matter of acidity so much as a wine in which that integration is both gracious and invisible. What a beautiful 2018 Annata. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Notable for earthy-savoury elements and grip in a righteously composed Annata of purpose and structure. Grabs attention, delivers that fennel-rosemary-garriga and cereal grain that Brunello can be, especially when location is considered. The herbaceousness and evergreen feeling persists for minutes on end. Curious and singular in every respect. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Il Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

The well is full of red fruited sangiovese Il Poggione way in a get at it straight away example of pretty much exactly what defines the 2018 vintage. More aromatic waves then some and also as compared to previous estate iterations so expectation is exceeded in this Brunello of early, often and dreamy style. Big wine that impresses quickly for any and all fêtes taking place in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Innocenti Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

For this vintage one of the darker and pressed examples of Brunello Annata though not without its very own set of charms. A bit wood rich and chocolatey though again there is some peaceful easy drinking in that regard. A style not light and bright but instead smooth and deep. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

La Casaccia di Franceschi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

A combination of high acid and pretty clear higher level phenolic ripeness put this is top categorical vintage idiom though it will be prudent to offer time in exchange for reward. Plenty of barrel notes as well though this mediates structure without adding unwanted tannin or spiciness. Lilting here, floral and gracious. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

La Colombina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Here the salumi and the nebbiolo like tar and roses gather for a heady and grippy initialization of sangiovese fruit, acidity and tannin. A chewy wine in the face of that edgy and firm style where extract and wood spices gather. A few parts feels disparate here and perhaps time will be the instigator and also the catalyst to clarify what this wants to be. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Extreme measure of perfume and transformative possibility to full scale capability comes from the aromatics of La Fiorita’s 2018. The mouthfeel is über intense with a sort of nut and spice cocktail that includes cumin, cardamom, cocoa and fennel. The finish is all cocoa turning into beautifully bitter chocolate. Extraordinary example of 2018 Brunello Annata. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

La Fornace Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

If a vintage example can be considered and refereed to as classic while tasting during an Anteprima than La Fornace’s just might be the one. So expressive of that effusive, open and transparent red fruit that 2018 is filled with all over the territory. Definitely some wood felt on the palate in the form of a gentle creaminess that plays well and smooths out the wine. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Montalcino sommeliers

La Fortuna Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

If a 2018 Annata can act with a sort of glycerin feel on the nose than La Fortuna’s would be the kind to do so in this pale red fruit vintage. Not that the palate does not follow suit with that type of silky liquidity because it does and the transition from one aspect to the next is really quite seamless. A pretty Brunello, for now and a few easy years ahead. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

La Lecciaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Rich and mouth-filling Brunello here from La Lecciaia, deeper of fruit as compared to many light and transparent examples out of the 2018 vintage. The tendency here is to exult the virtues of Brunello that invites all to the table, for consumers representative to a broad range of stylistic preferences. Fine work for 2018 though not one to cellar, at least not for a long and doting time. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Vineyards at La Magia

La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

A Brunello that clearly separates itself from the pack namely because of the place, at elevation 400-500m in the south-central part of Montalcino surrounded by so much forest, with few neighbours and a wind gap that draws in the right breezes. These are quality tannins, powdery and yet somewhat demanding of the fruit that must work to keep up. It does without suffering, showing more fortitude and punch than many to most. Will live as long as any, in part because of it swarthy swagger. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Lambardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Traditional, rustico, old Montalcinese world, both in earthy savour and emotion. The kind of sangiovese known, expected and gifted. Done the right way for the exact vintage as a 2018 gone as far as it can and must. Tart and lithe, so direct, abided by in every loyal respect. How can there not be great love for such an example? Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

La Rasina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Soft and conversely high-toned, barrel vanilla, tannic spice and quite peppery though no sign of reduction. Good quality red fruit, sweet acids and admirable length. Fine and representative if on the timorous side of things. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Those medium-sized, assessed and picked mid-harvest berries qualify and quantify for Lorenzo Magnelli’s Annata in the exact way he would want them to, for his Brunello to emerge with all its possibilities intact. This is the wine from Le Chiuse shrouded in the most mystery even if it appears right now with an open door policy. There are many choices yet to be made as it concerns how we feel and more to the point regarding the future of such an intriguing sangiovese. Both Rosso and Riserva calculate their place and we in turn know just where they strand. Annata is more fluid and is the chameleon that will change soon, again in a year or two, after a few more and for many years in and out of its multiple rhythms. Le Chiuse’s may act so very 2018 but the hidden or yet to be determined acts of character are more the verity of the matter. Time will enact the reveal and truth be told there are none that imitate. Le Chiuse is a wolf, solo, roaming and silently stalking prey. Drink 2024-2036.  Tasted November 2022

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Ahh freshness, the first 2018 in my glass and no offence to 2017 but after tasting 150 ‘17s over four days this is surely a breath of new air. Bright and almost a marine wind blowing through while at the same time showing some substance and bones. Fleshy but elastically so and these tannins are not sharp, nor austere, but forgiving and even generous. Left the barrel after the minimum amount of regulatory time to keep the wine from being tired by the wood. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2021

Lisini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

So very 2018 vintage as a Brunello with bright red berry fruit and perhaps one of the most up front, amenable, accessible and drinkable examples anywhere. Tannins are soft, supple, sweet and integrated. Almost as if they are not present at all, but this is sangiovese in Brunello ilk so we know they truly are. At least for the time being. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Maddalena Cordella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Lovely perfume and ulterior aromatics on this from Cordella, a wine I’ve not encountered before. Great berry and floral swirl, glycerin texture, high tonality and a real Montalcinese saltiness. That can be a rarity but certain frazione just do this and some see it as mineral but frankly salinity is what it is. Tart yet quenching and really satisfying for an Annata out of this particular vintage. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Madonna Nera Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Generously wooded Brunello to a fuller degree than much of the 2018 class, laden with smaller barrel aromas like vanilla and lavender. Tastes like 2017 in a strange way though less forceful and the tannins lag, even get a bit brittle and fall away. No real power or structure here and yet the wine will drink well for a few years. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

Martoccia di Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Can’t miss the orange zest and spray in this high-toned and fruit variegate Brunello 2018 with just the faintest moment of saffron in the air. Tart, tight, compact and stealthily structured with plenty of wood spice, creamy chestnut nuttiness and a long finish. That minor botrytis note will pronounce with time so the best window will be two to four years from now. Drink 2024-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Mastrojanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Mastrojanni’s is one of the firmest and driest tannic 2018s of any and all tried during these Benvenuto days. From a vintage such as this lighter and brighter one there would need to be substantial fruit to march along with this type of grippy austerity and this by Mastrojanni is set up to the task. The length is outstanding with nary a bitter moment and in delivery of nimble elasticity that will surely persist for serious long-term success. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted November 2022

Maté Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Seems like a constant refrain but a good one for a transparent vintage that has produced so many wines of this bright style. Maté’s joins the ranks and falls right into place with their beautifully paced, silky if at its heights, racy Annata. There is some excitement here to go along with the lithe beauty so give some credit where due for a sangiovese that finds its own way. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

A relay of really quite classic Mocali as Brunello, light to mid weight and yes just in line with the vintage though here as consistent with what has come before in terms of this estate’s sangiovese. Tannins are present and drying, mid-stream as well, alongside and in tandem with the flesh of the wine. Still traditional after all these years. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Patrizia Cenconi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Certainly a deeper aromatic expression of 2018 Brunello and of that viscous-glycerol kind but in this instance the condition replays on the palate in just the same way. Unctuosity like few others and for those who live an breathe Montalcino by mouthfeel this is truly the one for you. Still in the lithe vintage style but silky smooth, rich and satisfyingly so. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Montalcino, direction southeast

Pian delle Querci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Querci is the appropriate adage for a Brunello so steeped in oak tea it’s just swamped by what the wood brings. Sweet vanilla, clove, cinnamon heart and a mix of tannin that is part austerity and part masala astringency. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Pian delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

No real surprise that Pian delle Vigne expresses some of the darkest fruit from and for the vintage. That and thick consistency, suave tannins, chalky yet liquid. There is a hint of classic rusticity for good savoury measure but most of all there is über forward modernity and great professional appeal. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Piancornello Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

What a special wine from Piancornello out of 2018, standing clear from the vintage because of concentration and seriously impressive tannins. No it may not be über typical of the open-knit, lithe and forward vintage but sometimes there arrives a wine and I’m referring to a wine that will takes steps, little by little, as is its meaning, to arrive at where it is intended to go. Stick with it and stay for the journey. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Pietroso Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Pietroso incites a smile with their 2018 Annata because it’s beautiful, composed and expressed just so right. Captures the vintage as a perfect snapshot, lit from behind, casting a glow upon fruit and giving meaning to what that can become. The wine is like a wave of sangiovese, slowly rising and cresting then gently tumbling down, all the while sliding sideways urged on by fine acidity and supple tannins that permeate yet groove with the fruit. This is so wise and quite frankly delicious now. I would not hesitate to cellar it for up to 15 years. Drink 2023-2033.  Tasted November 2022

Pinino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Right there amongst the dictionary entry for a vintage that wants to be enjoyed as soon as possible. A year from which the producer who understood did nothing to mess with the lithe beauty and ease of attack. No tension here, sweet acids, red fruit and ease of play. Good chewy texture through the finish. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Bonacchi’s is more traditional, chalky tannic and savoury sangiovese with real bones and an intensity of intent. Taut and a bit tart at present but you can imagine with charged forecast what will become of this structured wine. For now it must rest and allow the austerity to melt away into the background. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Podere Brizio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Chewy wine here in 2018 from Brizio, leathery with a cedar earthiness, savoury of more evergreen and a distinct high toned Montalcino style. A bit antithetical to many of the ‘18s yet comfortable in its skin. Acids are pronounced and tannins effective if not overpowering, nor lingering dry and too long. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio Antico Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Good quality fruit no doubt and so the rich compliment of wood is both agreeable and understood. This is the Poggio Antico style, modern and fulsome yet even they have abided by the litheness and bright luminosity of the vintage. Perfectly reasoned and seasoned mid-term Annata for the next three or four winter seasons. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio dell’Aquila Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Perfumed and of a harmonious composition, if notably creamy and spiced by the full cupboard as supplied by the aging in wood. Plenty of savour and more so flavour, a rich swirl of vanilla, three-toned berries and tell-tale graphite. Surely some barriques are involved. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

If on the lighter side of Brunello there can be no denying the cause, purpose and effect of a Poggio di Sotto sangiovese and how it’s just all Brunello di Montalcino can be cracked up to be. Break this down into parts and you will note the concentration, the effect of tannins from the beginning and the way the power and the charm build as the wine fleshes in the glass. Of course there are more “impressive” and also structured vintages but the guarantee here is in the consistency of farming and winemaking teams, both with an equally, substantiated and dedicated set of values. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Paradiso di Cacuci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Spot on Annata of values in evaluation of both aromatic and textural unctuousness that settles, persists and remains long after the scents and flavours have drifted on. More than sneaky tannins as felt on the drying at the finish yet for the most part these acts of structure work well as part of the team. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio Landi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Quite the aromatic Annata and yet also one of the first to act just a touch peppery reductive. Quite tannic as well, herbal and of sweet acidity. A most unique and curious 2018 with its own special set of circumstantial style, at times bracing and at others fluid. Needs some time to come together. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio Lucina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Enticing and inviting nose, classic for vintage and località, roses and dried nasturtium. The right kind of push-pull tug between the posit tenets of fresh and dried, middle weight in which wood neither interferes or tries to fill in holes. Classic Galestro earthy-savoury and true tension towards edginess. Should fall in to place sometime after two plus years. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Ridolfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Very impressive stature and a bit of attitude are hallmarks of and the consistency explained from Ridolfi’s 2018 Brunello Annata. A sangiovese of grip and backbone, fleshy fruit hanging taut, especially considering the lighter overall view of this vintage. Really crusted and earthy yet sweetly perfumed and acids as high to fine as they come. Not the most elegant but definitely chivalrous, handsome and charming. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted November 2022

Roberto Cipresso Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

High extract and concentration brings viscosity and unctuousness to Cipresso’s 2018 in ways not so many Annata were able to deliver. This is true textural ascension more than anything else for a wine of grip and anti-vintage circumstance. Speaks quite a bit about location for a Brunello to turn out this way. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Greppone Mazzi

Ruffino Greppone Mazzi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

This bottle shows some TCA but seeing past this limitation this would bee a fine vintage example of Brunello with ample wood creaminess, a blanched nut sense and a creamy cheese note. Most interesting in all regards, complex and a bit different to the 2018 norm. The redeeming qualities are in the details for a sangiovese that will drink well a year forward and for three top five after that. No rating, however.  Tasted November 2022

Salvioni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

A Brunello for the ages that opens its story and gambit with more intensity and thought then most with a vineyard load of fruit also like no other. What comes out of this glass is aromatic concentration in a way that is more than what the air can handle. Good thing the backbone holds onto flesh that will not fall so the years will be kind to a wine so far away from changing into new clothing. There are so many levels involved you wonder just how long a life lays ahead. Likely two plus decades. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted November 2022

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Surprisingly heady, grippy and hearty wine here from San Polino in 2018, well perhaps not a shock but this stands up to be immediately counted. No shrinking violet and firm, upright, juicy yet really floral. Spices everywhere and quite frankly also spicy, of cinnamon and capsicum, a full onslaught of power and flavour. In a league of its own. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

San Lorenzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Firm yet fair Annata, fruit exuberance and also good quality tannins, built on sandy clay and notable Galestro for a truly variegated sangiovese that really acts as a dictionary entry for what 2018 is wont to be. Cruising and will slowly unwind over a seven to 10 year period of time. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

San Carlo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

All in Brunello Annata with a swell of red fruit that shows some black cherry intonation. Good quality tannins carry the weight primarily for some early access yet the construction will do well for mid-term Annata. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Scopetone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

A bright sangiovese from Scopetone so the vintage feels immediately represented and yet one can’t help feel some underlay of seriousness. Not the most glycerin 2018 but it’s there in emotive viscosity. Nice levels of tart and intense, reasonable, very seasoned and apropos in so many ways. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Scopone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Noticeably high-toned, edging up to volatility with a minor though not egregious presence of Brettanomyces. Dry and brittle tannins sum up the fighting issues of this wine. Would be beneficial to try a second bottle.  Tasted November 2022

Sesti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Quite a mouthful of fruit breadth and structural candidacy in a sangiovese of large cask nurturing and so much texture you feel like you’re running out of time and space. Clearly one of the longer steps paced, spiced and architecturally drawn wines of the vintage, not to mention the layers of design that drape over the pencilled sketch. There is a lot to assimilate here. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

One of the finer perfumes of any and all from a 2018 Annata by way of Talenti as sangiovese that draws you in with fineness from the start. That said there are aromatic and even more flavour profile notes so singular and unlike just about any other wine. Like pine and porcini, for the first time, freshly plucked needles and fungi pulled direct from the earth. Kind of wild and earthy in that regard with beauty occupying the mind. Bravo Riccardo for this snapshot of your collected vineyards in a wine so silky and of humble design. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Buon Tempo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Fine and upstanding collection of qualities are the assemblage in cuvée of Tenuta Buon Tempo’s 2018 Annata and though the fruit is of a deep tone for the vintage it also offers so much seasonal and seasoned breadth. This is indeed a mouthful of sangiovese with an almost equal amount of supple tannin yet the weight and spice really take over the room. Consistent throughout, persistent and inviting, one of those mid-term vintage wines that will do so many things right in its first 10 years post vintage. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Corte Pavone – Loacker Wine Estates Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Rich and stylish, an Annata that pulls fruit of high solar radiation at elevation and makes for a beautiful result. Full monty of parts, dancing on the palate, ripe, red and rosy. So much going on and to go on, likely for up to a decade of time. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Poggio il Castellare Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Curious example of 2018, not only glycerin on the palate but the nose leads as well, straight into how the wine feels in the mouth. Lots of wood, vanilla and coconut, peanut shell and baked potato. Drying and hard tannins. Drink 2022-2023.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta San Giorgio Ugolforte Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Each and every year these vines in kinship with Poggio di Sotto mature a little bit more so that they are just about in line with the mothership. This is found to be quite typical for Ugolforte in that toasty or roasted meat quality to go along with the calcareous-sandy lightning and bright red fruit tones. A bit more depth and structure from 2018 and well managed in that regard. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Classic Silvio Nardi, mid-weight, fruit and cask exchange, interchange and play. Sweetness of silky acids at work with glycerin red fruit and soft tannins. That’s the vintage talking and the winemaking has surely abided by what was at stake. Good work and better result. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Terre Nere Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

High extraction, full on press and maceration, gone for broke 2018 in Annata clothing. Done well in the style, no real astringency and perhaps necessary to reflect a sense of location. Some mildly hard tannin and wood liquidity more glück in feel than nut toasty. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Ucceliera Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

One of the most grippy and also finest structural Annata of the vintage, fruit variegated and true, an honest snapshot of what the farm produced matched by the firmness of both acidity and tannin. Rises and rises, never falling into valleys and constantly climbing, on rocks, in octaves and for constructive means. Wow. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Val di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Purposed, fruitful, substantial, a touch reductive and also volatile. In a good way however because there is a natural, breathable feel. Chewy and crunchy alternatively, first of leathery fruit and then by acids that support but also drive. Drying tannic finish that is quite long. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Ventolaio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Super proper 2018 concentration from also reddest of the red fruit Ventolaio. In fact the contiguous content is so consistent from vintage to vintage so as to be admirable. Tart and playful, crisp, fresh and crunchy but just enough liquorice chew to balance out the lightning and intensity of red citrus. Early drinking for certain yet sneaky enough to evolve over five to seven years. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Voliero Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Slightly less grippy and prettier version of the Ucceliera, two wines made by Andrea Cortonesi. Here an absolute snapshot of the vintage yet on the sharp and tannic side of the idiom. The quality of grapes is undeniable, the purpose serious and the drink-ability factor high. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Etichetta 2018

Camigliano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Paessagio Inatesso 2018

Camigliano’s Etichetta labeled 2018 is a tweener which in most cases works very well for the vintage. As it does for Paessagio Inatteso. Plenty of substantial fruit, higher acidity than some and chalky, liquified tannins are primarily interested in one another though perhaps some time would help them find further peace and accord. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Castello Di Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Alle Mura 2018

Yes there is more than ample concentration in the Banfi Etichetta Brunello but also a transparency that speaks to vintage. This is a great positive to say that Banfi has paid close attention to what is needed, to exult this freshness of the 2018s. Crisp and piqued by peppery pops, pings and jolts. Tons of energy and life here, so far from the days of ‘97s, ‘99s, ‘01s, ‘03s and the like where extraction, concentration and ambition ruled the local scene. Yes this is a very different vintage but hey, even Banfi can change, find balance and play in the sand. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Campo Del Drago 2018

As expected 2018 is predicated on bright red fruit and tension though mostly a cause of acidity rather than tannin. Castiglion del Bosco has listened to the vintage wind and made an Etichetta sangiovese trying as hard as it should so that the feeling of this northwestern Montalcino place is elevated and looked at directly in the mirror. Mild to elastic tannins and just a secondary level of texture will help see this forward a few years. That said it sure feels like the Annata pulled away some important fruit from this block of a wine. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Cava d’Onice Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Colombaio 2018

Colombaio is a five times Annata concentrate of sangiovese blood, juice and chalky texture. The unresolved tannins in this Vigna ’18 are grippy and even considered formidable. Quite a powerful single-vineyard set of circumstances bring punch and pomp to a wine that must be laid down fro quite some time. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Celestino Pecci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio al Carro 2018

Plenty of purposed concentration defines the whole package that is Poggio al Carro, a specific 2018 Brunello under the labelling umbrella “Etichetta,” as opposed to Vigna. The beauty lies in the quality of the fruit which is decidedly rich, luxe and lush, swirling in its own macerated juices. Chalky underlay suggest quality tannins though there is a green note beneath, neither herbal nor savoury, a verdancy that shows just a fraction of less than optimum phenolic matter. A portion that would have been best sorted out because the pressing has resulted in a minor note of green tannin. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Progetto Prime Donne 2018

Ah the perfume of Casato Prime Donne, like taking a bucket of its friable soil, stirring the crushed duff into the wizard’s pot and hovering over while the sweet scents of the earth waft out. With the optimum if gracefully restrained drip of pure berry aroma, all swirled together as if the tones are so intrinsically layered there can be no separating one from another. The Progetto’s clarity increases year after year, the pure essence of the life it has been given evolving with the kind of maturity to speak deeper and deeper into this project’s sense of place. This is a wine that used to flirt with volatility and now the control is both commanding and effortless. It can be argued that 2018 is the launching point for the next epoch and the future. Drink 2025-2036.  Tasted November 2022

La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG NO 2018

La Fiorita NO is just what the wine should be from 2018 in that it takes what’s given and makes beauty happen. There are florals and fruit variegation mixed together, a wild berry and rose swirl that’s really quite the aromatic intoxicant. Though a small dip occurs in the mid-palate of the wine that is completely normal and inconsequential because all other aspects fall into line with the season. Tannins are suave and supportive, the length quite outstanding. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted November 2022

La Fornace Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Origini 2018

Very pretty aromas from Origini, all the reds, of roses and pomegranate, poppies and berries. Oranges too, cacchi (persimmon) and the zest from navels, all encrusted into and with earth to give this bright Etichetta Brunello its true sense of origin. Apropos it should be and so with the place confirmed there is beauty and there are brave new worlds to explore. These are grippy yet fair tannins so look for the wine to sing in five years, drifting and descending for 10 more. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022

La Lecciaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Manapetra 2018

Manapetra is a swirl of aromatic compounds and liquid elements that show great potential for the evolutionary process of an Etichetta-designate wine. Plenty of cask strength aging as well and to be sure so the ambition and the traditional explanations run through most aspects of this 2018. On the largesse side of the vintage spectrum, needing two years and will drink well for five after that. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted November 2022

La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ciliegio 2018

Mostly Basso fruit, meaning the lower part of the old vine, most important vineyard. Quite a large part of new barrel is used, upwards of 80 per cent and the integration is nothing short of remarkable. Fabian is a different sort of winemaker for Montalcino, following his own regime, working by feel and with confidence. Fruit purity is elevated and exulted by the wood and while the barrels simply can’t be hidden there is an impressive display in this age-worthy wine. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

La Rasina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Persante 2018

Persante is an Etichetta-designate Annata that attempts to heighten sangiovese and vintage awareness. That is does in hyper real, sensitive and emotive behaviour. This Brunello is both viscous and woody, supercharged and of a flavour profile like chalky raspberries in syrup. A bit of a tannic challenge and caught between appellative levels in that each foot seems stuck in opposite stylistics. The disjointedness is noted and time can only help so much. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Vecchia 2018

Vigna Vecchia as it always does makes sure to remind how this vineyard delivers the most compact tannins in the Brunello portfolio of Le Ragnaie. Mix this omnipresent austerity with the fresh breath of 2018 vintage air and the combination could only be a most excellent and rewarding one. In fact there is less early aggression, either because of the freshness or simply because the vineyard speaks this way in this year, but also because the wine spent less time in wood than other vintages. Sweet meanderings of acidity zig, swirl, zag and twirl to lift and elevate all the parts. Not exactly integrated fully but also not that far away. So much pleasure will come from this wine when that happens. Magnifico. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted November 2021

Lisini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ugolaia 2017

A beautiful specialized wine here from Lisini in 2017 to elevate Ugolaia above and beyond what possibility and probability might the Annata be able to express. There is a deep well of maceration felt in this ’17 and it’s so full of fruit so that time will bring about integration but also an extension of the freshness found today. Good quality parts result in age-ability and a blessed future. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG La Raunate 2018

Richer than the Annata normale for sure and yet not such a dramatic drifty away from that vintage wine. Another example of splitting quality fruit between the first label and the second etichetta label when some greater amount of promising fruit would have better served this label. No matter because the vintage is abided and the wine speaks in clear tones. Should age a year or two longer. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Patrizia Cenconi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ofelio 2018

Liquorice straight away, earth and savour, chalky tannin and intensity of both acidity and how that drift works with the brooding aspect of the wine. A powerful example with that high acidity and plenty of grainy texture. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Podere Bonacchi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Molino di Suga 2018

One of the more reductive and liquid peppery piqued Brunelli to be sure and needing air to open ip. The first bottle showed some TCA but this second one opened is sound and tight. There is some charm laying behind the wall. Plenty of cask sheathing as well coming through in vanilla, lavender, toasted nuts, graphite and finally bitter chocolate. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Ridolfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Donna Rebecca 2018

Donna Rebecca the Vigna Brunello for Ridolfi in 2018 picks up right where Annata leaves off or perhaps the reverse should be stated because it begins, as it must, with her. Donna Rebecca is a sangiovese of purity and beauty, chalky and youthful, of freshness but also layers of fruit, earth and in this instance, much savour. The peeling will take a decade easy. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Rodolfo Cosimi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Bramante Cosimi 2018

Rodolfo Cosimi’s Etichetta Brunello is a firm one, made rich and textural by extra time in cask and finishing with more chocolate than many from the vintage. There is ambition in this wine and it surely wants to be a long aging wine. Improves and opens with air to release more character and charm so it is conformed that a few years will bring benefits and reap reward. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Piaggione 2018

Prepare yourself, open your mind and heart to embrace what Piaggione will gift if your priorities and intentions are set to correct. Welcome Salicutti and their passionate team to a Benveunto Brunello and be so very pleased they are now in the consiglieri. These vineyards are a place of magic and the way this sangiovese is made exacts, translates, transmogrifies and most of all explains the place. The smoothest and seamless flight with transitions invisible extend in a Brunello that has no end. No beginning as well because by the time you have reached what you thought was the finale the wine continues, begins again and marches on. Incredible tannins. The finest for ilk, idiom and as mentioned, place. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted November 2022

San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Podernovi 2018

Seriously rich expression from the seriously important vineyard in 2018 of great depth and potential. Not quite harmonious but surely an example of sangiovese requiring time in bottle to find its equilibrium and ultimately the charm. Big wine from the vintage, welling with flavours, earth and chalky tannin for what will also emerge as sweet perfume. Because it’s estimably already there. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Piero 2018

Quite obviously a rich and beautiful 2018 Piero from Riccardo Talenti, so deserving of its name and ode to a grandfather. Fully resolved, here from the vintage following the heat but really it’s something other, or ulterior yet still exhibitive of intense concentration. Piero is a matter of ultimate respect to the finest and best selected berries. The ’18 is marked or indelibly stamped with Riserva quality tannins, slow developed and only ready well, when they will be ready. Hard to exercise and discover more incremental construction of structural identity than what Piero administers. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Tassi Di Franci Franca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Tassi Franci 2018

Tassi walks the fine line between restraint and volume to arrive at a twain where fruit succulence and chalky liquidity pool for one of the vintage’s coolest etichetta-designate wines. By cool the definition is minty savour from a type of sangiovese concentration that causes a whistle and cooling of the taste tract. It’s uncanny how this acts and leaves you feeling refreshed, awake and in good spirit. Turns on the lights, ups the volume and heightens awareness. A remarkable thing considering there is some density in this 2018, especially from the tannins. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Corte Pavone – Loacker Wine Estates Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Fiore del Vento 2018

The first of three Etichetta labeled Corte Pavone wines called Fiore del Vento is a matter of florals and airiness, flowers and wind. Describes the swept plots aboard 500m of elevation at Montalcino’s western ridge. F del V breathes that air, delivers one of the saltier expressions but also climbs the tannic ladder. Most unique dichotomy for 2018 to drink tomorrow and beyond. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Corte Pavone – Loacker Wine Estates Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Fior di Mellioto 2018

A few tannic forward steps puts a palate on notice when tasting the second of two Corte Pavone Etichetta wines, here called Fior di Mellioto. Still the air and the salinity though less showy and billowy as compared to Fiore del Vento. Serious chalkiness and density in fact, a wealth of textural layers that will take a long time to resolve along with the mounded and bonded structure. When the eventuality comes to pass the fruit may not be fully equal to the task. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Corte Pavone – Loacker Wine Estates Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Campo Marzo 2018

The third Etichetta Brunello from Corte Pavone shows the most glycerin and especially spice aboard the more substantial fruit of the three separated expressions. Plenty of tart acidity and chalky tang, tannins present though not nearly as formidable as Fior di Mellioto and even Fiore del Vento. Here from Campo Marzo there is more harmony, less tension and demand. That said it too needs time to work out any issues the parts may have with one another. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Val di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio al Granchio 2018

Crunchy oh my this Poggio al Grancho is a wine to sink your teeth into and in fact that is how you must attack a 2018 already in such a mode. A sangiovese of grip, grit, pomp and circumstance. This is a mouthful and a half, no less impressive and trenchantly important than many of its peers, in idiom and of ilk. Factual to the nth degree, ambitious and full. Needs so much time. Drink 2025-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Ventolaio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Campo dei Colti 2018

Campo dei Colti is clearly an express extension of the Annata and one wonders just how different the source plus selection is for these two wines. Just as lovely, adhering to the consistency through several different vintages, similarly tart, playful and crisp. Freshness even greater, pomegranate and red currant leading to blood orange and candied roses. The greatest difference is the wood noted on the finish, of vanilla and clay chalkiness. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Pomona 2018

In Pomona there is an obviousness or rather an expected consistency of style that permeates and then drives the Villa Poggio Salvi machine. What comes before continues so that the tang and glycerol combo of red fruit swells throughout, if perhaps just going a bit hollow sounding in the middle. The palate is so very Aperol it’s uncanny and if unusual it matters very little. Not Campari but actually Aperol, combining bitters, orange sweetness and subtle volatility. So curious! Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Vigna 2018

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino Montosoli DOCG 2018

A Montosoli vintage for the cru and its petite hillock on the north shores down below the Montalcino hill. That is because the understatement and restraint heeded attention will do for this special set of parcels as it seems both nature and also farmer intended it to be. Could there be a finer season to consider Montalcinese “Climat?” Methinks not and from an educational point of view it is Altesino that sets the readable benchmark for such a consideration. The hopefulness and harmony are readily apparent, the grace, fluid concentration and charm appear in clear view. A sangiovese as a window, hyper real of place, altruistic and realistic, for now and to see what will be a decade plus-plus onwards. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted November 2022

Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Alle Mura Vigna Marrucheto 2018

Hard not see and intuit with great immediacy the absolute glaring difference between the Banfi Annata and this single-vineyard expression. The chalky and fine-grained tannic rush right on through is what drives and defines this sangiovese and yet the fruit is strong enough to defend itself. How it will hold its own and carry on forward will be the true raison d’être of a Vigna ’18 that shows so much possibility. Not to mention purpose. Banfi got this so right. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Assunto 2018

As per the Bellaria style the hyperbole of fruit and wood swirl in this Assunto is nothing short of incredible. Not exactly a clarity or transparency as shown by so many wines from the 2018 vintage and in fact quite the opposite. Big extraction and so that fruit is thick as thieves with the barrel and as a result the doubling down of tannins is heavy and something needing to be worked out. That will take some time and rest assured there will be fungi and tartufo in the deep distance of Assunto. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted November 2022

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna La Casaccia 2018

Great anticipation to taste La Casaccia and Montosoli side by each from a vintage carrying no option but to act out the passion play through the glaring clarity of a sense of place. There are facts involved and there is no hiding the truth formed by these plots of sangiovese in this vintage. By now it is understood how 2018 exists on its own accord at one with nature though Francesco Ripaccioli will tell you there are similarities with 2013, if only because that vintage was greatly ignored and is drinking well at this time. La Casaccia in the località of Canalicchio is the wildcard of Montalcino and tasting several wines from the frazione reveals a collective affinity supplied by the year’s gifts. Nothing was portioned or taken away from the ’18 Annata and yet this Vigna sings with even more range and depth than that wine. The acids are simply out of this proverbial world, the linear aspects drawn with precise architectural or even, in Old English speak, a Cutter’s line. Remarkable reserve in concentration and forward slicing finesse. Forever long. Forever young. Drink 2025-2038.  Tasted November 2022

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Montosoli 2018

No this is not La Casaccia, nor should this sangiovese be that fine Vigna from Canalicchio. No, this is glaring and hyper real factual Montosoli, a cru-designate 2018 that speaks in the clearest ways, drinks with firm and confident grip, cools and cools some more. If getting to know Montosoli is something you find yourself needing to do then sure, please come along and taste Francesco Ripaccioli’s essential ’18 but wait and pause just a moment. Montosoli’s frank and purposed charms are hidden behind a pretty serious wall of structure, in fact there are few Montalcino examples more skeletal and Doric than this right here. Three years are needed to open even the first knowable doors to perception. Drink 2025-2040.  Tasted November 2022

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna La Casa 2018

On and on it goes with these treasures of place and vintage in Montalcino. Vigna la Casa may not be labeled as such but it shares every bit of affinity in kinship with Altesino Vigna Montosoli. The geology may alter ever so slightly in Galestro hue and schist content but the clay-lime attributes gift similarly and for 2018 the hype is real. La Casa is found to be more macerated, silky, generous and glycerin. The texture acts out with more passion and controls the manifest destiny of this wine. Acids carry some weight and tannins are semi-formidable but in the end it is still mouthfeel that shows who’s boss. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted November 2022

Castello Romitorio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Filo Di Seta 2018

How incredible is it to see the likes of Filo di Seta at a Brunello tasting in the Chiostro of Montalcino? Has been some time and the glory of Filippo Chia’s 2018 is a great place and space for the return. Fruit so fine in upbringing, aging and design. There can be little doubt as to the intention of Filo, to use highest of high elevation fruit in conjunction with thoughtfully integrated cask so that first an oxidation and then a compression set up the wine for longest of life dreams. What follows is the grand parade of life affirming qualities, salty and soulful exhalations, salutations and finally, liberations. In a few years this wine will be set free and we will all be free. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted November 2022

Cortonesi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG I Poggiarelli 2018

When we talk about Tommaso Cortonesi’s I Poggiarelli we first talk about place. No discussion otherwise. Even if the cloudy picture of 2017 (in a year of glaring sun) might have been an aberration to cause some sense of località confusion there is no questioning the effect of 2018. This is the land and the vines, of grapes seen through, of a wine unable to hide both beauty and imperfections. The character is guaranteed, the complexities in abundance and the truth unequivocally spoken. Are there finer tannins then these from this sector of Montalcino? Couldn’t say and yet the quantifiable intensity, elongation and succulence suspend thought. That’s what there is to say about that. Drink 2025-2037.  Tasted November 2022

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna del Fiore 2018

Not sure whether to say that Vigna del Fiore exists as an icon or flies under the radar as a Vigna Brunello in Montalcino? Feels like both because it is not always spoken of and yet never wavers, delivers Barbi’s great quality and ages as well as any in the territory. As for 2018? A resounding yes in terms of sweet fruit, fine acids and quality tannins. Adds up to That’s All Right classicism, a trait for which Barbi wrote and continues to write the book. Everyday, everyday. The 1956 Elvis and 1983 Costello of Montalcino wines. Drink 2024-2033.  Tasted November 2022

Il Poggiolo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Terra Rosa 2018

Il Poggiolo’s 2018 is a lovely example of Vigna Brunello for the most part because of the glycol and mixed berry swirl that permeates every facet of the wine. Quite pure, silky to satiny and easier to access than most Vigna declared wines in this most transparent vintage. Terra Rosa obviously alludes to soil, where some iron oxide content runs through the sand and clay. The story is told by a hematic wave here and there but also ever so slightly green pops of tannin. No matter because the fruit is glorious. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Le Gode Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Montosoli 2018

Le Gode is situated right there at the Montosoli hill on Montalcino’s northern orientation and this work in progress is on the cusp. The winemaker is Carlotta Ripaccioli who is working with her cousin (Canalaicchio di Sopra’s) Francesco Ripaccioli to gain control and set a course for re-purposing and focusing both her cellar and her wines. This 2018 sees great improvement and the feeling of finding its northern Montalcino legs. Though tis vintage and that time are still in that Bretty zone. Initiates a swarthy sensation that can’t be denied nor eliminated, at least not at this time. The bones and blood of sangiovese are clearly high level and the tension remarkable, not to mention the benefit of a Montosoli location. Really looking forward to seeing this wine improve and march towards greatness in future vintages. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Casanovina Montosoli 2018

As for Casanovina from Montosoli there is everything one could hope for in fresh, sapid, saline, mineral expressiveness giving in to amenability as it pertains to enjoying, or projecting the enjoyment of Brunello Vigna looking a few years ahead. There is more depth and reserve in 2018 from Montosoli and if the previous vintage did not tell us just how special this northern fruit can be then better attention need be paid. Here we experience the prescience and extension to continued futures of Montalcino. A fruit to acid continuum of fresh sweetness and singular expressiveness. Also a backbone but not one rigid and compact, rather linear and stretching northward. Crisp and with terrific crunch, upward movement and great potential. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted November 2021

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Paso Del Lume Spento 2018

As with the Brunello Annata and in fact all of his ‘18s, Riccardo Campinoti decided to take this out of wood at the discipline number of months to stave off any chance of tiring and oxidation. As with the Annata there is of course great freshness but here magnified with even greater clarity, blue sky brightness and what a palate cleanser it is. Thanks to the 621m of altitude the wine maintains a level of acidity at the top of the tops but it is neither spicy nor piqued, no sign of peppery grinds nor sharpness neither. Cool, gelid, sandstone salt licked and a sangiovese that will never blind a traveller nor turn out the lights. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2021

Mastrojanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigno Loreto 2018

After tasting the Annata there is great expectation in assessment of Mastrojanni’s Vigna which is by now one of the archetypal such wines of Montalcino. Vigno Loreto brings power and also confidence, that much is clear. Yet there is a gentle parent’s patience and touch as well, a nurturing if you will and as a result this sangiovese will slowly mature over a very long period of time. Loreto is equipped with succulence and grip, from acids through tannins and these are some of the finer set of both, to be found anywhere in the land. Fine work, unsurprising and deserving of praise. Drink 2025-20234.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio Landi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Chiuso del Lupo 2018

Not the literal translation “the closed of the wolf” but like the French “clos,” meaning an enclosure or walled in place. Perhaps a wolf likes to roam this vineyard and thus the name. Poggio Landi’s Vigna is a singular one, a well full of red citrus fruit in the pomegranate, blood orange and tart plum range. The layering is full of love and affection, the liquidity of the chalky tannins right in line. Great 2018 acidity, especially for the style and the vintage. Could drink this all day! Less structure than many, nary a moment of green and just a delight. Makes me hungry like the wolf. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted November 2022

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Helichrysum 2018

Helichrysum will do, as only this Vigna wine or more to the greater point only this estate’s sangiovese will scent. That being something high-toned, other worldly, like coniferous trees would emit at their tips in the wind. The aromatics are wild hyperbole, savoury and from some specific place never visited, on the bucket list, far, far away. That and these crazy ranging tannins, scaling up and down, this way and that, tohu vavohu. Chalky, heavy tang, tart and intense. settle. Please wait for the settling. Drink 2025-2033.  Tasted November 2022

San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vignavecchia 2018

Deep well of savoury and highly characterful flavours make this old vines San Polo Vigna Brunello well with liquid density. Or volume more like it as this is truly one of the more voluminous Vigna wines for the season, especially considering the type of vintage 2018 has come to be. That said we really don’t yet know the sum total so as a rule time is the operative and the necessity to answer all the questions. Meanwhile you will note the linearity and tension involved so exercise a greater amount of patience than the average requiem. Sangiovese awaits. Drink 2025-2034.  Tasted November 2022

Tassi Di Franci Franca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Colombaiolo 2018

Molto profumato as it is said from a Tassi Vigna designate Brunello that exudes the clarity of 2018. From a vintage where if the entire process, from farm to bottle needed to express the greatest sense of place possible. Tassi has done exactly that for a season of no shroud. There are times when minor technical difficulties can be shrouded in wood (especially) and from this ’18 there is an ever so subtle feeling of Bretty volatility and yet it helps characterize and lend expressiveness to fruit so honest and pure. No one should find fault because there is just too much beauty to ignore. And drink this relatively early because the level of tension is well below the difficult. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Buon Tempo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG P. 56 Oliveto 2018

Oliveto is a sangiovese animal unto itself, a thing of moveable feast and yet immoveable tension. The very fact that so much vintage fruit substance wells into the pool of liquid chalk and spice masala tells us that wood is a factor but there is plenty of flesh to hang around for as long is necessary. This wine gets better and better all the time. I will admit. Not sure 2018 fits the temper and personality as well as it does for some other top Vigna wines but the maturity and what will surely come from 2019 will surely alter towards another course altogether. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Manachiara 2018

Manachiara is a deep dive into 2018, a deeper plunge into the 2018 pool than many actually and an ambitious take on the vintage by Nardi. Really voluminous and chalky, so very chalky. Tannins are impressive and yet also dense, chewy, complimentary to this mix of liquorice and fennel. There is some animale as well, a musky prosciutto or cinghiale so the gastronomical point now comes into view. Still there needs to be time got between this wine and your glass. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted November 2022

Tiezzi Vigna Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Soccorso 2018

Vigna Soccorso hits with a fruit bomb thump then lands upon the palate with great volume and weight. Aromatically speaking the emission is liquorice, toasted nuts, braised fennel and cavolo nero. But the mouthfeel is challenging with its heaviness and drying tannin. Afraid there is some cooked fruit here that has turned vegetal while mixed into brittle tannin. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2022

Val di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna del Lago 2018

Nice subtle toasty note draws first aroma from the vineyard by the lake as if chestnuts are roasting over an open wood fire. There is some lovely fruit in this Vigna Brunello, much like the Annata but more barrel in the form of texture and also spice. Feels very masala seasoned, of cinnamon mostly but also a few shakes of nutmeg and pepperoncini. Characterful wine, not too hard and not too soft. Neither heavy nor light and finding that zone in between. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Ravioli at Capanna

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Poggio alle Mura 2017

Take an about turn away from Poggio alle Mura (Etichetta) 2018 and note the very Mediterranean, markedly concentrated and notably warm Riserva from the previous season. Day turns to night as the calendar flips back to 2017 where small berries, low yields and so much glycerol fills the mid palate, especially at this appellative level. Impressive stuff here, expressive of vintage, less so place and with pretty suave tannins for the year. Drinking well already and will do so for a while yet. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

No surprise that Caparzo in Riserva form is the full deal and real monty of Montalcino sangiovese taken from finest fruit subjected to the whole spa treatment. All the aspects of Riserva are captured, aged and bottled. Luxe richness, full fruit set exulted and personified as the layered and textured filaments of fineness so worthy of the appellative credo. While preference for Vigna la Casa is not unusual it can’t be helped to see Riserva as something exceptional. That it is. Drink 2024-2036.  Tasted November 2022

Carpineto Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Deep well of 2017 here from Carpineto and considering the vintage challenges the levels of freshness and bright acids are really quite special. Just what one might expect from Riserva, the vintage and that combination of warmth and elevation by Carpineto. Should develop some tartufo with five more years of age. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted November 2022

Casanuova Delle Cerbaie Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Vigna Montosoli 2017

More than surprisingly wow – A Brunello Riserva of dichotomies. Warm vintage versus fruit from a cooler site. Riserva aging style cast against one of Montalcino’s most sought after cru. Concentration after extraction and maceration against a backdrop of fine acidity and tannin. All of the above pursue excellence and this from oenologist Paolo Vagaggini succeeds because it embraces the two-sided approach. Montosoli and 2017 are a match made in Montalcino heaven. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted November 2022

Celestico Pecci Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Plenty of energy here and in terms of 2017 that’s an important way of approaching Riserva. Spicy Riserva, buzzing and piquing, unrelenting and clearly driven by acidity. Chalky tannic, full on swagger and tension, a determined Riserva for the vintage. Should live really long. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted November 2022

Fattoi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Like many Fattoi sangiovese the wine is taut and immediately explains that quite a bit of extra time is required before any softening will occur. This is the traditional sense of Montalcino and in Riserva terms the idea is magnified to a great degree. Yet there is beauty and generosity which in Riserva means a mirrored image of itself. Rich and exemplary of time and place, so well made for an accomplished wine that will drink beautifully, if likely best at the eight to ten year mark going forward. Drink 2025-2030.  Tasted November 2022

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Well done Barbi. Well judged Riserva from 2017, more tannic than many, fruit substance so very close to being perfectly equipped to handle the task. Drying sensations occur, here and there, with bursts of freshness and piques of spice in between. A massive attack at once, then slower machinations when that kind of temperance is required. Barbi moves in and out of action and slumber, raciness and controlled movements. It knows what we need and also what is must own. Those who taste this wine must be left with an impression, of vineyards coalesced and centuries of experience distilled. Barbi’s is the kind of Riserva to tell a story, not just of a vintage wine aged longer but also where its fits with what came before and what is still to come. This 2017 will help to explain the democracy of 2016 and transparency as succinctly as any in the territory. It is a sangiovese predicated on acids, of fruit picked and connected in a most pragmatic way, the result ready and yet willing to travel deep into the future. In Bourgogne there are wines that go through dumb phases and rise up to freshen and excite again. Could this be how Barbi Riserva ’17 travels through its life? Definitive. Drink 2024-2033.  Tasted November 2022

La Cassacia Di Franceschi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Deeper aromatic rise and red fruit in the well as compared to so many 2017 kin by a sangiovese that acts powerful and heady at this stage. Clearly Riserva in style, attitude and acts that way because it must and will. More crunch than chew, elevated acids, chalkiness and even swarthy behaviour. An exciting and inviting wine from 2017, clearly, allegedly and fittingly. Must try. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted November 2022

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Diecianni 2017

There is no doubt that Le Chiuse’s Riserva delivers the heights and the depths, of fruit and structure, in freshness rising in and out of the tannic river below. There is everything in this and to no surprise, as its aging abides by the chosen ones, they being the gift of grapes small and selected for their great potential. All the depth and ten times the quality, not to mention this calm, tranquil, layered and nurturing expression. For Lorenzo Magnelli this is the pinnacle of his work and for those unaware, Riserva from his farm is precisely what he wants it to be. Because he just knows. Drink 2025-2041.  Tasted November 2022

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

More reductive than many Riserva, rubber and cracked pepper, wood spice, liquid chalky texture and intensity. So many things happening here in a sangiovese of great complexity if needing quite a bit of time to settle. The peppery piques and the heat need to dissipate. Hopefully the fruit will hang around. Drink 2024-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Paradiso Di Cacuci Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Sappy, wood wholly in charge, resinous and bristly tannic. Vanilla, liquid smoke and jarring. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted November 2022

Patrizia Cencioni Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Classic Riserva flesh, bones and drive here from Patrizia Cenconi in a wine to explain a vintage with as great a sense of reality as you are likely to find. That is because the warmth is here but so is the extra time, from barrel of course but also what came before meaning fruit hung just long enough to extend the phenols and balance the original sugars. This just got the timing so right, in all respects, including tannin and texture. Most definitely a Riserva vintage for Patrizia. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Pian Delle Querci Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Really chewy Riserva from Pian delle Querci, full of appellative emotions, spice and textures. A Riserva that captures all that is available and layers those aspects for one of the richer you will find in the vintage. Plenty of wood still working its way in this sangiovese but also tannins from really musky skins and strong willed bunches. Needs time still. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio Antico Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Only Poggio Antico noses in Riserva like this. A gregarious mix of ripe fruit, wood in and out of every pore, resins, saps and essential oils. A veritable stew and rich tisane that oozes from pores, spills through the aromatic profile and then repeats everything across the palate. No shortage of tannin and the future is long if filled with developing maturity by way of mushroom and truffle. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Poggio dell’Aquila Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Reductive and smoky, a mess of fruit, roasted nuts, stewed meats and balsamic. Salumi cure as well with some Brettanomyces though the biggest issue is not that. More a cause of wood and the type of seasoning it imparts. There are some wines from other parts of the world where this effect is created. South Africa and Chile come to mind. Not Montalcino. Drink 2022. Tasted November 2022

Roberto Cipresso Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Great aromatic hyperbole, a five times vintage sangiovese expression so very steeped as a tea made complex by evergreen, herbs, pepperoncini and something exotic, like rooibos. Plenty of cask here, perhaps some tonneaux involved, maybe even barriques. The vanilla and creamy nuttiness, like chestnut purée or almond in marzipan form all combine to tell the barrel story. Then the texture following suit while the wine lingers on. Lots of parts involved here. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Teatro 2017

Teatro is no Piaggione but it is so bloody Salicutti. This is purity incarnate, not just of sangiovese but the exacting kind that grows in this storied, re-planted in 1994 vineyard. This is also honesty in its most explicit form, open, glaring and hyper to über transparent. The balance in the vineyard translates to the bottle and into each and every one of our glasses. Salicutti as Teatro is extraordinary, a capture of angles, aspects, slope and soil agglomeration all distilled into the fineness of sangiovese blood. My goodness the qualitative accountability runs high to a vanishing point almost beyond comprehension. A rarity or a 2017 to be a wine for the ages but behold Teatro. Drink 2024-2039.  Tasted November 2022

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Plenty of sweet fruit defines and fills up the San Polino cup while compounds inject tinctures, distillates and tonics into the veins of the wine. Here sangiovese takes on a decidedly swarthy and savoury character but the volatility oscillates, sometimes standing out and more often than not melting into the background of the wine. It’s perfectly on the edge in a Riserva that drips with red fruit flavour. Feels so very natural, unhurried and unadulterated, a fermentation left to its own devices that’s not quite there but feeling its own special way. Drink 2024-2032. Tasted November 2022

Sesti Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Phenomena 2017

Super intense Riserva from Sesti, a phenomenon of 2017 and how Sesti is so able to make a vintage once occupied, then owned as a translation from the vineyard. The spice and herb component is astounding, emitting as a prescient permeate of cinnamon, sage, sumac and annatto, citrusy and nutty. So much intrigue and layers to unfold, so many undiscovered treats to pluck from the pool of scents and flavours. Surely one of the outstanding Riservas for 2017, edgy, tense, nervous and fresh. Drink 2024-2033.  Tasted November 2022

Tommasi Casisano Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Colombaiolo 2017

This is 2017 in a nutshell, not only for vintage but also for Pier-Luigi Tommasi’s Colombaiolo as Casisano. Reminds of 2010 in more ways than one and if comparing anything to 2017 is a stretch or wrong to some, well so be it. I find the fruit to be bold in the face of powerful structure and the result is this ropey and elastic sensation that always return unto itself in balance. Great effort here and worthy of laying Riserva down when many thought it either impractical or impossible. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2022

Tenuta Il Greppo

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG (Older Vintages)

Capanna Di Cencioni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Nicco 2017

Nicco was Patrizio Cencioni’s great-grandfather and the patriarch for a lineage that includes one of Montalcino’s 25 founding members Giuseppe, Benito, Franco and now Amedeo, Patrizio’s son and representative of the fourth generation, who supervises the oenological and agronomic parts of the cellar. Nicco’s fruit comes from a block nearly facing Canalicchio di Sopra and their Casaccia vineyard. The wine is oak fermented for 11 months and then spends 30 months in Slavonian casks. Nicco’s Montalcino work dates back to Fattoria dei Barbi and this homage to his memory recalls his passing when Capanna was purchased. This 2017 is one of extreme punctuation, elaborating on the Annata and the hot climate/high acid ways of 2017. There is ample concentration squared, high level perfume and warmth in spite of the northerly location. Clocks in at 15 per cent alcohol, handles it well but this is a big sangiovese. It will age well. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted November 2022

La Magia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2017

Slowing just a bit but what’s coming won’t hasten maturity. A Brunello from a much bigger vintage and one to see living longer than many. Great fruit quality and even greater tannic structure. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Always a most interesting and ulterior aromatic profile, brushy and herbal while shifting gears to juicier and quite frankly fruitier positions. Has its moments here, there and everywhere, drinks with gratification but also reminds of vintage variation. Timing and winemaking are high end here so expect a wine of composure and length. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted November 2021

La Magia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ciliegio 2017

Much like the Annata ’17 this Etichetta Brunello is also at the apex and just beginning to descend but evolution is a long and winding road. Bears repeating that this is the child of a magnanimous if low quantity vintage with striking acids and sneaky structure. Hyperbole of all great fruit quality, even greater tannic structure and more. “Don’t keep me waiting here. Lead me to your door. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”  Last tasted November 2022

A Massive attack of fruit and power comes at you fast and furious in Ciliegio from La Magia. Not just a wine of concentration and substance but some of 2017’s grippiest set of surrounding parameters. Big bones, barrel impart and really impressive facial structure. Chiseled and upright, linear and near formidable. A bruiser now that will bring so much umami later. Imagine the porcini possibilities. Drink 2024-2031.  Tasted November 2021

Biondi-Santi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2016

Riserva 2016 is the 42nd such vintage since 1888 from estate vineyards and the oldest parcels therein. Meanwhile olive trees and other compatible local species grow in those places and there always seems to be lower pH and higher bright acidity coming off the grapes. The Federico Radi team seeks to broaden biodiversity with unlimited scope and more vineyards would benefit by following such a plan. When Biondi-Santi gets to their next position we can expect even more refined and higher quality wines. Meanwhile the harmony and extant abilities in this ’16 Riserva are almost impossible to believe. A Riserva of fruit termed as the locus of the points drawn at an equidistant from the centre. Sangiovese of no stops and starts existing on a special kind of ellipse in which the eccentricity is zero and the two foci are coincident. Simple descriptors like crunch, chew or crust are not in the lexicon nor do service to speak about the texture of this remarkable sangiovese. Subtlety and strength, a dappling of early morning light, patterning and shimmering as if on water. The phenolics are spot on, coherent and the connection with both palate and tannins perform as an unbreakable bond. A canvas flooded with colour and while there is a level of transparency there are no white spots. Everything is filled in. Clocks in at 14 per cent abv. Drink 2025-2040.  Tasted November 2022

Federico Radi and Giampiero Bertolini, Biondi-Santi

Biondi-Santi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Tenuta “Greppo” 2016

The stoic, demure and understated Brunello in Annata garb, still quiet and yet to assume what formidable character it is surely destined towards. Aromas exist by dint of DNA and yet its custodians will call it “a really nice vintage at Il Greppo. We feel the energy as being a true estate vintage. A normal season, warmth without heat, rain here and there, winds blowing through for freshness.” Indeed there is palate voltage, fruit is substantial and approaching its apex. Crisp as sangiovese yet chewable, ripe with a voice predicated on acids and a flavour profile of varietal truth, but also reason.  Last tasted November 2022

As with Rosso 2018 there is magic in 2016 and for Federico Radi it was just a matter of blending, having inherited the wines already waiting in cask. Magic because a tempered in control level of alcohol and purity of satin-glycerol consistency is purely and expressly Biondi-Santi. Bottled seven months ago and will be released in March of 2022. The notion of optimum balance will likely set in two or three months from now with a lingering peppery pique and kick still in tow. Also a freshness of summer making for a minor balsamico but one that is far from concentrated in dark syrup. The alcohol is at 14 which for the vintage and current day Montalcino is relatively low, or at least modest. And yet the wine captures your immediate attention, partly because the fruit is fortified but more so by dramatic acidity and a lingering austerity. Also the reddest of citrus notes, almost pomegranate. The acidity number is actually 0.5 per cent higher than (Riserva) ’15, with notes of orange skin, violet and subtle underbrush. More Paco de Lucia than Slash. The latter will fall away in two, better still three years. The Brunello will likely remain in that next state for 10 years and then begin to evolve, slowly, incrementally towards and through a few to several decades life. Drink 2024-2041.  Tasted November 2021

Col d’Orcia on the 8s

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Al Vento 2008

The windy hill or ridge in the heart of the estate guarded by a 300 year-old grand oak tree and the first vintage planted by the family in Montalcino. The first Poggio al Vento single-vineyard came out of 1982, eight years after the vines were put in by Francesco’s father (and Santiago’s grandfather). The vineyard is the sandiest, with the lowest hydrological retention but it makes for a Piedmontese approach, thinner of backbone and upwards of elegance. The acidity is one of the highest for Col d’Orcia, but also one with the most extract. Saline sangiovese, of iron and spice, balsamic and all the minerals that might be found in a Brunello from this place. Showing well, secondary timing in full effect, plenty of life left.  Last tasted November 2022

Only 8,000 bottles were made of Col D’Orcia’s always formidable and classically structured Brunello. Elegance offers a glimpse of hopeful emergence even while its firmness is still fully intact. The added determination and epic struggles of the vintage translate to a singular Sangiovese type of funk from a vineyard, like so many other south facing Montalcino slopes, of what may just be the greatest physical involuntariness in the world. The fruit and texture are delicate, of a veritable Tuscan gastronomy, pure vernacular and of a leathery lightness of brogan being. The youth in this Brunello is palpable, nearly awkward but certainly not backward. It is progressing as it should, lentamente, lentamente. Three more years minimum is needed to coax it out of its coriaceous hide. Drink 2019-2028.  Tasted March 2016

Biondi-Santi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 1999

“It started as a revolution,” explains Giampiero Bertolini, CEO of Biondi-Santi. “Tancredi was called in by the Italian government to draft the Brunello production rules. He was the Dottore.” Then in 1994 Franco organized a tasting of Brunello 1888-1988 to show that the wines could stand the test of time. This 1999 Riserva takes the same approach and survives in much the same way. It was sandwiched between the hot and hyped 1997 and beautiful 2001, not to mention cool if nurturing 1998 plus the wildly unpredictable 2000. And so welcome to a vintage that in retrospect is in a league of its own but also a teammate of the forward thinking, slow releasing, yet to be fully imagined 2016. From the 1999 vintage the Riserva was produced with Biondi-Santi’s proprietary clone known as BBS11 (Brunello Biondi-Santi 11) that was identified at Tenuta Greppo in the 1970s. Vine age in here exceeds 25 years and my what a fine streak of salinity running through this Riserva’s veins. All this to say that 1999 is developing and maturing slow and steady, fruit freshness persistent, acids are a factor of vintage and time will continue to be kind. Lots of evergreen in the ’99 and an austerity in the tannin that must have been formidable once upon a time. You can feel what would have been generosity that has now split into three parts; roundness, creaminess and so much spice. Fleshy and rare meat juicy with resolved tannins, supple and consistently persistent. Really flexible Brunello, long ago come into balance and energy still to burn. The 1999 is very special, a reluctant revolutionary, end of an epoch sangiovese with the charge to help usher in the next. Lovely sweet porcini note at the finish. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Al Vento 1998

If not thought upon this way at the outset there is now an understanding that 1998 is a truly age-able vintage. The original defect was the idea that it came between 1997 and 1999. Today those who know, know better. The depth is important, not at the top of how this is quantified but the linearity and forward fresh survivalist attitude is absolutely fascinating. There certainly is some darkness here in the context of a big nighttime sky too immense to imagine but the wine feels like it continues to move forward. Acids are lovely and sweet though not the crux of the situation while tannins are melted and soft at this point. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Poggio Al Vento 1988

One whiff of the eaux de parfums verity by 1988 and suddenly the idea of what to expect next from the following 8s comes clearer into view. This vintage has by now shed quite a good amount of the notions it long held onto; volatility, balsamico, herbaceous accents and spice. The epoch into equation can be now be witnessed as elegance and beauty at this 34 year point where Orcia Valley derived shiny cool savour is now in charge. A happy place, fruit in its sweetest phase (aside from infancy) here in 2022, very much alive and kicking, structural parts stepping aside. And here a wine of maturity moving through a period of transition but the fruit just seems sweet, naturally and without adjustment. Aromatically the earth and age are in charge but there is the great dichotomy to be noticed and appraised. Unsurprising considering the times they were and are again now. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Filippo Bartolotta, Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano and Santiago Marone Cinzano

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOC 1978

A most intriguing old Brunello, of salinity and orange pekoe tea, orange zest and more so the juice of an orange. Plenty of energy though there is something different here, especially aromatically speaking. Muddy to some but it’s really quite amazing as a sangiovese of clarity, with oak accents really there, of vanilla and caramel. The length is nothing short of incredible on this wine. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted November 2022

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOC 1968

A most unusual set of aromatics, hard to define, put a finger on, gather thoughts about what is there. Acts like black fig and liquid cocoa, balsamic and sweet tart. Lots of perfume from a bottle re-corked two years ago, sulphites adjusted and same vintage used to top up. Also the first vintage bottled by Francesco’s father in 1974, from barrels found in the cellar. Brighter acidity, orange citrus, light caramel, feeling like there are other grapes in this wine, perhaps ciliegiolo and even trebbiano. Not likely canaiolo because the pH here is as low as it gets and that grape would bring it up. Drink 2022-2023.  Tasted November 2022

Fabian Schwarz, La Màgia

La Magia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2021

All the 15 hectares of vineyards are Brunello classified and so Rosso is a vintage decision, based on quality, challenges and potential. Clearly wanting just to be consumed as witnessed by an amazing fruit quality, so substantial but there is tannin involved. A whole lot of precious tannin so do not sleep on keeping a few bottles for a few years. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted November 2022

With Federico Radi, Biondi-Santi

From the last of the “regular” vintages, cold spring with late rains, drying early summer months, some harder climate change induced rains but no mildew or disease pressure. Good summer temperatures, no heat spikes, fluctuations from day to night and picking beginning mid-September. Most of the fruit comes from the lower southeastern parts of the estate vineyard below Tenuta Greppo, in predominately clay soils close to Lorenzo Magnelli’s Le Chiuse. Also Ribusoli just below and Pievecchia north of the village. Ripeness is a virtue in Rosso, never too ripe while right there with present yet softly persistent tannins towards what is quite the mouthful of rich and age-worthy Rosso. There just always seems to be a savoury-mineral quality to Biondi-Santi’s Rosso, especially on the finish in residual sensation remaining on the palate. Perhaps less so out of the fruit wealth and beauty by 2019, but make no mistake it is surely there. Structured for Rosso and yet at the end of the day a 2019 B-S RDM is there to drink, any day or night of the week. Even at the cost it has arrived to, “free to those that can afford it, very expensive to those that can’t.” If you find yourself thinking “we want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!” well, this would be a pretty perfect place to start. Drink 2023-2031.  Tasted November 2022

Col d’Orcia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Rainfall in winter (within average), snowfall in February and 600m between April and September and then a substantial hail at the end of July. Required labour intensive work in the vineyard to remove damage, to control odium and mildew. Thinking that a Rosso di Montalcino from a leaner or “smaller” vintage would not have the fortitude to age but think again. Fruit freshness persists, no doubt. Even for Rosso the selection of healthy bunches was key to this Rosso’s success. Understated grip will see it through a few years and Col d’Orcia has proven the possibility can be ten. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2022

Good to go!

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Benvenuto Brunello 2022

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WineAlign

Simply Red: Rosso di Montalcino

Red Montalcino in the Fortezza di Montalcino

On June’s busy calendar a fast and intense 36-hour window opened for a flash visit in Montalcino, too short yet one so worth the sidle. A great privilege it was to attend the Consorzio Vino Brunello di Montalcino’s new Rosso event called “Red Montalcino.” In November of 2021 the decision was made to migrate away from the larger event of Anteprime di Toscane and with the launch of Red Montalcino the full division has now been made. Simply Red for Rosso, solo artist now, with Brunello di Montalcino’s Benvenuto event returning again this coming November.

With Consorzio President Fabrizio Bindocci of Il Poggione

Hours well spent with home away from home Il Giglio family, two masterclasses in the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino and a walk-around in the Chiostro Museo Montalcino. A fascinating retrospective look back at 10 years of Rosso di Montalcino in masterclass number one titled Dieci Anni di Rosso di Montalcino. Longevity and the subtleties in secondary characteristics came of age through the lens of eight stellar examples. Masterclass number two called Selezione di Rosso di Montalcino brought the idea of “cru” or “selection” to light for a DOC appellation of ever increasing importance. Vino Sapori e Inspirazioni Nel Cuore Di Montalcino is a sentiment that refers to so much more than just flavours. Rosso di Montalcino defines the new profound in Italian wine.

Montalcino

On arrival there was a hop into Violante Gardini Cinelli Colombini’s car for a three-hour tour of Casato Prime Donne, a first and finally crossed off bucket list visit. The two night, one day sojourn culminated with an energizing Red Montalcino gala under the stars in the Fortezza di Montalcino where Lara Gilmore and Food for Soul Italia brought innovation and zero waste food execution to Toscana.

Related – A visit with Violante Gardini Cinelli Colombini

Red Montalcino 2022

The 2020 Rosso di Montalcino vintage is best described as one of blanketing and nurturing, a child of a warm and dry season, devilishly if dangerously low in quantity and one in Rosso terms to envision as lasting for a very long time. There was less disease pressure and the plants just knew what to do. Also great temperature fluctuations, seemingly all through harvest to allow the complex development of aromatics with increasing intensity. This application is becoming an annual occurrence, a positive attribute of climate change, if you will. A season gifting viscosity and that deepest of red cherry fruit.

Montalcino by night

The vintage gains importance because 2020 holds both joy and also grip. Many estates only produced 20-30 per cent as compared to 2019 but surely a number as a factor of the average, norm or potential. Adversity and low yields aside the purity is unrivalled for Rosso, the liveliness too, before transitioning to true sanguine sangiovese coursing through. The dichotomy by way of a 2020 Rosso comes from swelling fruit and aching acids through tannins sweet and unsurprisingly supportive. At its best it is like discovering the first ever vintage of something profound. 

Awards presentation in the Montalcino Theatre

As for 2019, notes from the November 2021 Benvenuto and those tasted this past June transcribed below will tell a story of a vintage out of which quality is right up there with quantity. A season of purity and clarity, what Rosso should be. An exacting transcript of terroir, a mirror held up to località; profumato, sfumato, evocativo…the essence of the land. For a Godello primer on the most fascinating aspects about Rosso di Montalcino, please read on ahead.

Food for Soul Italia

Related – What the winemakers drink: Rosso di Montalcino

In the Godello article about Benvenuto Brunello 2021 the phrase “Much ado and what to do about Rosso di Montalcino” began a quest towards seeing the changes and more importantly the future of the appellation. As a reminder, “culturally speaking Rosso di Montalcino is the most important wine. It’s what the Montalcinese drink daily. More than one Montalcino winemaker has used the phrase “it’s what we like to drink” and just as many will tell you that Rosso must reflect sangiovese’s character more than any other wine. What we know is that the Rosso are the protagonists of the new market.” The attitude prevails. “Rosso di Montalcino could and should be elevated to DOCG status. To do so requires investment and also a mandatory minimum aging period in wood. More vineyards need to be designated as Rosso and were a DOCG awarded the rules would need to be altered to make sure the wines are pre-declared as such. There is enough Brunello to go around and the world needs more Rosso di Montalcino.”

Related – Montalcino Previews: 2020 and 2019 Rosso, 2017 Brunello Annata, Vigna and 2016 Riserva DOCG

Fortezza di Montalcino

Tasting Rosso di Montalcino over the course of two days in June proved with unequivocal doubt that quality across the board has never been greater or higher. This assessment is based on three crucial criteria; first are the guarantees of character and calibre in the two most recent vintages, they being 2020 and 2019; then there is the accordant longevity of both Selezione Rosso but also 2010s decade wines as noted through examples poured at the morning session in the church of Sant’Agostino. Here are the notes on the 44 Rosso di Montalcino tasted on June 10th and 11th, 2022.

Red Montalcino Masterclass

Dieci Anni di Rosso di Montalcino (Ten Years of Rosso di Montalcino)

Il Poggione Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2010

Truth straight and inherent from a Rosso nearly 12 years of age, fresh and immovable. Speaks the structure of a vintage, even for Rosso, were it crafted in this way and equipped to speak on behalf of sangiovese’s age-ability, no matter the what, where and why of the fruit. Camphor oil, anchovy and a melange of “salato” umami to speak of Sant’Angelo in Colle and then, all of Montalcino. Beautiful wine with a long, liquid chalky finish. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted June 2022

Pietroso Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2011

Less grip and hold then 2010 and were it tasted here, also 2012 as well. This Rosso has moved into next level and territorial existence, now porcini and tobacco, frutta di bosco and all the earth, mulch and woods once waiting in the wings. Showing as a wise and well-aged Rosso that has seen its best days though drinks with sweet savoury clarity in the here and now. Drink 2022.  Tasted June 2022

Le Chiuse Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2013

From the producer, that being Lorenzo Magnelli, man who looks to the largest berries for his Rosso di Montalcino. The great surprise that is 2013 sangiovese from Montalcino resides in a glass like this, evolving yet holding its line with great acumen. The northern side of the village surely aids and abets in extending the life of Rosso. Hard to believe the beauty inherent and the elasticity of this fruit. Suave, assured and holding all the cards to keep on keeping on.  Drink 2022-2026. Tasted June 2022

Masterclass wines

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2015

The Rosso ’15 from Francesco Rippacioli is not what should be called immovable or formidable yet there is some depth and even brood to its dark back cherry constitution. Rich and certainly the sort of sangiovese that leaves an impression, a mark and a depression on one’s palate, but also heart. Keep and enjoy this Rosso for several years still ahead. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted June 2022

San Lorenzo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

The Annata 2016 is the most democratic and elongated of them all, that is with respect to recent times. In Rosso this means elasticity, stretched tannins and fruit made leathery, adhering to the structural organization like no other vintages come earlier or soon to follow. San Lorenzo’s shows chewy fruit, part plum, part persimmon, part liquorice and also a pod aspect, like bokser as an example. Acids are along for the ride and chalkiness in not exactly sweet tannin persists. A Rosso in several parts, linear above all else, all of them interesting. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted June 2022

With Asa Johansson in the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino

Ridolfi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Of lithe structure and fading light, a Rosso in descending denouement, trailing fruit and acids as it falls behind the horizon. Lovely in its maturity though the stuffing was not there to support more than a few years of flesh and depth. Drink up. Drink 2022.  Tasted June 2022

Poggio Di Sotto Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2019

From 2019 Rosso rests in a red fruit Poggio di Sotto vacuum, surrounded by walls of structure to maintain a vintage exaggeration, which is in fact what their Rosso style is consistently all about. Upon further examination the fruit is found to exists in a state of both precocious maturity and one that will hold for years. Understanding arrived early and yet there will be no great hurry to move forward with any great haste. A wise Rosso with some swagger and confidence. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Lara Gilmore in the Montalcino Theatre

Argiano Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Incomparable to the rest of this 10 years of Rosso di Montalcino flight. Raw, emotion-filled and aromatic of florals, wood spice and new fabric scents. Complexity abounds with an almost graphite-creosote-fresh tobacco trilogy, unresolved, staid and secure. Truth of the sensation is pure Argiano, chewy, leathery, rich and yet clear, transparent and open-knit. Should get really interesting in three to four years. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Masterclass two with Francesco Saverio Russo

Selezione di Rosso di Montalcino (Rosso di Montalcino Selection)

Fattoria Dei Barbi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Selezione Colombini 2020

One whiff and Barbi it is, unequivocal, knowable of an ilk and administered idiom not to be denied. The scent of history and experience while perhaps not quite the democracy of say 2016, yet this Rosso 2020 comes eerily close. Purity of southerly red fruit picked and layered in equanimous fashion, confident and telling the breadth of a Barbi story. Lifted, rising weightless into high tonality. All this in the micro-vernacular of a selection made purposeful for the specificity of this cuvée. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi

Casanova Di Neri Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Giovanni Neri 2020

Named in light of proprietor Giacomo Neri’s son and produttore Giovanni. There are few Rosso as open, gregarious and generous as this 2020. Quando buono e buono, when it’s good, it’s good and that is what really matters in Neri’s Rosso Selezione. Round, circuitous, acids draughting fruit and tannin trailing acidity. Comes back to the beginning and starts the process all over again, on repeat. Humility and classicism are in this Rosso, which seems to make perfect sense. Wood needs to integrate before the best days arrive. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted June 2022

The Neri brothers, Gianlorenzo and Giovanni

Col d’Orcia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Banditella 2019

There seems to be a trend forming with respect to Rosso Selezione because this by Col d’Orcia is so very eponymous and must be regarded as aching in notation of the estate and place from where it comes. The scents, of fruit blossoms, bosco and sweet tobacco link Banditella with Rosso and Brunello. In this sense Selezione is neither but instead the bridge connecting sangiovese to both. If that is the point then Col d’Orcia is a builder of relationships and new traditions. More barrel felt upon the finish, also the sharpness of yet to fully integrate acids and so with patience allow for a coming together. Can guarantee this will drink well in 2030. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted June 2022

Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Rossofonte 2019

From 33 year-old vines, more barrel than some other Rosso Selezione and thus the link is closer to Brunello than Rosso. Noting tobacco smoulder, brown butter, toasted nuts and vanilla, strong wafts that confirm the suspicion. A full and creamy Rosso is the result, classic for the lineage and highly representative of the house style. Needs another year for secondary notes to come out and replace some of the cloud cover created by the wood. Drink 2023-2025.  Tasted June 2022

Gabriele Gorelli MW

Il Marroneto Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Jacopo 2019

And now for something completely different. Aromas unlike any other Rosso Selezione in the flight, more fight than flee, that much is known and free. An intensity of spice, east and west, the full indy or monty, tied together by a vivid set of fruit on top. Might feel like a big Rosso, a.k.a Brunello but the truth is Jacopo is just a bit more grown up, ambitious and steadfast in conviction than many others. Expresses 2019 with utmost flesh, fruit (including blood orange) showing a slight mature to transformative edge. Great grip will send this further so that density and compactness can melt away. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted June 2022

Alessandro Mori, Il Marroneto

Caparzo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC La Caduta 2017

Once again the gears are changed, the climate and soils alter, the aromas deliver what the first five Selezione had not in this Rosso flight of eight. Quite fine, very mineral and surely the Rosso child of true Galestro terroir. Also warm and developed yet kept in check by northerly attitude, making things straight and right out of 2017. The affinity with La Casa (Brunello) seems obvious, with the stones and the slope bearing similar fruit. Showing some age and peppery heat but perfectly in the window right now. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted June 2022

Fattoria Del Pino Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Il Jeccardo 2016

The conspiring factors are all quality ones to bring Fattoria del Pino’s Rosso into fine current form. The gift of vintage, the concept of Selezione and the block party that is Il Jeccardo. The soils are schist-marl (Galtesro), calcareous and sandy (Arenaria) for one of Montalcino’s most diverse. Brings the amenities for Rosso that are crushable, elegant and structured. These are all present in FdP’s 2016, accounting for and representative of the soil conglomerate that makes this a wine both special and humble. A joy to drink. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted June 2022

Alle Loggia della Piazza

Franco Pacenti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Gemma 2015

Travelling back six-plus years for Rosso may have been an exercise once only reserved for a select few but the pastime is now a normal and oft repeated vocation. Franco Pacenti has captured 2015’s generosity and fruit first commentary with great distinction and the Selezione Gemma is filled with copious aromatics. Moves into stone rolled linearity running right through the middle of a fleshy wine that speaks in a structural vernacular. What’s amazing is how this truly stands out as a complete wine in a flight for 2015-2020 as the only truly resolved and ready to justify the means. Individually or collectively, either or for both. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Il Giglio

Simply Red: A Rosso di Montalcino walk-around tasting

Armilla Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Fine and classic if on the full and textured side, though nothing out of the ordinary as it pertains to the vintage. Does well to merge the rise of fruit into the structured spectrum. All fruit and spirit, a side show of acids and those tannins which support in full cohort. Does 2020’s warm and generous vintage proud. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted June 2022

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Call this Rosso balanced, even if what emits is not quite the same the equanimity of 2019. Still there is nurturing from out of the blanketing warmth of 2020, a linear progression from grippy fruit through acid succulence. The construct of structural motion is more than just a notion and the wine is in constant flux, unsettled, not having arrived anywhere near its final, or intended destination. Will move with the times, be transferable, able to reinvent itself time and time again. As a Canalicchio di Sopra it most certainly will. Bottled only three months ago so understand why there is so much speculation. Francesco Ripaccioli believes the evolution will be like 2016. Drink 2024-2029.  Tasted June 2022

Capanna Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Fragrant and floral Rosso from violets to roses, liquid chalky out of the gate and poised to burst with fruit in the glass. A fine and approachable Rosso with just a minor verdant grip in urgency at the finish. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted June 2022

Giacomo Bartolommei, Caprili

Caprili Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Must find common ground here with Giacomo Bartolommei in thinking this will be a very long lasting vintage in Rosso terms. Not a wine so knowable from the start per se but one of evolution, of gaining stature because of inherent structure. More than seven months since this would have first been shown and there is a renewed potential, fruit quality and substance in action on a current high, estimably positive and representative of this ever-impressing estate. Grapes are chosen based on the differentiations of the vineyard, not de-classified from Brunello as in the past. Yet the elévage is similar, just shorter and crucial decisions are made after the first year. So good. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted June 2022

Elena Pellegrini and Marco La Brusco, Cerbaia

Cerbaia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

“To us Rosso di Montalcino is important because we take from the Brunello vineyards and in 2020 only 4,000 bottles were made, though Rosso is not produced in every year,” tells Elena Pellegrini. From the youngest vines out of a single plot planted in 2002. Decision making occurs during harvest and at least two or three passes are made. The potential is 30,000 at Cerbaia and so Rosso is a special wine, never an afterthought, always carefully considered. It shows in the restrained power, the elegant confidence, the nurturing and matriarchal presence. Again there is dichotomy by way of a 2020 Rosso, from swelling fruit and aching acids through tannins sweet and unsurprisingly supportive. Spent four months in Grandi Botti 25-50 hL and readiness is just ahead. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Collemattoni Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Spent 18 months in 30 hl Slavonian Botti, longer than many and only bottled four months ago. From two vineyards, one near the cellar in Sant Angelo in Colle and the other on the road to Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The latter brings the chalky mineral to compliment Colle’s fruit and fleshy power. A push-pull Rosso, from sweet youth to rocks and sand of grit and fine-grained tannin. Persistence is a key factor and that classic Collemattoni red Rosso signalling all the way through. Will come together after another winter. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Corte Dei Venti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Perfectly dusty like dried roses, pressed and petals crumbling. Potpourri fragrant and a clarity expressive of 2020, like discovering the first ever vintage of something profound. When Rosso has lift it acts just like this and yet there is some weight though also a weightlessness about the way it’s always rising. In that regard it should be chocked up to the concept of restrained power. Great showing. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted June 2022

Tommaso Cortonesi

Cortonesi La Mannella Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Rosso di Montalcino is the child of a warm and dry season of which incidentally Tommaso Cortonesi is a big fan. Less disease pressure and a vintage where the plants just “knew what to do.” Also great temperature fluctuations, seemingly all through harvest to allow the complex development of aromatics with increasing intensity. This application is becoming an annual occurrence, a positive attribute of climate change, if you will. Cortonesi has been increasing aging times over the past 15 years from six to 12 and now nearly 15 months, spending botti time (20 per cent new) for 14 out of 2020. Top edging fruit and edgy accents elevate the aromatics so that the terroir is allowed to shine on through. Behold this prime work ethic, use of wood and also time in all the right ways. Place is at the fore. Grande. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted June 2022

Godello and Violante

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Casato Prime Donne 2020

“We need to explain that this is a wine that is very different than the Brunello and during the harvest we decide which grapes will be for Rosso and for Brunello.” The words of Violante Gardini introduce a wine that respects nature in a very specific vintage, made for freshness, fun and not as a baby Brunello. “Otherwise it will be a disaster. It must have identity, to show this wine in a different way.” The vintage gains importance 2020 because 2020 holds both joy and also grip. It does not try too hard, nor is it asked to do too much. Extraction is low, oak usage big, in botti. Donatella would like the consumer to drink this young but this vintage will do well for a minimum three plus years. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Elisa Fanti

Fanti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Fanti grows 15 hectares for Rosso for a potential of 120,000 bottles though only 50,000 were made from 2020. Ages for a year in big barrels plus some fourth passage barriques. As a rule this is a classic vintage, very different than 2019 and bottling happened in January. Another ilk, other worldly, no way to mix this season into the memories of any other. Fanti’s Rosso takes ownership, even at this stage just five months in, a standout to be counted 2020. Balance and execution are what brings it to this. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Fattoria Dei Barbi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Now sweetly and juicily fruit forward, if a bit out of character as such. This is the “normale” Rosso (as opposed to the Selezione Colombini) and so elévage is just six months in wood. All in the name of approachability and amenability, perhaps the most ever, or a new chapter in Barbi Rosso. For the people, fresh as a rule, democratic.  Last tasted June 2022

A vintage of viscosity and deepest of red cherry fruit, off of vines five to fifteen years old. While really young there is access here for drinking a 2020 ahead of many others. Classically dark Barbi fruit and a Galestro feeling. Bottled just less than one month ago and settled into a calm state by now. Will remain stable for a few years, not necessarily gaining in complexity but surely keeping on. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted November 2021

Stefano Bambagioni, Fossacolle

Fossacolle Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Rosso sees 10 months in Botti (25 hL or less) plus some time in concrete. Selection is from young vines though as they age that availability lessens and so some barrel selection is necessary to be part of the mix. Makes decisions more difficult, having to include some barriques in Rosso. An underdog vintage things Stefano Bambagioni, one out of which after 12-18 months something magical will begin to happen. All this to say that Rosso is “something that is alive,” and balance is the ultimate goal, as witnessed here, in the result. Smooth as silk, of sweet tannins and clear as present danger of a potential for aging. Five to seven years easy. Drink 2023-2027.  Tasted June 2022

Le Chiuse Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

The finest sangiovese grain and naturally occurring sweetness come from Lorenzo Magnelli’s 2020 Rosso, a varietal humectant of such pleasing mouthfeel to reside at the top of the region’s ever-improving appellative echelon. Few Rosso are able to achieve this ilk of floating nirvana, where once its largest of berries macerated towards fermentation in great solicitation of emotive capability. It all makes cause to pause and reflect. Really succulent and also architectural, a construct of stone, bone, acid and karst, vertical, linear, moving forward and winning. Drink 2024-2030.  Tasted June 2022

Alessandra Pacini, La Lecciaia

La Lecciaia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Seemingly night versus day in contrast with the soft and resolved 2018 but time is likely the reason. The force is felt immediately on the nose, not exactly hot but surely grippy, agitative and a bit bothered. A matter of early circumstance, the reason to exercise patience and wood in charge an unavoidable result of all these matters. Re-visit in 2024. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted June 2022

La Màgia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Quite a dense mat and full mess of fruit for 2020, magnanimous, fulsome, fully set glycerin and pectin. There is balance despite the nearly jammy constitution as a by-product of the vintage. Raised at elevation (500m) in the southeast of Montalcino. From 15 hectares, all Brunello capable and in fact the affinity here is with the bigger wines with only elévage separating the Rosso. Prepares us for what the Grand Vin will be like as it pertains to this specific vintage. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted June 2022

Lisini Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Yet another archetypal 2020 Rosso, fragrantly perfumed to the calcareous hilt and also notably structured from all points leading out from go. Feeling a true mineral streak running through, elevating cherries in season, juicy and fleshy, ripe and fully formed. Well made, balanced and truly essential Rosso work. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted June 2022

Red Montalcino gala dinner

Piancornello Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Somewhat reductive though the fruit set is magnified and of a clarity in black cherry, followed by a waft of tobacco. Works the glass with credibly strong and accountably forceful tannin. In a Brunello vein, there is lots of wine here. Drink 2023-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Andrea and Gloria Pignattai, Pietroso

Pietroso Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

A selection is made from all grapes coming in for 17,000 bottles of Rosso out of 2020. Ages one year in a combination of botti and tonneaux, from the start showing great promise. A warm vintage and it shows. Mainly Galestro, a stony soil that comes through in the combination of glycerol and chalkiness. Not gravelly but a sandy-stony feeling gained, of smooth grain, easily transferred over the palate and sweetly endowed with acid and tannin. Another star rising to the top of the Montalcino pantheon. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted June 2022

Riccardo Talenti

Talenti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Heady, big-boned, exemplary of combing and combining two terroirs’ contribution to layer Rosso di Montalcino. The ripeness of 2020 fruit is at appellative peak, tightening further, compact, compressed and staid. For now and with two years further the fleshy juiciness will surely emerge. 25,000 bottles produced.   Last tasted June 2022 

Tight, young and early bracing Rosso from Talenti, showing off the darker fruit of the vintage and surely offering a glimpse into what the Brunello will bring three further years down the road. A vintage of well developed fruit and sharp acidity, vividly captured in a sangiovese just like this. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted November 2021

With Filippo Bellini, Tenuta Buon Tempo

Tenuta Buon Tempo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Just bottled two months ago, fermented spontaneously in steel, aged primarily in cement with a short stay in Slavonian oak. A late frost resulted in only 8,000 bottles being produced (as opposed to 55,000 in 2019) so hang on to these precious gems from rare Montalcinese alluvial soil just above the canyon of the Orcia River. Adversity and low yields aside the purity is unrivalled for Rosso, the liveliness too, before transitioning to true sanguine sangiovese coursing through. So right and proper, vanguard and directly linear for Rosso. Needs two years settling time. Treat this like a category within a category, or just as one on its own. It could be said that 2020 is like proprietor Filippo Bellini, a case of half and half. Drink 2024-2028.  Tasted June 2022

Lunch at Alle Loggia della Piazza

Ucceliera Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Along with Voliero the Rosso at the hands of Andrea Cortonesi is one of agriculture, above all else. If the term may be used this way then Ucceliera is Riserva to Voliero’s Annata. Here the compactness of earth on fruit is layered, beginning with the strata below and culminating in the fruit above. Does indeed need to unwind, shed tannin and terroir while staying focused and in its contiguous state of meditation over agitation. This it will.  Last tasted June 2022

A Rosso further along than many, at least in terms of fermentative culmination and post-shock living. Shows off the hue and depth of vintage fruit with more redness, cherry ingress and tannic redress. You can feel the grip and the controlled power in this sangiovese. Will be a very good one because it already is. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted November 2021

Voliero Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2020

Farming, farming, farming. When Rosso come across this way, profumato, sfumato, evocativo…it is the essence of the land. Southerly Montalcino at elevation, taut, persuasive and meaningful, a seamless sangiovese missive. For Rosso, what is just, necessary and right.  Last tasted June 2022

Tight, taut, wound around itself like a wire around a spool and yet having found its way out of fermentation and through bottling. Less fruit than brother Ucceliera and also lower toned, earthbound, grounded and yet the acids are right on point. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted November 2021

Col Di Lamo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2019

“A little Brunello, so we prefer more time,” tells Giovanna Neri. Spends eight to 10 months in large Botti, plus 10 per cent in tonneaux and barriques. Then two further years in bottle. Vineyards are on the road that connects Buonconvento with san Quirico. Still a touch reductive, of liquorice and spice, fennel and salumi. From sandy clay soil in a Rosso of intense hue but also texture. All red fruit with balsamic seasoning in a very specific Rosso style. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted June 2022

Lorenzo Pacenti

Franco Pacenti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2019

Rosso sees a year in 25 hL botti, the fruit coming from 10 hectares of vineyards with the youngest vines now 20 years of age. On average Rosso makes up 8,000-10,000 bottles of the total production. Here from 2019 purity and clarity, what Rosso should be. An exacting transcript of terroir, Località Canalicchio di Sopra snapshot of place and most importantly a right here, right now transcribing of vintage. Crisp and crunchy, of fine acids, easy and yet sneaky of structure, so very well composed. Always a pleasure to taste with Lorenzo Pacenti. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted June 2022

Mastrojanni Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2019

Still tight and terroir driven, that much is clear. Fragrant inclusive of earth and smoulder, woodsy in that aromatic way. Settling in just now yet quite structured and savoury for ’19 Rosso. Persistent, not of buzzing energy but surely from a place. Rosso as Rosso.  Last tasted June 2020

Firm yet a Rosso with more than ample charm and grace, full red fruit and tannin interposed, layered and sharing the sangiovese stage. Takes some time but the fulsome and dusty work here really gains and makes haste of your senses. Takes hold and really does not let go. Drink 2021-2024.  Tasted November 2021

What a good looking crew

Tenuta Buon Tempo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2019

As mentioned in the 2020 note there are 55,000 bottles of this 2019 (as opposed to 8,000 for 2020) and yet quality is right up there with quantity. Balance arrives without adversity after an elévage “sensa” concrete, only Slavonian cask, or as it is said, “tronco conico,” 64 hL. An aromatic Rosso, so bloody ripe, arrived at nirvana with a sense of place intact, that being Podere Oliveto. From 2019 Rosso is defined by democracy and generosity.  Last tasted June 2022

For Alberto Machetti a similar and equally “cool” vintage with grapes in Castelnuovo facing Monte Amiata. Picking started on the 16th of September in a vintage with great freshness and in this case an intense level of savour. From the seven lowest hectares on alluvial clay soil only 50 metres from the Orcia River. Of double density and yields which work best for Rosso. Fine but relative ease and linear concentration for an easy but more than notable substantial essay of Rosso. Purple fruit and proper acids. Drink 2021-2024.  Tasted November 2021

La Lecciaia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

This ’18 is the current vintage because La Lecciaia chooses to hold their Rosso back in even years. The 2020 will release in November. All done up in 25-35 hL botti for a minimum six to eight months, often up to a year. “For us we need more time,” tells Alessandra Pacini. Rosso 2020 is warm and nurturing, a cross of sangiovese and cask, silky of texture, soft, juicy and also peppery. Fine and never cumbersome, unencumbered because of time gone by. Sweet tannins, fine acids, nicely done. Showing at peak. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted June 2022

Good to go!

godello

Red Montalcino in the Montalcino Fortress

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WineAlign

Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials: 40 years of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Montalcino, 6pm

My first of six online seminars will trace back through history to the origins of the DOCG classification for Montalcino’s Brunello

No one of sound mind passes up the opportunity to taste Brunello from Montalcino

It was the Baby Boomers in the late 1960s who looked on during the declining years of Italy’s Mezzadria sharecropping system while the founding mothers and fathers of Montalcino got together and forged a territory’s path. These Tuscan pioneers committed to unifying, marketing and selling their wines under the auspices of one consortium. Then through the 1980s and into the 1990s the watchful eyes belonged to Gen Xers at a time when Brunello di Montalcino passed through its formative years and began to develop a recognizable and powerful global identity. Generation X beget Millennials who then bore witness to wines that took the world by storm through the late 1990s and well in the 2000s. By the time Montalcino progressed through the decade of 2010 to 2020 Brunello had cemented its worldwide reputation as one of the most important, cellar-worthy and respected wines.

Municipality of Montalcino, “The land of Wine.” With a capital W, covering a surface area of 24,000 hectares, only 15 per cent of which is occupied by vineyards. Montalcino, 40 km away from the sea and 100 from the Apennines, protected at its southern reaches by Mount Amiata, looming at 1740m, diverter of storms; rain, fog and hail. The zone is roughly a square bordered by the rivers Ombrone, Asso, and Orcia. Sparsely populated, Montalcino the village and surrounding hamlets are inhabited by an overall population of just over five thousand. Since 1967 the territory and its sangiovese have been organized, charted, governed and protected by the Consorzio del vino Brunello di Montalcino. On Thursday, November 12, 2020 the first of six online seminars will cover the entirety of Montalcino and its exceptional wines. Over the course of these six sessions we will welcome 25 archetypal Montalcino producers and their wines.

Coming this Thursday, November 12, 2020

In the trusted duty as ambasciatore for Montalcino and its vital sangiovese I will play host and moderator to four of the territory’s most prominent and illustrious producers in this first of six pivotal seminars. Representatives from Canalicchio di Sopra, Fattoria dei Barbi, Tenute Silvio Nardi and Poggio di Sotto will chat up a select group of media and sommeliers through 40 years of Montalcino’s history. The territory’s controlled denominational guarantee has established its reputation since 1980. Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials have seen it all, from humble beginnings through worldwide recognition.

With the introduction of Italy’s DOC quality appellation (Denominazione di origine Controllata) in 1963, Brunello quickly thereafter rose in the ranks of the eight most important Italian wines bearing that designation. In 1966, it became a DOC wine, and a year later the Brunello Consortium was founded, “as a free association of vignerons whose aim was to safeguard their product and emphasize its best qualities.” In 1980, it was the first wine to be granted the most important DOCG classification (Denominazione di origine Controllata e Garantita), a superior designation for select wines in Italy bearing a specific seal from the government.

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino was formed in 1967 as a coalition of 25 original members. There were 15 producers who signed the page on this accord kept at Bellaria Estate: Assunto Pieri, Ivo Buffi, Loffredo Gaetani Lovatelli, Giuseppe Cencioni, Bramante Martini, Pierluigi Fiovaranti, Silvano Lambardi, Annunziato Franci, Ferruccio Ferretti, Giovanni Colombini, Dr. Leopoldo Franceschi, Silvio Nardi, Gino Zannini, Lucia Perina and Elina Lisini. The other nine original members were Nello Baricci, Siro Pacenti, Milena Perina, Orazio Machetti, Dino Ciacci, Guglielmo Martini, Emilio Costanti, Sabatino Gorelli and Rev. don Leopoldo Bianchi.

The territory’s wine appellations cover Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Moscadello di Montalcino DOC and Sant’Antimo DOC, all exclusively made from grapes grown within the city limits of the Town of Montalcino. There are 221 registered producers and bottlers with the Consorzio del vino Brunello di Montalcino. The President is Fabrizio Bindocci, Vice-Presidents are Giacomo Bartolommei, Stefano Cinelli Colombini and Riccardo Talenti. The Director is Michele Fontana.

Brunello di Montalcino is made from the sangiovese grape, a variety traditionally referred to as Brunello in this area. The regulations governing wine production dictate that the maximum production of grapes per hectare must be less than eight tons per hectare (approximately 52 hl/ha of wine). It also dictates the date of the wine being released onto the market, which is January 1st of the fifth year after harvesting. During this long period, the wine must spend at least two years in wooden barrels and age at least four months in the bottle. The Riserva wine must age at least six months in the bottle and is released a year later onto the market. Rosso di Montalcino DOC is proof of the great versatility of the Montalcino terroir, as it is made from the same sangiovese variety, but is a red wine to be enjoyed earlier. In fact, Rosso di Montalcino is introduced to the market on the September 1st following the year of harvest. Starting with the 1984 vintage, it attained DOC status. There are nine million bottles of Brunello and half that of Rosso produced on average each year. More than a quarter are certified organic and/or biodynamic and that is double as compared to just five years ago. Seventy per cent of the wines are exported. Current vintages on the market are 2015 for Brunello, 2018 for Rosso.

Benvenuto Brunello

The Consorzio’s members come together each February at The Chiostro Museo Montalcino and home to the Consorzio’s offices for Benvenuto Brunello, a two day showcase of the most recent vintages to wrap up Anteprime di Toscana. I recently attended a fourth consecutive collection at Anteprime di Toscana. The culminating 2020 presentation of 2018 Rosso DOC and 2015 Brunello DOCG raised the bar for Montalcino’s venerable sangiovese. You can read all about it here, inclusive of my tasting notes for 150 sangiovese; 36 Rosso di Montalcino DOC and 114 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.

Related – Benvenuto Brunello 2020: Montalcino surges ahead

(c) Consorzio Vino Brunello di Montalcino

Related – Benvenuto Brunello 2020: Montalcino surges ahead

I recently asked a a host of Montalcino producers some pressing questions. Six questions in fact and here is what a couple of our first seminar participants had to say.

What recent vintage would you say marked the turning point for your winemaking, to bring your wines into a place and style that speaks of your particular vineyards, their location and terroir in Montalcino? What or why is the reason?

Stefano Cinellí Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “We have had some turning points. 1931 was the first vintage with “important numbers,” 35,000 bottles instead of the normal 5,000/10,000 we had for a century because my grandfather Giovanni Colombini decided to try to sell it more widely. By mail and through agents in Rome, Naples, Florence and Milan. It was a success, the wine was more alcoholic and very austere. 1964 was rated the best red wine of Italy by the Italian Ministero dell’Agricoltura, obtaining the “Torchio d’Oro” It was a rich, powerful Brunello in a very traditional style, and our first vintage in which we produced more than 100,000 bottles. This was our first vintage appreciated by the Italian journalists, and also the first widely sold abroad. 1975 was a very classic Brunello but more “easygoing”, a turning point in style and marketing. Not so tannic as our previous wines, ready to drink after only five years but able to age very well for decades, it was the final result of years of research on fermentation and on a shorter period in wooden vats. This was very probably the first “modern” Brunello, a style that became the normal one for all the producers. It was an unbelievable commercial success, 235,000 bottles sold from the USA to Japan. 1995 was again something new, still in a very traditional style but larger, bolder even if very elegant. It was our first “fat” Brunello, in a period in which the wines had to be more and more “important” we reached this result avoiding any mechanical concentration with osmosis or similar devices. We increased the vineyards from 50 to 100 hectares, and reduced very strongly the production per hectare. 2007 was another important turning point, after five years of experience we could use for all our production dry ice, the new Ganimede fermenters and a completely “vintage program” which reduced to less than one hour the time from the picking of the grapes to the arrival in the fermenting vats. The result was a better extraction and a better concentration of the traditional flavours of Sangiovese. A more typical and more intense one.

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “2013 may have marked the turning point for our winemaking, in looking for their particular sense of place, for a unique eastern to northeastern Montalcino sapidity in our wines.”

What mistakes have you made and how have you learned from them so that you can make better wines and the wines you need to make from your property?

Stefano Cinellí Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “I am really lucky, because my ancestors take notes of the many mistakes they did in the last two centuries. In vineyards they tried at least two times very dense plantation, 1.5 metres per 0.80 and then in 1930 2 metres per 1. They tried alberello, guyot and cordone speronato on two levels. They tried to anticipate the vintage or to delay it. They tried chestnut vats. They tried warmer fermentation, and fermentation from three days to six months with the skins. Any kind of chemical, organic or mist fertilization. The modern Brunello is the result of centuries of mistakes of a group of producers, frequently friends and sometimes parents, which shared their good and bad results. I did just some small mistakes, because somebody else did the big ones.”

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “We are learning from our mistakes, such as those we made in 2007. We are now much more going in the direction of purity in fruit and clean clarity out of the cellar. Brunello is all about freshness, verticality and depth. These are the three parameters of necessity, especially for Riserva.”

What effect do the Tramontane and Grecale winds have on your vineyards and can you pinpoint a particular vintage when the winds made a big difference in the wines?

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “Montalcino is always very windy, so windy that our vineyards are accustomed. The only vintage in which I was able to note a special difference due to wind was 2013, at the beginning of September we had four days which dried the grapes on the top of the hills, which normally are the best places. The valley vineyards, which normally have mould problems, had a serious increase in quality.”

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “In 2018 the Tramontana wind came on September 16th and the harvest began on the 29th for Rosso. The second wind called the Grecale also blew in to cause up to 30 per cent drying of the grapes. The resulting reduced yields meant for grapes of concentration in both fruit and acidity but also a high number for dry extract.”

How or why did 12 or 24 months, or in rare cases, 60-plus months further become the defined reason for how to make and qualify Riserva?

Stefano Cinellí Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “In my opinion any true Brunello is at his best between eight and 20 years, it is due to the peculiar character of the Montalcino Sangiovese grapes.”

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “The oak is not an ingredient. It’s a kneading for the wine.”

Do you prefer the oldest vines for Riserva or Vigna? And do you prefer them in colder or warmer vintages for these wines?

Stefano Cinellí Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “I tried to find a mathematical connection between colder or warmer vintages and quality, but I had so success. The same happened with the rains. I prefer the best vintages for Vigna and Riserva, but sometimes these are warmer vintages and sometimes are the colder ones. Frequently the top vintages are the most “balanced” ones, but not always.”

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “With vintage variation I prefer the oldest vines (Vigna Mercatale at Canalicchio) in the coldest vintages for Brunello and Vigna. For Riserva I choose the vineyard on the Montosoli hill.”

How are things going for Montalcino?

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “Va a macchia di leopardo. It goes wild. More than a third of the Brunello “vintage” has already been sold and there are only two vintages in the last ten in which more has been sold. The prices of the bottles have not dropped. However, the bulk Brunello market (only 8% of the total) is at a standstill and the bulk price has dropped by 40%. Those who have an advanced commercial and / or a large brand suffer little or nothing, while the less organized ones have some problems. But there are not many. Bolgheri is fine, Maremma and Mo rellino benino, the rest of Tuscany ouch ouch.”

The following are my notes for Canalicchio di Sopra, Fattoria dei Barbi, Tenute Silvio Nardi and Poggio di Sotto Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG tasted over the past two and a half years.

Canalicchio view

Canalicchio di Sopra

Canalicchio di Sopra has been farming the lower northeastern slope below the village of Montalcino since 1962 on 60 hectares, including 19 cultivated with vineyards within a context rich in biodiversity and natural beauty that was granted UNESCO heritage status back in 2004. The vineyards are split within two identified cru; the estate plots at Canalicchio and on the Montosoli hill. Canalicchio is split into six vineyards, including Casaccia which acts for a Vigna, or single-vineyard label. The first bottle of Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino was produced in 1966 and in 1967, the estate was one of the twelve founders of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. Primo Pacenti founded the winery in 1962 and his of son-in-law Pier Luigi Ripaccioli began working side by side with him in 1987. Since 2001 the three grandchildren Francesco, Marco, and Simonetta have been involved in the family’s business.

While the others have real defined roles in vineyards and the office it seems that Francesco Ripaccioli has his hands in every aspect of Canalicchio di Sopra. Winemaking is clearly his focus and love but marketing the family’s wines and putting them in a bigger, wider and more collective Brunello di Montalcino context is clearly a life goal. Francesco is one of the territory’s most precocious team player that understands his family’s place in the context of a greater good. He is a fantastic ambassador for all of Montalcino and his wines are off the charts in excellence.

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($39.95)

Only raised in big barrels but not the 2500L larger oak used for the Brunello. Lovely red fruit purity and transparency from a vintage that was at a near all-time low pH. Higher acidity conversely and serious enough to use for food matching ability. Just a hint of pressing is felt but it’s really just a matter of de-stemming that makes a push but not a crush. A little bit of whole berry helps ward of oxidation and the freshness is truly a matter of gentile handling. Such a fine, drinkable and complex Rosso. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

The ’16 Rosso takes all the extract and acidity of the combined coming two vintages and gleans every ripe aspect for the ambitious way that Rosso can go. Deeper and less crushable and truth be told the Brunello appellation is cozied up to. Salty and full of proper tang with seasoning and spice. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Francesco Ripaccioli

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2010 ($39.95)

Wildly fresh considering Rosso was not often thought to show such longevity, but in can and will exhibit such tendencies. Potential ability is magnified in a dark fruit vintage that advances with wisdom, morphs and settles. Lives and evolves within itself. Sweet fruit persistence is more than admirable, it’s outright amazing. Scents of carob, dried orange and liquorice, now coming into a baking spice place with persistent acidity. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG “Canalicchio Di Sopra” 2015

Back to prominence for Brunello quantity is what 2015 does for business while delivering great quality without causing any undue relative stress. Both Canalicchio vineyards and Montosoli cru fruit make up the cuvée. Welcome to the beauty in cherry liqueur and outright unction from the generous vintage out of which every extra day meant more ripeness, more extract and more texture. The acidity factor is what drives this Brunello because staggered picking equates to an agglomeration of perfect timing. The true estate expression in no unspoken terms. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Casaccia 2015

Casaccia as in the name of the house and the registered name of the vineyard, here a monopole look at Brunello from the larger 14 hectares for eastern Montalcino’s Canalicchio. The idea here is to celebrate a place within a place but without compromising the larger cuvée expression. Takes extract, concentration and purpose to another level, not to mention polish, precision and potential. The acids are elevated and the texture more refined, converse and complimentary. A tightness makes for some early attack that needs time to get past. Quite cool, tannic and intense. Will hit its stride quite far down the road. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2015

A preview sample. Comes from fruit grown in the oldest two hectare vineyard of Vigna Vecchia Mercatale. The vines were planted in 1987 and in good vintages the potential is gifted, not a matter of grand impact but one of the land, the soil, the brown clay minerals and the elements. And so it’s a matter of longevity and potential, not brut strength. A beautiful example of Riserva, focused, precise and fine. And yet the style is poised in position along a line that includes the Brunello and the Riserva so homogeneity in these soils is more than apparent. This part of Montalcino makes this kind of wine and this house celebrates the consistency. Drink 2022-2036.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

There is a substantiating reality to this sangiovese, typical of the sourness that vintage will not allow to be hidden though with more concentration than many. Chewy really comes to mind when you attack and in turn allows the palate to wage battle on your buds. Things fall into place well enough in spite of what 2014 wants to do to distract from the truth. Clearly a set above the norm. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2019

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG “Canalicchio Di Sopra” 2013

This ’13 from Francesco Ripaccioli and Canalicchio di Sopra is sangiovese out of the excellent, variable, at times confounding and now at the seven year mark, nothing if not profound vintage. Perhaps even marks the turning point for a winemaker looking for his and his family’s sense of place, for a unique eastern to northeastern Montalcino sapidity in his wines. “We are learning from our mistakes,” he admits, “such as those we made in 2007. We are now much more going in the direction of purity in fruit and clean clarity out of the cellar.” Brunello is all about freshness, verticality and depth. The 2013 comes from what Francesco would still qualify as “not so easy a vintage, a vintage of interpretation.” Cold for a Montalcino season so he, his siblings and team passed through the vineyards on several occasions for preparation, timing and selection. “We like to clean the vineyard, to prepare for the harvest,” he adds. Picking happened in October “of amazingly floral fruit, finishing on the 11th, just as the rain arrived. Better to be lucky than good.” ‘Tis Brunello first of flowers in bloom, a candied scent and fresh herbs. Fulsome and openly fragrant, a silky texture, some chocolate and ultimately, beauty. Drink 2020-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013

Showing beautifully, in a calm stage even, a respite from power and now, simply attractive. All the Canalicchio elements from clay soil show up; mild sweetness, furthered salinity and a deep sort of sapidity. Nothing fully pronounced but all there. Great Riserva vintage.  Last tasted February 2020

Riserva is a selection in the cellar though certain blocks from certain vintages are premeditated and in fact 2013 Riserva is solely selected from the Montosoli hill. The perfume stands apart, rising, haughty and full of fresh roses. The expression of rocks drawn into vines from the new age, climate-affected northern exposure are for perhaps the first time in the Cru’s history a brand new Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello. Salinity, sapidity, power and elegance. Truly. Drink 2022-2035.  Tasted October 2019

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012

“Reduction is a way to preserve the freshness and the florals of the wine,” tells winemaker Francesco Ripaccioli. Sangiovese is better set up and suited this way and while some Balsamico is now speaking through this ’12 Riserva’s voice, much of the aromatics are still situated in the realm of a high-toned grace.  Last tasted February 2020

A year previous to the ’13 Riserva (which will be made exclusively from Montosoli hill fruit) there is the depth of clay and controlled power out of Canalicchio cru vines. The absolute attention paid to patience and time is noted from a Brunello such as this, spoken out within the constructs of fruit extraction and wood usage. The tannins are red meaning they are ripe and request that you give this wine as much time as it gave before going to bottle and then to market. Lush, consistent from start to finish and just hinting at notes not quite Balsamico but something other, something derived from sangiovese grown in the grey clay of La Casaccia. Drink 2021-2032.  Tasted October 2019

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2016 (Barrel Sample)

Barrel Sample. A deeper well filled with that cherry liqueur and clearly more extract and concentration. The tannins are still fierce, intensely chalky and fine bitters are very much a part of the mix. A furthered texture Brunello with no less strength than most 16s will surely exhibit but the power is tempered by this feel and polish. Quite a potential here for 20 plus years of longevity. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Casaccia 2016 (Barrel Sample)

Barrel Sample. Now this is something exceptional. This is what Casaccia is obviously capable of producing, The sweetest Canalicchio fruit of all, to date and with a rising low and slow angling of acidity (as opposed to straight verticality) that carries the fruit to great heights. This will be a triumph and in fact it is already tasting like a piece de Canalicchio resistance while it sings a long maestro song. A soloist that needs no accompaniment although food, company and peace would not hurt at all. Obviously this is more than just the northern side of Montalcino and more than Canalicchio.  This is Casaccia.  Drink 2025-2040.  Tasted February 2020

Stefano Cinelli Colombini

Fattoria Dei Barbi

All visits to Montalcino must include La Fattoria dei Barbi. Barbi has been owned by the Cinellí Colombini family in Montalcino since 1352. The property extends over 300 hectares of fields and vineyards in southern Tuscany, in Montalcino and Scansano. Production of Brunello dates to 1892 and Barbi were the first to export it to Europe, America and Asia. Fattoria dei Barbi is now run by Stefano Cinellí Colombini, current heir to 848 years of lineage, educator, historian, keeper of tales, lore, mythology and chosen one who continues a story that has seen the Colombini family connected to these lands for more than six centuries. Fattoria dei Barbi has been referred to as being “among a prestigious group of estates that has played an integral part in writing the history of Italian wine.” That is the truth.

Fattoria dei Barbi was the first firm in Montalcino to export bottled wine to France (1817), the first to sell Brunello by mail order (1832), the first to export it to America (1962), England (1969) and Japan (1975). After the death of Giovanni Colombini in 1976, Fattoria dei Barbi has been managed first by his daughter Francesca and today by his nephew Stefano. And yet there is also humility and comedy in this family. As stated on the website and reiterated by Stefano last October in Montalcino as we walked through the cellars, “not all the Colombini were saints, others were womanizers and hedonists, like Tommaso Colombini, a mediocre poet member of the early Renaissance group of literates moving around Cecco Angiolieri. Another weird member at the end of the XVI century was Stefano, who in a fight blinded the Governor of Montalcino and had to run away.”

Guided tours of the historic cellars and the onsite museum of wine for the territory are unrivalled in all of Montalcino. Experiencing them with Stefano Cinellí Colombini is more than memorable. Cinellí Colombini’s ability to relive and rejoice every iota of this territory’s history is the crux of everything Montalcino. His deeper understanding is what you need to know and is based in his family’s long time defence of the traditions and values of the culture of Montalcino, whose ultimate and most valuable fruit is the Brunello. A Montalcino education begins with Stefano Cinellí Colombini and their wines are at the peak of traditional combined with always moving forward with the times. Along with Stefano, no one knows more about Barbi’s history and wine producing prowess than Raffaella Guidi Federzoni who is International Sales Manager for the company. In March of 2020 Rafaella penned a letter to our great mutual friend Jeremy Parzen in which she wrote, “Buy wine. The products of people that share with you a past in some remote village of the South or a medieval town in the Centre or a prosperous bunch of districts in the North. Buy wine made with an identity that belongs only to this small and strange country.
A country that now needs help.” That plea was to Americans but it resonated to Canadians as well.

With Raffaella Guidi Federzoni

Fattoria Dei Barbi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Barbi’s vintage acceptance and celebration is commendable to the degree that 2018 from vineyards ripened for pleasure is to be set this way. Such fruit, sweet thing, like “gardens misty wet with rain.” The kind of tart and tang on cherry and more cherry is what you want from sangiovese meant for the table each and every night. So right, walking and talking without ever growing old. Fresh youth is a beautiful thing. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (928028, $54.95)

C’mon classic Barbi here and the request is for this effectual realization to continue on forever, through the decades of vintages and their Brunelli. You come to expect the sort of juice that needs time, more time, precious time, endless time. You look for this tug of firmness, this posit strength and this creamy centre that ties the sangiovese room together. This does not and don’t ever abandon these roots Stefano, always keeps the Cinellí Colombini family’s Barbi faith alive. They are the lifeblood of this wine. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2020

With Stefano Cinellí Colombini

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Del Fiore 2015 ($79.95)

Vigna del Fiore. Salty number for the Montalcino location and yet this ease of amenability and the way the Barbi effort solicits affectation is undeniable. This secrecy of structure is a house and Vigna speciality and the sauce is spread liberally across the succulence of the fruit. No denying the effort, the acumen and the persistence of unwavering potential. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

The difficult vintages separate the adulte from the bambine and so expectation can’t help but run high for this storied house. I expect the 2014 may be misunderstood. Though quiet and maybe even needing to be described as in a state of demure, this from Barbi translates to grace. Forget vintage for this is Barbi, albeit in a world occupied by some not so unusual aromatics and flavours. Apples? Limes? Apricots? Perhaps. For now the state of grace is not fully accessible or appreciated. After some passage of time, in conjunction with good grip and slowly dissipating astringency, this will live on as a Barbi Brunello. It will do so in honesty, as if there could be any doubt. Drink 2023-2029.  Tasted February 2019

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013

If there is another estate in Montalcino with more ode in pocket to tradition and history while always moving and thinking forward then I’d like to meet it. Barbi’s ’13 takes an express leap ahead, away from where it came but with notes and stories that recall its past. This fruit is serious, wise, salumi-frutta di bosco meets fragola based, chewy, ropey and exact. The tannins are drying over round and bounding acidity while the age potential never wavers. It’s a baby, like so many, but in a Brunello as here, as always, there is no speculation, only certainty. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted February 2018

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013

There are Barbi Riservas and there are Barbi Riservas. Many are the toughest nuts to crack and then along comes a fruit beauty like 2013. Not sure I’ve ever tasted this sort of gregarious nature from a Barbi, normale, Riserva, or Vigna del Fiore. There is no compromise to tradition but there too is no holding back in delivery of ripe, fattened red fruit, sweet acidity and even sweeter tannins. The picking, selecting, vinifying and aging of the components that made up this wine were spot on. A gift to the consumer. Start your Brunello Riserva journey right here. Drink 2019-2027.  Tasted February 2019

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2012

Barbi accomplishes an Annata Brunello just haste in 2012, taking expressly written sangiovese red fruit and pushing it to the limits of its natural tendencies, in hue and expression. I would have to say that consistency from this house is an absolute guarantee and that its style trumps vintage as much as any other. This is simply more Barbi than 2-12. That’s all there is to it. Tannins are firm, acidity is strong and fruit is up to the 15 year task. Nothing time sensitive about it and its timeless structure cements the absolution. Drink 2019-2027.  Tasted February 2017 and October 2019

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Del Fiore 2012

Barbi has also listened to the wind and vintage ear worms sung from their iconic, 16th century vineyard known as Vigna del Fiore. Red fruit of clarity and purity reigns while acidity is at its finest for the house. The rusticity of cherry, leather and roasted beets combine for full gastronomic effect and lead into a rather sumptuous and mouth coating texture for the palate. This scales the wall and retreats again to stay in the game in which you can play now (well, soon), then repeatedly, at consistent increments, later and later. VdeF from Barbi is a best of both worlds Brunello for both consumer and collector. Drink 2019-2031.  Tasted February 2017 and October 2019

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna del Fiore 2011

Having tasted the follow-up 2012 a year earlier in Montalcino made for more than a curious moment to look at this 2011 one year later and in Toronto. Nothing against the rock solid ’12 but this vintage is simply glorious. Waiting 12 months was not just worth it but clearly essential. The walls have come down, the sea departed, volcano stepped aside and all that is right in a Castelnuovo dell’Abate Brunello world is also righteous and beautiful. Some of Montalcino’s most famous and iconic wines have come from Stefano Cinelli Colombini and Fattoria Barbi, the oldest of which date back to 1870. There are two centuries of history with thanks to Francesca Colombini. The Vigna del Fiore “vineyard of the flower” or maybe “flower garden vineyard” is unique to Castelnuovo dell’Abate, one of the oldest (and furthest south) in Montalcino. The block is just under six hectares from an area where vines have been cultivated since the XVI century. It sits on the top of a hill that descends toward the Asso and Orcia rivers and faces Mt. Amiata. The hill is a natural corridor between Montalcino and Mt. Amiata and it connects the Crete Senesi in the Val d’Orcia and the basin of the Ombrone valley as you head to the sea. The production varies a lot; in some years it is not produced and at a maximum it reaches the 13,000 bottles range. The first vintage was 1981, chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Francesca Colombini Cinelli. Aged in small to medium size (that is 5-20 hL) oak barrels for the first months, it completes the aging in larger oak barrels for a total period of two years and then is bottled at least four months before it’s released. The oenologist is Paolo Salvi. This represents what matters in terms of Vigna-designate Brunello and what it means compared to broader expressions drawn from and combining several vineyards. So close to drinking perfectly but to tell you the truth, you don’t have to wait. Drink 2019-2033.  Tasted March 2018

Poggio di Sotto

Poggio Di Sotto

Poggio di Sotto’s certified organic estate was founded in 1989 on the south-eastern side of Montalcino overlooking the Orcia valley and in 2011 became part of the ColleMassari family of wines. Monte Amiata looms and protects while sea breezes blow in for a property that enjoys a unique microclimate immediately southeast of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The estate’s founder was former shipping executive Piero Palmucci who worked with famed sangiovese oenological consultant Giulio Gambelli. Together they held a deep interest in clonal selection and so in 1997 a collaboration with the University of Milan was established in order to plant new vineyards. Today the Tipa Bertarelli Family is the custodian of the original vision, albeit with Italian passion and Swiss precision. Claudio Tipa is the owner of ColleMassari and Grattamacco and beginning in 2011 he and his team committed themselves to the same quality standards and production techniques that have made the estate’s reputation.

Palmucci believed that dark Brunellos are disingenuous and the wines could not possibly be pure varietal expressions unless they were light and transparent reds. The same winemaking team led by Luca Marrone of nearly three decades an Oenologist Federico Staderini continue to produce sangiovese of great traditional and authentic construct. The sangiovese are timeless, unparalleled for this special part of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Perpetual upholding for decades of generational standards.

Poggio Di Sotto Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

Very fine quality of tannins wind their way around the ripest fruit picked right in time to keep the acidity (6.3 tA) not just in line but up there in full regale with the gathered parts. The red fruit is so very specific to appellation and place, two interchangeable parts that make Rosso shine. Crispy and crunchy with juicy fruit in the savoury candy way that’s just what this ideal new deal has to be. Few Rosso will age like this from Poggio di Sotto. Drink 2020-2028.  Tasted October 2019

Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (337774, $180.00)

No less than a finessed coax of pure higher altitude sangiovese fruit delivers the southern territorial goods in 2015. That and a staggered pick, layered atop one another for a stack of juicy, ripe acid and fine grained chain of tannic goods. The seamlessness and positively structured finesse is beyond comprehensible commend-ability. It’s outright impressive.  Last tasted February 2020

The red fruit of this place and only this place is amplified or better still exemplified in appellative Brunello. There is a glycerin derived and in possession of balance, from soils, elements and climate that is unparalleled for this specific area of Montalcino just to the west and below Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The fine shift from earth to fruit and into tannin through mineral bleed and finally peppery savour all works on the palate. This ’15 is proof of how a team continues to uphold standards of these vineyards no matter the ownership or the hopes, dreams or wishes of those who support and also those who drink from the deep well of this project. Drink 2022-2033.  Tasted October 2019

Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

Substance, glycerin and concentration gather for a Brunello of Brunello standards in Poggio di Sotto’s ’14. Intensely saturated and insular the nose is closed and for good reason. What you notice about the quality here is the silk across the palate and the length., It surely indicates quality, fine and ripe tannins and an ability to age. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2019

Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013

Poggio di Sotto’s Riserva persists in a void occupied by reduction and grip, in full protection of fruit not yet needing to really be set free. A few years lay ahead before it will open, bloom and reach towards the the blue light of a Montalcino day. This Riserva is not shy but it sees no reason to open up. The fruit beneath is chewy and crunchy, fresh as the day it was born from the barrel. Very stylish, traditional, culpable in clarity and five years away from laying out the hand it was dealt. Drink 2023-2035.  Tasted February 2019

Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013

A highly serious, concentrated, richly endowed and full-fruit acquiesced sangiovese with extremely fine tannins overtop just as fine acidity. The style is by now well-known and persistent though it would not be a stretch to note that it’s also something almost impossible to repeat with fruit from anywhere else. The confidence and quiet ego of this wine is owned by Poggio di Sotto and Poggio di Sotto alone. Drink 2019-2026.  Tasted February 2018  #poggiodisotto    Poggio di Sotto

Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012

There is no shortage of grandiosity in Poggio di Sotto’s Riserva though it does not reach for too much hedonism or flamboyance. Fruit is a wealthy player while acidity ranges from wild to extreme. There is a feeling of tonic embrace and plumped up stone fruit bitters though fleshy and spirited is really the operative. There is this juicy orange note on the back end of the acidity with a long, stretched and syrupy finish. Really big Riserva. Drink 2021-2033.  Tasted February 2018

Tenute Silvio Nardi

Tenute Silvio Nardi is located in Casale del Bosco which is in Montalcino’s most northwestern sector just at the reach of the east/west portion of the Ombrone River. The estate farms 80 hectares of vines divided into 36 vineyards. Casale del Bosco is the western estate while Manachiara is the east, near Castelnuovo dell’Abate. It was purchased by Silvio Nardi in 1962 and is split into three parcels: Colombaiolo, Manachiara and Pinzale. Manachiara is responsible for production of the Brunello cru label Vigneto Manachiara. Casale del Bosco dates back to XVII century, but the origins of this site are Etruscan. It was bought by Silvio Nardi in 1950 and is the source for the cru Brunello Poggio Doria.

Silvio Nardi was from neighbouring Umbria and produced agricultural machines. He is considered to be the first “foreigner” to invest in the wine business in Montalcino and later in 1967 became one of the territory’s founding members. Emilia joined her father’s business in 1985 and through 1990 made many integral changes to the vineyards and also wine production. She has held a most curious and tireless interest in clonal selection. Now 30 years into her winemaking tenure, Emilia Nardi was once quoted as saying “ff Manachiara is the wine of dawn, Poggio Doria can be defined as the one of dusk.” Manachiara was first made in 1995, Poggio Doria in 2004.

Tenute Silvio Nardi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Very cherry, ripe mainly, some sour edges and all dominant in a very fruit forward wine. Explores the essence of sangiovese with a heart struck and set into a Montalcino land. Could be from nowhere else and demands drinkable attention. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

Radiant, fresh and effulgent Rosso is a wonderful thing and although this has yet to shed its barrel fat it offers a great glimpse into its fruit-filled, long-lasting and expressive future. There is much to admire in how this puts the fruit at the forefront and then welcomes both fine acidity and some fineness that incorporates structure. Solid Rosso from a range of vineyards by winemaker Emanuele Nardi. Drink 2019-2026.  Tasted February 201

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (922054, $46.95)

Lovely little ’15 from Nardi that grows in stature as you work the glass. Begins with classic dusty cherry and leather earthy fruit then climbs upward with high level acidity. Crescendoes at a higher point and lingers well into the next hour. I can hear this one ‘knockin’. Great Brunello blues riff and groove. Vintage in, vintage out one of the most consistent Montalcino wines. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigneto Manachiara 2015

Serious wine here from Nardi, rich and nectareous, exotic and welling with big fruit flavours. The secondary and tertiary attributes can do nothing but lift and lengthen this wine towards epochs of imitable time. Look to open six bottles every three years for up to 20 in total. Drink 2022-2033.  Tasted February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Doria 2015

Poggio Doria is the wild child of Silvio Nardi, a high acid, bigger tannic structure sangiovese of pulse, energy and drive. Fruit substance is high, tones are equally elevated and time will do great things to this wine. Full throttle, edgy, briny, intense, grippy and full of so much Montalcino love. Drink 2024-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

Nardi takes the vintage hand and likewise opens up their hearts, throws their cards down and makes public the plan. Ripe fruit, short to moderate structure and relatively easy early drink ability. Some more tannin than a few, some it of underdeveloped but for the most part sweet, fine, ready and willing to work with protein, preferably on the saltier side of hard rock life. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2019

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013

Extreme unction and sultry personality separate Nardi’s ’13, in definition and construct away from so many peers. Oenologist Emanuele Nardi draws his classic Brunello from the fluvial Cerralti parcel, a mix of jasper which is a type of opaque, granular quartz, along with shale and clay. There is no sense of drying fruit and tough tannin in this luxurious sangiovese, no, rather its bright, effulgent and outwardly sexy. Classic liqueur and modern texture give way to grippy acidity and more than necessary structure. This is one of those Brunello that speak with fruit early but with a knowing nod to longevity. Drink 2019-2028.  Tasted February 2018

Good to go!

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Montalcino, 6pm

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WineAlign

Benvenuto Brunello 2020: Montalcino surges ahead

Montalcino Sunset

Anteprime di Toscana’s culminating 2020 presentation of 2018 Rosso DOC and 2015 Brunello DOCG raised the bar for Montalcino’s venerable sangiovese

Montalcino, February 2020

The sangiovese of Montalcino are not to be taken lightly nor for granted and they are, to a wine, crucial to mind, culture and life as we know it. When presented in times of adversity they are the sort to help us keep our wits about us. To an extent the Rosso and manyfold the Brunello are of an ilk that allow our animal selves to assist in ensuring the survival of our species. Allowing them to age incrementally and gracefully is an important part of the contract. Either by dint or by choice, drinking Montalcino, especially young Brunello, deregulates our homeostatic processes with a kind of sudatory sedation. This is because of an unavoidable youthful aggression and incredibly dense succession of tannins, as if each were linked to the next by an invisible force, to a chain singular and melting into one another. They are known to induce fruit sweats while simultaneously controlling emotion and so we remain in balance. In some reflective respect the act of drinking Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino is akin to a full-fledged carnal embrace. If what follows is a feeling of compunction then guilty as charged is our pleasure.

The Rosso and Brunello of Montalcino have for decades been recognized as residing in the premium realm of Europe’s finest red wines. You might think that a territory with such rich history, iconic figures, foremothers, forefathers and next generation figureheads would be content to rest on laurels and see little need to fix something that isn’t broken. Not so and while the new or next era of wine producers are certainly the obvious catalyst for exacting evolution, if at times gentle revolution, the answers run deeper and the interconnectivity with the past is well, unavoidable. In the trusted duty as ambasciatore for Montalcino and its vital sangiovese next month I will play host and moderator to two dozen of the territory’s most prominent and illustrious producers in six pivotal seminars. In trying to get to the source of what in recent years has been the impetus for a more than discreet across the board profound rise in quality, I recently asked a gaggle of Montalcino producers some pressing questions.

Tasting at Benvenuto Brunello in Montalcino, February 2020

Brunello inspired to the best wines made by my grandfather produced between 1970 and 1980

… Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Ten producers, six questions

What recent vintage would you say marked the turning point for your winemaking, to bring your wines into a place and style that speaks of your particular vineyards, their location and terroir in Montalcino? What or why is the reason?

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “2013 may have marked the turning point for our winemaking, in looking for their particular sense of place, for a unique eastern to northeastern Montalcino sapidity in our wines.”

Tommaso Cortonesi, Cortonesi – La Mannella: “2006 was the first vintage during which I have followed every aspect, from the vineyard management to the winemaking. So that was a benchmark for me. 2012 is a reference vintage in terms of style, with the introduction of the family brand “Cortonesi” and the two different crus La Mannella and Poggiarelli. From this vintage, Brunello “La Mannella” is made just with La Mannella vineyards grapes. Two different Brunellos from two very different Montalcino terroirs. I had in my mind the idea of Brunello di Montalcino as pure expression of his terroir.”

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse: “2006, my very first one. From the very beginning it was clear from me how it’s necessary making wines that speak about sangiovese and Montalcino, that’s what make unique a wine from this region and it’s even more important when you have an important historic background like we do here at Le Chiuse.”

Riccardo Talenti, Talenti: “The 2010 vintage, not only for the beautiful quality expressed, marked the definitive passage of an awareness and an approach to wine that I am still following today. It was the first to be done in the new cellar where we chose to carry out the fermentation in conical steel with the use of punching down at controlled temperatures. In addition, since 2010 a good percentage of new vineyards have been in production which have helped improve agronomic management. The 2004 vintage marked the awareness of a differentiated management of the vineyards given their different exposure and different terrains. For my youth and little experience they were years and harvests difficult to interpret.”

Elisa Fanti, Tenuta Fanti: “Our vintage is absolutely the 2006. During the harvest and the aging of the Brunello 2006 we have learned the characteristic of a very elegant Sangiovese and we have loved this! We started to select the different Sangiovese from different vineyards, to select also our four different areas of the vineyard and we have started to make our two selection of the Brunello di Montalcino, the Riserva before (on the 2007 vintage) and the Vallocchio later ( 2010 vintage).”

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “We have had some turning points. 1931 was the first vintage with “important numbers,” 35,000 bottles instead of the normal 5,000/10,000 we had for a century because my grandfather Giovanni Colombini decided to try to sell it more widely. By mail and through agents in Rome, Naples, Florence and Milan. It was a success, the wine was more alcoholic and very austere. 1964 was rated the best red wine of Italy by the Italian Ministero dell’Agricoltura, obtaining the “Torchio d’Oro” It was a rich, powerful Brunello in a very traditional style, and our first vintage in which we produced more than 100,000 bottles. This was our first vintage appreciated by the Italian journalists, and also the first widely sold abroad. 1975 was a very classic Brunello but more “easygoing”, a turning point in style and marketing. Not so tannic as our previous wines, ready to drink after only five years but able to age very well for decades, it was the final result of years of research on fermentation and on a shorter period in wooden vats. This was very probably the first “modern” Brunello, a style that became the normal one for all the producers. It was an unbelievable commercial success, 235,000 bottles sold from the USA to Japan. 1995 was again something new, still in a very traditional style but larger, bolder even if very elegant. It was our first “fat” Brunello, in a period in which the wines had to be more and more “important” we reached this result avoiding any mechanical concentration with osmosis or similar devices. We increased the vineyards from 50 to 100 hectares, and reduced very strongly the production per hectare. 2007 was another important turning point, after five years of experience we could use for all our production dry ice, the new Ganimede fermenters and a completely “vintage program” which reduced to less than one hour the time from the picking of the grapes to the arrival in the fermenting vats. The result was a better extraction and a better concentration of the traditional flavours of Sangiovese. A more typical and more intense one.

Riccardo Campinoti, Le Ragnaie: “In 2006 I started working in a more traditional style with longer maceration time and only big barrels. Also I started focusing on single vineyard sites.”

Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia: “At Col d’Orcia we pride ourselves in producing traditional wines with long aging potential since even before the arrival of my family in 1973. When we conduct vertical tastings (often going back 50 years) the most important aspect for me is that tasters find aromas and tastes that are constant over time. The key of this approach is that we use only grapes grown on this hill and that we are true to the character of the soil and climate of this estate. Of course there has been an evolution over time, but rather than adopting different manipulations to the wines, we have improved our quality control and the equipment that allows us to follow with greater precision the fermentation and aging process in order to intervene with greater timeliness on decisions such as pump-over, end of maceration on the skins, racking, contact with air, etc.”

Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Casato Prime Donne: “In the vineyard the year of change was 2012. This was the first year with very high temperatures, hydro-stress and intense rainfall just like monsoons. We have leant how to trim back the vines in a different way, using the leaves too protect from the sun. We have learnt that we must reduce the surface of active leaves to reduce the transpiration and so to lower the canopy. We have also learnt that the de-leafing usually done in September (and unfortunately still done by many wineries) damages the grapes because now the UV radiation is much stronger than before. In the harvesting of the grapes the 2017 vintage was a turning point for us. It marked the return to a selecting of the clusters, just as my grandfather used to do, for opposite reasons. 50 years ago his problem was too little sun, we now have too much. In the end, to pick the grapes at their maximum level of ripening we need to pick the clusters one by one, going through the vineyard several times.  Since 2017 we have continued to select the clusters. The concept of “Vigna” as was intended at the end of the 1900’s must be revisited so as to obtain qualitative excellence. For fermentation maybe 2011 was the year that marked the change. The year that taught us most in the management of the grape and must PH. In 2011 the Montalcino wineries encountered Brettanomyces, which previously, was practically unheard of thanks to the high acidities. Now attention on PH and the cleanliness in the wineries are much superior to before.”

Giacomo Neri, Casanova di Neri: “With 2010 we have reached a balance between perfume, structure, length, finesse and elegance which has had a constant following in the following years. The age of the vineyards, a greater experience in the management of woods and in winemaking.”

Filippo Chia, Castello di Romitorio: “The vintage that most changed my life was the 2015 vintage.  It was the first year that our new vineyards produced Brunello quality fruit, the marriage of the new vineyards and old vines coincided with one of Montalcino’s most interesting growing seasons. It was a slightly warm vintage that tested the health and vigour of the vine pushing it to the limit but not beyond.  Fruit was beautiful and crunchy and with ripe seeds and stems which gave way to wines with a good potential for ageing but also very generous and voluptuous also in youth.  A confluence of factors, climate, vineyards, and careful choice of oak framed the 2015 as one of Romitorio’s best vintages of all time.”

Tasting hundreds of Sangiovese over the course of 10 days in Italy would be inconceivable without the tireless work ethic, attentiveness and dedication of all these talented sommeliers. #aissommelier #italiansommelier #associazioneitalianasommelier

What mistakes have you made and how have you learned from them so that you can make better wines and the wines you need to make from your property?

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse: “I always make mistakes and always learn from them, every vintage it’s another story and every time I try to do the best choices for my vines and wines. I love it because those mistakes could makes your land-wine-feeling connection stronger.”

Riccardo Talenti, Talenti: “I started in 1999 with the first harvest made entirely by me, not having too much direct experience. I can say that the first five harvests were difficult as an approach in the vineyard and then in the cellar. The agronomic part was the same in all the vineyards, but with completely different vintages; hot 1999, very hot 2000, very rainy 2002 and very hot 2003. This diversity made me understand on my skin that the vineyards had to be managed differently. The research on the grapes as well as having excellent ripeness and health is to manage the acidity in the best way during the ripening in order to have an elegant and persistent character on the wine.”

Elisa Fanti, Tenuta Fanti: “Our principal mistake in the past was to “clean” too much our wines. We had left much space at the perfect analytical parameters, at the perfect wines with very definite characteristic. Now we understand it is important to have the real characteristic of the vintage and the terroir in the bottle. Sometimes a little shades and also a little imperfection (why not) are very important to respect the personality of the wine.”

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “I am really lucky, because my ancestors take notes of the many mistakes they did in the last two centuries. In vineyards they tried at least two times very dense plantation, 1.5 metres per 0.80 and then in 1930 2 metres per 1. They tried alberello, guyot and cordone speronato on two levels. They tried to anticipate the vintage or to delay it. They tried chestnut vats. They tried warmer fermentation, and fermentation from three days to six months with the skins. Any kind of chemical, organic or mist fertilization. The modern Brunello is the result of centuries of mistakes of a group of producers, frequently friends and sometimes parents, which shared their good and bad results. I did just some small mistakes, because somebody else did the big ones.”

Riccardo Campinoti, Le Ragnaie: “Plenty, in the beginning I was trying to go a bit more modern and more approachable style. Also I was doing lower yields for no real reason and picking too late sometime. Now I just go for balance.”

Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia: “Up until the turn of the century, we had a tendency to submit the wines to excessive extractions during fermentation, often extracting dry tannins that needed a very long time in wood and in the bottle to soften. We are now using a much lighter hand thanks to the use of the spectrophotometer as a quality control equipment that tells us exactly when the wine has taken from the skins all it needs to achieve a balanced and elegant wine.”

Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Casato Prime Donne: “To begin with, when I left my family’s activity in 1998 to create my own, I needed to differentiate myself, do different things, to experiment a little…A bit like the Barolo boys in Piedmont. Slowly I understood the value of the century-old expertise of the Montalcino grape growers a now we are doing practically the same as them. We are even planting old varieties of wheat on the soil before planting new vineyards. My various Brunello are not powerful and neither fat. My wines are fine, lengthy, harmonious, complex and apt for long ageing. My grandfather was able to produce such wines only a couple of times every 10 years but we can do it practically every year because the climate gives us a helping hand.”

Giacomo Neri, Casanova di Neri: “Each harvest has given us something to grow and given the possibility to correct some details, over the years I believe that our wines have bought a lot in complexity, balance and finesse.”

Filippo Chia, Castello di Romitorio: “The mistakes have been many, and it takes time to find the perfect balance between making wine in the vineyards and in the cellar. It all starts with a vision and intuition and at times the first try can seem to be a mistake and over time prove to be a resource. For instance in the early 1980’s sangiovese had a hard time ripening and most wines barely reached 13%. This was especially true at higher altitudes and often wines from the hills maintained a green “stemmy” character when compared to the wines from the valley. Today things have changed drastically. Advancement in viticultural practices during the 1990’s changed the way that Montalcino practiced its winegrowing as we start to see new methods of planting – closer spacing and more vines per hectare. New farming techniques, lower yields, de-stemming and sorting had an incredible impact on the quality of Brunello di Montalcino. However climate change has been felt also in Montalcino and areas (such as those of the Romitorio) which once may have seemed like a mistake unable to produce world-class Brunello today express some of the highest quality Brunello di Montalcino.

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “We are learning from our mistakes, such as those we made in 2007. We are now much more going in the direction of purity in fruit and clean clarity out of the cellar. Brunello is all about freshness, verticality and depth. These are the three parameters of necessity, especially for Riserva.”

Tommaso Cortonesi, Cortonesi – La Mannella : “One of the biggest challenges for me has been finding the right aging to enhance the terroir of Poggiarelli. Paolo Cagiorgna, our consulting enologist, has helped a lot to find the right balance. Now we do 24 months of aging in French oak tonneaux and then long bottle aging and I think we have found the perfect equilibrium for a Brunello di Montalcino from a very rocky soil rich of Tuscan limestone with big structure.”

What effect do the Tramontane and Grecale winds have on your vineyards and can you pinpoint a particular vintage when the winds made a big difference in the wines?

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “Montalcino is always very windy, so windy that our vineyards are accustomed. The only vintage in which I was able to note a special difference due to wind was 2013, at the beginning of September we had four days which dried the grapes on the top of the hills, which normally are the best places. The valley vineyards, which normally have mould problems, had a serious increase in quality.”

Riccardo Campinoti, Le Ragnaie: “They usually help keeping the vines less moist, they are helpful during ripening.”

Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia: “Winter winds such tramontana and grecale have limited influence on the growing seasons of the grapes. Summer winds are a constant at Col d’Orcia as we are in the part of Montalcino closer to the coast and have a truly Mediterranean climate. Please remember that Riserva Col d’Orcia vineyards is called Poggio al Vento (windy Heights).”

Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Casato Prime Donne: “I can remember only one occasion, twenty-odd years ago, something really impressive, at the end of August a wind so hot it resembled a hair dryer that dried the vineyards.”

Giacomo Neri, Casanova di Neri: “(These winds) are very important for the quality and health of the grapes. If they weren’t there, it would be a real problem.”

Filippo Chia, Castello di Romitorio: “The Tramontana winds are usually seen as a negative, cold northern winds that brings with it disease and molds.  If in the forest you need to find North you just look at the side with more moss and that is North.  That said Tramontana can have varying effects throughout the growing phases of the vines, in winter and spring it is the main wind that informs the plant when to start waking up from winter, and it can help delay and cool the vines throughout the also summer months.  It’s famous for coming in three’s, 3-6-9.  Any wind coming from the same directions for too many consecutive days can have a negative effect.  The Romitorio lives and thrives in the Tramomtana as it is located in the Northeastern quadrant of Montalcino, therefore as tricky as it might be we are extremely grateful for its powerful cooling effects which are vital for keeping a crunchy sangiovese. The Grecale winds have a similar effect though they tend to be more common during the harvest months and brings serves as a source of cool and dry air also beneficial to the health of the vine.”

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “In 2018 the Tramontana wind came on September 16th and the harvest began on the 29th for Rosso. The second wind called the Grecale also blew in to cause up to 30 per cent drying of the grapes. The resulting reduced yields meant for grapes of concentration in both fruit and acidity but also a high number for dry extract.”

Tommaso Cortonesi, Cortonesi – La Mannella: “Both are very important winds, especially in the months of September and October to guarantee the health of the grapes and a good temperature range between day and night for a better aromas evolution. I think they are very important for the whole area of Montalcino, but especially for La Mannella area that is a cool zone of the northern slope of Montalcino, so dry and cool winds are crucial to have a great vintage.”

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse: I like those winds as that means cooler temperatures and dry conditions witch give you a very good maturation of the grapes and elegant, vibrant wines. 2013 is a vintage that was influenced by this special condition. 

Riccardo Talenti, Talenti: “All the vineyards are in the south/south-east part of Montalcino between 400 meters and 250 meters. The influence of the winds is fundamental for the health of the grapes especially in vintages where in September there may be rain or morning mists. Fortunately the mists are not so frequent in the harvest, but in case of rain the ventilation helps to keep the grapes healthy. Certainly recent vintages such as 2008, 2013 and 2014 the winds have helped to have excellent characteristics.”

Northwest Montalcino

The passion and the strong link with mother nature of the winemaker are the best factors to make original and outstanding wines

… Tommaso Cortonesi, Cortonesi – La Mannella

How or why did 12 or 24 months, or in rare cases, 60-plus months further become the defined reason for how to make and qualify Riserva?

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse: “We release our Riserva 60 months later than our Regular Brunello because I believe it helps the wine to get a stronger identity from Brunello showing a better balance and more complexity. Brunello Riserva, it’s not the wine that you want to drink young, in this way you really can’t.”

Riccardo Talenti, Talenti: “As a philosophy we do not exceed 36/40 months of aging for the Riservas and we do not produce the Riserva every year, but only in vintages that we believe have high aging potential, making a selection of barrels from the vineyards around the company positioned at 400 meters.”

Elisa Fanti – Tenuta Fanti: “The Riserva is a selection of the best Sangiovese in the vineyard. This Sangiovese, in the beautiful vintage, probably has a big structure, complexity and acidity and it is necessary for more time of aging (in the oak or in the bottle), to have an important wine with all its aromatics feature well integrated.”

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “In my opinion any true Brunello is at his best between eight and 20 years, it is due to the peculiar character of the Montalcino Sangiovese grapes.”

Riccardo Campinoti, Le Ragnaie: “I am not a big Riserva guy, I keep all my wines three years in barrel and I think it’s enough. I much rather prefer single vineyard expression, I keep my best sites for single vineyards. Lately I prefer colder vintages. Warm vintages are too extreme and the wines are not that interesting.”

Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia: “When my father arrived at Col d’Orcia in 1973 he found wine in the large barrels dating back to vintage 1968 (60 month). This was the tradition in Montalcino and still is the practice at Col d’Orcia when a vintage requires it.”

Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Casato Prime Donne: “The Brunello Riserva is born in the vineyard, not in the cellar. The clusters must have grapes that are very small, perfect in health and with thin skins. In other words we cannot produce Riserva with just any old cluster of Sangiovese. For this reason the amount of Brunello Riserva we make increases or diminishes, and so aggravates my sales office. Obviously the perfect grapes create wines that need a longer stay in barrel and then in bottle.”

Giacomo Neri, Casanova di Neri: “We do not produce Riserva, our Brunelli at most spend 42 months in wood. Brunello Cerretalto comes out in the sixth year but with twelve more months raised in the bottle.”

Filippo Chia, Castello di Romitorio: “Sangiovese is a very finicky grape that is really tied to the climatic conditions of the vintage, every so often in great vintages its power and abundance can withstand additional ageing in oak, large or small, and most producers tend to go to bottle sooner in order to avoid keeping the wine in stainless steel or wood for too long.  Usually it’s a barrel selection and when tasting the wines it is apparent when you can make a Riserva without cannibalizing your “Vigna” and without over-oaking and oxidizing the wine. Therefore normally only the very best and most balanced and structured fruit can give way to a Riserva.”

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “The oak is not an ingredient. It’s a kneading for the wine.”

Tommaso Cortonesi, Cortonesi – La Mannella: “The Production Requirements ask for 24 months minimum for Brunello Riserva, but many wineries do a much longer wood aging. We do 48 months in large barrels and our Brunello Riserva is only produced in the best vintages from our oldest vineyard in La Mannella.”

Montalcino

Va a macchia di leopardo

… Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi

Do you prefer the oldest vines for Riserva or Vigna? And do you prefer them in colder or warmer vintages for these wines?

Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia: “Yes, for Poggio al Vento Brunello di Montalcino Riserva we use older vineyards. For the one Vigna we currently bottle (Vigna Nastagio) we use a recent vineyard planted in 2006. Poggio al Vento is produced only in the best vintages, on average 5 vintages out of 10. For all Brunello’s I tend to prefer balanced weather with cool ripening season.”

Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Casato Prime Donne: “Evidently I prefer the older vines. I adore wines obtained from older vineyards and I have bought a sort of mechanical mole to burrow holes to substitute the new vines where others have died. We are also learning the Simonit and Sirch technique to save the vines from Esca disease. We are, in other words, doing our upmost to allow our vineyards to age healthily. It would be ideal to have old vineyards with healthy vines and all with a regular quantity of clusters. To produce Brunello Riserva we need winter and spring to be rainy, summers to be hot interrupted by some showers, September with cold nights and sunny days. Just like in 2019.”

Giacomo Neri, Casanova di Neri: “Certainly the oldest vineyards give us the possibility of having much much more complexity. Cold vintages often give great satisfaction after 15 – 20 years, often with big positive surprises.

Filippo Chia, Castello di Romitorio: “The blend of newer and older vineyards is vital in all phases of production of wines from Montalcino.  The tension in any work is always a balance between chiaroscuro which sangiovese embodies in such a magical way. It can be a brooding dark powerful brick coloured wine as it can be a dancy, perfumed and transparent wine.  What’s great about Montalcino is that there is such a wide variety of terroir and cellar practices that give way to a multitude of different expressions of Brunello di Montalcino.  Romitorio is a northwestern hill Brunello and very proud to embody this aspect in our wines and we hope to communicate this from our Rosso di Montalcino all the way up to our Brunello di Montalcino Riserva.”

Riccardo Talenti, Talenti: “For the production of the Riserva there is our 40 years-old vineyard together with other younger vineyards all around the cellar, where the microclimate and the characteristics of the soil are the same and homogeneous, but the selection of the wine is the result of a choice of barrels and aging tonneaux. We do not produce the Riserva every year, but for characteristics I would say that the cooler vintages are more elegant, even if in warmer years we have produced the Riserva (see 2007 or 2012), but in any case vintages with very high potential. In the most difficult years where even the quantities of selected grapes are high, we hardly produce Riserva.”

Elisa Fanti, Tenuta Fanti: “I prefer the Riserva because in general it is the best wine of the vintage with important characteristics (the structure and in particular the acidity) well integrated with the aging in the oak. A perfect wine to drink old! I prefer colder vintages, I don’t like the wines very strong and with low acidity.”

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “I tried to find a mathematical connection between colder or warmer vintages and quality, but I had so success. The same happened with the rains. I prefer the best vintages for Vigna and Riserva, but sometimes these are warmer vintages and sometimes are the colder ones. Frequently the top vintages are the most “balanced” ones, but not always.”

Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra: “With vintage variation I prefer the oldest vines (Vigna Mercatale at Canalicchio) in the coldest vintages for Brunello and Vigna. For Riserva I choose the vineyard on the Montosoli hill.”

Tommaso Cortonesi, Cortonesi – La Mannella: “I prefer to use the oldest vineyards to produce Brunello Riserva. I am a fan of warm vintages because with the selection systems that we have nowadays we can have a great selection of the grapes when they are at the perfect stage of ripening. In cooler vintages, where there are typically abundant rainfalls, it is more difficult to get a perfect ripening of the grapes to obtain wines with a great aging potential as Brunello di Montalcino has to be.”

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse: “We don’t do a single Vineyard as Le Chiuse is one block, so for my choice it’s necessary for Riserva. Usually I’m for excellent cold vintages that guarantee a wine full of energy that doesn’t end by the long aging.”

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse

Il Brunello vada molto meglio di altre denominazioni.

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse

The last question I posed to the producers concerned the current state of business and affairs in Montalcino.

How are things going for Montalcino?

Lorenzo Magnelli, Le Chiuse: “Montalcino is at a very good health level, we have not had COVID cases for a long time, certainly better than in other parts. On the other hand, economically it depends on the producer, there are those who have many bottles in the cellar and have sold well. In general, however, I think Brunello is fairing much better than other denominations.”

Tommaso Cortonesi, Cortonesi – La Mannella: “In Montalcino almost restaurants are open. We have a quite good European tourism now. The business is not too bad actually. Imperative now is to survive from this 2020. About the grape season, until now it’s a beautiful vintage, but August and especially September are the most important months. This week should be one of the hottest (34-36° C).  The Consorzio del Brunello are investing some resources on our main markets like Canada and US. We hope to give some help to our producers and to their agencies/importers promoting our denominations and our wines.”

Stefano Cinelli Colombini, Fattoria dei Barbi: “Va a macchia di leopardo. It goes wild. More than a third of the Brunello “vintage” has already been sold and there are only two vintages in the last ten in which more has been sold. The prices of the bottles have not dropped. However, the bulk Brunello market (only 8% of the total) is at a standstill and the bulk price has dropped by 40%. Those who have an advanced commercial and / or a large brand suffer little or nothing, while the less organized ones have some problems. But there are not many. Bolgheri is fine, Maremma and Mo rellino benino, the rest of Tuscany ouch ouch.”

Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia: “Montalcino is very quiet this year. Some Italian tourists around. Very few foreign visitors. We had a good season in terms of rain and heat, but the harvest is still a long way away.”

Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Casato Prime Donne: “Sometimes, like in 2019, we had a quantity of super grapes never seen before and so we immediately ordered more barrels. It is a shame that the lockdown blocked the delivery of the barrels and the wine went into barrel late. Unfortunately the splendid harvest 2019 has suffered the effects of the Coronavirus too.”

Giacomo Neri, Casanova di Neri: “For now the grapes are beautiful and healthy, we expect an early harvest. Let’s see what the months of August and September will give us. In Montalcino, given the situation, well, we don’t complain…”

Riccardo Talenti, Talenti: “Everything is fine even if it is really a strange period, to see Montalcino without tourists without fans who come to the company to taste.”

The Consorzio’s members come together each February at The Montalcino Chiostro del Museo and home to the Consorzio’s offices for Benvenuto Brunello, a two day showcase of the most recent vintages to wrap up Anteprime di Toscana. Though the prospect is dire for this gathering to take place in 2021, Montalcino’s wines will and always need to be tasted around the world. Let’s travel back a bit in time. At Benvenuto Brunello in February 2020 I tasted the following 150 samples of sangiovese, 36 Rosso di Montalcino DOC and 114 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. These are my notes.

Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2018 (31 notes)

Altesino Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($27.95)

Altesino’s is consistently rich and baritone for Rosso, even in light ’18 and gone in all for one with not much left to the imagination. An amenable, commercial and viable proposition for anyone and everyone to take part. Drink 2020-2021.  Tasted February 2020

Argiano Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($29.95)

Full intention and focus for Rosso here from stalwart house Argiano in sangiovese pertinence. The combination of wood and a mosaic of ripeness means flavour packet bursts and structural stumbles. Seems a bit wooly and high acid distracted but the youth is important in knowing or at least intuiting what this Rosso will become. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Baricci Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Carries all the 2018 Rosso attributes that set the vintage apart, including full fruit and old school structure but what separates Baricci’s northerly Montosoli is the sprezattura savour. Wild strawberry and a texture that reaches back for more sangiovese. Very specific to this hill that only a few other appellative wines can touch. Pretty structured stuff for Rosso. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Bellaria Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

From Gianni Bernazzi and a Rosso treated to a full compliment of Botti wood, adding a sweet vanilla and candied floral spice to his sangiovese. Old school and pure, clear and clean at the same time. Well made, not as crunchy and bright as some though as itself it speaks a true vernacular. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($39.95)

Only raised in big barrels but not the 2500L larger oak used for the Brunello. Lovely red fruit purity and transparency from a vintage that was at a near all-time low pH. Higher acidity conversely and serious enough to use for food matching ability. Just a hint of pressing is felt but it’s really just a matter of de-stemming that makes a push but not a crush. A little bit of whole berry helps ward of oxidation and the freshness is truly a matter of gentile handling. Such a fine, drinkable and complex Rosso. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Caparzo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 (333575, $19.95)

Though the fruit source is an amalgamation of Montalcino in a multi-disparate form you can’t help but feel or at least sense the Galestro of Montosoli young vines making their way into this Rosso. Wet stone, crumbled earth’s elements and a crust of decomposition meets the cherries head on for a salty and sharp sangiovese. Really proper wine here. You know it, I know it, they will know it. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Casanova Di Neri Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Giacomo Neri lends his name to the bottle of Rosso which speaks to his desire that meaning is to accompany the appellation. Seemingly combed from Neri’s three or four vineyards dotting the north and east of Montalcino for an estate agglomeration of dark fruit, high tones and great accumulated acidity. Here the baby Brunello concept acquiesces to the notion of strictly made Rosso and for great purpose. Big wine, fine sangiovese, lots of possibility. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Romitorio Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($38.99)

From a hectare and a half of a Rosso vineyard that produced 1,000 cases. The general matrix is unique because Colli Senesi is DOCG and this Rosso is a DOC though it commands a higher price. Cool, racy, lean, tight and mean. A fighting machine, just bottled, intense and ahead of the impending magic so use your imagination to the Rosso fullest. There a fulness and a flesh behind that veil of acid secrecy.  Drink 2021-2026. Tasted February 2020

Collemattoni Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($28.99)

Such a consistently fashioned Rosso from Collemattoni, also a posit tug between freshness and structure, always to the proper precipice and edge of tang, tart and sour. Lingers with texture and wood rendering. A subtle wine that gains flesh as it works through the nervous system. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Cortonesi La Mannella Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($31.78)

Tommaso Cortonesi’s Rosso ’18 is pure La Mannella, expressly northeasterly Montalcino and bright as a February Benvenuto Brunello day. Crunchy and raised with all the land caught inside, the fruit expressive and elastic, the finish blessed with just a few years notability by structure. Promising and effective, proper and precise. Still showing some wood so wait a year. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Risotto, Sangiovese and Taleggio

Fattoria Dei Barbi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Barbi’s vintage acceptance and celebration is commendable to the degree that 2018 from vineyards ripened for pleasure is to be set this way. Such fruit, sweet thing, like “gardens misty wet with rain.” The kind of tart and tang on cherry and more cherry is what you want from sangiovese meant for the table each and every night. So right, walking and talking without ever growing old. Fresh youth is a beautiful thing. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted February 2020

Fanti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($33.84)

Gotta love a Fanti Rosso, for its outpouring of sangiovese heart and in the way it so professionally proffers what you know Montalcino is so fully capable of gifting. The fruit is high, the aging possibility nigh and the pleasure probability at the limit of the sky. All in, together of parts as one, for a proper rest day, preferably in the sun. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2020

Gianni Brunelli Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Le Chiuse Di Sotto 2018 ($54.00)

Gianni Brunelli’s ’18 Rosso’s brightness shines as the vintage lights the way, yet also embraces deeper sentiments, from generational impressions to modern perceptions. That is confirmed on a palate brimming with sweet fruit and a salt and pepper seasoning that makes for a complete experience in sangiovese gastronomy. Just a shake of bitters on the finish indicates the request for Rosso patience by way of a year’s settling. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Il Poggione Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Top quality reach in expertly crafted ubiquity makes this a Rosso from the brightly lit vintage for all to explore. Take this road oft taken and use it to gain understanding of the DOC, the village and the ways of local sangiovese. High toned, generously oak spiced and really transparent. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

La Màgia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

A deeper, warmer, confident and comforting Rosso from the cerebral and intentional La Màgia, a bit tight and demure in youth. A Rosso that needs some time and in its Brunello-like empathy. More extraction and depth for Rosso in a vintage where some frazioni could not do what this is capable of putting into depth effect. Structured for the appellation. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

La Poderina Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

From the younger (10-15 years of age) and lower downslope vines in Castelnuovo dell’Abate and located in front of the historical Benedectine abbey of Sant’Antimo. Insular, taut and tight Rosso, especially for 2018 so the feeling is of a site that when these vines grow more mature will surely feed Tenuta del Cerro Brunello with structured fruit. A long linger in this precocious Rosso, so very red fruit and while a bit nervy, quality and promise of site is all there. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Le Chiuse Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Not a vintage if you are looking for concentration. If you are looking to drink it is perfect. From the same vines employed for Brunello but as per Lorenzo’s idea, only the largest clusters are grabbed. “For our culture it is an important wine. As winemakers we make Brunello but don’t drink it every day. This is what we drink.” Aged in the youngest large barrels for one year (plus two months) and in this vintage it’s back up the truck, glug-glug, pour half the bottle sangiovese. So fresh and with ultimate sangiovese spirit. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Le Ragnaie Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2017 ($45.00)

Still sitting, waiting and I suppose stabilizing in concrete is this Rosso 2017 that will be bottled in April. The aging requirements met would actually qualify it for Brunello and we’ll just leave it at that. The entire fruit source in ’17 is Castelnuovo dell’Abate harvested between the 8th of September through to the last days in the highest reaches. Fresh and far from heavy though there is a liqueur depth and a skin-contact feel. Youthful tang and sharpness with a minor tannic herb-verdancy and good but not that super-sangiovese 2016 length. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Lisini Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Quite tonal, up there is the stratosphere where some Rosso lie, especially with a vintage like 2018. Richer and more texture on the palate with liquid chalk, wood vanillin and plenty of seasoned tang at the finish. Could use a year or two to integrate. Drink 2021-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Mastrojanni Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

The best of all Rosso worlds emanates from Mastrojanni’s ’18, part effusive light and part deep rich tonality. Hits the high, the lows and everything else in between. Good acids keep the balance with darker fruit and silken wood texture. All in with great expectation for 2018. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Mocali Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 (286260, $19.95)

Racy, stark and slightly feral Rosso here with some volatility of distraction. Good core of fruit, fully extracted and in that pressing some bitters and bacterials come along for the ride. Drink 2020-2021.  Tasted February 2020

Fried Artichoke, La Sosta Montalcino

Podere Brizio Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Seriously polished, stylish and full compliment filled Rosso from Brizio, very much in the post-modernist Dievole vein. No expense spared to elevate the game, freshen up the fruit and the appellation. A chic wine for current consumption and replete with necessary acidity to capitalize the freshness with a proper “F.” Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Salvioni Rosso Di Montalcino DOC La Cerbaiolo 2018

What is the question? Taking this Rosso lightly, passing it by or presuming anything on just a whiff and a sip would do it great injustice. There’s a wealth of knowledge and character on the nose, a depth not yet reached because the elemental layering is hard to bypass, just as roots through the fissures in the stone will take a few years to zig-zag for to find the water table below. Segued and extrapolated into this Rosso’s structure, when the integration happens it can be imagined the salts and the minerals to really step forward. La Cerbaiolo for the Rosso ages is the answer. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

San Polino Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($48.95)

Here the loosely ambient Rosso stylistic meanders with carefree sway into a world occupied by the natural and the free. Wooly tannins surround variegated red fruit and the matter is so much fun to behold. Not for the masses, perhaps a bit esoteric for you and yet the clarity is dubious in its own singular realm. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Sesti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Sesti’s is serious Rosso but please, enjoy. Ripe red fruit with a decidedly mineral Galestro feel, liquified and run through with hematic and blood orange citrus. This could very well be Rosso Riserva, not exactly Brunello and surely Rosso with more wisdom and beauty. Impressive to be sure. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Talenti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018 ($30.00)

The Rosso vineyards here are part estate Sant Angelo in Colle and also lower down the valley closer to Castelnuouvo dell’Abate. The prominence is of sandy loam, argiloso and stony soils to make for a full expression that while holding the 2018 wild energy card is represented as deeper than many. Rich and also expressive, full on red fruit of berries fresh picked and a solid core of Rosso tannin. Easily one of the bigger 18s available. Approximately 3,000 bottles made. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Tenuta Buon Tempo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Tenuta Buon Tempo’s is a deep one, first in fruit and then welling with acidity. The fruit runs a wide gamut, from tang by berries through blackening red currant to dusty plum. Quite full and worthy of the warm climate from whence it came with an elevated 2018 sentiment in mind. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Tenuta San Giorgio Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Ciampoleto 2018

Quite the expressive Rosso here at heights across the valley from Sant Angelo in Colle and situated at a half tier away from parent Poggio di Sotto. A well extracted and healthy macerated sangiovese that brings some structure, multiplied by the rich barrels making their seasoning statement. Really like the finish on this flashy wine. Drink 2020-2024.   February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Very cherry, ripe mainly, some sour edges and all dominant in a very fruit forward wine. Explores the essence of sangiovese with a heart struck and set into a Montalcino land. Could be from nowhere else and demands drinkable attention. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Ventolaio Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

On the high tone, fruit rising on an acidity elevator up to the upper floors of character. A bit wooly as compared to previous vintages and shows a consistency of style that adheres or more so fully accepts the tenets of the vintage. One of the more effusively sour ‘18s. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Villa Poggio Salvi Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

Simple red fruit Rosso as per the giving vintage of high acidity and ease of structure. No real bones, road blocks or requests for time. Play on through to a draw at the final whistle. Drink 2020-2021.  Tasted February 2020

Riccardo Talenti

Rosso di Montalcino DOC (other vintages, five notes)

Podere Salicutti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2017

Organic, biodynamic and unfiltered, from the then first in Montalcino, at the hands of Francesco Leanza, in 1995. Now (and since 2015) in the custodial hands of Felix and Sabine Eichbauer, halfway between Montalcino and Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Here ’17 is clean, pure, silk threaded and simply put, juicy. One of the longest Rossos you are likely to taste and a triumph for the vintage. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

The ’16 Rosso takes all the extract and acidity of the combined coming two vintages and gleans every ripe aspect for the ambitious way that Rosso can go. Deeper and less crushable and truth be told the Brunello appellation is cozied up to. Salty and full of proper tang with seasoning and spice. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Carpineto Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

Carpineto’s 2016 comes from higher (450-500m) elevation than many, is aged longer (three years in large oak barrels) and so 2020 is just about the perfect time to enjoy its charms. This 100 per cent sangiovese off of marl and clay was picked into October and it so dutifully expresses the appellation, grape and territory. The all in fulsome red cherry is now joined by a silkiness of texture because the calcaire and the wood have softened, liquified and swirled right through the fruit. A fresh one from a structured vintage and put succinctly into that five to six years Rosso di Montalcino aging window. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February and November 2020

Le Ragnaie Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

Most of the grapes come from Castelnuovo dell’Abate but some are also off of estate vines. A late release Rosso, nearly 18 months after most other Montalcino wineries. Has really settled since October and is drinking beautifully right now.  Last tasted February 2020

Top quality vintage, elegant and balanced, from the non disposto star of Montalcino, Riccardo Campinoti. His is a Rosso for Rosso sake, discriminant, linear, vertical and come up for the rising. If Rosso can be spiritual it would be like this, poignant and effen-solid good. These are the acids of Montalcino and the depth of earth which holds you firm in the face of a fluent perfume. It’s all in this bottle, fluid and affluent. What you need to know and what you want to drink. It can live for a dozen years. Drink 2019-2029.  Tasted October 2019

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2010 ($39.95)

Wildly fresh considering Rosso was not often thought to show such longevity, but in can and will exhibit such tendencies. Potential ability is magnified in a dark fruit vintage that advances with wisdom, morphs and settles. Lives and evolves within itself. Sweet fruit persistence is more than admirable, it’s outright amazing. Scents of carob, dried orange and liquorice, now coming into a baking spice place with persistent acidity. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Col D’orcia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2010 ($39.95)

From a vintage that is increasingly showing its stripes at the 10 year mark for Rosso and why should we be surprised? Evolved and into a next level freshness, sideways, sidled, savoury and yet still sweet. The alcoholic and comforting warmth persists, as does the ripeness of 2010 acidity. Proper 10 year move, just past peak and happy to gift another few pleasurable winters. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (71 notes)

Agostina Pieri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

As ripe as it ostensibly gets for 2015 in this sweet scenting and viscous sangiovese with real spice cupboard seasoning and a piquing of gathered acidities. The grain of chalkiness runs through and should take this into an umami set of values in the not too distant future. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (994095, $59.00)

Very polished and made Brunello with a wealth of statuesque parts sculpted out of the high level materials presented the team that crafts this wine. Speaks to a very broad swath of place and a perfectly good drink of consumer appeal.  Last tasted February 2020

From the vintage where agriculture, winemaking and now selling came and will come easy so you can expect the warm, fuzzy, generous and soft. Perhaps too straightforward to be what the powers that be call a five-star vintage but if Brunello is what you want or even what you think you need then begin or continue the journey right here. Very berry, ultra liquorice and über morbido. Soft, amenable and unencumbered. Positive but certainly not overbearing structure. A now and through mid-term years drinking Annata. Drink 2019-2024.  Tasted October 2019

Argiano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (15460, $59.959)

Argiano goes all in for this sumptuous and unctuous ’15 of fruit, earth and acids long, sharp, linear and long, Big expressive and chocolaty sangiovese with wood a major factor and structure a fact of the matter. All purpose Brunello and so bloody effective. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Armilla Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

The tiniest production delivers a very pretty Brunello from 2015 and this Armilla is just the right mix of wisdom and forward purity. There is little ambition, the fruit picking was spot on and the gentle extraction a matter of great gentility. A little Ribena but this is surely a sangiovese of terroir, left to its own devices, without distraction or interference. Drink 2020-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Baricci’s Federico and Pietro Buffi

Baricci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

There’s just nothing that scents, acts, tastes or structures like a Baricci Brunello. At the height of traditional excellence and slow change improvement there is so much nobility and perfectly seasoned bitterness that allows this linear and purposed Brunello to rise above. No less fruit than structure and more solidarity amongst the parts than so many others. This my friends is Brunello made the way it was and has to be, without compromise and for all the most righteous reasons. Quality is in effect the highest order. Drink 2023-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Bellaria’s sweet and strange sangiovese is part terroir and part barrel, like walking in the woods the other day, scents of wet forest and sweet foliage in a warm season. The humidity of this Brunello smells like the past, “seems like 100 years ago.” Needs time to hide away and allow the melting, oozing and scenting wood to dissipate and allow the wine to do its thing.  Last tasted February 2020

Remarkably alternative vintage for Gianni, fresher and more effusive to be clear and sure. Shows with great immediacy and tells a story of vintage variation, especially at altitudes like Bellaria (550-600m) and from soils so poor in organic materials. It’s luxe but also so perfumed, pretty and expressive. Just gorgeous Brunello with fine acidity and sweet tannins. The window will open wide sometime early in 2021 and stay that way for as much time as you need. Drink 2021-2031.  Tasted October 2019

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG “Canalicchio Di Sopra” 2015

Back to prominence for Brunello quantity is what 2015 does for business while delivering great quality without causing any undue relative stress. Both Canalicchio vineyards and Montosoli cru fruit make up the cuvée. Welcome to the beauty in cherry liqueur and outright unction from the generous vintage out of which every extra day meant more ripeness, more extract and more texture. The acidity factor is what drives this Brunello because staggered picking equates to an agglomeration of perfect timing. The true estate expression in no unspoken terms. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Capanna Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Quite a wood compliment to Capanna’a 2015, much like its 2009, here six years later with more fill in the middle and less angst. Creamy, delicious and soft though not without the possibility for extension to drink well into its fifth season. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (579094, $49.95)

Caparzo is surely driven by the wood it spends quality time in getting to know and the material sent to those barrels is up to the mixing and swirling task. You understand this fruit and its dark cherry upbringing. You inuit the way vessels work through the pores while acidity flushes and raises the level of ability. Finally you get to know these sweet tannic grains and chains that work magic for the fruit. Will all come together soon, or at least sooner than many vintages. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Casanova di Neri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (85498, $84.00)

Very polished Brunello tome here from Giacomo Neri, a memo from Montalcino, a song in process. A slide guitar bending entry with a spoken monologue in hushed tones and the agglomeration of soils playing beneath the words. If a Casanova di Neri Brunello could sing, it would sway your impression through its ability to conduct business with swagger and chord change artistry. This one just has a way about it. Files a quick flash of fruit, covers it with micro-oxidative blanket tracks laid down by the grandness of barrels. Then allows for it to breathe by acids, leaves for a break and returns to leave it in slumber while tannins figure out the refrain. The final verse is yet written and that’s just fine with us. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Montalcino from Castello Romitorio

Castello Romitorio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (236356, $63.95)

A vintage of hue and the dichotomous relationship that bridges power and drinkability. A matter of accumulated acidity from a northwest Montalcino vineyard that doesn’t receive a whole helluva lot of afternoon sun. Salty from growing up in brackish mud and oyster shell from an ancient sea. The wood now speaks for the wine as expected and will fall away again.  Last tasted February 2020

Bottled, finished, now as is for three and a half months in. Pretty like the previous declared Annata from Sandro but truth be told the level of richness and power is raised up albeit without any compromise to construct and yes, elegance. The E word applies here, like it or not because this place demands it and you would absolutely know were this messed with, made up or polished by wood, pomp and circumstance. These are some stretched, elastic and elongated tannins. Will extend for hours, days, months and years, open forever, long before it bounces back. Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted October 2019

Castello Tricerchi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Reductive and underage this sangiovese toys with the idea of youthful ambition and blind faith. A touch past ripe in the teasing vintage of available exceptionalities and the race for potential glory. Certainly a Brunello very close and at the edge of excellence were it not a bit pressed and gone for the win. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (956391, $63.95)

The beautiful middle ground of Brunello di Montalcino expression is graced by Castiglion del Bosco’s 2015 and also because it does the same for the vintage. High level ripe fruit, supportive acids and creamy if spiced chocolate comes across the palate in texture and piqued energy spice. Takes what gives and gives back. Drink 201-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Cerbaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (652446, $66.95)

Cerbaia’s is warm, comforting and blessed Brunello of fruit ripened to the maximum for the most ease imaginable out of 2015. It’s quite creamy and regardless of a northern exposure there’s no lack of unction from this sangiovese. Drink in the early stages of its energetic youth. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (306852, $53.95)

Classic closed Col d’Orcia youth, nose of earth crusted berries and not nearly the mature notes of what the future surely holds. Though meant to be consumed much earlier than Riserva or Poggio al Vento there’s no escaping the place and the winemaking ways of the house. It is truly appreciated how youth in a Col d’Orcia sangiovese does not mean chocolate or vanilla, nor any overbearing barrel notes. It does regard spice and piqued feelings that bode well for a long future. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Corte Pavone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (237263, $57.95)

Heady and high floral aromas beget a formidable Brunello of fortitude and strength. Deep as black cherry emits in sangiovese from a certainty of high elevation, warm vintage solar radiation. A different sort of ’15 from the northwest adjacent Romitorio and surely a soil so different despite being so close. Rich, strong acids and loose tannin. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($89.41)

Tommaso Cortonesi’s 2015 Brunello is a ruby-red, spice studded star in 2015, high-toned and so very expressive. What spice oh my, what tripping fantastic light across the tongue and so very taut in its youth. Intensity does not begin to explain the freshness and the youthful nature of its being. Need to revisit La Mannella in one year and the 2015 sangiovese it has gifted in five years or so.  Last tasted February 2020

I’d like to say the tannins on 2015 Annata are sneaky but they are so much more than that. These are grippy, layered and nearly formidable tannins. Good thing the easy, generous and lush fruit is somehow capable of defending itself. Boom this is one of Tommaso Cortonesi’s most accomplished Annata and more capable of aging than even he would probably have guessed he was making. Power and beauty. This is that and more. Drink 2021-2031.  Tasted October 2019

Cupano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Cupano’s is a beautiful Brunello from 2015, aromatically gregarious, fruit sweetened in two times ripe ways but most importantly a phenolic access that lifts the spirit. ’Tis a red citrus acidity and a clay depth that combines for ultimate levels of strength and complexity. Lovely wine here and with just a smile of Brett to keep things stylish and rustic. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($74.95)

The 2015 is a deeper study in DCC soil and Brunello invention. You need to know that the northerly Donatella Cinelli Colombini terroir is more than offset, singular and testable. The makers of these Brunelli investigate every grain of sand, mould of clay and tumble of stones to forge the various cuvées of their sangiovese stable. This Annata carries a lyrical contralto in as much as that is a thing in Montalcino. A Cher, Annie Lennox, Nina Simone voice. It is precise and profound. It will live longer than the men. Drink 2023-2033.  Tasted February 2020

Fanti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (112607, $74.00)

Hello, hello Fanti, you beautifully factual and racy Brunello you. Hello to your calm, your controlled tension and your seamless transitions. Hello to how you say salve and open your arms. Hello to your mind, your body and your soul. Every bit of tradition, soil and acumen runs delicately and with purpose through your mineral veins. Hello to you beginnings, your full middle and your sweet endings. “Just one drink.” Of your loving cup. “In the sweet summer sun.” Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (33498, $46.95)

Always pleasure, always balanced, always proper. This is the Fattoi Brunello world, fruit sweet, energy running high and wine all tolled running long. You can count on this fruit to lift you up and the bones to stay propped up. Never waning, failing or faltering sangiovese with charm and grace. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (928028, $54.95)

C’mon classic Barbi here and the request is for this effectual realization to continue on forever, through the decades of vintages and their Brunelli. You come to expect the sort of juice that needs time, more time, precious time, endless time. You look for this tug of firmness, this posit strength and this creamy centre that ties the sangiovese room together. This does not and don’t ever abandon these roots Stefano, always keeps the Cinelli Colombini family’s Barbi faith alive. They are the lifeblood of this wine. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Del Pino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Il Pino 2015

Now for something set in the purity of the modern Brunello world. Though labeled Annata and therefore fashioned in a Classico estate-driven way there’s just something specific and particular about where this was surely born. A vineyard, a block, a plot, a Climat, a piece of terroir, a place of origin. Has that no lo so of a very special soil, likely fine clay and Galestro because it’s so smooth, confident, non-plussed, focused and finessed. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Fornacella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($54.00)

Fornacella’s brings a fine perfume of candied roses and fennocchio into Brunello quite linear and finely textured. There’s some cocoa dust and dark bitter chocolate shavings melting in and they are well integrated indeed. This is crisp, clean and properly structured sangiovse set to linger over a pretty long run. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Fossacolle Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Reductive and immediately glycerin noted Brunello with so much attraction and ephemeral beauty. The closed circuit is anything but a distraction or a problem because the core of fruit purity within is nothing if not a mass of great expression. Wild cherry, definite new leather and lots of sweet herbs in puréed pesto feel. Very silky and powerful though never cloying or obstructive. Very impressive. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Franco Pacenti Brunello Di Montalcinio DOCG 2015 ($63.00)

The Franco Pacenti Brunello 2015 is an impressive beast. A sangiovese of hearty warmth, strength and openly fragrant but edgy red fruit. This is a vintage Brunello that takes a little risk, knows the fruit has transferred over the line into a world fully phenolic, then exposed to ultra violet light. There’s no hole to fill, no barrel to overwhelm and all the best attributes to gain. So promising and exceptional. Drink 2023-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Fuligni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($67.95)

Fuligni’s is a 2015 intoxicant, a hypnotizing Brunello with no aromatic restraint. The apposite is true about its sympathy, taste and soul-searching proposition, all of which are served in great restraint. There’s a circulative musicality with unexpected and intermittent jangles, bass notes, harmonies and rapid beats. The barrel is so much a part of its present and will melt away in just a few years time. The future looks so bright for this elegant ’15. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Gianni Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Le Chiuse Di Sotto 2015 ($90.00)

You can heart this Brunello’s beat from a thousand miles away. On its sleeve, in the air and through the fine sense of sangiovese sense of elixir humour. Serious and graceful, reasoned, seasoned and saucy spiced. Gives crazy love. Opens up, every time it smiles. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Il Grappolo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Sassocheto 2015

“Stone quiet,” signature wine for Il Grappolo, from 20-plus year-old vines in the south-facing Piano Nero vineyard, planted at 300m near Sant’Angelo in Colle. Schist soils are strewn with Galestro, Alberese and sandstone, the whole Montalcino masala, all in veritable contribution. Sassocheto, exacting sangiovese, as in Brunello that is just like looking in the territory’s mirror. Pure and harmonious with sly power both “subdolo” and “furbo,” because tannins like these wind in two directions, depending on which was the fruit winds just happen to blow. A worthy “campione” of the 2015 vintage, to set an example for how to win when your vineyards gift such exemplary fruit. One of the great values of the year. Drink 2021-2029.  Tasted February and November 2020

Il Marroneto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($46.95)

Completely new set of parameters applied and noted in this 2015 Brunello with an aromatic waft that’s off the floral charts. What is that exotic perfume? ’Tis a rose petal and fresh tar, sweet herbal pesto and even sweeter fruit interned demi-glacé. Rich and far from dusty, like the cool feelings from dusk to dawn, if “nobody knows where it comes or where it goes,” this Brunello has the reds and blues to live long. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Il Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (551176, $72.95)

Il Poggione’s tells a Brunello vendemmia tale, in delivery of that vintage’s generous fruit, followed by a generosity of barrel and all the spice it can carry forward. High constituent parts, syncopated for possibility and most likely, probability. That says age will not catch up to a wine of great health because it was taken care of and will continue to take care of itself. You should pay it the same respect. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

La Gerla Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($76.95)

Le Gerla strikes as always, heady and impressive, big-boned, deep and serious vineyard exhumed Brunello. A mouthful of sangiovese like few other in Montalcino, of swagger, fully formed, developed and entrenched in vintage. Boasting of the kind of humid fruit swell that adds up to a sour cherry, leathery chew of Brunello. Full exaggeration and impression, as generous as it gets, deep and mounded in 2015. Drink 2022-2029.  Tasted February 2020

La Poderina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Tenuta del Cerro 2015 ($82.99)

Located next to Barbi and near to the Sant’Antimo Abbey La Poderina is a dichotomy in Montalcino expressiveness, at once Amaro, botanical herbal and then silky smooth, a liqueur of digestif proportions. Fruit comes from the top of the Bellini Vineyard’s hill, from 15-35 year-old vines facing southeast. If you are a fan of dry Amari-spiced and in liquid chalky grain of tannic addendum then you will relish this Brunello.  Drink 2022-2028. Tasted February 2020

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Tasting Lorenzo Magnani’s 2015 Brunello only four months later tells an exacting story and speaks to how long his sangiovese holds the capability to age. The medium sized clusters are picked second (after the largest for Rosso) and ahead of the smallest for Riserva. They are the ones that gift this tempered extraction, concentration and texture. Impeccable balance from 2015 that is the one thing showing up early.  Last tasted February 2020

There is a perfume about 2015, a ripe cherry that stands apart for the vintage and even more specific to Le Chiuse. There are cherry trees planted by Tancredi Biondi-Santi here that mimic or rather the aromatics do so, especially in this wine. It’s all texture and a true sense of the land, a feeling of Galestro, rich clay in mouthfeel and Le Chiuse, the place where the dam closed the water off for irrigation. So much fruit and harmony, between acidity, alcohol and tannins. Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted October 2019

La Colombina Di Casseli Anna Maria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

An older style, not so old as to bring out the grey but rather a wisdom, an educated guess, a planned parenthood. Rich savoury excess like few Brunelli and formidable of sangiovese acidity. The penultimate one for this undeniable and tractive local delicacy, in efficacy and naturally occurring phenomenon. The old is new again. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

La Lecciaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (121905, $66.95)

The vintage question is far from a concern with respect to ripeness and a far more important consideration is more about the management of extraction, wood and acidity. La Lecciaia’s work is so properly executed because the acids secure, lift and place the fruit where it needs to be. That is on a mid-level precipice where structure can take over without much ado. All in balance here for mid-term perfection. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($59.95)

Rich and wealthy fruit variegated Brunello here from La Màgia, of blues, reds and blacks all layered and interacting together. That’s so necessary here because the wood sheathing is equally magnanimous and this sangiovese ultimately plunders my soul. So much warmth, depth and deep blues though to be honest I wanted more restraint. Drink 2021-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Le Gode Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Le Gode farms a plot on the hill of Montosoli and while there’s a level of that elemental push there too is some less than pure fruit, Brettanomyces and creamy chocolate. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

With Riccardo Campinoti, Le Ragnaie

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($115.00)

The Brunello that sits on its skins for three months and so sure of itself that the maintenance on that ferment is really low. A testament to the vintage because this is the longest skin-contact period Riccardo has ever attempted. Still showing its teeth and the great fruit of the year. Still, hands off, don’t touch.  Last tasted February 2020

The come and get me vintage but don’t be misled, distracted or misunderstood. The fraganza di Ragnaie is an intoxicant of the highest order from the highest elevations. This is tonality of verified airy exceptionality. There are fruit landings and destinations, from patches and orchards, without pith and with stone seeds. From only six hectares of the 15 total planted and the balanced one, with Montosoli fruit joining Petroso, Castelnuovo dell’Abate and the four vineyards at 600-plus metres around the winery. Still firm and shadowy so wait three more years. A redux of ’13 but in a wholly antithetical way and only in the ways of Le Ragnaie. Drink 2022-2033.  Tasted October 2019

Lisini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Lisini brings a mass of extraction and attraction from their 2015 Brunello, restless energy and a lusty precipice hard to reconcile in its youth. A wine you have a cup of coffee with “until the next time we say goodbye.” This is Brunello of expectation, tradition and once in a while affair. Meet up once a year to catch up and do this for a decade or two. It’s that kind of sangiovese. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Mastrojanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($69.95)

Mastrojanni is an aromatic wild one in 2015, florals and full citrus scrape. There’s no letdown anywhere on this sangiovese, fruit having come to fruition and everything pulled from it’s phenolic capabilities. It’s über ripe and conversely tannic, crunchy, chewy, earthy, floral, all of the above again and more. So much length and more to come. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Máté Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Máté is strong mocker in 2015, high level at every angle, turn and precipice reached, namely by sour acids and gritty, brittle tannin. Not so much love at this early stage. But I can say this. Give this sangiovese 10 years and it will simmer down. dole out abbracci and make nice. It just won’t do so with generous fruit. Drink 2023-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (64956, $44.95)

High toned and a bit lean for 2015 this does not elicit sentiments of the top, top terroir. A bit saccharine and intense with hard acids and overtly sensory edginess. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Musico Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Musico is at the far end of the ripe spectrum or rather sitting in fences at the edge of each. There is fruit of a sun-worshipped, solar-charred kind and then conversely a verdant group marked by dried herbs and legumes. This disparate blending makes cause for short term gain and gone long hollowness. Drink early for best response. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Padelletti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Both rustic and reductive though filled to the inside brim with an impressive core of fruit. Quite raspberry and seasoned with spice that speaks to the edginess and headiness of the wood staying presently ahead. Will integrate in a few years and drink really well. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Pian Delle Querci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

A pretty sangiovese is a beautiful thing that makes for a beautiful life. This would only be said if a wine causes such a thought and so here, from the start, is that sentiment solicited. Sometimes roses emanate and while that may be a sangiovese peculiarity it is not something only reserved for nebbiolo. The palate too offers pretty flavours and red citrus joy. Might seem a bit light and sour-edged to some but like an enchanted old ruin, I appreciate it all the same. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Pian Delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (651141, $61.95)

The 2015 Pian delle Vigne is remarkably smooth, satiny and silky sangiovese. Plain to feel and see. The quality in this Antinori is undeniable so the level of rhythm, blues and soul is not really the point. The fruit is extended out of a mind of many and not just one so it rolls through the stages of its construction with effortless, lack of tension, ease. Classic steak house or cottage deck Brunello, perfect for men of leisure off the course or out of the boat, showered and ready for their steak. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Piccini Villa Al Cortile Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (434696, $45.00)

In full expectation that the Montalcino house that Piccini built will find seasoned and reasoned success in 2015 is proven by this proud and even profound wine from Villa al Cortille. An alignment of essential, recognizable and desirable aromas, tastes and sensorial aspects makes this as promising a restaurant pour as any from the vintage. Consistency and professionalism incarnate. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Pietroso Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

From Andrea Pignattai, winemaker, gentle soul, humble man. A small estate on the northwest corner of the Montalcino hill where so few farm that sector. Only 35,000 bottles produced split between Rooso and Brunello. Andrea’s is authentic from the word nose, rich in dark scented fruit but cool climate herbal, almost minty. Tight, pointed acids, direct and simply the right stuff. Refreshing in so many ways. Grandi Andrea. Drink 2021-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Piombaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

High tonality straight away, up and away into the volatile and the inhalant of much repute. Also a touch roasted, like nightshades under the broiler. A bit lean up the middle. If seemingly lacking substance and grace it makes up for that with formidable structure. Rustic and austere and should drink better looking 15 years forward. Drink 2024-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Brizio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Briizio’s is polished and stylish Brunello, perfectly seasoned and reasoned from and for the vintage. Clarity and purity are met with a set of palpable textures; crispy, crunchy and juicy. That’s the crux of what drives this lush and luscious sangiovese. Fruit and mouthfeel, both expressive and adding life, using attributes to the max. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Le Ripi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Amore E Magia 2015

As per the moniker there’s a lotta love emanating from this unctuous and luxe sangiovese to make way with the generous vintage. Rich fruit of the red express kind is never relenting and while acids follow phenolic suit the tannins are sweet and mild. One of the better Brunelli meant for easy and early consumption. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Poggio La Croce Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Rustic and woody to be sure, with plenty of vanilla and a creamed caramel note, though there is some solid fruit underneath. With time it will improve though will always be on the side of hot and spicy. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Poggio Landi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (573980, $54.00)

From the ABFV group of estates that includes Podere Brizio in Montalcino and Dievole in Chianti Classico. Poggio Landi is taken from elevations between 300-500m on heavy clay soils. The is big and rich from 2015, of that there is no doubt though you’d hardly know it for there is too much wood at this stage. Vanilla and baking spice, sweet, confected and not yet conjoined, laying dominantly overtop the fruit. Too much ambition that may yet yield eventual results. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (337774, $180.00)

No less than a finessed coax of pure higher altitude sangiovese fruit delivers the southern territorial goods in 2015. That and a staggered pick, layered atop one another for a stack of juicy, ripe acid and fine grained chain of tannic goods. The seamlessness and positively structured finesse is beyond comprehensible commend-ability. It’s outright impressive.  Last tasted February 2020

The red fruit of this place and only this place is amplified or better still exemplified in appellative Brunello. There is a glycerin derived and in possession of balance, from soils, elements and climate that is unparalleled for this specific area of Montalcino just to the west and below Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The fine shift from earth to fruit and into tannin through mineral bleed and finally peppery savour all works on the palate. This ’15 is proof of how a team continues to uphold standards of these vineyards no matter the ownership or the hopes, dreams or wishes of those who support and also those who drink from the deep well of this project. Drink 2022-2033.  Tasted October 2019

Poggio Lucina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Cheese and wood. Wet wool too. Drink 2020-2022.  Tasted February 2020

Renieri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

From Bacci wines connected to Tenuta Renieri and Castello di Bossi in Chianti Classico. Here in the south of Montalcino at elevation (400m) and in the protective shadow of Monte Amiata. Renieri is nothing if not wise, well-rendered and compactly designed Brunello di Montalcino 2015. The fruit is ample to gainfully substantial and the exercise one that practices restraint in the name of balance. No demons needed exorcizing because the handling is one born of acumen, not desire. Another classic restaurant Brunello to represent the appellation and the vintage. Drink 2021-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Ridolfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Slightly reductive and also filled with Ribena and raspberry fruit. Fully tests the mettle and the ripeness factor of 2015 and seems acidified. Disparate and problematic. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Roberto Cipresso Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Truly big framework here in the Cipresso ’15 Brunello, fruit of another ilk, talent running through all parts from beginning to end. Full fruit compliment, rusty, dusty, plummy, ripe and sour, all in, all the way. The balance afforded by wood and time is estimable, attributable and accountable. Such a well-reasoned and silky seasoned wine. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Ruffino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Greppone Mazzi 2015

A righteous and proper sense of tradition in rustic tones makes Ruffino’s Greppone a prosperous proposition if for a specific crowd that sticks to roads well trodden. Crunchy and earth crusted fruit, high tonal attitude and a linger that repeats the plays again and again. Amazing what consistency times vintage in Brunello such as this can deliver. Solid 2015 from the house built big. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2020

San Giorgio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ugolforte 2015 (212431, $47.95)

The second estate of Poggio di Sotto delivers a solid core of sangiovese fruit swagger with more than a modicum of high acid tang in 2015. Tart, driven, ultra-phenolic and on the road to both freedom and happiness. I feel they are still figuring out the nuance and the possibility of the estate and 2015 is sending the team well on their way. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (14813, $89.00)

Consistently luxurious and while at the same time of a cure grounded in the natural world. Like salumi, slow-roasted eggplant and a warm pesto of fresh herbs; rosemary, oregano and basil. Plenty of orange pulp and tannin of a liquid chalky kind. Yes this ’15 from San Polino is consistent with what came before but the new advantage and next level formative components will take it deep. All the tenets of agriculture, vintage and cellar work are conspiring to great probability effect. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Sesta Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Fine parts, sways and directions travelled is the directive slowly parlayed in this sweet scenting sangiovese. The purity of fruit beauty is an unadulterated mix of real time agriculture lending a discretion of honesty to the hands that take over and make this wine. No lack of signal in the transfer makes for a palate, a mid-palate and a fleshy finish with fine chains, grains and strains of structure that carry the weight. Will live infamously as one of the better to best 2015s.  Drink 2023-2033. Tasted February 2020

Sesti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($117.95)

Sesti’s is lightning red fruit meets high acid sangiovese for one of the lighter, brighter and sneaky powerful Brunelli. Creeps and climbs, moves, shakes and graces the palate with sharp fruit, raspberry in tang ways and then earthy, properly volatile and respectably edgy. Will seek and find balance between that tension and the other-worldly umami before too long. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Solaria Patrizia Cencioni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

Humbly submitted 2015 from Cencioni, well developed fruit gentle in mass, explorative in design and calm in the face of dark sensorial attraction. Acids are just a touch duro but do their parts to lift and support succulence, that plus a dollop of malic cream lending a softening and blanching hand. Perfectly lovely. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($76.00)

Riccardo Talenti’s Brunello is always a combinative, bringing together of double entendre ideals in the name of achieving the great estate balance. Fruit for the sangiovese comes from vineyards both southwest and southeast of Montalcino, aging is done 60-40 in 500L tonneaux and grandi botti of French and Slavonian oak. The vintage that does it all, a largesse of fresh fruit, the earth liquified in sand, clay, Galestro mineral and finally, the most stretched and generous tannin imaginable. The pinnacle and epitome of professionally executed high quality Brunello that never abandons its sense of place. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Tenuta Buon Tempo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (14856, $65.00)

TBT’s 2015 Brunello hits the middle notes with sumptuous ease, bringing a depth of vintage fruit into a house occupied by sweet acids, fine wood and mild tannin. The work here is proper, finessed and leads to a very drinkable wine. Perhaps a bit overtly refined in this vintage with the hopes for next level cause and effect. Highly recommended for a three to seven year run. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (922054, $46.95)

Lovely little ’15 from Nardi that grows in stature as you work the glass. Begins with classic dusty cherry and leather earthy fruit then climbs upward with high level acidity. Crescendoes at a higher point and lingers well into the next hour. I can hear this one ‘knockin’. Great Brunello blues riff and groove. Vintage in, vintage out one of the most consistent Montalcino wines. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Tommasi Casisano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (483800, $70.00)

A lightning red fruit Brunello out of 2015 from Tommasi’s Casisano with tight acids and a lightness that allows for a breath of fresh Brunello air. A thriller this one, not a killer and blessed with ease of amenability. Tannins build with more strength then expected though ultimately speaking the heights are scaled early and no great amount of time is needed to make headway with this wine. Terrific first five years sangiovese, for food expected and wholly unexpected ways. Drink 2021-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Val Di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (713719, $54.95)

From Andrea Lonardi, incumbent winemaker at Val di Suga (since 2012) and while 2015 simply is what it is you can feel the work put in to make a proper sangiovese that speaks for the estate first and the vintage second. A balanced and professional wine that sets tor table for what will come, next vintage and going forward. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Ventolaio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

All in with all that 2015 can offer to an appellative expression that demands so much. For Brunello this is a weight-packed fruit first, tannin second wine. The drive or length in between is short even in youth, somewhat agitated and exaggerated for the vintage. This one does not trade riffs but gets straight to the point, but that point is set far off in the future. The established credo is all about strength and credibility. Be patient. Wait for it. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($49.95)

Quite a rich and creamy Brunello, more wood in taste and texture than fruit from the hip. Some spice and tannin come about as a result of tannin that again, if at first was pressed from dark fruit now seems squeezed from the barrel. Drink 2021-2023.  Tasted February 2020

Brunello di Montalcino Vigna DOCG 2015 (27 notes)

Argiano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Del Suolo 2015

The vineyard down below is appositely named in apropos significance because the sentiment is high, lightning struck and quick as a whip. Crunchy and earthy fruit is ripe and near delirious, tripping the lights and adding fantasy to an already heady if effusive substance fantastic. So much going on in complex waves, severities and notions. Will transfer and oscillate, groove and titillate for a decade to come. Drink 2022-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Azienda Di Franci Franca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Tassi Di Franci Franca Selezione Franci 2015

A true sense of sangiovese volatility marks the entry in the Selezione from Tassi. So much wood and tannin, a compounding of big elements, attributes and more wood. Will need a decade to integrate. Drink 2023-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Azienda Di Franci Franca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Tassi Di Franci Franca 2015

Tassi’s Franci is antithetical to its Serlezione and it is surely a wine of higher energy and drive. More precision and focus as well, better integrated barrel and length for days. Still the chocolate and the creamy texture. Drink 2023-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Del Fiore 2015 ($79.95)

Vigna del Fiore. Salty number for the Montalcino location and yet this ease of amenability and the way the Barbi effort solicits affectation is undeniable. This secrecy of structure is a house and Vigna speciality and the sauce is spread liberally across the succulence of the fruit. No denying the effort, the acumen and the persistence of unwavering potential. Drink 2022-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Casaccia 2015

Casaccia as in the name of the house and the registered name of the vineyard, here a monopole look at Brunello from the larger 14 hectares for eastern Montalcino’s Canalicchio. The idea here is to celebrate a place within a place but without compromising the larger cuvée expression. Takes extract, concentration and purpose to another level, not to mention polish, precision and potential. The acids are elevated and the texture more refined, converse and complimentary. A tightness makes for some early attack that needs time to get past. Quite cool, tannic and intense. Will hit its stride quite far down the road. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2015

A preview sample. Comes from fruit grown in the oldest two hectare vineyard of Vigna Vecchia Mercatale. The vines were planted in 1987 and in good vintages the potential is gifted, not a matter of grand impact but one of the land, the soil, the brown clay minerals and the elements. And so it’s a matter of longevity and potential, not brut strength. A beautiful example of Riserva, focused, precise and fine. And yet the style is poised in position along a line that includes the Brunello and the Riserva so homogeneity in these soils is more than apparent. This part of Montalcino makes this kind of wine and this house celebrates the consistency. Drink 2022-2036.  Tasted February 2020

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG La Casa 2015 (20750, $79.95)

The ripeness of La Casa in 2015 is at the precipice if not the next step where denouement begins in descent. The aromas are quite fine and discreet while the flavours pool in a deep well of full on berry and plum, dusty and of a twinge that’s Ribena in twangy tang. It is what it is, this version of gregarious 2015, seemingly easy and generous but the pick was all you had. Great La Casa is spot on. This one misses by a hair. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted February 2020

Casanova Di Neri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Tenuta Nuova 2015 (85241, $135.00)

Tenuta Nuova takes the sangiovese of Casanova di Neri to another level entirely with a finesse and a polish unparalleled. The wave is long and arcing, accruing flesh and fine liqueur as time passes slowly while you take your time with this fruit of natural sweetness and matching fineness of acidity. Truth be told there is a come and get me now quality about this Vigna designate 2015 and one that will seduce early, in as much as the seduced is willing to be taken. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Castello Romitorio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Filo Di Sesta 2015

From two hectares and only 500 cases of wine are made from vineyards out of which a significant amount of bunches are dropped. First made in 2010, one of the earlier single-vineyard declared Brunelli. “The thread of silk” which refers to the little creek that runs through the forest. A little bit more tonneaux than big barrel and a wealth of riches inherently gathered, layered and reticulated in pocket. Acids are high, mighty and persistent and there is a chalky insistence that matches the energy stride for stride. Not so much a tight sangiovese as a variegated one. Pine, rosemary and darkening fruit, full of sprezzatura. Drink 2021-2031.  Tasted February 2020

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG I Poggiarelli 2015

Skipping straight pass and over the sunless, tenebrous and obscured 2014 vintage it is this Tommaso Cortonesi 2015 I Poggiarelli that rises from the vineyard looking up the Montalcino hill to the southeastern side. Te offer is an ulterior one, an expression in contrast to what comes from northerly La Mannella. Warmer, fuller and without question more precise. Cortonesi has used the tools available to provide it a bigger architectural frame and the flesh of this vineyard dutifully abides, bedecking the incrustation of the facade and adorning the fills of the interior. Quite structured and yet fully fleshy of 2015 density and weight. Impressive stuff from Tommaso. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Croce Di Mezzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

A slight note of rusticity grounds this sangiovese in salty earth while high toned acidity elevates and promotes a lifted sense of composition. Not sure if this comes or goes, weighs down or flies high. Needs to settle, play together in the sand and integrate for mature times in the sun. Will find the way. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Donnatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Prime Donne 2015

Prime Donne is a highly specific single expression of the most important fruit raised by Donatella, Violante and team. The dichotomy here is more perfume cross referenced in adjacency to more barrel inflected structure. More notions to consider, vineyard dirt expressed through morbido tones and wood scents in gentle baking spice. Quite weighty in tannins, surely a love song so divine, certainly a wine that will stand the test of time. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Fanti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vallocchio 2015 ($89.95)

Vallocchio is just perfect for 2015. Vallocchio delivers fruit like that found in the Annata but deeper, purer and under a gastronomic integration of spice. Vallocchio gives and then gives some more. It gifts sweetness for that fruit mixed with the grain of the barrel. In the end the charm, warmth and caress of kissing tannin tells us not to demand this be the longest Vallocchio but surely expect one of the most graceful. Drink 2021-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Franco Pacenti Brunello Di Montalcinio DOCG 2015 Rosildo

If the 2015 Annata from Franco Pacenti was the bomb then what does that make the Vigna Rosildo? Excuse my English but this Rosildo is the shit. The great shit. Grande. Rosildo fineness is that of regal sangiovese style. Acid, tannin, structure, all together seamless and hungry to integrate simpler parts, make them complex and whole. Here is what should and must be considered one of the wines of the vintage. Drink 2024-2038.  Tasted February 2020

Il Marroneto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Madonna Delle Grazie 2015

A taut and yet to fully express itself sangiovese is this tight stunner from il Marroneto. Madonna delle Grazie is full of a cherry depth from which you feel the liqueur and yet the reductiveness keeps the wine safe beneath a hard shell. One of the few 15s that act this way, seriously tight, yet to crack and with 20 years of life safely stored within. Serious wine here from Alessandro Mori. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG La Fornace 2015

A site in the highest elevation that used to be a lake bed so it’s rich in round stones. Picked earlier in 2015, kept away from jammy and suspended in the high sangiovese zone in which acidity keeps the dream alive. So beautifully judged.  Last tasted February 2020

From Castelnuovo dell’Abate at 400m of elevation, planted in the 1980s. A former lake bed, with clay and round sand stones. Strikes the Brunello accord between richness and balance with more fruit than 10 other houses combined. The transparency is the thing; smells like fruit, perfume and the land, like rocks and sandstone. The bleed of Pietraforte into the blood of sangiovese. There’s really no reason to find fault and in fact there is every reason to breath, exhale and smile. That is what happens when you taste a Brunello like this special single-vineyard wine from Le Ragnaie. Drink 2022-2037.  Tasted October 2019

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Vecchia 2015 ($177.00)

All the Brunelli from Le Ragnaie were kept on their skins for 90 days in fermentation, longest ever for Riccardo. Not convinced anyone else is making Brunello like this. Fresh, lean and linear but not. At this stage the sapidity is raging, omnipresent, marvellous. “I think when they are young they change everyday,” says Campinotti. Well it certainly has done so since October.  Last tasted February 2020

Planted in 1968 and from a warm vintage all the way to the end, into October. Riccardo Campinoti is smiling wryly, knowingly and confidently after he pours and begins to speak of it. “The longer you waited the riper it became” and the healthy grapes allowed for hanging to mid-October. Deeper and of more sponge-soaked earth in the old vines with a higher tone juxtaposed against the depth drawn by long vine roots. The aromatic complexities run, jump and ride off the proverbial charts and you may find yourself drunk and mystified just from the smells. Once you gain palate entry you are hooked and then you climb in, headfirst, unencumbered, no strings attached. A tour de force beloved of sangiovese, Montalcino and old vines. Vigna Vecchia is the epitome of a true structured wine, one which does not grow old, despite the passage of time.  Drink 2023-2039. Tasted October 2019

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Montosoli 2015

The vineyard was purchased in 2014, 50m on the right of the Baricci cellar. “In my opinion it was good right away,” tells Campinoti so a single vineyard wine was made straight away. Casanovina refers to the house on the property. Another example of a site wine, as opposed to Riserva stylistics which to be honest are not Riccardo’s style. “It doesn’t add much, in my opinion.”  Last tasted February 2020

Riccardo’s first vintage from the Galestro strewn soils at 220m next to Baricci on the northerly Montosoli hill is a completely different animal altogether. The tannic structure is so opposite to the southerly wines, here taut, twined laces pulled oh so tight. Not without the Ragnaie tonality mind you and the transparency, clear, distinct and honest. Not necessarily a terroir vintage and fermentation occurred in oak vats (as oppsed to the concrete for the others) and yet it’s so bloody sangiovese. Blood of Montosoli. Drink 2022-2038.  Tasted October 2019

Mastrojanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Loreto 2015 ($63.95)

Quite a heady and rich Vigna from Mastrojanni, full of dark fruit, caramel and chocolatey flavours. So rich and also youthfully reductive, fruit and acidity thick as thieves. The texture is outrageous, smooth and yet this is the grippiest ’15 around. A beast that attacks the senses with fervour and intent. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Piaggione 2015

Piaggione stands apart, namely because the vineyard is lower, lighter in clay and the vines are the oldest of the cru. Lay of the land is 420-450m facing south, taking in sun and developing the biggest muscle. Not just more muscular but also on a broad shouldered frame. The adonis of cru, grippy and ripped, but first from a fistful of fruit strong enough to stand up and be counted. Bigger, more brawn, higher in alcohol, older in school of a certain era, or one that just seems to keep coming around. Stash Piaggione away and forget about it for a while. Drink 2023-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Sorgente 2015

Organic, biodynamic and unfiltered, from the then first in Montalcino, at the hands of Francesco Leanza, in 1995. Now (and since 2015) in the custodial hands of Felix and Sabine Eichbauer, halfway between Montalcino and Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The last of the cru, single-vineyards planted at Salicutti and not surprisingly the one with most red fruity juiciness that keeps a lineage with the Rosso. If a portal into knowing what it makes to taste the bright side of 2015 could be described then why not make use of this ethereal Sorgente to learn of such things. Voltage, tension and vibration. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted February 2020

Podere Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Teatro 2015

Less than a hectare, planted in 1994 (same year as Piaggione) and as the name suggests the block spreads out like an amphitheatre. The yields on the vineyard are low but through the 2016 vintage they were far less than now because the team have been fighting the voracious eating nottua caterpillar, at night, picking them off buy hand. The oak on Teatro is 10 and 20hL because these are the size that work with the low yields. I love Ieatro it should be said, as it is, indeed dutifully herbal, rich yet ethereal, dry and resinous. Less muscular than Piaggione but more in common with that cru wine. Drink 2022-2032.  Tasted February 2020

Salvioni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG La Cerbaiola 2015

Salvioni’s is a deeply welling sangiovese with fully developed and formed 2015 fruit and no less than a 20 year architectural frame on which to hang. All the land’s attributes of growth are there in aromatic waves; brush and bush of herbs, mineral salts, essential oils. So much going on, character all over the expression and the sense of pace so high and squarely intact. Drink 2023-2032.  Tasted February 2020

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Helichrysum 2015

Very rich and crafty Vigna Brunello here from San Polino, rich in phenolics and chocolate though not so spirited in acidity and energy. Quite warming and caressing, a couverture of wood blankets and secures the fruit. Drinkable soon and in the near term for sure. Drink 2022-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Pian Di Conte 2015 ($120.00)

A Sant’Angelo in Colle viilage treasure is this Riserva made from fruit grown on estate vines at 400m just northwest of the administrative frazione. There is so much wine, substance and intensity at play in this near massive 2015. It is one with a soft core in its heart and so you can imagine the elasticity, nimble agility and the incredible length that will be the matter when the time comes to right. That fruition is at least five if not to be 10 years away. So much fruit from which tonneaux, grandi botti and variegated soils support the idea. Drink 2025-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigneto Manachiara 2015

Serious wine here from Nardi, rich and nectareous, exotic and welling with big fruit flavours. The secondary and tertiary attributes can do nothing but lift and lengthen this wine towards epochs of imitable time. Look to open six bottles every three years for up to 20 in total. Drink 2022-2033.  Tasted February 2020

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Doria 2015

Poggio Doria is the wild child of Silvio Nardi, a high acid, bigger tannic structure sangiovese of pulse, energy and drive. Fruit substance is high, tones are equally elevated and time will do great things to this wine. Full throttle, edgy, briny, intense, grippy and full of so much Montalcino love. Drink 2024-2034.  Tasted February 2020

 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (other vintages, 14 notes)

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

The herbal-amaro-cool savour of the vintage really shows at the present time. That said the silkiness of the tannins and the later note of salty sapidity shows just hop\w long this is likely to age. Drinking really well.  Last tasted February 2020

Just eight thousand bottles made in this vintage with no Riserva in production. A completely different look at 2014 with this bottle, at the top of integrity, with Le Chiuse savour, throwback complexity and great brightness, surely blessed and pushed upwards for the future. Showing the way it was meant to. A reflection of the vintage and proof of time afforded the vineyard.  Last tasted October 2019

Le Chiuse delivers one of the realer deals in 2014 Brunello, with admirably pleasing and concentrated fruit set against a traditional backdrop of ripe acidity, minor Brettanomyces and full-bodied tannins. As it’s not an overly perfumed sangiovese it bucks the vintage trend if only because it avoids botrytis-affected atypical aromas. It’s quite a rich 2014, certainly a bit volatile and capable of going longer than most. Finishes by leaving you a linger of its chewy mouthful. Drink 2022-2030.   Tasted February 2019

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG “Canalicchio Di Sopra” 2013

This ’13 from Francesco Ripaccioli and Canalicchio di Sopra is sangiovese out of the excellent, variable, at times confounding and now at the seven year mark, nothing if not profound vintage. Perhaps even marks the turning point for a winemaker looking for his and his family’s sense of place, for a unique eastern to northeastern Montalcino sapidity in his wines. “We are learning from our mistakes,” he admits, “such as those we made in 2007. We are now much more going in the direction of purity in fruit and clean clarity out of the cellar.” Brunello is all about freshness, verticality and depth. The 2013 comes from what Francesco would still qualify as “not so easy a vintage, a vintage of interpretation.” Cold for a Montalcino season so he, his siblings and team passed through the vineyards on several occasions for preparation, timing and selection. “We like to clean the vineyard, to prepare for the harvest,” he adds. Picking happened in October “of amazingly floral fruit, finishing on the 11th, just as the rain arrived. Better to be lucky than good.” ‘Tis Brunello first of flowers in bloom, a candied scent and fresh herbs. Fulsome and openly fragrant, a silky texture, some chocolate and ultimately, beauty. Drink 2020-2030.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013

Showing beautifully, in a calm stage even, a respite from power and now, simply attractive. All the Canalicchio elements from clay soil show up; mild sweetness, furthered salinity and a deep sort of sapidity. Nothing fully pronounced but all there. Great Riserva vintage.  Last tasted February 2020

Riserva is a selection in the cellar though certain blocks from certain vintages are premeditated and in fact 2013 Riserva is solely selected from the Montosoli hill. The perfume stands apart, rising, haughty and full of fresh roses. The expression of rocks drawn into vines from the new age, climate-affected northern exposure are for perhaps the first time in the Cru’s history a brand new Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello. Salinity, sapidity, power and elegance. Truly. Drink 2022-2035.  Tasted October 2019

Castello Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Poggio All’Oro 2013 (443267, $190.00)

Already having entered a secondary stage this from Banfi drives the point that a Brunello Di Montalcino’s aging is done for you, first in barrel and then in bottle, so that when you purchase and pop it is ready to go. Earthy secondary notes of wet forest, funghi and then balsamico are heady and deep. The acids remain strong and persistent for necessary energy and life. A well seasoned and thoughtfully crafted Riserva is the final result. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

La Gerla Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013

Somehow, some way this is how Riserva in Montalcino is imagined. The deepest inhalant of savour and the years of barrel aging for an aromatic amalgamation of epochs primary, secondary and tertiary. This ’13 already accesses the move to the next and the next. It is the epitome of what Riserva has come to mean and carries the torch as it has been passed forth. Drink 2020-2025.  Tasted February 2020

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Diecianni 2013

The ’13 will be released on January 1st, 2023 and as the name Diecianni suggests it is a Riserva that 10 years minimum are needed before readiness begins to take shape. The selection is from the smallest grape clusters in estate vineyards and mainly the oldest vines, originally planted in 1987. The vintage of the great polyphonic-phenolic, elastic and stretched ripeness, by photosynthesis without heat, of muscles with energy and ones that will develop, remain and use their power to keep the fruit alive. That said it’s a wine of wood and the highest level of salinity, sapidity and a tang that is exhibited by no other Brunello di Montalcino. A concentration that is simply outstanding and in some minds, will even be eclipsed (or not) by 2016. The finesse and architecture of this wine are as good as it gets. Drink 2026-2042.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012

“Reduction is a way to preserve the freshness and the florals of the wine,” tells winemaker Francesco Ripaccioli. Sangiovese is better set up and suited this way and while some Balsamico is now speaking through this ’12 Riserva’s voice, much of the aromatics are still situated in the realm of a high-toned grace.  Last tasted February 2020

A year previous to the ’13 Riserva (which will be made exclusively from Montosoli hill fruit) there is the depth of clay and controlled power out of Canalicchio cru vines. The absolute attention paid to patience and time is noted from a Brunello such as this, spoken out within the constructs of fruit extraction and wood usage. The tannins are red meaning they are ripe and request that you give this wine as much time as it gave before going to bottle and then to market. Lush, consistent from start to finish and just hinting at notes not quite Balsamico but something other, something derived from sangiovese grown in the grey clay of La Casaccia. Drink 2021-2032.  Tasted October 2019

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Diecianni 2012

The ’12 will be released on January 1st, 2022, as per the moniker, a Riserva taken from the smallest grape clusters in estate vineyards and mainly the oldest vines, originally planted in 1987. But they were sold to Franco Biondi Santi (and the land was owned by Grandmother Ferella until she died in 1987) until Lorenzo’s parents (Simonetta and Niccolo) began making wines in 1992. Those vines were personally selected by Franco to graft from and plant at Le Chiuse. The name Le Chiuse is quite apropos for this 2012, a relatively big vintage and the wine is quite tight in spite of having already spent eight years in waiting. Yes the nose emanates an intoxicating liqueur and one of deep floral tones but it’s still a bit closed. Some 12s are very aggressive and this is one with the finest and the most balance. Almost too beautiful already so long but not forever. Drink 2023-2034.  Tasted February 2020

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Diecianni 2010

The finest and silkiest of tannins and a natural complexity that has simply developed on its own. Four years ago this would not have been the case. Begin the drinking journey anytime if you can give it six to eight hours of air, or wait another year or two. The maker would want you to do it right. He held it back for the timing to be just right.  Last tasted February 2020

“A muscle vintage, of huge character,” tells Lorenzo Magnelli. The name of the wine is Diecianni to tell us that Lorenzo’s Riserva is not released until the 10th year. Brings about all the complexities that come from such an extended elévage. Tobacco, savour, forest floor, frutta di bosco and frutto secco but don’t be succumbing to depths and sottosuolo because the freshness persists. A wine so wise beyond its years, like its maker. Sure you can release a Riserva one year after Annata but when it has been protected and taken care of for you then it presents as it was intended to. We are thankful for the triage and the investment on our behalf. The fruit persists with great natural sweetness out of 2010. Drink 2019-2035.  Tasted October 2019

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2010

Brunello at 10 years is like the Rosso in advance and then not at all. The fruit aromas are all skin, scraped, studded and seasoned. You can feel how special the vintage phenols were and continue to be, now in their twilight of first stage freshness. It may be remembered as a vintage less than eventful but you can also make note of what must have been great bold bitters and demanding skeletal framing that kept pleasure down. Rising now, flesh in pulse and equitable tacit celebration. Heady and big Brunello from a vintage gone long on stuffing. Drink 2020-2030.  Last tasted February 2020

Largesse and a firmess of being as per the house style are rampant in Col D’Orcia’s 2010, a wine that reminds me of 1998 and 2000. A wine that will seem lean, mean and terrifying in its youth but will prove everyone wrong when it hits the 12-15 year stride. This is a monster bringing leather and chocolate to the table. It is nearly unapproachable at the present time but you can imagine and embrace the possibility of potential. Drink 2020-2035.  Tasted September 2016

Col d’Orcia tasting on the ’00s

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2000

So hard to know how Col d’Orcia’s Brunelli are able to glide so stealthily through time without haste and with so much slow moving grace. But here is yet another bit of restrained sangiovese power, wild of fruit heart and subtle in animal behaviour. The high acidity vintage spreads the energetic love with great and intentional fervour, showing as credibly and forcefully as could possibly have hoped or expected. Cold, cloud cover vintage does the yeoman work for sangiovese lifeblood to send it 20 years forward for all to believe. 2000, baby. Drink 2020-2027.  Tasted February 2020

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Poggio al Vento 1990

Sometimes a vintage of great repute and universal declaration does live up to its billing. And yet this from a time when the declarers knew a thing or two about soothsaying declarations. Thirty years and no great movement save for a transfer to the ethereal, the zeitgeist and the Italian version of said realm. No sully and all clarity with a marbling of strength, as in petrified balsamico and bitter chocolate made sweet by a powerful tempering. Tannins still shot out of cannons and leaving vapour trails of dried porcini dust. Drink 2020-2026.  Tasted February 2020

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 1990

Surely an exercise in comparative liturgies to taste two Col d’Orcia 1990s side by each, first the single expression of Poggio al Vento followed by Riserva. Why the first is poured to follow the second is confounding and then the acidity strikes, the power is freed and the understanding is gained. Riserva 1990, much like the 2000 poured 15 minutes earlier is a formidable thing and hopeful in an attempt at admirable restraint. Though it may have been born in the same vintage as the ’90 Poggio al Vento the sibling rivalry is in. Here the acids are aggressive, striking, searing and almost violating. Even more so than the 2000’s. Though the morbido finesse of the PaV wins one battle, the force and further estimable longevity of this Riserva wins the other. If you could pick only one, which would it be? Drink 2020-2029.  Tasted February 2020

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 1980

Oh my word 1980 carries plenty of residual acidity in an antithetically mild, wholly and utterly unexpected way. Energy, potency, drive and this unrelenting need to express itself. Tight, taut, slinging arrows of tension that make the fruit or what’s left of it almost inconsequential. In actuality there is fruit, namely red currant, sour cherry and pomegranate. Improves with these flavours away from the clay-earthy aromatics and lingers good and plenty. Stays with you, as it has done for 40 years. Drink 2020-2023.  Tasted February 2020

With Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano of Col d’Orcia

Barrel Samples

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2016

Barrel Sample. A deeper well filled with that cherry liqueur and clearly more extract and concentration. The tannins are still fierce, intensely chalky and fine bitters are very much a part of the mix. A furthered texture Brunello with no less strength than most 16s will surely exhibit but the power is tempered by this feel and polish. Quite a potential here for 20 plus years of longevity. Drink 2024-2035.  Tasted February 2020

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Casaccia 2016

Barrel Sample. Now this is something exceptional. This is what Casaccia is obviously capable of producing, The sweetest Canalicchio fruit of all, to date and with a rising low and slow angling of acidity (as opposed to straight verticality) that carries the fruit to great heights. This will be a triumph and in fact it is already tasting like a piece de Canalicchio resistance while it sings a long maestro song. A soloist that needs no accompaniment although food, company and peace would not hurt at all. Obviously this is more than just the northern side of Montalcino and more than Canalicchio.  This is Casaccia.  Drink 2025-2040.  Tasted February 2020

Good to go!

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Montalcino Sunset

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