We search the world’s most famous regions for the most profound and moving wines but are caught up by a mix of pedigree and marketing, so often not truly making the connections. We are bought and sold, invested in the attractive and oft times the austere. Beauty is everywhere and sometimes right under our noses, yet are we not blinded or at the very least distracted by confidence and power? These thoughts can be applied to many things but as it pertains to wine there is a clear message. Open your heart, mind and palate to seek what others pass over, to experience what is real. And so en route to Alba for Nebbiolo Prima I first made way to the land of moscato. There and for the third time in four years I visited with seven prominent producers to further an education and understanding about a most important wine. Moscato d’Asti. Why? Simply because we are all Asti.
In October of 2022 I hosted three events in Toronto to pour, speak about and celebrate the precocious joy of Moscato d’Asti. A sommelier lunch and consumer event, both held at Barque Smokehouse shared 18 examples of the lightly sparkling, low alcohol, impeccably balanced, multi-styled, food-friendly and Piedmontese heritage wines. More than 100 professionals and wine lovers chose to experience the wonders of these refreshing wines. Why? Once again the answer is the same. We are all Asti.
Monferrato Hills, Piemonte
I visited the region in December of 2018 and also 2019, then returned again this past January, to reconnect with the land and the people who share an imperative to keep heritage alive, but today growers and producers do so much more than merely follow tradition. New vinification and filtration techniques not only create the cleanest Moscato d’Asti ever made but also equip the wines with better aging potential than before. Moscato d’Asti does age well, in fact I tasted several examples of three to four year-old wines mired in a dumb phase but also seven to 10 year old wines that having now re-emerged, were drinking with giddy delight.
Filtration system, Matteo Sorìa
These moscato producers are 100 per cent all in. Many may make other wines but when it comes to Moscato d’Asti there are no distractions from any other grapes; not barbera, dolcetto, nebbiolo, chardonnay, etc. Some are experimenting with dry iterations while others are practicing long lees aging to craft complex moscato as traditional method sparkling wine. The permutations are endless and while promise is everywhere there is no deviation from the original. Every producer makes one because they could not imagine abandoning their heritage.
Ristorante Curia, Acqui Terme
With moscato one needs to avoid bacteria and fermentative aromas at all costs. Allows the machinery and modern technology to purify, cleanse and determine the purity of these wines though they are all made from hand-picked grapes. They are the cleanest wines in the territory but also expressive of their place, from Canelli to Castiglione Tinella to Strevi. In some cases each year a percentage of the last year’s must is integrated into the current vintage and so in the case of Matteo Soria, each time there is 15 per cent from two years previous, and three, and so on. It’s like a Solera in effect with a decreasing percentage of a previous vintage within the whole of current must amounts.
Carciofi Fritti at Ristorante Curia, Acqui Terme
The following are tasting notes on 18 Moscato d’Asti tasted in Piemonte back in January, 2023. The producers did of course share other wines and so those 28 reviews are included at the bottom of this report. A huge thank you to the Consorzio dell’Asti, to Direttore Giacomo Pondini, Martina Bukavec and my chaperone Paola Baldi. Ci vediamo.
Davide Ghiga finished oenology school in Alba 2014, his brother in 2009. They are really the only young winemakers making a go of it in Castiglione, the first generation to make wines here, since 2012. Their uncle’s grapes were sold off to cooperatives before then and while barbera, dolcetto and nebbiolo have gained importance, the true heritage is still moscato. Freshness and high aromatic intensity are on full open display, as it must be with a varietal wine that bleeds this place, that being Castiglione Tinella. There are several exposures available, starting with the northern grapes and moving around the exposure wheel, east and west picked next and south the last, where sugars are high and acidity low. Pressed, three musts chosen from, kept at 0-1 degrees celsius, unfermented at this time. Blended, filtered, natural yeasts eliminated, back to zero degree holding tanks. Now in late October early November the vinification starts, selected yeasts are used, for 10-12 days, honing in on and fixing the aromatics and CO2. Done at 14-15 degrees with pressure at one bar. Followed by filtering again and tartaric stabilization at negative four or five degrees. Ready to bottle. Sugar at 120 g\L, acidity between 5.5 and 6, alcohol at five per cent. Tough work but someone has to do it. Spot on moscato in low alcohol, light fizz style with stone fruit and citrus aromatics on full display and in utmost control. Labour of love sets up true Ghiga success. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
A truly airy, frothy and easy moscato and yet the tannins of 2022 are there, as always across the board in this vintage. High acidity matches to the 120 g\L of sugar and 5.5 per cent alcohol. So much pear, soft and broken down by citrus with fresh white flowers. This is the straightforward and getable Md’A in all respects. Drink 2023-2024. Tasted January 2023
The cooperative of Alice bel Colle comprises 350 hectares spilt between 200 moscato, 100 brachetto, 50 barbera plus small amounts of dolcetto and chardonnay. There are approx. 100 members and more than 2,000,000 annual bottles are produced. “Our idea is not to grow too much, otherwise we will lose quality” says President Claudio Negrino who oversees the Cantina along with Vice President Bruno Roffredo. Moscato d’Asti as Paiè is a contra style to the normale, a bit of age added on and yet shy of the dumb phase that is sure to follow. There is more concentration and density on the nose with fresh herbs, sage mainly and even white balsamic. Paiè is a small valley with a warmer micro-climate and the potential for over ripeness. This brings more sugar (140 g\L of RS here), body and stage presence. Stylistically this will attract a different consumer who wants to think about things a bit and also appreciates a bigger wine that matches to more specific cuisine. The suggestion here is of course dessert but also spicy coconut curries. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
Disgorged in 2015, seven-plus years on the lees and unmistakably white balsamic in aroma. The flowers and orange skin are now candied, the fennel slowly braised with Vidalia to bring out the sweetness. One of the most curious examples of using the moscato grape variety for a style of wine never really having been afforded the opportunity to try. Now a toasty expression fuelled by linalool that has turned to smouldering paraffin and camphor oil. Fine bitters though the sweetness still triumphs in the end. Nothing like this at all, a wine of experience and to experience, wholly unique. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
Walter Bera started the company in the 1970s with moscato grapes and it has always been a very important wine. His son Riccardo Bera tells that “this is pretty much the history of the winery when only a few guys were making moscato.” This is about the 1970s, along with Roman Dogliotti and others making this style of wine without the help of current technologies to keep the wines clean and safe from spoilage. Here in 2022 the wine is fresh off the charts and announcing its charm without equivocation. Approximately 130 g/L of RS, 6 of tA and five per cent alcohol. Again from 2022 tannin is involved, calling card of the vintage, not common but not impossible. Age some. They will drink well after four years and up to at least 10. Approximately 70,000 bottles made, half of what is made at Bera. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted January 2023
Not a cru but a lieu-dit and literally below “Reimond’s house.” More concentration, doubling down on dry extract and also tannin because this is 2022. Aromatics are also intensified and yet so are the sugars but also the herbals in a soapy cilantro way. More idiosyncratic behaviour and specialized style. Not better than the classica, just different. Great curiosity and potential in any case. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
The name Canelli is the key because going forward it may be the only name on the label. In a short time “Moscato d’Asti” could very likely be stricken from the front of the bottle. A wine of heritage and the hardest to produce, here at 2.5 bars of pressure and topped with specially designed Diam corks. The naturally occurring sugar is 245 g/L with upwards of 6 g/L of TA and 5 percent alcohol. Perfectly balanced, true, precise and honest moscato. Or shall we say, “Canelli.” Drink for a year, pause for the next three and then for five to six more after that. Drink 2023-2029. Tasted January 2023
Behold the moscato art meets science of Ignazio Giovine. Aromatics that temporarily disappeared into the Moscato d’Asti black hole are just now beginning to reemerge. The primary linalool beauty of years one and two went away and hid in the next 24-30 months but here they are again, albeit with new found interest and the beginnings of what naturally sweet moscato design is magically renowned to do. Now the peaches, apricots and nectarines, all them stone fruits and lemon segments are gelled, candied and crystallized. Renewed interest is the spark and imagination takes over, wonderment towards what might happen next. Will it be lemongrass tea, diesel emissions, petrol trails, strong scented terpenoids or cyclic ketones? Guesses are premium and another two years should answer the questions with real answers. Drink 2023-2027. Tasted January 2023
Ignazio Giovine’s 2015 has entered the zone where all great aged moscato from Canelli lands are want to go, that is to say their aromatics have re-emerged, been re-invented and replace or rather re-imagine what they were to begin with. The lemon factor runs high from this vintage, more verbena herbal than grassy and the green plant matter is exotic evergreen, oily and strong-scented, to touch and nose. Lots of petrol fuelling and vapour trailing in this ’15 and in many ways the secondary aromas are just the beginning. Still the best years are now up towards the nearing horizon. Drink 2023-2024. Tasted January 2023
Perhaps not the finest 1998 bottle version of what was surely a stellar vintage for Canelli moscato with full on oxidative notes, caramelization and all the lemon tisane that can be imagined on a naturally sweetened fizzy Asti white wine. Noting the excellence of the acidity and the gingered-apple-lemon crème brûlée tells much about what a perfectly sound bottle would offer. If ever the chance might arise again but alas not because Ignazio Giovine says this is it. Ah well, a great showing nonetheless. Drink 2023. Tasted January 2023
Aromatic perfume is a floral wave far exceeding that of Moscato d’Asti to little surprise considering the later harvest and serious fruit concentration. Lemon and rose hip tea, mandarin orange, cranberry and dried fruit, namely persimmon and apricot. Tannins, boozy flavours, more lemon and spices, spicy if crisp bite, herbals running like Amaro through veins. Tar and roses. Major curio dessert wine this one. Drink 2023-2027. Tasted January 2023
Andrea Costa sets the table. “Strevi is always different from the rest of the Moscato d’Asti areas. You can really see the difference.” Leaner aromatics while conversely bolder in mouthfeel and fatter of structure. Limestone soil makes for fine acidity that is characteristic of this southern area, closer to the Appenines. The palate is full, wide and of a breadth impressive indeed that acts as a great distraction from the level of sweetness. And then comes that 2022 tannin, because of Strevi more forceful than most. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
Now going back five years and the winemaking no different then, just as it is still today. Though some 2017s are not yet showing a return to aging and development this from Strevi is just beginning its next level evolution and the fascination is upon us. Evergreen and petrol in cohorts, dried lemongrass and some sort of sweet and sour solvent. Grassy and chamomile plus the aromatic skin of “cedro,” aka fine strips of cedar bark. Great mouthfeel and persistence from what may be a vintage that will age quicker than some but for the next three-plus years it will do what we hope from aging moscato. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
Now we are really getting somewhere with an older moscato that is not only holding well but just a few minutes in the glass and everything begins to change. This bottle is in great shape, the hue of moscato brilliant golden yellow and the aromatics shining just like the wine’s hue. Sweet straw and lemon curd, like aged Icewine from riesling and the vintage just must have provided great balance. Acidity remains perfectly in tact and the tact of this wine is it’s seamlessness, unwavering, still holding a perfect line. Bravo. Buonissimo. Life yet to live. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
Actually Extra Brut because there is only 1 g/L of residual sugar and in fact Matteo Sorìa is the only one making Asti Sparkling as bone dry. Maintains the aromatic profile of moscato from here in Castiglione Tinella but the profile is wholly, utterly and distinctly unique. A balanced Asti with slightly higher alcohol at 12 per cent though this is in reality 12.7 and yes, dry as the desert. Fennel seed, rosemary and yet never tart at all. Sees six to eight months on the lees with higher acidity at 6.3 g/L and this is what Sorìa is looking for. First disgorgement of this style and it has my attention. The only change going forward will be to keep extending the lees aging, albeit slowly, slowly. A reminder that it’s a tank method sparkling wine. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
The area was called Cascinetta and also the name of one of Matteo Sorìa’s brands. This is the sweeter sparkler at 140 g\L with 7 g\L of total acidity and 7.0 percent alcohol. Also non-vintage so therefore a mix of at least (but up to 15 per cent) two or three older vintages. All for the purpose of consistency in style and a consumers’ taste. Sugar is quite hidden, flavours are very stone fruit and acidity rules the day. Looong finish, so clean and quite precise for this style of fizzy wine. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
Bottled last week so yes this is about the freshest moscato you will ever find. Intensity of florals and aromatics off the charts and also here lower sulphites than most, with thanks to the newest of filtering technology used in the winery. Passes though 1.0, 0.65 and 0.45 micron filters and finishes with just 150 g\L of sulphites. The flowers and the stone fruit on the nose are matched by the white chalky-clay soil that determine what kind of moscato comes from Matteo Sorìa. Perfectly executed sweeter style. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
Ten years old and bottled February 2013. A warm vintage with a great deal of rain and wow has this wine stood the test of time. The bubbles are preserved, it feels drier and the appearance is of a wine only a year or two old. Drier because the acidity is high and after 10 years that acidity hasn’t changed. Probably 120 g\L of sugar and the aromas are so beautifully preserved as well, though they have certainly morphed with some crème frâiche now, but also lemongrass, Vietnamese herbs and the beginning of petrol. Yet to express any solvents or waxiness. That may be coming, not soon but down the road. Incredible freshness. Magic. For now and it remains to be seen what can be gained from 10 more years of aging. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted January 2023
The alcohol is a bit high (at 13.5 per cent) due to “a bureaucratic problem,” explains President President Claudio Negrino, having obtained the appellative status a bit tardy and so the harvest was delayed, otherwise it would not have been called Alta Langa DOCG. Makes for more gastronomy in a few ways, even it it’s not perfectly suitable to be drunk own its own. All moscato, aged 36 months on the lees in the richest of possible moscato employed ways, like candied ginger, salty kewpie mayo and seasoned sushi rice in a bottle. Carries a metallic note as well, like viognier, but the acidity is really good. Also a golden hue and beneficial bitters. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
The label depicts a description, of standing at the top of the unnamed hill though it may be affectionately called “Belvedere,” a beautiful panoramic view, 360 degrees, overlooking the village itself. Here a dry moscato that has been made at Alice bel Colle for more than 10 years, well before the DOC was created. Still perfumed with more linalool than a dry example would usually emit and the sugar here is 3-4 g\L, essentially insignificant as it pertains to this grape. Once again there is as much a viognier feeling gained as there is moscato and that is fully attributed to a strong aromatic profile predicated on phenolics which masks the alcohol (at 14 per cent). Clearly a wine that benefitted from expert temperature control during fermentation to capture perfumes and avoid bitterness. A style of wine on the rise, modern and contemporary. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
A dry version of brachetto and so an agreement they would be called simply “Acqui,” as opposed to “Brachetto d’Acqui,” which is the sweet version. Not a rule but a marketing choice made by the members of the Consorzio. Avoids consumer misconception. Again the aromatics are captured despite the dry factor and like the moscato concept there is a modernity and a sense of innovation involved. Red fruit with all the right moves, black cherry and just that fine little bit of bitterness from the stone. Fineness of tannin and long on the finish with good natural sweetness and impressive balance. Simple and not complex but quite satisfying. All stainless and some concrete tanks for a good level of freshness though interesting in that there is no real salumi or meaty skin muskiness. Really clean and focused. Drink 2023-2024. Tasted January 2023
Not a wine of a single vineyard dolcetto but from a specific area out of which grapes are chosen. Bit of a funny barnyard aroma mixed with very ripe strawberry with some musky fruit skin leatheriness. Much lighter than Dogliani versions and yet also fruitier than those from the Monferrato Hills further west from Alice bel Colle. Smells like pizza dough in action, still a bit raw yet getting somewhere. Also mulberry bush, Ribena and yet good acidity keeping the grip and also balance in play. Solid and characterful, yet another wine of gastronomy. Fine bitterness upon the chewy finish. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
With Claudio Negrini, President – Cantina Alice bel Colle
Al Casò faces south-southeast heading from Alice bel Colle towards Nizza, very close, on the right, of vineyards somewhere between young and old, right in the sweet spot. Lions of cherry here, a variegation of ripenesses, in reds and green but mostly concentration. Selected from many small parcels, 95 per cent collected by hand. Fermentations are kept separate and blended after. Expressive of barbera’s acidity but also stringent behaviour, kept in check though surely present in this wine. There is a real presence and persistence and so the wine improves with time spent getting to know its grippy charms. Drink 2024-2026. Tasted January 2023
The flagship red for the cooperative Cantina Alice be Colle and almost counterintuitive because there is immediate brightness and effusive behaviour straight away. Alix was the ancient name of the village and there were at the time two roads running up and down the hill that formed an “X.” As in going to the X, to the village, now called Alice bel Colle. Now up to 15 per cent alcohol though it wears it well and the aromatics are surprisingly open-knit. Intensely or more so the kind of tart that is truly implosive, reflexive and recoiling. Wood is all about spice and structure, not overwhelming though unavoidably in charge. Ample purity which bequeathes originality and in the end a thank you to the calcareous-quartz soils. Drink 2024-2027. Tasted January 2023
The cousin of Moscato Casette, like-minded in sweetness and purpose though brachetto’s key ingredient is more particular, from strawberry to rose, depending on the vintage. An herbal vintage which doesn’t necessarily choose one over the other but brings in the leaves of both. Acidity is maintained and freshness guaranteed. This is quite open and lively with a scrape of orange zest that brightens the finish. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
Disgorged in late November from a wine that has been made the same way since the 1980s, 70 per cent chardonnay and (30). Walter Bera’s father Sisto had been growing pinot noir and chardonnay going back even further so he was one of the pioneers, like Carlo Gancia. The ’16 spent 48 months on the lees and this is the last bottle of this disgorgement. Grown on white chalk in the Langhe so yes there is some lightning in here with just 4 g/L of dosage, vintage related but that’s the median point overall. So much flavour, with mid-palate and structure, yet round and so getable. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
“Dolcetto has been in our roots for a very long time, on a very historical piece of our land,” tells Riccardo Bera, from a Neive vineyard, once planted as the king of the Langhe as the most important grape. It fetched more money than nebbiolo. It was currency. Today it’s the easiest wine, low in structure and acidity, but also austerity and it’s the perfect match for local food. This ’21 smells so primary, as if it were from the tank and yet it’s more than a year old. Incredibly fresh, bursting with red fruit of every ilk, flesh and size. Supremely aromatic and Riccardo’s brother Umberto is the new gen oenologist keeping the old traditions alive. A week on skins, stainless steel only, some tannin that is Neive but not nebbiolo austerity at all. Perfect mid-weight dolcetto. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
Lena was the name of Riccardo Bera’s great-grandmother, as in Sisto’s mother. Aged in 25 hL casks, the fruit coming from Neive, same area as the dolcetto. Actually Gaia Principe, halfway between the villages of Neive and Barbaresco. Just fresh enough to stay happy and healthy even while temperatures rise and fruit concentrates exponentially. The structure here separates this from other barbera while the wood never dominates. Well thought out, considered, never hastily conceptualized or actualized but made well to deliver persistence and more than ample amenability. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted January 2023
The western cru close to Neive village, exposition to the west, from the lower section at 350m. Planted 15 years ago with the intention to make classic “Villages” Barbaresco but the fruit from 2016 changed the family’s perspective. That vintage was the first cru label and here from the fourth consecutive the refinement time is 24 months in grandi botti, part Slovenian and part Austrian oak. Tannic to be sure yet not quite what you’d call austere. Greatly structured wine and still far from readiness. “That’s the young baby we’re talking about,” says Riccardo. “It’s the cru that surprises me.” Great aromatic presence and fine chalky liquidity running through. Drink 2025-2032. Tasted January 2023
Rabajà faces southwest and this fruit comes right from the heart, only bottled as Riserva. Vines in and around 40 years of age and three years spent in Grandi Botti. Aromatically you intuit glycerin and as a Barbaresco there is clearly more acumen and experience from plants that first gave this wine life out of the 2011 vintage. Tannins are even more compact than Seraboella, trying to expand but they just keep weighing down and won’t fully relent. Layering of red fruit and they are beautiful layers but each one carries tannin of ilk upon ilk. This is Barbaresco of sapidity as a quotient of acids and pH working in cohorts. The palate attack is quite fantastical. Give this another year. Drink 2024-2033. Tasted January 2023
Basarin is home to much older vines, upwards of 65 years-old and is one of the steepest vineyards in Barbaresco. A snake of a vineyard and very challenging to work. South exposure, warm for sure and a soil composition higher in chalk than clay but not too dissimilar to Rabajà. Herbaceous notes come from Basarin and “when I was young, every time I went to the tank I had this feeling,” tells Riccardo Bera. The first vintage out of which the tannins are nearly resolved and yet the fruit persists in near whole and perfect freshness. A nebbiolo in wonderful condition and while the vintage was hot there might have been a different result. This is almost, not quite but nearly ready, as far as optimum or perfect windows are concerned. Liquorice here, a touch of tar and well, “most of this job for us is to start with the best grapes you can. The quality is in the vineyard. A good winemaker can keep the 10. A five you cannot fix.” Ten it is. Drink 2023-2032. Tasted January 2023
From this vintage the fruit is not 100 per cent Bera and just shortly thereafter the Bera family purchased a portion of the famous Monforte cru. This is the first and only trial vintage before the purchase but the focus was on acquiring a piece. Straight away the dry and brushy vintage while some red fruit freshness persists. Some austerity yet starting, to advance, mature and soften. The reconciliation and full recovery may be a year or two away but this nebbiolo is showing the signs. Quality precursor to what is coming form the new plantation and Bera’s full control of their own Mosconi Barolo destiny. Drink 2024-2028. Tasted January 2023
Assemblage of chardonnay with only five per cent pinot noir in a cuvée named for Luigi Coppo’s grandmother. Just five per cent but red fruit really defines this traditional method sparkling wine. Red currants and a hint of strawberry, sweetly leafy and mildly tart. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
The 2013 vintage is the turning point to this 60 percent pinot noir and (40) chardonnay becoming and being labeled Alta Langa, recently disgorged in 2022. Previous disgorgements were labelled Vino Spumante di Qualità. Now into wildly vivid and famous complexity, toasty yes but there’s a crème frâiche and an almost strawberries and cream component. Eonologists GianMario Cerrutti, Guiliermo Grasso and Vittorio Pescarmona conspired to see this age 85 to 90 months on the lees, almost unprecedented around Asti. Has hit its stride, in the right place between crunchy and the kind of sparkling wine that you begin to ruminate with in the mouth. Cerebral wine in every respect. Drink 2023-2027. Tasted January 2023
Mainly stainless steel with 10 per cent barriques. Reductive and yet wildly exotic, so much so the protective shell can’t seem to hold back the aromatics. Of minerals and elements, tropical fruit and wet stone. Turns flinty or rather encourages this note, followed by lit paraffin and finally a hit of lemon pith plus fine bitters. Everything in moderation, subtlety and restraint. The dream of generations continues. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
Chardonnay at seven years is extraordinary, from the limestone and clay of Castelnuovo Calcea with all the hints of the early days now emerging into the secondary machinations so wished for in Nizza-Monferatto area chardonnay. Of solvents and camphor, paraffin and flintiness stretched elastic for miles and miles. Structured wine of sapidity which is once again the correct and beautiful way for chardonnay to complete its raison d’être. That and freshness so persistent. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
A warm and dry vintage for concentration to be guaranteed but looking forward to 2022 the lack of winter snow and spring/summer rain will make for a much more difficult proposition. This is not only beautiful as an aged chardonnay but also impressive in its Riserva style concentration. Takes the waxiness, phenolic meets solvent tonic and citrus to an entirely next level. Chardonnay and 2017 make for an ideal and lasting marriage in Nizza Monferrato. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
A Barbera d’Asti from the highest level from Nizza where the soils are key, of fine and friable clay with sparkling mineral content above a layer of nearly pure though porous limestone to raise barbera no other Asti area is able to procure. Castelnuovo Calcea and Vinchio bring the grip and stage presence, mainly from old vineyards. The Pomorosso is a cuvée and while structurally speaking this is a very serious wine, there is a portion from near Agliano Terme that brings a roundness and ultimately balance. The components of acidity and tannin are strongest but they do not dominate as might be expected. There is a juiciness and fine if sharp red fruit presence part plum and part red berry plume. Pomegranate shares the spotlight and this is a very generous vintage. Surprisingly accessible. Agreeable and yet age worthy to. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted January 2023
Notably evolved yet right in that secondary zone where things have become really interesting. Pine forest, limestone and espresso, a veritable caffè of barbera with juicy black cherries and finishing dark chocolate. A vintage where the wood is really felt and these are the final days of excellence. Thank goodness for top barbera acidity. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
The first of the Ghiga red grapes to be harvested and here from Monferrato the alcohol is still coming in at 13 per cent. Meat scented, a salumi skin but mostly freshness because this zone is still one of the lucky ones. Fruit is fleshy but again the skins are so much a part of determining style; musky plum and minerals cut by an almost raspberry tang. Lovely but complex dolcetto. Liking the length here. Production is approximately 2,000 bottles per year. Drink 2023-2024. Tasted January 2023
Barbera from a very particular terroir that manages freshness really well because the soils of Costigiole and the winds that come in from the mountains create temperature wings and a maintenance of cooling acidity. A world away from barbera raised in Alba, here at 13.5 percent alcohol and no wood involved in the aging process. Fruit at the centre with great Scott acidity in the range of six to 6.5 g\L. Drinks in many ways like the dolcetto but there is more depth and even some tarry character involved. The vines are 40-50 years of age and it is both concentration and intensity that are provided. Also herbal, like Amaro and in the end a balanced effort. This is the wine for Bollito Misto. Truly. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
In Superiore barbera gets special wood treatment, now and since 2016 with two foudres, two barriques and one tonneaux sitting like little Buddhas in a small aging room dedicated to this wine. The rest in those vessels is for one year and another in bottle. The wines are racked in tank to make the blend, usually in June or July. Fruit from the zone (località) of San Michele in Costigiole d’Asti, as always and one of the coolest barbera zones pretty much anywhere in Piemonte. Superiore is a 20-25 per cent selection of the best barbera grapes and the quality in terms of concentration but also purity is evident in this fine vintage of this fine wine. Acidity always high, especially from this place and “this is our style right now,” tells Davide Ghiga. Around 2,000-2,300 bottles annually. Drink 2023-2028. Tasted January 2023
Ma Ré as in Marenco and also “Ro-Sé.” An experimental Rosé (third try) labeled Acqui which under the new understanding puts it on the drier side and spends a maximum of 48 hours on the skins. This puts it in similar vinification methodology to the sweeter Brachetto d’Acqui. That said fermentative temperatures don’t need to be cold because immediate gratification is the point of the exercise. Dry and salty, 2-3 g\L of RS, very tisane, namely bergamot, then pomegranate, orange and rose petal. Really nice Rosato. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
Ma Mù (which carries a Champagne story), is local dialect to speak about the grape moscato and this is also experimental in that dry iterations are neither traditional nor normal. Yet here we are with the grape and the sugar fermented away to finish at 13 per cent alcohol. Barrel fermented on the lees for six months, made to last, to age a few years. Able to capture and maintain the origins of varietal aromatics and so the result is almost pinot gris in temperament, a little bit salty and simultaneously white floral. Citrus is all juice and the terpenes stay in control. This is the second vintage though the first was problematic due to reduction. This 2021 is clean and precise. Drink 2023-2025. Tasted January 2023
Classic and traditional, never a thought of barriques, not even botti but only stainless steel and concrete. Modern and yet big enough to speak the language of red wine that thinks on its feet and walks a confident walk. “We have two advantages that makes better barbera than 10 years ago,” tells Andrea Costa. “One is climate which maintains acidity and the second is how we think better in both the vineyard and in the cellar.” Expressively juicy and bright, with roundness and mouth filling qualities. What we like to call generous and perfectly without astringencies. Clean as a whistle. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
The Superiore ages in botti for 18 months and the expression is much bolder, sanguine, accented by a number of herbs and spices. Caper and dill, tobacco, pine tree, balsamico, black cherry and persistent in its intensity. Needs air and agitation because the wood and the time have conspired for a bit of reduction that must be encouraged to leave the glass. It will if you have the patience and you will because there are charms and structural components worth waiting for. Drink 2024-2027. Tasted January 2023
Zana is a cru in Castiglione (recently mapped out by Alesssandro Masnaghetti), high in elevation and the barbera here from Nizza ages 18 months in barriques and tonneaux. Does not show its wood so readily and in fact the fruit aromatics are quite pronounced. The air and breathability from elevation definitely help to keep the windows open in a barbera that should by all accounts be closed and unwilling. Not the case as this sky brightens and the wine shares its charms. Good structure here because of high ranking acidity leaning part sweet and part sour into the tannins. More singularity from Marenco, this time for Nizza. Drink 2024-2028. Tasted January 2023
Aged in the larger (15 hL) barrel, this time from a variety that has just one or two biotypes. Bottom line is that albarossa is dark matter, tarry, like heavy fuel and the wood only serves to accent what’s already there. Like petit sirah but in Piemonte, or perhaps malbec/tannat from Cahors but truthfully it’s what it is, of its own accord. But acidity here is all Monferrato meets Strevi and this kind of cimmerian red wine is an own character and style. Great acidity here that gives barbera a run for its money. A bit dill pickle and peppery reductive so give it some air. Drink 2024-2027. Tasted January 2023
Pineto, the name of the church across the way. “This wine just needs people to open the bottle and drink it,” not to compare or think about anything else in the world. “It’s so unique” says Andrea Costa. Less muscle as compared to moscato, some tannin aka tisane from a day on skins and just the way of the grape. The grapes were heavier in 2022 because of the skins and thus the tannic sensation is gained. Strawberry and orange zest, cranberry and basilico. An ideal brachetto right here. Drink 2023-2026. Tasted January 2023
Montalcino. Harmony and Unesco Heritage Centre of a surface area totalling 31,200 hectares, 3,660 of which are vineyards planted predominately to sangiovese. An accord of 2,100 to Brunello di Montalcino and 510 for Rosso di Montalcino, delineated and defined in consensus by the late 1990s, set into the Galestro, Arenaria and Calcare soils on hills and over valleys in surround of its medieval village. The merits of change, alteration or expansion have been debated, voted upon and ultimately dismissed every three years and so there has yet to pass any thought of increase or reconfiguration. Neither for Rosso nor for Brunello. What was learned on this particular October visit? For one thing the idea that patience, exactitude and static sobriety are assumed of a confident Montalcino. That and the new discourse concerning both a conceptual and an aesthetic Brunello di Montalcino.
Montalcino. Typically a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cold winters, 700 millimetres of annual precipitation and a moltitude of soils; alluvial fluvio-lacustrine, clay, clayey-marine, sandy-marine, limestone, sandstone, shale, siltstone, magmatic rock. Argille, Calcare, Sabioso, Galestro, Alberese, Macigno, Arenaria. In every permutation, inculcation and combination, though the understanding in Montalcino is perhaps more readily defined because the pockets of specific soils are large and often uniform. This means that diversity and complexity can be distilled into a deeper and knowable comprensione. The confidence of Montalcino.
I’m not a clairvoyant. If nothing out of the ordinary happened or presented itself I’d still see things the way everyone else does, or sees. In that sense I am the epitome of the boring writer. But I am a most fortunate writer because I travel a considerable amount and during a most recent visit to Montalcino extraordinary things were in fact presented to me. My game can’t help but to be elevated with the knowledge that a confident Montalcino is once again passing through a portal into a time of re-invention. In due course I will explain.
Road to Montalcino
Montalcino. Village at 564 metres above sea level and many vineyards reside at a similar altitude. Plots, blocks and Italy’s most famous village overlooking great swaths of rolling valleys; Asso, Orcia, Arbia, Ombrone. The first known wine label dates back to the 1800s and the DOC was recognized in 1966. Brunello was afforded DOCG status in 1980, Italy’s first, followed by Rosso as a DOC in 1984.
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.
Brunello’s maximum yields are eight tonnes per hectare (approximately 52 hl/ha of wine) and the aging requirement is five years (six for Riserva), of which two must be in oak barrels, followed by four months in bottle. It may be introduced to market on January 1st of the 5th year after harvest (January 1st of the 6th year for Riserva). Rosso’s maximum yields are nine tonnes per hectare and it may be introduced to market on September 1st of the year after harvest. 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 2014 for Brunello, 2017 for Rosso.
Most of the October visits were arranged and facilitated through the auspices and generosity of the Consorzio del vino Brunello di Montalcino. President Fabrizio Bindocci, Vice-Presidents Giacomo Bartolommei, Stefano Cinelli Colombini and Riccardo Talenti. Director Giacomo Pondini and Consorzio facilitator Martina Iannotta. One month after returning from Italy the Consorzio paid us a visit here in Toronto for a gala event and 2015 vintage preview at Alfonso Iaccarino’s two Michelin-starred Don Alfonso 1890.
We traversed the roads and landscape in covering much of the parts that make up the whole of Montalcino. We being a group of four, two Canadians and two Americans; Christopher Sealy, graduate of French Language and Literature Degree from University of Toronto, Sommelier and Wine Director of Toronto’s Alo Restaurant Group. Cathrine Todd, a.k.a Dame Wine, New York, WSET Diploma graduate, Freelance Wine Writer, Forbes Contributor and the Wine Columnist for La VOCE di New York. Jeffrey Porter, Sommelier, Consultant, Educator, NYC-based beverage professional with over 18 years experience in retail and restaurants. Now starring in his video series creation, SipTrip Italy, an exploration of many of Italy’s best wineries and wine regions: the ultimate Italian wine adventure.
Cathrine Todd, Godello, Jeff Porter and Christopher Sealy
Conceptual versus aesthetic function
Consider this phrase. “Discontinuity attains a level of aesthetic creation.” If we look at this through the lens of conceptual versus aesthetic truth and apply it to the Rosso and Brunello of Montalcino then we are on to something. Examples of both are what define the appellations in southern Tuscany. A tradition exists in which making wines is ensconced in rational truth but these last two decades have seen a wave of aestheticism rival, take over and even surpass that of rational winemaking behaviour. The wave of richness, ripeness and over-oaking the local sangiovese is not over and there still persists many pockets and factions of IGTism. To each his own and yet the pendulum has begun to swing with more producers coming back to basics. The neo-conceptualization of Montalcino sangiovese has returned a freshness to Brunello and the gleaning is real because a greater void has opened up for all to share. It’s a mathematical game of philosophical implication.
Part of a week’s pasta induced coma thanks to Montalcino. #gnocchialtartufo
“Continuous functions are of utmost importance in mathematics, functions and applications. However, not all functions are continuous. If a function is not continuous at a point in its domain, one says that it has a discontinuity there.” Sangiovese and even more so grape varieties like merlot and cabernet sauvignon grown in the Montalcino hills form a discrete set, a dense set, or even the entire domain of the territory’s function. They are examples of appellative discontinuities “in the simplest case of functions of a single real variable taking real values.” They are wines that represent the aesthetic function.
Let me count the ways. Comfort and classicism from Mario, Anna and Michele at Il Giglio, Montalcino
Sangiovese of purity, honesty, transparency and a sense of place are those that hold court for the conceptual truth of Montalcino. They are neither better or worse than their aesthetic brethren and sistren but they are making themselves open for discovery in 2019, 2020 and beyond. If you travel to the region at this time you will collide with them and their makers because they are crying to be heard. In October of 2019 I heard from both sides and their stories were expressed in understated forms of beauty, at times in the varietal austerity of the times and at others quite spiritual. In all cases we are taught that we are nothing and that we are all deserving of life. And to taste the wines from Montalcino. Wabi, if you will.
Le Ragnaie Winery was established in 2003 by the Campinoti Family. The estate follows the guidelines for organic agriculture and the vineyards are divided into three distinct parcels throughout Montalcino which allows the production of three diverse Brunello terroir. There is no usage of fertilizer but instead cover crops are planted of legumes, clovers and grasses. This helps to regenerate the land after a long summer season of work and aids in enriching the organic substance of the land all the while penetrating deeply the roots of the various planted species. The diversity of plants in the vineyard prevents superficial erosion and instead favours the absorption of water and creates an important habitat for many species of animals and insects. This process guarantees the formation of an ecosystem full of life which is essential to the health of the vines.
Riccardo Campinoti at Le Ragnaie poured so many instructive sangiovese that work their conceptual way into his poignant, powerfully restrained and profound Rosso and Brunello. He also afforded a glimpse into two new aesthetic behavioural wines, the Vino Bianco and Fiano. Both are seven day skin-contact Montalcino whites, the first made from estate grown malvasia and trebbiano. They are fashioned like reds, with punch downs and very traditional styles in a Tuscan white vein. The Bianco is all orange skin and lemon arid as it gets but also gelid, surging, textured. The fiano is made for fun, tastes salty and acts so fine. So delicious and only 600 bottles made.
At Terralsole Mario Bollag and Athena Tergis Bollag reside on a hilltop peninsula plateau that is surely one of Montalcino’s most beautiful locations. They embrace aesthetic function like no others, in the food they cook, the music they play and the wide array of wines they make. Philanthropy, art, whimsy, generosity, warmth, sangiovese and the only cabernet franc in Montalcino.
Athena Tergis Bollag
Trio is a real “Super Tuscan” because it’s made from international varietals; cabernet franc, merlot and syrah. Takes 18 months in barrel and seven more years in bottle give or take, to be ready. Super fruit forward, super heady and super structured. Now integrated and singing smoothly, silken and fine. Coldoro, Solista and Pasticcio round out the symphony. Their first vintage for Brunello was 2000, 2001 for the Rosso.
Felix and Sabine Eichbauer
Podere Salicutti is in a south-eastern Montalcino location, on route SP 55 towards Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Now in the altruistic stewardship of owners Sabine and Felix Eichbauer who heed the tradition and ideology created by its previous owner, Francesco Leanza. The agriculture and winemaking team remain to keep the promise and the faith for all of the estate lands and and inner workings. They do so as custodians of three essential vineyards, Piaggione, Teatro and Sorgente. We should all look forward to what this power couple and team will bring to the community, wines and landscape of Montalcino.
Cortonesi and Cortonesi
Your next trip to Montalcino must include a stop at La Mannella to discover the conceptual present and future of the area. Tommaso Cortonesi is a young superstar full of spirit who knows and understands the beauty and enchantment of wine. Sangiovese that gives you the feeling of having come through a storm because of simple wines that make you happy with the present moment. Also complex wines of great functionality, pragmatism and all due to great work ethic. Watch Tommaso’s father pumping juice at dusk and you will understand. The future is here, in these hands, with great humility, ethos and promise.
The Bellaria Estate first came into being in September 1963, when Assunto Pieri and Bruna Tempori purchased a farmhouse and land in one of the finest and most characteristic Montalcino winegrowing areas. Bellaria’s position just a stone’s throw from the village speaks to its founders’ connection and who else but Gianni Bernazzi could carry forth what his grandfather “Sunto” had set out to accomplish. In ode to his grandfather who passed away in 2018 at the age of 97, a man who in 2017 was one of two remaining original members from the original coalition at the 1967 signing of the Brunello community’s accord. Now Gianni is blessed with extraordinary terroir filled with Galestro schisty clay, iron, Alberese limestone and Arenaria sandstone.
Conversely at Canalicchio di Sopra with Francesco Ripaccioli a Rosso di Montalcino 2018 barrel sample instructs that sangiovese is built on dry extract. It is silky, sensual, full of acidity and fine chiseled tannins. Very giving and also serious but in a nurturing way. The Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 50th Harvest “Canalicchio di Sopra” 2015 barrel sample is a fist full or armistice, liquid cocoa limestone gold, in a desperate state and full of mineral of potential explosive nature and ready to spew graphite and chalk all over the place. It currently sits at 15.6 alcohol and 6.5 acidity. Crazy talk.
At Le Chiuse it was Lorenzo Magnelli who introduced us to a Montalcino speciality, the sparkling Stellare Rosé from the most recently planted vineyard (Pullera) at Il Greppo. This vineyard is destined for Le Chiuse Riserva when Lorenzo’s daughters will be making these wines. For now it’s a no dosage, picked three weeks early, two to three years on lees Rosé made from 100 per cent sangiovese. Quite a lot of sangiovese fruit with high acidity taking this into tart currant territory. An eight hour maceration and healthy hue extraction. Named for Lorenzo’s wife, Stella Renzetti. A wine that says “you can’t have a full barrel and a drunk wife at the same time.” All about happiness, in marriage and making sparkling wine.
Montalcino from Le Chiuse
The sangiovese made by Lorenzo Magnelli are not merely genetic ties to Biondi-Santi. They are without argument some of the most important and expressive Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino in the territory. And they are produced for reasons so intrinsically correct the results perfectly fit the methods. Learning from Lorenzo is the best two hours you could ever hope to spend in Montalcino.
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona estate is located on the South East hillside of Montalcino, close to the medieval village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate and to the famous Abbey of Sant’Antimo. Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is more than a storied estate and in fact lies in the heart of the Val d’Orcia Park, UNESCO World Heritage. In 1985, after the end of the Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona family, Giuseppe Bianchini took control of the winery that is managed today by his sons and nephews. That includes pro cyclist Paolo Bianchini who moved giros to switch paths en route to becoming one of Montalcino’s most important winemakers.
Poggio di Sotto
Luigina Villadei led us through Poggio di Sotto’s certified organic portfolio. The estate was founded in 1989 on the south-eastern side of Montalcino and in 2011 became part of the ColleMassari family. 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 same winemaking team of nearly three decades continue to produce sangiovese of great traditional and authentic construct. The sangiovese are timeless, unparalleled for this special part of Castelnuovo dell’Abate and the rising of San Giorgio. Perpetual upholding for decades of generational standards.
It would have been a great pleasure to spend another visit with Elisabetta Gnudi nevertheless at Altesino we sipped on aesthetic Palazzo Altesi, made from 100 per cent sangiovese. The barriques used to aged this Altesino IGT for 12-14 months change everything about the way the grape is expressed from Montalcino vineyards. Younger, less experienced fruit succumbs to the silky beauty and vanilla lushness for an elixir that’s just different than the local Rosso and Brunello, Call it international or what you will.
Thankful to Leonardo Bellaccini for driving down from Castelnuovo Berardenga in Chianti Classico to Campogiovanni in Montalcino to walk the San Felice vineyards and pour for us the Brunello only he can make. At San Felice’s Campogiovanni property we walked the vineyards with Leonardo Bellaccini and tasted Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Il Quercione out of the barrel. There is lift and bright character in 2017 despite the desiccation, concentration and aridity but this was well judged, especially in picking time so poly-phenolic ripeness matches the sugars. It’s big and brawny but curiously, magically and mysteriously carries ripe and ripping if round acids. It keeps everything buoyant and alive. There is 2016, a vintage with excess everything, namely fruit and tannin. This is the year where balsamico and vineyard notes speak louder, of Galestro, clay and calcari. There is more balance between all the parts even while the fruit acts deeper, broods more and talks with more barrel adjunct. Big vintage to be sure and will be long lived.
Then there is Filippo Chia. Filippo’s father is painter and sculptor Sandro, considered the leading member (along with Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi) of the Italian Neo-Expressionist movement, baptized as Transavanguardia by Achille Bonito Oliva. Sandro Chia bought Castello di Romitorio in 1984, producing his first vintage in 1987 from neighbours’ grapes, now the Loacker property. The Martinis, father and son, have been cellar masters at Romitorio for six generations. Said Sandro, “sangiovese aged for five years is the most extreme and also the most naive. It’s sweet and kind and are wines made by dreamers.” Surely one of Italy’s first expressionistic ideas after the unification of 1861, in 1868 it began with Biondi-Santi. Said Filippo. “Inexplicably and inescapably you can recognize sangiovese from Montalcino. I like a Brunello you can drink six months after release, after it’s five years of aging.”
I had been tasting Filippo Chia’s Castello Romitorio wines for a few years and so now it is this discourse, tasting and northwest Montalcino experience that brings it all together. Another sangiovese epiphany. Thanks for your time Filippo. Of dramatic note is the new vineyard Filippo has cleared for Romitorio’s future. You must stand on this rocky, deeply ferric red soil to understand the estate’s position and its future in Montalcino.
Stefano Cinelli Colombini
All visits to Montalcino should conclude at La Fattoria dei Barbi. Barbi has been owned by the Cinellí Colombini family in Montalcino since 1352. The property extends over 350 hectares (865 acres) of fields and vineyards in southern Tuscany, in Montalcino, Scansano and Chianti. 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 Cinelli Colombini, 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.
With Stefano Cinelli Colombini
Stefano Cinelli 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 Cinelli Colombini, in museums housed of edifice and in mind. What a visit.
The tasting notes
The following 56 tasting notes cover the Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino tasted at the 13 estates we visited in October 2019. Hundreds more will follow when I visit Montalcino again in February 2020 for the next edition of Benvenuto Brunello.
Generally aged right to 10 months is large Slavonian oak barrels. Takes off straight from where 2015 left us, that is to say from fruit and into more fruit, of sangiovese in wild berry form, expected and imagined. Exactitude from winemaker Alessandro Ciacci, polished, crunchy and then more tannic as a vintage. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted October 2019
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
Making the most of the vintage and a quantity 20-30 per cent down from the norm there is a stoic, classic Altesino benchmark quality about the knowing impression derived. It’s just the thing, the feeling, the absolute confidence and polish and precision, out of fields, through winemaking and into glass. Fruit arises out of savoury ashes and ultimately there’s a sense of inclusion, amenability and proper consciousness. Good acids and fine tannins come about without any overbearing qualities. Fine work to no surprise. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted October 2019
Expect more from Montsoli, open your mind and palate to the possibilities and 2015 will deliver more complex notions as it must and should. Always the savour, the rocks bleeding or rather in 2015 causing the fruit to bleed through acid structure and then tannins, ever-bearing and in charge. Not quite the power and ability of other vintages in this regard but still Montosoli generated. Also a mid-term prospect but clearly destined for a minimum 10 year run. Drink 2021-2031. Tasted October 2019
Montosli is so antithetical to the Annata, a Brunello cuvee that takes its fruit from a wide gamut of Montalcino sources. The northern Galestro-strewn hill brings brushy and bushy savour, a pinch of salt and plenty of site specific sapidity. The cherry aspect is replete with a charred sense of skins and a dusty, alloy bled feeling. Grippy, taut and structured. We’ll see about Montosoli from 2014 but you can bet on the house. The track record is undeniable. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted October 2019
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
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
One year in Slavonian and French oak. In more than one way a deep and developed Rosso though when you look at the iron-rich Galestro vienayrds there’s little surprise. To many this would strike with Brunello immediacy and in fact many producers would make Brunello from this level of juice. There’s some VA though beneficial integration is the command and the order of its ways. Quite ferric and traditional with a salty, near volcanic-esque, certainly mineral vein. A tannic Rosso that will improve with two years time. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted October 2019
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
Spent 28 months in Slavonian and French oak. An extension from the Rosso in every respect; colour, depth, volatility, tannin and the edge of ripeness. The 550-600m of altitude would have been a problem in the past and was indeed in 2014 so don’t come here in search of lush, fruit bomb Brunello. This is sangiovese in requiem for years of time. It’s as grippy, firm, traditional and prim as you are ever going to taste. That said a few minutes of air brings about a swelling of liquid chalky texture. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted October 2019
Stratified depth of vineyard layers are so controlling, the sangiovese classically styled, Gianni acting as messenger, custodian and shepherd for this place. It’s all here; Galestro, iron, Alberese, Arenaria, tradition, nonno Assunto and everyone else who made Brunello happen in Montalcino. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted October 2019
Selection of grapes from the oldest (30 year-old) vineyard, 30 months in French oak. First produced in 2006 and now an ode to Gianni’s grandfather who passed away in 2018 at the age of 97. An ode now to a man who in 2017 was one of two remaining original members from the original 16 at the 1967 signing of the Brunello community. Rich, luxurious, deeply traditional and long, with fine tannins and plenty of barrel feel. Old school, wood spiced and spread throughout the mouthfeel, though never cloying or misdirected. Drink 2022-2032. Tasted October 2019
A vintage with everything in place and though the barrel speaks with so much deeper resonance there’s a variegation of shadows, sweetness and intensity to watch over you, control you and let you know what’s happening in this place. It has become silky smooth, elongated, angles erased with beautiful curves and acidities everywhere. Fine, from another era and living longer than just about anyone else. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted October 2019
Gets neither more ripe nor more effulgent than this Rosso from the vintage of extreme heat salvaged by late season rains. From plants that knew when to shut down and protect themselves before being saved by water re-introduced by nature just before harvest. Taut and near bursting so get at these 17s straight away. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted October 2019
Zonazione investigations with Francesco Ripaccioli
Quite fulsome and layered for 2014 with a push-pull sensation that charms while conversely creating tension between two vineyards, La Casaccia and Montosoli. More fruit than most from this vintage with thanks to six people making a prudent selection by hand, almost to the point of prejudice. Three passages in the vineyard also led to the clarity, purity and plain fruitiness of what came from these challenged grapes. Explains Francesco Ripaccioli: “What we harvested for Brunello was grapes from all blocks that only added up to a tank and a half as compared to the full 19 of potential out of 2015.” Luxurious sangiovese to be sure and so much better understood with six further months in bottle. Last tasted October 2019
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
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
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
Re-tasting the ’17 Rosso with Filippo Chia begins like this. “It’s Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a hill, like making wine in Montalcino. If you do it a day late you’re going to come up a dollar short.” Don’t miss out on selling Rosso from 2017. A good if hot year but this is a cool sector in Montalcino. Some second and third passage French tonneaux to gift a sweeter perfume, a development into pretty rich liqueur, an acidity that keeps on driving, the fruit, the energy and the point. Last tasted October 2019
A bigger and richer Rosso with fully extracted and rendered red fruit, somewhat sour and ripping, grippy acids and totally present tannins. Needs a year or two to be itself and then drink respectfully of the appellation for five more. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted February 2019
Dad (Sandro Chia) bought the estate in 1984, the first vintage being 1987 from neighbours’ grapes, now the Loacker property. Martini father and son, as in cellar master, have been here for six generations. Sandro is known to say this. “Sangiovese aged for five years is the most extreme and also the most naive. It’s sweet and kind and wines made by dreamers.” Son (Filippo) will remind that it’s one of Italy’s first ideas in 1868, after the unification of 1861. Begins with Biondi-Santi. “Inexplicably and inescapably you can recognize sangiovese from Montalcino. I like a Brunello you can drink six months after release, after it’s five years of aging.” This 2015 was bottled, is finished and now as is for three and a half months in. Pretty like the previous declared Annata from Sandro and Filippo Chia 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 thinks about bouncing back. Drink 2020-2029. Tasted October 2019
Upward push, rising perfume, no bass or very little. Red fruit, clean and fresh as there needs, wants and must be on this ridge at heights above the warmer valleys, from variegated soils, lots of red earth, tons of fine mineral expediency. This is what you want to drink in 2013 Brunello. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted October 2019
The Rosso that has been produced since 1987, now approximately 30,000-35,000 bottles per year. Six months each in Slavonian oak and in bottle. From the third warmest vintage of the last 100 years. A spicy and well-spiced Rosso from humidity, baked grapes and concentrated fruit at the height of Rosso while finding freshness and accepting being quite high-toned. Speaks resolutely of an accumulated expression for the southern vineyards of the place. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted October 2019
A cru selection from four blocks at Brunello yields (six tonnes per hectare) and unique for Rosso. Surely no other Rosso di Montalcino noses this way or speaks with such elevated discourse. Quite aristocratic as such, stubborn of acidity and strong in tannin. Not an everyday wine but one with identity, grip and circumstance. Try to understand that this is Rosso from micro activities; vineyards, climate, selection and production. Which means don’t rush though tasting or thinking about this one. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted October 2019
You can’t help but note the southern Montalcino tone of this fruit first Brunello because there’s just something stingingly distinct about the aromatic tones. It’s a specific savour, direct, grippy and intense. Ages in Grandi Botti, 60-70 hL making for a breadth of fruit, acids and tannins that span a great horizon. Comes from the lighter grey-yellow sand, clay and Galestro soils and it shows in the language of this broad shouldered sangiovese. Lush and perfectly clean. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted October 2019
The only label representing the winery in 2014 is this Annata, inclusive of all the grapes brought forth by Pian Rosso. A highly savoury, sandy Galestro spiced sangiovese that just has to stand of its own accord. Firm, linear and taut. Will age without question or equivocation. Last tasted October 2019
Ciacci e buono, from the beginning, instilled with confidence, finesse and grace. The fruit is beguiling Brunello sangiovese, sour cherry sweetening and flashing as it sits and you taste. Gathers all the necessary attributes along the forest path, through the well-attended vines and into a cellar ready to make things happen. That they do, with charm and structure. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted February 2019
Unheralded perhaps and should never be considered as such because 2013 is wonderfully expressive, effusive, very much alive. Showing its colours in truth and clarity today. Needed exactly this amount of time. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted October 2019
There was no Pianrosso made in 2014 and so Pianrosso the cru returns from the warm, easy and generous 2015. A large cru with red Galestro soils, deeper in mineral content and so imagine everything magnified, magnetized and hyperbolized. The fruit carries some dried character, surely dark berry flavours and a sweetness of salty sapidity. It’s grippy and tannic but also a touch toasty, sun-dried and roasted. Magnanimous whelp of a Brunello, big-boned, structured and surely capable of developing balsamic, porcini and tartufo character. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted October 2019
Similar to 2015, Pianrosso is baked and toasty, fruit very much in the dusty, plum, sun-dried dark berry, frutta di bosco and fragola realm. Liquorice leathery and red soil crusted for quite the structural, stylistic and textural variegation. Last tasted October 2019
Striking aromatics emanate from Ciaaci’s 2013 Pianrosso and you know immediately where it stands and where you will be taken. The level of excellence is noted without hesitation and the launch into taking it all in is done without trepidation. A beautifully lit sangiovese, flitting and twirling, “like a flame dancing in a candle, lighting up your living room.” Great presence and finesse, a tight little strummed set of chords and soulful if traditional harmonies. So beautiful and refined. Drink 2021-2032. Tasted February 2019
Not simply freshness but unction, fruit culpability and basic perfection. The young vines of five years are just now coming into their speciality, that being quality fruit meeting and melting into more than a modicum of grip and structure. You could pour this Rosso for young Brunello seekers and old Rosso knowers. It will solicit and win over their collective hearts. Last tasted October 2019
Lovely effulgent fruit in this Cortonesi family Rosso radiates to extrapolate for a 2016 Brunello future, in many ways. First it is this Rosso that benefits from the particular handling, showing in an immediately gratifying plus available sangiovese that drinks with fast-forward Rosso promise and does so on its own terms, for the right Montalcino reasons. Second, even though the producer’s approach to Brunello is another matter in which generally speaking it deals only with older vines, it is this youthful exuberance and wealth of amenability meeting attack that bodes well for the impending grandi vini. It is here that we see the present and the future of Rosso di Montalcino and the respect it is both given and deserved. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018
Mostly from the youngest vineyard above the winery on the way up and on the northeast side of the Montalcino hill. No more than six months in big barrel in terms of elévage. Still quite fresh for Rosso and from the challenge of the vintage. Carries a texture too, almost like a dry candy melting, with liquorice and herbal undertone by summer savoury. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted October 2019
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
Like the same vintage Rosso the Brunello is showing with perked up freshness and almost no development. Slavonian oak and just the right amount of time has elevated the game and brought all the parts into line. There’s fresh porcini in this moment so no matter that Tommaso found none on a quick forage today. Good earth and crunch from in depth older vines construction and very impressive length. Fine quality for 2014 from a producer to look for when adversity tests your mettle. Last tasted October 2019
Cortonesi works through the challenge with a sangiovese in 2014 that finds critical mass and therefore celebrates la vita bella in Brunello. With no reason to choose a Vigna-designate nor a Riserva to produce, the best of the best therefore finds its way into this eponymous family Brunello. It’s equipped with notable vintage fruit, finer acids than many and a tannic structure that is not only correct but highly promising. Lengthiness is one of the best in the vintage. Drink 2023-2031. Tasted February 2019
Quite evolved, certainly a bottle specificity and now diving well into the funghi and the porcini. That said I sense and even think these to be classic 2005 acids still moving upwards while the fruit settles into an ulterior classic pool of liqueur. Just a moment’s amaro and plenty of languishing action, with or without anguish. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted October 2019
Now talking post-aggressive behaviour in Riserva not yet advanced ahead of time. There are secondary aromatic hints but the tannins remain in tact, charged and controlling. There’s a circular motion happening hear as fruit and acidity whirl around, outrunning the tannins or at least attempting to. All the sweet things that grow wild and are picked to accent your braises are swirled into the aromatic potpourri of this fine sangiovese of whispers, shadows and silhouettes. It’s a chiaroscuro of a Brunello, all in and we are in turn fully engaged. Last tasted October 2019
With Tommaso Cortonesi
There are few Brunello vintages afforded more attention in the last 10-plus, certainly ’04 and ’06, increasingly better even from ’08 and looking forward towards what greatness will come in 2015. Yes but not solely magnified through the lens of patience and bottle time, from 2010 La Mannella has coupled upon and layered over itself like compressed fruit and puff pastry. Though it begs for drink now attention, another seven years will be needed before it can safely be labeled as uncoiled and to reveal all that is wrapped so tight. Rich is not the operative but unmistakeable as Cortonesi it is; that natural clay soil funk of resolution and fully hydrated chalk. This is to sangiovese as Les Preuses Grand Cru Chablis or Rangen Grand Cru Alsace are to Riesling. It carries in its pocket the absolute meaning and genetic responsibility of where it comes from, with a curative and restorative ability to get you lost. Drink 2019-2031. Tasted February 2017
Chosen from the bigger clusters aged in the youngest barrels for one year. “Rosso must reflect sangiovese’s character more than any other wine,” insists Lorenzo Magnelli. Balance is key and perhaps more of a challenge out of ’17 so expect more flint (soil) and spice (fruit and wood) in this vintage. “For our culture this is the most important wine, it’s what we drink daily.” Morbido, with spice and frankly just plain get me delicious. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted October 2019
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
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
“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
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
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
Forty days on skins from a vintage of beneficial balance acting out of cool weather. The content and concentration are from the long maceration, not from hard pressing or mechanization. Now eighteen months since last tasted it has come into elasticity and more length. It’s the real deal. Last tasted October 2019
Le Ragnaie farms four vineyards in the central zone of Montalcino; Vigna del Lago, Vigna Fonte, Vigna Cappuccini, Vigna Vecchia but also plots in Castelnuovo dell’Abate and Petroso close to the village. It is the gathering of contrastive and complimentary fruit that deals in defining an estate stylistic for the Classica Brunello. Le Ragnaie’s emits the most exotic perfume of almost any of the oft-stingy ‘13s, in fact this brings a level of fragranza that’s almost impossible for the vintage. I will admit to having waited the entire morning to come across such a floral sangiovese from a vintage that seems reluctant to give such aromatics away. The palate follows along, with smoky smoulder and spice, then turning wonderfully savoury, sapid, salty and herbal. This is the complexity we’ve come to covet from Montalcino, along with a fineness of acidity and lightness of touch. Drink 2019-2027. Tasted February 2018
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
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
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 opposed to the concrete for the others) and yet it’s so bloody sangiovese. Blood of Montosoli. Drink 2022-2038. Tasted October 2019
From Poggio di Soto’s somewhat recent acquisition. Quite the rich expression of dark red fruit, early harvested, low yielding and carefully extracted. Attention to detail makes for a remarkably drinkable Rosso but one with a serious, tight and intense expression on its face. Very smooth and round. Vine age in the 15 year range, soils of tufo, with gravel and calcari. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted October 2019
From Poggio di Soto’s somewhat recent acquisition. Ugolforte was a 12th century bandit who led a rebellion against Siena. Ugo the strong he was called. In a year when Poggio di Sotto is mitigated with extreme prejudice and no Riserva was made it is this San Giorgio that is allowed to sing and express the quality fruit separated from the chaff in this vintage. It’s a beautiful one, silky smooth and available for interaction right at the word go. Acids are fine not just for the vintage but for clarity and future understanding. Vine age in the 25 year range, soils of tufo, with gravel and calcari. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted October 2019
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
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
The combinative adjunct of extract, barrel and soul are at the crux of the San Felice grasp and the very core of winemaker Leonardo Bellaccini’s life work. Never shy, always looking for density, in vineyard plantings, vintage and concentration of this Brunello. Leonardo is very happy with these results if questioning the balance between big fruit and even bigger tannins. What is amazing are the acids he finds, coaxes and extends to lift this from its depths. Done up in 100 per cent oak. Unparalleled for Montalcino. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted October 2019
The 2008 expresses a character or at least has transformed with one that smells so much of all the pretty bushes and herbs that grow so low to the vineyard’s ground. Here the true spirit of the Campogiovanni Azienda comes clean, speaking in pure vernacular tongue and expressing all that is this place. Don’t misunderstand that this Brunello is as its namesake suggests, a wine of big oak, but also bones and persisting fruit. The tannins are so fine, plush and still in control. So much texture, very precise actions and wholly deserving of a place at the table. A real style and a product of new oak blanketing the fruit of old vines. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted October 2019
A perfect sunny summer, like 2010, with some late August showers. Just before harvest there were two heat waves, spiking the sugars from 22 to 25 brix. The potential alcohol breached 16 per cent as a result. The Aussie shiraz vintage, of faux sugar and unusual for Brunello. Glycerin persists just as it showed so early in fermentation, ripe to the edge but did it cross over? To be honest, no. But there is a reduction of balsamico, a tarry feeling, a Sant Angelo in Colle character. Plenty of chocolate, warmth and zonazione personality. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted October 2019
There’s something special about a Rosso di Montalcino that speaks to a place, in this case the moderate specificities of the Sorgente vineyard for a 6,800 bottle lot of pure and focused sangiovese. An ease back on the sugar ripening and colour content throttle makes for a transparency and clarity of delight in the way Rosso should be, at least for this lower section of the three main estate vineyards. Inox fermentation, 18 months in larger Allier barrels, further bottle refining and then no filtration makes for Rosso of true to Salicutti spirit, bright, effusive, uncompromising and willing to stick with what works. What else do you need from Rosso di Montalcino? Drink 2019-2023. Tasted October 2019
Salicutti is in a south-eastern Montalcino location, on route SP 55 towards Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Now in the altruistic stewardship of owners Sabine and Felix Eichbauer who heed the tradition and ideology created by its previous owner, Francesco Leanza. The agriculture and winemaking team remain to keep the promise and the faith for all of the estate lands and and inner workings. They do so as custodians of Piaggione, the movie star of Salicutti’s vineyards, fastest to ripen from both a sugar and phenolic standpoint but also lending the deepest colour to its grapes. That in itself creates some great oxymoronic irony because Salicutti’s are some of the most transparent and clearest expressions of sangiovese in the territory. As is this stunning 2013, a Brunello of pure, unadulterated and sexy fruit with all of its natural, vintage specific and structured parts on full display. The combined effects of three years spent in an array of French and Slavonian barrels has come to this, meaning the fruit has been coaxed but never pushed so that is speaks only of Piaggione. Blood orange acidity and lightning strike energy make for such a buzz of a Brunello. Barrel tastings of 2016 through 2018 ferments will only magnify and hyperbolize these feelings. The future will hold and be something else. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted October 2019
Always a blend of the two vineyards, including Vigna Pian Bossolino, which incidentally was not made in this vintage. The tannins here are nothing short of remarkable, silken, succulent and so strong. A woody and hematic sangiovese with blood and oranges running through its veins. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted October 2019
This is the baby and yet already more in the approachable realm, offering up lush fruit, ganache of a rich consistency, spice rendered and layered. A chewy Brunello, fruit leathery, up front and generous. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted October 2019
A concentrated vintage, with muscles and also highest quality phenolics. Truth is spoken in that last bit of content because this noses high, mighty, rich and ripe. The fruit carries a sweetness from which skins and seeds are most certainly responsible. Always Terralsole silky, fine and golden in liquid sangiovese form. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted October 2019
Even if ’13 and ’12 Riserva are current releases it is this ’07 that should be considered the present tense. The label depicts and angel with an attitude, by Whistler artist Lisa Geddes. Showing its 12 years of development, with plenty of rendered chocolate. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted October 2019
Ninety-five tasting notes and reviews on primarily Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2017, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2014 and Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2013 at Benvenuto Brunello 2019
The preview or anteprima tasting of current vintage releases known as Benvenuto Brunello took place on February 15th and 16th in the Chiostro Museo Montalcino. The producers were on hand to introduce their most recent (or imminent to be released) Rosso DOC 2017, Brunello DOCG 2014 and Brunello Riserva and/or Vigna 2013. Journalists from all over the world were present, including myself and WineAlign’s John Szabo M.S. John and I also paid most opportunistic, informative and excellent visits to the properties of Conti Costanti, Casanova di Neri, Col d’Orcia and Sassetti Livio – Pertimali. I’ll have more extensive reports on those visits coming in the next few weeks. I also had the opportunity to discuss the most pressing and current matters of the territory and the landscape with Consorzio Director Giacomo Pondini.
Last year I asked the questions, “are the 2013s much better than the 2012s? Do they exhibit more character, structure and depth?” If that contrast was a difficult one then the one moving from ’13 to ’14 is surely not a fair fight, nor should we spend any real-time engaging in the comparisons. Better is almost always the wrong word, especially because we are once again discussing the nature, merits and potential of sangiovese, a grape that needs the bottle before showing its true character. As I noted about the 13s, I am confident that history will be kind to 2014, though selection will be a greater part of the reconciliation. I repeat the mantra. “Diplomacy, kindness and patience will reward us all.”
Meteorological credentials are not required to understand how difficult the 2014 growing season must have been in Montalcino. Rather than focus on disconnects like dilution, astringency and bitterness it would be much more beneficial to celebrate what attributes went right. There are two examples of excellence in 2014 Brunello di Montalcino. On one hand there are sangiovese of clarity, transparency, honesty, grace and finesse. There are also a few handfuls of highly concentrated and glycerin-curved Brunello urged on by succulent acids and sweet tannins. Taste as many as you can to find the best of the best.
In Ontario market Brunello di Montalcino
These are the wines from producers with importation agency representation in Ontario available for purchase either through LCBO channels (LCBO General List, VINTAGES, Classics Catalogue, VINTAGES Shop-Online or Destination Store) or through case purchases in the LCBO-Agent Consignment program. The list does not include producers’ wines represented in Ontario that are either brought in periodically through Private Order or have not yet been imported at all.
Clear, transparent, honest and finessed. This is what you hope for from the 2014 Brunello. The clarity here is apparent from the get go, with fruit locked and shut tight beneath a reductive shell. Acids are succulent and far from sour, tannins pure, sweet and of the finest grain. Not about concentration because the vintage will resist allowing it. But this is made in the best possible way and will live a few decades or more. Drink 2024-2038. Tasted February 2019 francopacenticanalicchiomaitredechai_ca @franco_pacenti@maitredechai@francopacenticanalicchioLe Maître de Chai
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 #poggiodisottoelixirsvinsspiritueux#poggiodisottoPoggio di Sotto@ElixirsVinsSpiritueux
Cortonesi works through the challenge with a sangiovese in 2014 that finds critical mass and therefore celebrates la vita bella in Brunello. With no reason to choose a Vigna-designate nor a Riserva to produce, the best of the best therefore finds its way into this eponymous family Brunello. It’s equipped with notable vintage fruit, finer acids than many and a tannic structure that is not only correct but highly promising. Lengthiness is one of the best in the vintage. Drink 2023-2031. Tasted February 2019 @LaMannella@Nicholaspearce_marcora85nicholaspearcewinesTommaso CortonesiNicholas Pearce
Ciacci e buono, from the beginning, instilled with confidence, finesse and grace. The fruit is beguiling Brunello sangiovese, sour cherry sweetening and flashing as it sits and you taste. Gathers all the necessary attributes along the forest path, through the well-attended vines and into a cellar ready to make things happen. That they do, with charm and structure. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted February 2019 ciaccipiccolominidaragona@cpdavini@ciaccipiccolominidaragona
Le Chiuse di Sotto in Podernovone just southeast of the Montalcino village where famous neighbours lurk and the valley stretches east to Pienza and Montepulciano. Gianni Brunelli’s is a careful, four-part curation of estate cru sangiovese for an honest, exacting and hearty worn on every family members’ sleeves Brunello. This may be exaggerated more than ever because of the 2014 vintage but we see it as the truth. Red fruit as sparked and punchy as ever meets equally spirited acidity and sharp, pinpointed tannins. Take me as I am this whispers beneath the vintage screams and you hear it clear as a blue sky Montalcino day. Bang on, banging the drum slowly so that cellar-aging is also possible. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted February 2019 giannibrunellibrixandmortarwineco@brixandmortarLaura Brunelli (Le Chiuse Di Sotto)@brixandmortarwineco
In the vintage there was no Cerretalto or Tenuta Nuova produced so this is an amalgamation of the three. All the best selections into one Brunello at the price of the white label. The vineyards from that label are in Podernuovo and Fiesole, with the Tenuta Nuova grapes coming from Cetine and Pietradonice. What does it all mean? In a sense it’s a super house-style and exaggeration of the way the white label has been made (expect for 2002 and 1992). Very specific red fruit, strawberry very alive and concentrated, with some variegated ripenesses beginning at one and showing up in many increments. High acids vintage, seemingly more savour than many and tannins quite intense. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 giacomonericasanovadinerihalpernwine#CasanovaDiNeri@HalpernWine@CasanovadiNeriGiacomo Neri@halpernwine
Argiano is expressive of a lovely herbal nose with blood orange and a little bit of sanguine personality. Typical vintage character done right, proper and well. Fleshy like a very ripe peach crossed with a tart red plum and certainly offers more of the it Brunello character than many or most in the field. A bit commercial for the house but understood of a vintage clarity and appreciated out of great necessity. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 @Argianowinery@Noble_Estatescantina_argianonoble_estates@argiano@NobleEstates
Fattoi delivers sharpness and vitality for 2014 with verve, energy and rigour. Though the fruit is by now classically 2014, meaning it’s tangy and sour, the acids and the tannins are driven or are powerfully driving forces, of nature and for success. Would really like to see where this one goes. Could be a sleeper and one of the great values of the vintage. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted February 2019 #Fattoi@BrunelloImports#fattoibrunelloimportsLucia FattoiBrunello Imports Inc.
From primarily grey arglileux (clay) soils though truth be told the variegation includes yellow, black and brown. Also found is Galestro, Pietra (like Forte) and a wide array of fossil shells, all much larger than it would be imagined. Here to the south west of the Montosoli hill is a warm and humid place so airflow is much more important than anything, to prevent disease and because ripeness is rarely an issue. The fruit is dark, hematic, all in. I tasted 45 examples of 2014 this morning and none were like this. It’s also silky smooth without any oak sheathing, make-up or cake icing. Salumi notes define the curative nature, acids are fine and driving, a high-toned moment is slightly Bretty and tannins are super smooth. High quality from 2014. Drink 2022-2032. Tasted February 2019 pertimalisassettiprofilewinegroup#Pertimali#SassettiLivio@ProfileWineGrpLivio Sassetti- Pertimali@ProfileWineGroup
Correctly light and transparent, accepting of vintage and what such a sangiovese needs to be. The grandi botti feel comes across on the palate, with a sweetening but even more so a true spice clarity. Fine acids and generally sweet tannins put this lightning Brunello in a class of its own, not often seen, surely atypical but well done in the context of limestone-light and sharp red Italian reds. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 alessandromori@IlMarroneto@BrunelloIlMarroneto
The rusticity is apparent in Brunello with mouth attacking tannin and excellent acidity. Very much appreciate the lack of sour-edging that is so prevalent in many 2014s. This is more along the dried fruit and savoury-herbal lines without the tang. Some volatility though not a sour one. Lingers well and seems built for aging as well as any. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019 #sanpolino thelivingvine@SanPolinoVino@TheLivingVine#SanPolinoBrunelloThe Living Vine inc.
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 tenutenardimajesticwinesinc@TenuteNardi@MajesticWineInc@tenutenardi@tenutenardi@majesticwinecellars
La Gerla finds and coaxes some pretty fruit out of 2014 in a stylish Brunello that affirms the appellation in the best possible way. Though really quite dusty and even a bit sharp it is ripe cherry fruit that leads the way. A bit chewy and on the sour-edged vintage side but mostly balanced and showing good length. Solid work up against all odds. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted February 2019 lagerlamontalcinoprofilewinegroup#LaGerla@ProfileWineGrp@ProfileWineGroup
Very pretty nose on Ridolfi’s ’14, more floral than many and willing to bloom early in the process. Carries the grace note of tar and is chewy, of roses and then accents come by fennel and tarragon. A serious sangiovese with plenty of structure that remains to be seen if amiability can triumph over grip. With time I believe this is a prime example of one that will. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 ridolfimontalcino#ridolfimontalcino
Not too many Brunelli were able to rise above the simple and the superficial in 2014 so La Leccaia’s perfume and grace stand apart. The palate texture is all ’14, tangy, tart and fully equipped with demanding acidity and tannin. That said there is nary a moment of astringency, leading to believe the age ability here is at the fore. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted February 2019 lecciaia@TheWineCoachesFattoria La Lecciaia
Lisini’s rises quickly to another level with some glycerin fruit full of pectin and pure energetic drive. The extraction and concentration are at the forefront of the vintage which allows the high-toned acids and demanding tannins to stay in balance with the rest. Aromatics and texture are righteous and proper though the sour notes are just a pinch awkward early on. Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019 aziendalisini@AziendaLisiniLudovica Lisini@AziendaAgrariaLisini
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 canalicchiodisopra@canalicchiosopr@CANALICCHIODISOPRA
Caprili is quite tense, nervous, unable to relax. It pulses with acidity and tannin, structure is certain and intensity over the moon. Welcome to one side of the tracks, the one without compromise and where Brunello is Brunello and over on the other side sangiovese is sangiovese. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 capriliwine@Caprili@NaturalVines@officialcaprili
Despite and in spite of the northern vineyard’s location of six small plots in a 10 hectare area surrounding Casato Prime Donne this from Colombini is quite ripe for the vintage. Strawberries and dusty, savoury accents drive the fruit into a pool of fine, welling and syrupy acidity. It’s an unusually simplified and somewhat flatlined wine for Donatella out of a vintage neither old-school nor flashy modern, yet major challenges are no obstacle for this estate and so her sangiovese is still very full of charm and grace. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 donatellacinellicolombinilesommelierwine@news_donatella@LeSommelierWineDonatella Cinelli Colombini@LeSommelierWine
Fanti’s takes no bait nor tries to fit odd shapes into even holes simply because 2014 was not the time to do so. And so their Brunello strides straight down the middle of Broad Street like a champion in 2014. Which I suppose is exactly where it needs to be. This is sangiovese confident in ripe if sour and tangy fruit supported by high toned acids and middle weight tannins. Perfectly middle of the road and commercially viable Brunello. Correct, wholly acceptable and well-made. Do what you gotta do. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted February 2019 tenuta_fantilesommelierwine@tenutafanti@LeSommelierWineElisa Fanti@LeSommelierWine
Pretty expressive fruit, a touch variegated, plenty of savoury and dusty accents, verdancy and dried components. Hints at astringency and stays clear enough, with fine, almost sweet tannins. Careful selection keeps this on course to do what it’s supposed to, vintage in and in this case, vintage out. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2019 marchesiantinorihalpernwine@AntinoriFamily@HalpernWine@MarchesiAntinori@halpernwine
Val di Suga’s is well extracted and rendered sangiovese with a combination of fresh and dried fruit. There is a good wealth of triangular attributes running in a straight line up, across and back down. First that fruit, then ripping acidity and finally a variegate of tannin. Quite solid and composed with admirable structure. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 #valdisugachurchillcellars#ValDiSuga@imbibersreportVal di SugaChurchill Cellars Ltd.
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 fattoriadeibarbinoble_estates@FattoriaBarbi@Noble_Estates@FattoriadeiBarbi@NobleEstates
Capanna delivers the goods for the vintage with a fruit, acidity and tannin appropriation for solid commercial appeal. Ambition is set aside for a different sort of plan and one that includes asking folks to just buck up, sit down and sip. Don’t think too much on this. It won’t reinvent the wheel but it will pour a fine and decent glass of Montalcino sangiovese. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 #capanna#Capanna@capannamontalcino
A gregarious and sour-edged entry marks the ’14 Col d’Orcia with plenty of spice. Cinnamon and star anise are exotic notes off the top and then things turn tough and closed. This is a tightly wound 2014, clearly one of the ambitious albeit traditional attempts at perpetuating great and storied Brunello glory. Remains to be seen if it can reach the heights of 1979. Drink 2021-2031. Tasted February 2019 @Coldorcia@DionysusWinescoldorciadionysuswines@coldorcia.brunelloDionysus Wines & Spirits Ltd
Fornacella, as in “fornace,” the furnace, from a nearby and still standing 1490 built brick kiln. Fornacella is both fruit fleshy and high-toned, full of tangy if unusually designed, orchard and stone fruit. Really tart and high strung, it’s as if the fruit spent time in that kiln, so much so it could take 10 years to come down. Drink 2024-2030. Tasted February 2019
La Màgia’s is rich and extracted sangiovese with tangy acids that linger for quite some time. Some quality fruit marks the way but it’s two years away from finding any real integration. It seems there should be some more substance, even if concentration is compromised because of the season, to merit and handle the level of acidity and then tannin. Nevertheless it should find a few years of good open window drinking. Drink 2022-2025. Tasted February 2019 lamagiamontalcino@fattorialamagia@lamagiamontalcino
Here is a house also in understanding of what needed to be done and accomplished in the treacherous and lecherous vintage. The fruit here is almost sweet, certainly crushable and blessed with negligible tannin. If it’s priced to sell it should populate restaurant lists for three years while waiting for the much anticipated 15s to come. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019 terrenere@terrenere@terreneremontalcino
A wild and exotic perfume pervades the ’14 Cortile and one that is the first of its ilk after 23 others showing nothing of the sort. It’s admittedly mixed with a good level of volatility but the promise is great. Returns again and agin to that perfume, where strawberry and liquorice live. A bit overripe perhaps as noted on the palate. Acids are tart, tight and supportive while tannins do the yeoman thing. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 picciniwinespicciniwinewineloversca@PicciniWinesUK@WineLoversCAPICCINI WINESPiccini Wines UKWine Lovers Canada
A hint of zafferina marks and marls the sweet fruit entry into Salvi’s ’14, from which a combination of that sweetness and sour edging express the vintage. There is a kindness on the nose that invites while the palate tries hard to offer a similar level of amiability. Restaurant ready, perfectly fine and amenable, good to go on a commercial level. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019 poggio_salvihalpernwine#VillaPoggioSalvi@HalpernWineWinery/Vineyard@halpernwine
Molino della Suga is a new cru label for me from Bonacchi and this particular sangiovese is a concentrated and grippy number. Intensely tannic and somehow not overly astringent but certainly drying and demanding. More fruit would make this a formidable Brunello. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 cantinebonacchi#cantinebonacchi@bonacchicantine
Caparzo’s is blessed with a sweet aromatic perfume, at once exotic but also different. At first it’s almost as if it strikes like riesling with botrytis-affected fruit notes but no, it’s more about flowers and fruit on the ripe side of life. The fruit is drawn from a few Montalcino poles but the southern blocks are what try hardest to keep it balanced. In the end it’s highly consumable, commercial and drinkable. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
Ripeness was achieved with extra hang time and while the fullness and power are duly noted there is a lag of tannin, even while acidity pops and powers its way around. An able-bodied sangiovese to be sure and one to talk out loud with plenty of support for a few years run. Length is pretty good in the face of sour edging. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019 #quercecchio@MQuercecchio@quercecchio
Guarded and reductive, this is a stand alone Brunello with no hurry to allow judgment to be passed. More a case of self-preservation than hard to get there are tannins here as fierce as any. The sour notes are minor and the drying fruit makes it difficult to find any great pleasure. Will improve though not forever. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted February 2019 @ViniLazzeretti@ViniLazzeretti
A notable amount of Brett on the quick nose and then some fleshier stone fruit. All sorts of fruit in here, variegated in ripeness and creating a wine of personality if not one of early cohesion. Lingers long so structure wants to be its friend. Give it time to of reconcile the awkwardness youth. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted February 2019 borgosanfelice@AgricolaSFelice@ChartonHobbsBorgo San Felice
From Rainer, Hayo and Franz Loacker in Casanuova to the west of the village. The clay soils pack at upwards of 450-500m on slopes at one of the higher elevations in Montalcino. Here is a big wine from Corte Pavone and one that could only have been difficult to manage in a vintage that tested the communal mettle. Dark fruit, wood spice and finishing chocolate. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019 loackerwineestates@LoackerWineEstates
The first vintage was 1993, from two newer estates, of Cetine and Pietradonice. The idea was to extend from the White Label with more richness and a potential of five further years of aging. The picking was prudent and it shows in the consistency of both the ripeness and the tannins. The acids accumulate, circulate and then travel up the side insides to a place of near nirvana. They go where they should, leaving the liquorice fruit gaining with spice to linger while the solicitation is for another sip. Chewy and ropey sangiovese, in balance and well-structured for a decade and a half easy. Drink 2022-2031. Tasted February 2019 giacomonericasanovadinerihalpernwine#CasanovaDiNeri@HalpernWine@CasanovadiNeriGiacomo Neri@halpernwine
Fanti’s comes from a very intense climate and soil structure so no surprise this ’13 is a humid, exceptionally warming and high glycerin Riserva. The source is two point five hectares of old vines (averaging 35-40 years) at 250m. Le Macchiarelle, a.k.a “the little thicket” doles wood spice, which only adds to the layering and increases the density quotient. This needs salty protein in a way so many may not, for the past and to look two decades forward into the future. Vigna Le Macchiarelle is truly the sort of high-end Brunello Riserva to put away and forget about in the cellar before emerging at dinner, at home, yours or theirs, with the best of friends. Trust me, please. It will be a grand moment. Drink 2024-2038. Tasted February 2019 tenuta_fantilesommelierwine@tenutafanti@LeSommelierWineElisa Fanti@LeSommelierWine
A Sant’Angelo in Colle treasure is this Riserva made from fruit grown at 400m nearby. One year later the fruit just seems to rise, swell and flesh with great fervour. Last tasted February 2020
Pian di Conte is only made in the worthiest of years from a select curation of grapes, much like Piero that comes off of 20-plus year-old vines out of two highly specific blocks on 20 hectares in Castelnuovo dell’Abate. At 400m of altitude it is the special vineyard Paretaio, planted to a sangiovese clone selected by Pierluigi Talenti. The ’13 Riserva exhibits that combination of wise and stylish, a well-dressed and seasoned veteran Brunello with expertise born of talent and ethic. The acids are some of the most succulent for 2013 Riserva, surrounding, lifting and extolling the virtues of a well-executed harvest. The texture meets the architecture in a seamless transition though not without that notable crossroads of tension-welling acidity and tannin. Impressive wine. Drink 2023-2036. Tasted February 2019
Lisini’s Riserva is another sangiovese matter all together. The nose oozes of the most intense liqueur, warm and bleeding with hematic and even ferric notes. The palate is massively layered though stretched, elegantly structured, meandering around, along roads and through woods. High intensity of fruit, equalled by acidity and then these caressing tannins. Perhaps too big for some but what’s to complain about in the potential of a 25-30 year wine. Drink 2024-2037. Tasted February 2019 aziendalisini@AziendaLisiniLudovica Lisini@AziendaAgrariaLisini
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 fattoriadeibarbinoble_estates@FattoriaBarbi@Noble_Estates@FattoriadeiBarbi@NobleEstates
Hard to get, place and open this Riserva from Leccaiaia. A chic and stylish robe of fruit bedevilled with charm and bedecked with jewels hangs adorned behind a veil of silk and lace. Then you taste this sangiovese and you feel the weight it’s capable of exhorting. It chortles with sanguinity and a toasty, almost charred red flesh, both vegetable and protein. Such an interesting, curious and graceful Brunello. Drink 2021-2030. Tasted February 2019 lecciaia@TheWineCoachesFattoria La Lecciaia
Caraprzo gives off night scents of a northern Montalcino climate with florals and cool wet Galestro. It adds up to a lovely herbal potpourri in a very stylish Riserva with expertly judged grip, primarily through the conduit of acidity. In and around the Montosoli hill there are these vineyards that slide their way into these wines with savoury pulchritude. Does Riserva get more stylish than this? Drink 2022-2029. Tasted February 2019 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
Welcome to the Brunello Riserva you may just want to drink right now. From estate vineyards at Casato Prime Donne. The fruit is luscious and as full as ’13 can be, ripe to the max and this from the northern zone. Herbal in an Amaro way, some desiccation to create this red, black and blue sangiovese liqueur. Rich and chewy with a silky mouthfeel and even chewier tannins. Not particularly grippy or tannic by demand, it flows and apportions full circle, ode to the earth, all in and blood orange bright. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2019 donatellacinellicolombinilesommelierwine@news_donatella@LeSommelierWineDonatella Cinelli Colombini@LeSommelierWine
From Tommasi this is only the third Riserva after the family purchased the estate in 2011, though a wine has been made from Colombaiolo fruit since 1996. The vineyard was planted in 1991 on a hectare and a half on the Sant’Angelo in Colle Casisano estate. The fruit is quite variegated, full and ripe. The acids are supportive, on the high-toned side and the tannins are really fine. A nice balance and a tri-symbiotic relationship exists between the three friends and in the end a structure of fine accord is managed. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 tommasiwineunivinscanada@Tommasiwine@UNIVINS@tommasiwinesUnivins et Spiritueux / Univins & Spirits
The ways in which Piccini’s Riserva come flying from the glass are a sign of excitement and haste because this sangiovese really wants to gain your respect and your love. Fruit sits on the top of the ripe spectrum and is by now resolved and ready to deliver the pleasures of the flesh. If ever there was a 2013 Riserva to pop, pour and enjoy while the others and certainly the ‘12s continue to develop, this Villa al Cortile must certainly be the one. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2019 picciniwinespicciniwinewineloversca@PicciniWinesUK@WineLoversCAPICCINI WINESPiccini Wines UKWine Lovers Canada
Not so surprising I suppose that Poggio al Vento 2012 is still reductive, closed and locked tight. There is a massive Poggio (al Vento) of fruit piled high inside the shell from the windy hill above the river. Fine tannins are even more impressive is the fine-styled acidity. When the shell cracks the riches will spill out, across and over. Over everything. Drink 2023-2036. Tasted February 2019 @Coldorcia@DionysusWinescoldorciadionysuswines@coldorcia.brunelloDionysus Wines & Spirits Ltd
Grazie e bravissimi to the hardest working sommelier cru in the wine business ~ @consbrunello #benvenutobrunello #benvenutobrunello2019 #duamiladiciannove
Not in market Brunello di Montalcino
These are the wines from producers without importation agency representation in Ontario but also wines represented in Ontario that are not currently available. They may either be brought in periodically through Private Order or have not yet been imported at all.
Andrea Costanti is convinced this is a great vintage. “One of the best.” The weather was perfect following a beneficial cold winter. The harvest was early but not compromisingly so and it saw no hurdles, obstacles or intendments. The barrel use is bigger, older and wiser. This is the sort of concentrated Costanti that speaks to the 2019 philosophy, of acidity, ripeness and balance. Time on skins was about a month (including two weeks of fermentation and oxidation introducing délestage) and no protective sulphur. There is a control in this sangiovese, a powerful restraint but more than that, more so a calm, but not before storm. Finesse, grip and beauty, like a statue of a stag, in a courtyard, lit by moonlight. Tannins are all pervasive, fully stated, yet to feel a necessity for attack. They will and we will retreat, Then we will advance, with caution, further to find full pleasure for two decades. At the very minimum. Drink 2023-2039. Tasted February 2019 #conticostantiwoodmanws@WoodmanWS@WoodmanWS
From the vintage where no Brunello was produced this Rosso is essentially a Super-Rosso made from the de-classified sangiovese. Very few producers followed suit but Andrea Costanti looks for or rather has a high-level of expectation in terms of concentration. If you wish or will, this is ostensibly Brunello when you consider the maker and the fact that hundreds of others bottled under the DOCG Brunello. And yet the price here is not a Brunello one. The argument could be made that with two years of aging in barrel it’s a Brunello, but it’s not a Costanti Brunello, which ages for three. It’s also not Rosso that ages for one year. That said Andrea’s suggestion is to drink it before the Brunello and after the other Rosso. Still, we should have all stocked up. I suggest that the acidity is brilliant and the concentration is very good. It does not blow the mind but the finesse and the attention to respect in the details are there. Drink this (if you have them) now and for five more years. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2019 #conticostantiwoodmanws@WoodmanWS@WoodmanWS
Baricci’s is extenuated 2014 circumstances Brunello with intense firm grip and fine, fine acids. Those acids are equipped with succulence to support some fleshy, really clean and ripe fruit. The barrel addendum is just about spot on and the length is exceptional. Beautifully structured sangiovese in 2014. Finishes with a great little juicing of blood orange. Drink 2023-2031. Tasted February 2019 #baricci@BaricciWine@baricciwine
Cupano’s fruit concentration is so impressive in 2014 that the minor amount of Breettanomyces is but a smudge on the glass of sangiovese life. Here is Brunello that found a way in 2014, to grow quality fruit, pick it at just the right moment and deliver it straight to glass. The barrel work et al along the way is but a messenger’s or a shepherd’s conduit. Really well done. Drink 2023-2033. Tasted February 2019 cupanomontalcino@Cupano_Brunello@CupanoMontalcino
Lovely little stylish sangiovese of proper red fruit in a vintage that required this effort of exactitude of output. This house takes it easy, stays calm and allows the weakness to become a great positive. No overdubbing or make up here, just simplicity and pulchritude. Not the most structured one but lovely to drink. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 tenutabuontempo#TenutaBuonTempo@TenutaBuonTempoCarpe Vinum
P. 56 is a specifically identified, consciously farmed and carefully curated Brunello. It’s aromatic intensity defines the new wave of Montalcino sangiovese and if in “easier” years it may act a bit reserved, from a vintage like ’14 it screams with intensity. The hyperbole of mineral lining will not be denied, not this time, though as before, this sangiovese is very refined. Savoury cool with more acidity elevating red fruit and it would seem more guaranteed structure for that aforementioned 15-20 year run. Drink 2022-2037. Tasted February 2019 tenutabuontempo#TenutaBuonTempo@TenutaBuonTempoCarpe Vinum
Ventolaio, the gypsy king Brunello of 2014, wild and feral, ferric and alive. It’s a jumpy sangiovese, hitting all the hight notes and correct vintage buttons. Pulses with energy and delivers some quality tannins. What it lacks in grippy structure last seen in 2013 it makes up for with great fruit. Much love for this exceptional house. Drink 2022-2028. Tasted February 2019 #ventolaio#ventolaio@Ventolaio
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 le_chiuse_montalcino@AzAgrLeChiuse@LECHIUSE
Darkness of fruit it beautifully lit by a candle of sangiovese transparency in Pottazine’s impressive effort in 2014. It’s a bit past ripe but not in cohorts with angry tannins so treat this explicitly as a drink early Brunello, perfect for restaurant lists in the affordable category. Bravo for the estate’s understanding of the cards dealt and for laying them on the table. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 lepotazzine@LePotazzine@LePotazzine
Cerbaia is neighbour to Sassetti on the way up the Montalcino hill. Lorenzo is now making their wines though just for the past year or so. This is a cured and weighty ’14, of salumi aromatics, roasted meat bones and the brushy herbs of a hillside. It’s quite a warm and humid sangiovese of dark fruit but also formidable acids. Quite robust, vigorous and serious. Will have many fans and rightfully so. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 firstname.lastname@example.org
Some lovely rich fruit notes orate the opening remarks and that speaks volumes in the vintage. It’s a fleshy Brunello with sweet acids and corporeal substance albeit a minor verdancy streak running through the tannins. Hard to avoid and not so distracting considering the other fine qualities of this generous sangiovese. Drink 2021-2026. Tasted February 2019 tenutadisesta#TenutadiSesta@tenutadisesta
A minty-savoury sangiovese with moderate to good fruit concentration and some high notes early on. In fact these are notes that will likely continue for quite some time if not longer and longer than that. Tart and angular, working through the difficulties with admirability, focus and what we call “gutting it out.” Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019 @PodereBriziopoderebrizio@poderebrizio
From the northern part of Montalcino, between Caparzo and Torrenieri. Lovely red fruit with high aromatic and perfumed tones bring charm to this 2014 in the face of that vintage’s green tannins. The palate offers more fruit in the cranberry-pomegranate-currant spectrum and a lean and linear stride. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019 @PodereCanapacciaMontalcino
A combination of sweet fruit and volatility gather in this tart yet reductive Brunello. The fruit is quite gregarious and almost generous. Hard to figure though because the tannins are also somewhat soft. Will drink well for a few years. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019 uccelliera@info_uccellieraUccelliera – Montalcino
A change of pace here with quite tart cran-apple and cranberry sour fruit with more glycerin and substance. Tannins are not exactly green but they are not what could be called caressing. Quick to the point with sweetness coming in the form of an herbal pesto. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019 podereleripi@PodereLeRIpiPodere Le Ripi
Pieri delivers some pretty solid fruit mixed with a briny, salty, almost pickled acidity and also some botrytis like points. Works in some ways and then goes too far in others. Disjointed and yet the possibilities are there. Remains to be seen where this will go. A bit hot on the finish. Drink 2021-2025. Tasted February 2019 Agostina Pieri
Hard and malic, tart and angular, dark fruit but lean and light. Looks are deceiving here in a Brunello apparently light and transparent but actually rather powerful and dank. Drink 2020-2023. Tasted February 2019
Quite thin, lean and sour red fruit, unfortunately part in parcel very typical of the vintage. Keep wishing for some flesh and some meat on the bone, even a dried salumi but it’s not forthcoming. A good Rosso perhaps, but not even a great one. Drink 2020-2022. Tasted February 2019 tenutacrocedimezzo@crocedimezzoTenuta Crocedimezzo
La Palazzetta’s is an awkward sangiovese with aromatic intrusions somewhat inexplicable. The augmented feeling comes across with notes of saffron and apricot, in addition to the vintage notes replete with blood orange and cranberry. This is almost cran-apple, with more than enough citrus to acidulate onions. Sour-edged and light but dark-skinned at the same time. Drink 2022-2023. Tasted February 2019
A mouth-watering and also, if not so much more so a puckering sangiovese with tart acids, slightly hard and pretty demanding tannins. Nothing out of the ordinary in a vintage that is anything but ordinary. Drink 2021-2024. Tasted February 2019
Tricerchi, or “three circles” is a house with Sienese nobility in lineage going back to the 13th century. Located on the northern side of Montalcino the estate is extensive, covering 400 hectares, of which only thirteen are cultivated as vineyards. The altitude is up there for the appellation at 300m with coarse sandy-clay soils. The vintage begins the begin for the new generation of attitude and passion. This translates to a precocious and extricably excitable sangiovese to set a table for great things to come. You can’t deny the wild aromatic florailty, of violets and macerating blueberries. You inuit the desire and the dreams of greatness though you know things are running a bit hot and fast. The texture is silky smooth and the finish a bit astringent because the confidence went a bit too far. Let’s look to 2015 and 2016 for greater understanding and great potential for that Montalcino ability to coax elegance from the local sangiovese. Drink 2020-2025. Tasted February 2019 castellotricerchi@castellotricerchi
The Cerretalto is kept in the cellar for six years, not as a labelled Riserva but that is really what it is. It’s colder here than in the closer to Montalcino vineyards and the harvest is two weeks later. The first vintage was 1982 for a cru that delivers more savour, redder fruit, sanguinity and firm grip. That it does from 2013, with blood orange acidity and a seamlessness that connects all the dots, dots the I’s and crosses the T’s. The layers here come from development naturally occurring in nature, packed tight, interwoven like vegetable tapestry, with slow-developing help from tonneaux and botti, mostly 50hL or bigger. Fineness of tannin will take this long into the 30s. Drink 2024-2036. Tasted February 2019 giacomonericasanovadinerihalpernwine#CasanovaDiNeri@HalpernWine@CasanovadiNeriGiacomo Neri@halpernwine
Striking aromatics emanate from Ciaaci’s 2013 Pianrosso and you know immediately where it stands and where you will be taken. The level of excellence is noted without hesitation and the launch into taking it all in is done without trepidation. A beautifully lit sangiovese, flitting and twirling, “like a flame dancing in a candle, lighting up your living room.” Great presence and finesse, a tight little strummed set of chords and soulful if traditional harmonies. So beautiful and refined. Drink 2021-2032. Tasted February 2019 ciaccipiccolominidaragona@cpdavini@ciaccipiccolominidaragona
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 #poggiodisottoelixirsvinsspiritueux#poggiodisottoPoggio di Sotto@ElixirsVinsSpiritueux
Gianni Brunelli’s ’13 Riserva is cool, stylish, a touch linear and lean but so very transparent, honest and clear. Few Riserva walk such a fine line and it’s a true breath of fresh air to catch such a wine at a moment like this, so comfortable, so cool and so fine. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted February 2019 giannibrunelli@GianniBrunelliWines
Such a charmer this Brizio, immediately with perfume and fields of colour in a modernist’s dreams. Silky and dreamy, full-bodied and while acids are a touch sour, they melt into the berry-chocolate ooze of this highly stylish Brunello Riserva. Fine tannins will help this age for five plus more years. Drink 2021-2027. Tasted February 2019 @PodereBriziopoderebrizio@poderebrizio
The aromatics on the ’13 Riserva are pretty, floral, high-toned, like acidulated violets. The palate is deep and brooding, full and marked by barrel notes that bring chocolate and vanilla. The wood is very prevalent and yet the structure is not one of force or grip. The best years are in the present. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted February 2019
A rich and luxurious Riserva from a single plot from Cerbaia, up the Montalcino hill from Sassetti-Pertimali. Quite a bit more advanced and developed than the sister Sassetti making it so very serviceable while we wait two more years for the warmer and grippier one to come into its window and place. Balsamic and soy are here with porcini and tartufo. Smoky and charred as well with real caramelized, burnt brisket meaty character and plioenty of riveting acidity. Might surprise and live 10 more luxurious years. The jury is out. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted February 2019 Fattoriacerbaia@cerbaia.chollet
Not all Rosso di Montalcino are created equal and if you want to taste the real deal than Baricci is the place. It all goes back to patriarch and grandfather Nello Baricci, founding member of the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium in 1967. It is a privilege to taste this ’17 with Francesco Buffi, a generational winemaker and current custodian of Colombaio di Montosoli sangiovese. Tradition matters but so does purity and beauty. The precision, focus and pure notes played are ones that only the finest gifts and moments of acidity are able to provide. If I were to close my eyes and imagine Montalcino, but especially this northern part of Montalcino fruit, Baricci’s transparency is the conjuring. And it’s so very real. Drink 2019-2027. Tasted February 2019
Quite reductive this intensely youthful ’17 Rosso from Salvioni, locked up, in chains. A Rosso as a war on the established style but also a drug, a sangiovese tincture that stymies and yet really flows. Doesn’t cause any pain but you need to work through the structure to come out on the other side. There are so many Brunello 2014s that don’t hold a candle to this Rosso ’17. “Ain’t no wind that I feel, flyin’ with no way to lose.” Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2019 Salvioni
Talenti’s is quite big, rich and ambitious for Rosso and why not? When you own a vintage and a vineyard embarrassment of riches you may as well go whole cinghiale. The meatiness and sumptuous unction are two aspects that make this a phenomenal food Rosso and also one that will age into great secondary character four or five years down the road. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2019 talentiriccardobrixandmortarwineco#Talenti@brixandmortarTalenti Montalcino@brixandmortarwineco
San Polino’s is an exciting combination of old and young, structured and drinkable. The fruit has been coaxed to tell a short story but if you are so inclined the longer novel can and will be told. The promise of Brunelo 2017 is told inside this story, with rich red fruit, a touch of traditional sour and succulent acids. Tannins know their place here and lend spice with several years of unfolding that lay ahead. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2019 #sanpolino thelivingvine@SanPolinoVino@TheLivingVine#SanPolinoBrunelloThe Living Vine inc.
Very pretty pulchritude in the Potazzine Rosso ’17 with spice, charm and a great pulse of energy. This is so very Rosso and so very what Rosso wants, needs and can be. All pulse and vitality, with striking acids and sneaky formidable tannin. Delicious Rosso di Montalcino and a great harbinger for the vintage. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2019 lepotazzine@LePotazzine@LePotazzine
Lovely aromatics, sexy and spicy, plenty of spice cupboard, herbs and flowers. Smell the argileux and the small rocks littering the vineyards. Tells a story of place so succinctly and what’s coming over the next few years. Sweet acids balance and foil drying tannins for classically trained and executed Rosso. Drink 2020-2024. Tasted February 2019 @LaMannella@Nicholaspearce_marcora85nicholaspearcewinesTommaso CortonesiNicholas Pearce
The simple gait of a Rosso di Montalcino is found in such an example. Tart red fruit in the pomegranate-cranberry spectrum, sharp acids and negligible tannin. Easy and spirited for red sauces and a quick char on salty red meat protein. Pork chops too. Drink 2019-2020. Tasted February 2019 #quercecchio@MQuercecchio@quercecchio
Fanti’s Rosso is one of those expressly meant as is, as opposed to it intending to act as a “second wine” to Brunello. Younger vines (15-20 years of age) are the providers and a careful selection is performed to achieve that all important Rosso goal; freshness and early drinkability. The raising here is 12 months in barrel, 60 per cent in barriques of 225L and (40) in 30 hL grandi botti. And so the mix of red cherry freshness and old-school fruit leathery structure means this Rosso goes both ways. In that sense it does it all. Solid as it gets and tells you what you need to know. Drink 2019-2022. Tasted February 2019 tenuta_fantilesommelierwine@tenutafanti@LeSommelierWineElisa Fanti@LeSommelierWine
From Claudio Nardi, Graziella Pieri and daughter Elena in Montalcino’s northeast sector, Rosso is a smooth, darkening sangiovese that spent 12 Months in French 500L tonneaux. It’s a classic and proper upbringing, with a purpose to tide us over with fresh Montalcino juice while the Brunelli take their time. That said it’s quite rendered and developed for Rosso with some dried fruit character merging with extra structure. Quality Rosso with plenty of upside. Drink 2019-2021. Tasted February 2019 poderesangiacomo#poderesangiacomoPodere Sangiacomo Nardi
Tenuta Buon Tempo offers up just a lovely aromatic profile in delivery of what 2016 should and could, with exotic florals, red citrus starlight and a sense of airy breaths. The best of 2016 acidity is brought out, alongside and of hands intertwined and interlaced with the fruit. The slightly firm finish indicates a few years of low and slow development. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2018 and 2019 tenutabuontempo#TenutaBuonTempo@TenutaBuonTempoCarpe Vinum
Montalcino (c) Consorzio Vino Brunello di Montalcino
Benvenuto Brunello is the highlight of many people’s calendar, for good reason, because there are few wines that can match its depth, class, character and structure. No one of sound mind passes up the opportunity to taste a pile of Brunello from Montalcino. And those who know understand the remarkable fact that it is indeed quite special to find such a level of consistency across a spectrum of very high end wines.
For a look at our reports published over at WineAlign where John Szabo and I offer opinions on the 2013 Brunello, please click on these links.
The travelling Brunello experience is taking place in the Consorzio’s 52nd year, now in the hands of Patrizio Cencioni, Chairman and President of The Consorzio Vino Brunello di Montalcino and Vice Presidents Tommaso Cortonesi, Andrea Machetti and Riccardo Talenti. On March 5th, 2018 the 27th road show came to the Carlu in Toronto and I had the ambassadorial pleasure of presenting the wines alongside Brunello Consorzio Director Giacomo Pondini. The session was just the third international presentation of the new vintage of Brunello, the first having taken place in New York and Chicago in late January and the second just over two weeks ago in the Chiostro Museo Montalcino. That the Consorzio continues to view Canada as such an important market and partner speaks volumes about our longstanding relationship with Italia, Toscana and Montalcino.
We all remember our first love. We may hide the memory away and rarely speak of it but it’s always there. For me, Brunello di Montalcino was my first. In the spring and summer of 1987 I was a naive young McGill University student living in Siena. Bad hair, bad clothes, not a care in the world. My professor from the University of Toronto knew quite a lot about the wines of Toscana so when we made a class pilgrimage to Montalcino he asked if anyone would like to join him for wine tasting at the Enoteca di Fortezza during the afternoon break. All of my classmates opted for a siesta in the July shade and this at a time when there were no cell phones, computers or tablets to distract us from actually learning something. I was the only one who chose to accompany Professor Wollesen to the fortress.
In retrospect, what happened over those next few hours changed my life. It might have done the same for my classmates were they to taste, guided by a man of sangiovese experience, though 30 samples of Brunello di Montalcino 1982. If only I knew then even a fraction of what I have learned since, what value that would be for me now. No matter, for I have Professor Wollesen to thank for introducing me to the world of Brunello. And here we are.
A #benvenutobrunello2018 discussion with @marcora85 on all things #montalcino means there is lots of thinking to do ~ #benvenutobrunello #brunellodimontalcino
Last month I came to Montalcino for the second straight year to assess the presentation of the current Annata and along with tasting more than a hundred of those architectural 13s I went out into the field to visit important vineyards. Because two ears are better than one mouth I also spent time listening in with other journalists and with producers to get a consensus on the vintage. In 2018 there isn’t one and in my view, that is a very good thing.
The mixed messaging coming from talk about the 2013 Brunello may seem confounding but as Mark Twain wrote, “it were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.” Thinking about a year like 2013 makes for a terrifically exasperating enigma because it presents a very particular kind of challenge. To some it was a case of extreme or at least unusual and unsettling weather patterns and the many shifts made harvest and winemaking decisions crucial, but also far from universally obvious. The vintage is to me a head scratcher because of how many opinions I’ve heard expressed as to its overall quality. I like to refer to the wines as ones of structural expressionism but however you choose to qualify them, the Annata wines are perhaps the most diverse that Montalcino has produced in a very long time.
The hill that is Montalcino. The look that is Godello. The argilo of the northern vineyards #tuttoèpossibile
The 2013 vintage began with a rainy and snowy winter. The spring was cold and the rain played havoc on bud break and development. Veraison was very slow. The harvest for many took place in late September through the first week of October. A common play for journalists or anyone trying to assess a vintage like 2013 is to lay blame on and conversely congratulations to producers who choose to pick their fruit at one junction or another. In this case, either before or after the September rains. If we have learned anything from Montalcino, where your estate vineyard or vineyard holdings are located will determine when, how and why you make your decisions. Every cru, block, plot and row carries a specific picking window and in 2013 even further under the microscope. It would be fruitless to try and generalize and to say that the greatest wines were made because they were picked before or after one pinpointed day during harvest.
So, are the 2013s much better than the 2012s? Do they exhibit more character, structure and depth? I would say better is the wrong word, especially because we are discussing sangiovese, all of which, as I’ve said many times before, are snowflakes. As for character, structure and depth? Many wines speak of all three and many more will, in time, even if many of you are not yet convinced that this will happen. I am confident that history will be kind, even apologetic, to the 2013 Brunelli and in turn, the wines and their producers will look forward to reconciling with the early naysayers. Diplomacy, kindness and patience will reward us all.
Brunello di Montalcino is referred to as “a very modern and ingenious intuition,” a phrase that so aptly depicts how it has separated itself from other sangiovese producing neighbours, namely Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Only the Brunelli are possessive of a very certain and special sort of sangiovese aromatic liqueur, an amalgamation of deep, dark cherry, fresh leather, earth and flowers that differs from the others. Brunello also carries its own unique type of acidity and a fineness of tannin that speaks to how the grapes develop on the slopes and in the valleys below.
What about the long-employed term sangiovese grosso? The word we know as Brunello translates loosely to “little dark one”, in reference to the local vernacular name for sangiovese grosso, “fat sangiovese,” the large-berried form of sangiovese which grows in the area. While Brunello di Montalcino and the clonal sangiovese grosso have been symbiotically synonymous for decades, with clonal selection so varied, in today’s modern Brunello lexicon it is simply sangiovese that speaks to the grape of the famous wines.
As with anywhere grapes are grown, your vineyard passes must act on phenolic ripeness and when it hits, the qualities that come along for the ride in that package are the ones you must work with. The best wines are the ones that speak this truth so if your site achieves optimum ripeness with dark fruit and generous alcohol, make that wine. If its ripe centre includes transparent, lithe and verdant fruit, make and own that elegant style of sangiovese. Be true to variety and location. In Montalcino this is the greatest compliment you can pay to your vines and your fruit.
#Repost @michaelawine・・・Because I just can_t get enough of Brunello di Montalcino – and @mgodello @brunellodimontalcino #brunello #benvenutobrunello #bbcanada2018 #tuscany #tosc
To gain a keen understanding of what separates one bottle of Brunello di Montalcino from another, especially when trying to compare and contrast from a specific Annata, I would suggest you concentrate on the location of the vineyards that produce the fruit. In some cases it’s a cru or a single estate set of blocks and in others a gathering of sangiovese from several locations. The advantage of the latter is the ability of multiple fruit sources to mitigate the deficiencies of one through support by the others. It also helps to create a house or estate style.
You have to know where you are relative to the hill of Montalcino; south, north, northeast, northwest, far south and even more specifically, from which block and micro-climate you farm within that zone. You have to consider the zones; running clockwise from the centre of the region, first on the hill of Montalcino (together with La Croce and Canalicchio), next to the north we have Montosoli, then to Torrenieri in the northeast, to the east – Pianelli, the southeast – Castelnuovo dell’Abate, extreme south-southwest – Sant’Angelo in Colle, southwest – Tavernelle and Camigliano, to the west Casanuovo and finally Bosco, to the northwest. While some zones are more widely recognized than others it is important to associate each with the style of wines they are prone to produce. Our goal here is not to dwell too much on sub-zones and it often requires great generalizations to try and do so, but it is still a very useful tool to align your palate and to gain an understanding of Montalcino’s diversity through multiple places of origin.
(c) Consorzio Vino Brunello di Montalcino
In the 1970s the number of Brunello di Montalcino producers increased to 25 vintners producing approximately 70,000 cases. According to the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, 120 producers made 300,000 cases of wine in 1995. Today, there are well over 200 producers in the Consorzio producing more than 500,000 cases of Brunello.
Before I get to the 83 Rosso and Brunello tasted and reviewed in Montalcino, at the Toronto seminar we poured, compared and contrasted 10 Brunello di Montalcino, eight from the current Annata, including one Cru, plus a 2011 Vigna and 2012 Riserva. Here are my tasting notes, replete with background information on those 10 wines.
Tasted through all 60, you know, for your safety #brunellodimontalcino
From the northern hillside vineyard of five hectares facing south next to Caparzo’s La Casa and one of the most historical vineyards in all of Montalcino. Montosoli is blessed of an ancient limestone soil and an exceptional 360 degree exposure. It combines 380m of elevation and great quality Galestro in clay, was first produced in 1975 and only in years deemed worthy of its abilities. It is traditionally aged for four years prior to release; at least two years in Slavonian oak barrels, three to four months in medium-toast Allier barriques, and four months in bottle. If the normale is rich and elegant this is fuller, bigger, uncanny of that omniscient blueberry fruit and unlike any other Brunello in all of Montalcino. Is it the clone, the rocks, the place? What is it? Is is a different grape? No, it’s the terroir. But how? The Montosoli clone, mixed with the land and farmed by the people. True-blue, more than just climat-esque in Montalcino? Yes. How else to explain it. Drink 2021-2035. Tasted February and March 2018 altesino_wineryrogersandcompanywines#altesino@rogcowinesAltesino SrlRogers & Company
Cupano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
In Montalcino you can find Cupano on 34 hectares of land in Tavernelle on the stony hill of a rolling plain above the Ombrone River. Their seven hectares of vines (three of which are new) grow at an average altitude of 200 metres on terroir with good drainage and high mineral content at the far edges of the territory. Their organic and biodynamic estate is a cultural marriage between Ornella Tondini, an Italian, and her husband Lionello Cousin, a Frenchman. They credit great mentors; Henri Jayer from Bourgogne who is a firm believer that wine is made in the vineyard, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, low yields, native yeasts, malolactic on the lees and aging in French barriques over Botti. Carlo Ferrini selected the land for the vines and the vine-stocks, the growth system and the height of the vines. François Bouchet introduced the idea of biodynamics and finally, approval from the great sangiovese enologist Giulio Gambelli. From “a regular Tuscan summer which led to a good ripeness and structure,” Lionello Cousin feels “pretty confident of 2013’s potential.” If the early presence of even-tempered and richly endowed fruit showing its flesh through well-aligned teeth is any indication than longevity will be a real asset to this Brunello. Everything points forward and there is zero doubt as to the passion, attention and provenance paid to the method, the gurus and the teachers. This is sangiovese worked by the hands of agriculturalists and winemakers on the ball, present at all times. It does not speak of consulting oenology popping in and out of view. Very special and singular in kind. Drink 2020-2030. Tasted March 2018 cupanomontalcino@Cupano_Brunello@CupanoMontalcino
In 1998 when she went out on her own to create a new project and in reaction to the fact that wineries in Montalcino did not trust a female cellar master, Donatella created the first all-female run winery in Italy. It is now an estate run by a team of no fewer than eight passionate women. The restored Casato Prime Donne is on the northern side of Montalcino, with sandy clay soils and has been in Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s family since the end of the 16th century. Of the total surface of 40 hectares, 16.5 are planted to sangiovese and are cultivated organically. Aging for the first year was in (5-7 hL) tonneaux and then continued in (15-40 hL) Allier wood and Slavonian oak casks. The wine comes from six small vineyards in a 10 hectare area surrounding Casato Prime Donne. Donatella describes 2013 as “an old style vintage, a Brunello that is elegant, complex, deep and harmonious, that will last decades. The scarce vintages are nearly always the higher quality ones.” There have been exceptional wines from Donatella in the recent past but the most impressive thing she can do is make a great wine in a challenging vintage. This 2013 does what needs; it’s delicately passed fruit avoids the intensity and drying angst of others, keeping the bright faith, binding it to tannin through the coursing dialectical collection of acidities and then making a valid request for patience. All 2013 Brunello need time, some will never come into their marriages and others, like the ’13 from Casato Prime Donne are already there. It will go further than many. Drink 2020-2029. Tasted February and March 2018 donatellacinellicolombinilesommelierwine@news_donatella@LeSommelierWineDonatella Cinelli Colombini@LeSommelierWine
Fanti’s 10 hectares of 20-30 year old vines have been developed in the amphitheatre of the south facing hills of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, at 350-430m, a part of which are quite proximate to the Roman Basilica of Sant’Antimo. This seems to be the optimum age for vines in Montalcino and for the production of a classic, estate or house style. Also a matter of manual harvest and the use of the sorting tables. Their Brunello is a classic expression of a gathered terroir. Ageing is done in part French oak barriques and partly in medium capacity (3,000L) casks for a minimum of 24 months (usually 28). Before release the wine is bottle-aged for a minimum of four (but usually up to 12) further months. Fanti’s 2013 is a deeply swelling affair of cherry liqueur and fresh leather, rich, decisive and quite intense. The liquid gelée is fully and completely welling in fruit and earth with more tonic and fine bitters in linger than most. This is a very specific sangiovese with a composed and singular style, chalky, variegated and gregarious. It will have many fans on restaurant lists all over the greater diaspora for Brunello. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February and March 2018tenuta_fantilesommelierwine@tenutafanti@LeSommelierWineElisa Fanti@LeSommelierWine
Il Grappolo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Sassocheto 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $58.00, WineAlign)
On 25 hectares with 16 planted south of Montalcino around Camigliano, in an area dense with Mediterranean scrub lying between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Val d’Orcia. The vines look south towards Monte Amiata and west towards the valleys of the Maremma. Sassocheto is Il Grappolo’s iconic Brunello made from 20 year-old vines in the south-facing Piano Nero vineyard, planted at 300 metres of elevation in deep, pebble-rich schist soils with decomposed rocks of galestro, alberese, and sandstone. The wine ferments in temperature-controlled open vats and is given a lengthy maceration; it then matures at least 24 months in French and Slavonian oak barrels and a further 6/12 months in the bottle. Without equivocation and to keep us comfortably seated in the plush authenticity of traditional Brunello it is Sassocheto that confirms our notion of a sangiovese-Montalcino world. Should Il Grappolo’s be considered as more traditional than most? Yes, but just as this 2013 tells us with utmost clarity, the vernacular is spoken through an ever evolving and forward thinking lens. No pretence and all in for the right reasons. Drink 2020-2029. Tasted March 2018 #ilgrappolo@GrappoloFortius@IlGrappoloFortiusMontalcino
La Colombina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (445650, $69.95, WineAlign)
La Colombina di Caselli Anna Maria is the full name, a small three hectare estate in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, bordering on both the Ciacci and Uccelliera estates. The vineyards have been in the Caselli family for generations. Though they had always chosen to sell the grapes rather than bottle their own wines it was in 1997 when they converted to specialist wine growing with the planting of the three hectares and released their first wines in 2001. The Brunello is aged in a combination of barriques and tonneaux plus Bottle aging for eight to 10 months. Castelnuovo dell’Abate is one of Montalcino’s hottest sub-zones, protected from cold easterly winds by the extinct Amiata volcano and open to briny hot Mediterranean winds on from the west. The speciality of this zone and micro-climate bring great structure to La Colombina’s sangiovese though in 2013 a concentrated effort to emit amenable and enjoyable fruit puts this in an earlier frame of mind. That said it will outlast the ’12, a wine of fine liqueur. This is surely a consistent follow-up to that wine. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted March 2018 #lacolombinawineonline_ca#lacolombina@wineonline_caWineOnline.ca
Since 1996 Corte Pavone has been owned by Rainer Loacker and his sons, Hayo and Franz. Hayo is the winemaker. It is located in the Casanuova area to the west of Montalcino with hillside clay soils upwards of 450-500m, certainly one of the higher elevations in the territory. Much of the 90 hectares of the estate is covered with meadows and forests. Only four hectares are dedicated to vineyards with vine age 30-35 years old and with a plan of converting another four also blessed with the best exposures. The organic wines are aged in Slavonian casks, French Barrique and Austrian oak barrels. Rainer Loacker is from the family that owns Biscotti Loacker and Remedia Loacker which produces and markets enzymes and other natural nutrients. He also owns Tenuta Schwarthof near Bolzano in Alto-Adige and Valdifalco in the Maremma. We often think about Brunello as coming from either northern or southern vineyards. In Casanuova and what separates it from other zones is the consideration of its western position and how the vineyards are affected by a closer proximity to the sea. More than this is the great altitude so that a cooler prevalence and diurnal temperature swing means Brunello of higher acidity. Though quite approachable for Montalcino sangiovese this ’13 is also reductive, fresh, energetic and its tones are set to high. Great food Brunello. Drink 2018-2026. Tasted March 2018 #cortepavone#CortePavone
Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (363028, $49.95, WineAlign)
Pierluigi Tagliabue purchased the “healthy hill” Villa Poggio Salvi in 1979, now 21 hectares of vineyards owing its name to its historical location on the south side of Montalcino, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. The altitude is between 300 and 500 meters, with a rich weave of clay soils and a beneficial breeze. Pierluigi Tagliabue’s grandson Luca Belingardi is the winemaker. The Brunello spends 30 months in oak casks plus a minimum 6 months in bottle. The 2013 is an agriculturally clean, sound and precise wine meeting a viniculture on the same, extended plain for sangiovese of substance, passion and flare. This is quite tart and angular though only because the structure is meant for a launch forward, beyond the turn of the decade and forward to the next. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February and March 2018 #villapoggiosalvihalpernwine#VillaPoggioSalvi@HalpernWineWinery/Vineyard@halpernwine
Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna del Fiore 2011, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $79.95, WineAlign)
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 fattoriadeibarbinoble_estates@FattoriaBarbi@Noble_Estates@FattoriadeiBarbi@NobleEstates
Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Riserva 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $222.00, WineAlign)
Massimo Ferragamo purchased the 2,000 hectare estate in 2003. With close to 60 hectares planted at 350-450 metres to sangiovese, Castiglion del Bosco produces three wines: Brunello di Montalcino, the single-vineyard Campo del Drago and this Millicento Riserva. Located in the northwestern part of the zone, an isolated tract of wild forest surrounds the vineyards, all part of the Val d’Orcia Artistic, Natural and Cultural Park. The organically farmed vines were planted in 1998 and some new planting took place after the purchase in 2003. There are two distinct growing sections, the 20-hectare Gauggiole vineyard, just beneath the borgo and Capanna, with 40 hectares. As for soils, it was five million years ago that sea levels dropped leaving sand and clay deposits across the Val d’Orcia. The Radicofani and Amiata volcano eruptions also spread a dark magma known as trachite, resulting in a soil mixture perfect for growing sangiovese. Marl and Galestro predominate. Since the debut vintages, winemaker Cecilia Leoneschi has decreased both the predominance of barriques and the amount of new oak. Since the 2012 harvest the Millicento Riserva has only been aged in 33 hectoliter casks, but sees an additional year in bottle. This is just the third vintage of this bottling and the first to set the record straight because the vintage is a true barometer of what it is to benefit from an extra year of aging. The effect of altitude and a surround sound of forest solicits the gelid savour and cool, elemental, semimetal, crystalline coal streak that runs through the luxuriance of mahogany fruit. Brunello has the ability to layer density and weightlessness in a way that is impossible yet understood. Like here, in the Castiglion del Bosco Millicento 2012. Drink 2019-2030. Tasted March 2018castigliondelbosco#castigliondelbosco@LiffordONliffordgram@castigliondelbosco@liffordwineandspirits
(c) Consorzio Vino Brunello di Montalcino
The future so sub-zone we’ve got to draw maps
“Montalcino is too small for micro-zones,” explains La Mannella’s Tommaso Cortonesi. “We have to communicate about winery crus or zones, this will be beneficial for the territory, but 95 per cent of consumers have no idea where Montalcino is, so why do we need to divide it up into micro-zones? Cru, but nut sub-zones.” It’s true, each producer knows the soil, the vines, the specifics of their cru and what needs to be done to make the best wine possible from that cru.”You have to exult the main characteristic of your single-vineyard. You can talk about freshness in the north, but not in the warmer parts of the south. And you have to work in the right way to exult the freshness or conversely the big body possibility of that area. Work woith what the zone gives you.” Generally speaking, the northern side has much more vigour, on more clay and more water, where green harvest at least once or twice must be performed. On the southern side the yields are lower.
My friend and colleague Monty Waldin wrote “there’s no better way to understand this intriguing wine than to seek out the single-vineyard expressions.” Identifiable single-vineyard Brunello will more than likely be completely different from one other, “proof, if it were needed, that differences between Brunello terroirs are something that can unite rather than divide the region.” But there is also the concept of single vineyards versus single terroirs. The latter is also a good way to divide and make sense of the region.
Many have raised the question “to zone or not to zone,” a debate hotly contested for years but still with no clear answer. Is Montalcino ready for sub-zones or is it still far too early, decades early even, to be expecting this shift? Does zoning runs the risk of giving imprecise and misleading evaluations? Are many more years of experience required to figure out where (as in Bourgogne) are the locations of the best soils and cru? Is it not generally agreed already which ones these are? Remember that sangiovese is the only grape allowed in Brunello, is notoriously site-sensitive and performs differently depending on its environment. Do the producers know with certainty where it consistently works the best?
Annata 2013 #benvenutobrunello2018 highlights from a confounding vintage with some inspired upside. Wait for it. #benvenutobrunello #brunellodimontalcino #poggiodisotto #salvioni #sanpol
One way to look at Montalcino is as an inverted cone with its peak just south of the town of Montalcino (think of dividing the square into four isosceles triangles as shown on the map, with the center forming the apex of the cone). From the center, the slopes generally descend out- ward across the region. It thus becomes apparent that one of the most influential variables in the character of these wines is altitude. This wine zone enjoys a Mediterranean climate as well as high altitudes that provide a cooling effect that is beneficial to the grapes and prevents disease. The differences in altitude and exposition throughout the zone play a substantial role in the vegetal cycle of the vines. Due to high altitudes, cooling conditions from winds and evening temperature drops sustain a slower cycle in vineyards. It is important to note that all variables are not constant and generalizations can oversimplify a complex subject. Individual site soil, exposure, viticulture and vinification technique, producer style, and vintage conditions can change these characteristics.
Here are the notes on the wines tasted in Montalcino; 62 Brunello and 21 Rosso.
Lovely exotic spice on the nose of the Altesino Brunello ’13, something the ’12 did not at first and continues not to show, but this is not too dissimilar to some other 13s. This northern song of multi-vineyard, micro-climate and terroir fruit carries itself admirably, with admiration for its variegated origins and for what you do with such a complex and volatile subset of territory. The dark fruit meeting rich and warm texture quotient trips off the tongue like E Più Ti Penso in what is surely of the more beautiful classica annata 13s. “Non ha l’acqua per nuotare.” Drink 2020-2028. Tasted February 2018 altesino_wineryrogersandcompanywines#altesino@rogcowinesAltesino SrlRogers & Company
A year makes an incredible difference. No dissipation of the richness and deep liqueur though now the emergence of marked elegance and of course, the Montosoli blueberry. Still a calcareous pietraforte vein runs through in chalky liquidity but a year makes such a difference and now the breathing is calm, undisturbed, lovely. Last tasted February 2018.
In its present state Montosoli is a beast. There, I’ve said it. Shut tight, chains securely in place, reduction the retaining wall to keep predators out and so good luck on unearthing any early secrets. You know there is classic and earthy red fruit hiding but you can’t quite feel it. The palate is chewy, crunchy, propitiously and indubitibly enriched. This is a massive Brunello with underlying elegance and charm but ultimately all-powerful. Drink 2021-2037. Tasted February 2017 altesino_wineryrogersandcompanywines#altesino@rogcowinesAltesino SrlRogers & Company
Emotional tasting through #altesino & @caparzowines with #elisabettagnudiangelini #brunellodimontalcino #montosoli #vignalacasa
Let’s talk about what changes in a year, with the settling of tannin and acidity still working its magic, munching away on the wood and the fruit, combining and alone united front getting all together. Unlike Montosoli however, Altesino’s Riserva ’12 exhibits a high level of spice that is still biting, like a Riserva does. Though I prefer to drink the Vigna, usually, but especially with Motosoli, there is no doubting the layering and age forward ability of a Riserva like 2012. Drink 2021-2030. Tasted February 2018 altesino_wineryrogersandcompanywines#altesino@rogcowinesAltesino SrlRogers & Company
Antinori Pian Delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (65114, $64.95, WineAlign)
More wisdom is readily apparent from Pian Delle Vigne through the art of estate blending to amalgamate, mitigate and ultimately realize the best for the vintage. Deep cherry, smoky to smoldering fruit solder but with a sense of calm beneath the warm. A swarm of red fruit and then this marly mineral streak running deep into the drupe. Absolutely defining, no matter how few or many you will taste from 2013, this is how it happened and will continue to do so for a decade more. Drink 2020-2030. Tasted February 2018 marchesiantinorihalpernwine@AntinoriFamily@HalpernWine@MarchesiAntinori@halpernwine
With five centuries in place and 130 years of Brunello making history on side Argiano is the model of Montalcino consistency. The estate vineyards benefit from a micro-climate situated between Poggio alla Mura and Sant Angelo in Colle on a plateau at 300m. In 2013 a stolen vintage warmth is readily apparent on the nose, with a fine elemental streak through thick air willing and able to carry this sangiovese through its formative years. The palate and texture are next to brilliant with the great feeling of plush, silken tapestry, woven for complexity and thinking about the future. Drink 2020-2029. Tasted February 2018 @Argianowinery@Noble_Estatescantina_argianonoble_estates@argiano@NobleEstates
Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (928028, $49.95, WineAlign)
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 @FattoriaBarbi@Noble_Estatesfattoriadeibarbinoble_estates@FattoriadeiBarbi@NobleEstates
Though not yet convinced that 2013 will be a the vintage of the century it is always a pleasure and indeed an honour to taste a house moving from strength to strength. You can feel the give and take of the grippy framework, certainly before all else but behind a textured weave of a curtain there is the fruit lying in patient wait. The whole package brings about a well-thought out design, from that calm and collected fruit through very fine acidity and into the masonry of supporting structure. Drink 2021-2031. Tasted February 2018 @PodereBriziopoderebrizio@poderebrizio
Camigliano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
This is bright, cheery, wild cherry and fresh leather sangiovese with a medium body meets semi-plush texture, medium acidity and some drying, grippy tannins. It’s extremely correct for its take on 2013 and ostensibly tells the story of the vintage. You can use a Brunello like Camigliano’s to benchmark wines in either or all directions. It offers a vantage point at the centre of a four-corner intersection with traverses in right angles and on diagonals in all directions. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 commercialecamigliano#Camigliano@camiglianomontalcino
From a most challenging 2013 vintage, this can only be Brunello di Montalcino, with ripe, intense, dusty and edgy fruit wrapped up in grippy tannin. There is a verdant streak running through the tannin, not surprising considering the vintage and there too is the black cherry, leather and cypress savoury liqueur. The acidity is well-managed, the typicity bang on and in the end, a perfectly correct example of vintage and place. Drink 2018-2020. Tasted February 2018 #canneta#cannetaSocietà Agricola Canneta Srl
It is here where so much collision occurs, terroir, weather, climate and agriculture are all involved, without recourse, to machinate a sangiovese of deep warmth and wealth by fruit and earth. This is the deep liqueur of Brunello di Montalcino, extreme of vintage and skilled as only this place can be. The fruit ability is equally matched by ministrative acidity, maneuvering the moving parts and delivering them into the grippiest of tannin. What a formidable mouthful this is, at present lacking a bit of charm but hopefully, in time, will all balance out. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2018 #capanna#Capanna@capannamontalcino
The Caparzo Brunello 2013 is the label with the signature of Elisabetta Gnudi, a celebratory anniversary wine that spent three years in botti grandi. Caparzo’s Classic sangiovese gathers fruit from several sources, including the northern vineyard where La Casa is borne. This deep inhalant and liqueur also delves into earthly sand, Galestro and clay microbes in which earth and fruit challenge the notion of complexity and to which direction it pulls the senses. The earthy funk sifted though black cherry rich and always fresh and elegant fruit assumptions tells us this is part of the vintage package. High acidity into slightly volatile air confirms and eventually carries the visa to conform. Drying tannins are not a huge surprise considering the pressing matters of this wine. The low alcohol, easy to access, fresh and fleshy sangiovese carries a feeling, final and calm. Lovely wine. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted twice, February 2018 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
La Casa, Montalcino
Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna La Casa 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $114.95, WineAlign)
Tasting Caparzo’s home block Vigna La Casa 2013 this young may be even more difficult an assessment than looking at 2012 this time last year. But if noting what a year further in bottle did for that 2012 than some plenitude must be afforded the more confounding 2013. From the south-facing vineyard on the north quadrant of Montalcino, La Casa sits next to sister Montosoli (Altesino) and its pure fruit doles out high-level Montalcino elegance and in more ways than the normale Caparzo. It also behaves with more calm and collected demeanour. Though reduced with early bite and taut finings this is clearly a very refined Caparzo for the people. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted February 2018 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna La Casa 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $114.95, WineAlign)
From the south-facing vineyard on the north quadrant of Montalcino, quicker to amalgamate and settle than many in the region, the ’12 single-vineyard La Casa is a true ambasciatore of Caparzo terroir, rich and regaling but lithe and elegant. If you are trying to gain an understanding of the Caparzo way this is the place to start, in 2012, from a living, breathing Vigna, out of the storied vineyard. Perfume and finesse are special and this is how it’s done, without pretension and with class. So much to learn from an extra year in bottle. Drink 2019-2026. Last tasted February 2018
Caparzo’s Vigna La Casa is quite rich and more approachable than many at such an early stage with the home vineyard ready to provide both the beauty and the stuffing almost before you realize you can sit down with a bottle to enjoy. It is refreshing to take a Vigna-designate bottle and be offered the immediacy of fruit though La Casa is more than capable with structure to take it through a five year primary stage. Some interest will develop after that but these early years will be the best. Drink 2017-2022. Tasted February 2017 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012 is from a producer with parcels all over Montalcino, even though the estate is located in the northern sector. This seems today like a very smart forward-thinking decision. The bringing together of multi-geographical and climatic fruit helps to mitigate variability and vintage variation and towards keeping away from the heat, jam and heavy concentration to raisining of the southern vineyards. This is particularly poignant in an age of climate change or more important, weather extremes, but it is Elizabetta Gnudi’s holdings all over Montalcino that put together the balanced blends that Caparzo can do. Case in point this noble Riserva from which the very idea of freshness and light wines are always the result. The ideal is furthered with a set of wines, even at Riserva level that relatively speaking are always affordable. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted February 2018 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (956391, $54.95, WineAlign)
Warmth to nose and a deep inhalant of sangiovese liqueur are a calling card of the northwest regional house in a Brunello of proper wealth and massive appeal. Yet another wine to define vintage it is the house style that truly takes centre stage, from grippy tradition through exfoliated structure and down the deep well of varietal elixir. Castiglion del Bosco carries baggage with purpose and extends an outstretched tannic hand forward as we and they are making plans for the future. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted February 2018 castigliondelbosco#castigliondelbosco@LiffordONliffordgram@castigliondelbosco@liffordwineandspirits
Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Campo del Drago 2013, Tuscany, Italy (SAQ 10708424, $63.25, WineAlign)
Campo del Drago is Castiglion del Bosco’s cru from the finest vineyard in the Capanna area, a hectare and a half at 450m, marking the highest elevation. Structure, refinement and pure sangiovese expression are the intent through content and goal by execution. The dragon keeps it old-school, travelling loyal to tenets of experiences learned and known. A bigger oak presence is felt in the tannic architecture so that the wine is still in chains, but also in love. The clay-shale and gravel-pebble terroir decides what this Brunello can do. It speaks to you, “all these changes everywhere, just go ahead and take my hand…we can try to learn to make it through, cover the other side.” Density and high acidity determine the plan so looking ahead, the feeling and deeper understanding will come, in three years time. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted March 2018 castigliondelbosco#castigliondelbosco@LiffordONliffordgram@castigliondelbosco@liffordwineandspirits
Col D’orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Italy (306852, $49.95, WineAlign)
Classic is the operative for Col D’Orcia and in this vintage, a deeper understanding of Brunello di Montalcino and how feeling determines expectation, that no matter the pain we may or may not want to feel this early, the eventuality will be a positive affair. The structure in here is nothing short of pyramids strong and so know this. You will drink this is 15 years and have nothing but positive, wistful things to say. As for right now, perhaps not so much. So grippy. Wow. Drink 2021-2030. Tasted February 2018 @Coldorcia@DionysusWinescoldorciadionysuswines@coldorcia.brunelloDionysus Wines & Spirits Ltd
Take a trip away from all you have noted, felt and perceived in the first 25 Brunello tasted from this 2013 vintage and begin anew. Imagine you know nothing of sangiovese nor how it translates from the Montalcino terroir. Take in this Collematini with open eyes, nose and mouth. It’s traditional, you would have to say and the most layered and variegated sangiovese imaginable. It transcends ubiquity and suggests a very personal affair. This is a religious, personal imposition from which there is no escape. The fruit is characteristic of vintage and specific to Sant Angelo in Colle but it comes replete first as a swell from the western sea and then a squall in the eastern wind. The fruit wave is massive, the stiff breeze of acidity equal to task and the tannins building, aboard ships whose masts flutter upon these seas. But it’s both a comfort and a charm, under a spell that you will not be able to avoid, not for a decade or more. Drink 2021-2033. Tasted February 2018 @collemattoni@StemWineGroupcollemattonistemwinegroupCollemattoni Brunello@stemwine
Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (279083, $70.95, WineAlign)
The vintage posed more than one problem but success has been won by the Montalcino producer who after the heat waited out the rain, followed by a few weeks of settling and thus allowed their grapes to complete the phenolic journey. Case in point Tommaso Cortonesi’s 2013, a modern, many steps forward taken Brunello with little to no fear of a world hard to figure. It remains calm and focused in light of the challenging vintage. The fruit is intensely driven, the acidity equally so and the finale a continuance of linger in the face of great tension and demand. A northern location and an expertly farmed estate block (as opposed to single-vineyard) is the catalyst to this ’13’s success. The composure and details of minutiae acquiesced add up to a fine effort, not presently a matter of delicasse but certainly a result that is sure and exacting. This will be one of those fortunate Brunelli built to outlast a bigger group conjoined by jammy fruit, green tannin and astringency. Drink 2019-2027. Tasted February 2018 @LaMannella@Nicholaspearce_marcora85nicholaspearcewinesTommaso CortonesiNicholas Pearce
With @nicholaspearce_ the #brunellodimontalcino man himself @marcora85 poured his exceptional #sangiovese so we fed him the archetypal @barquebbq wings. And it was good #poggiarelli #lam
Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG I Poggiarelli 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $95.95, WineAlign)
Tommaso Cortonesi’s 420m high, single-vineyard Brunello hails from the southeast section of Montalcino. Warmth is not the only advantage/alternative to growing conditions but also soil which is rocky and rich in marl, as opposed to the clay-sandstone earth of the northern vineyards. The expectation persists for richer, deeper and darker, at least in terms of fruit. There is in fact this aphasic maroon sensation felt at the heart of the Poggiarelli matter. The rocks are so important to the southern vines, notably Galestro because it streaks through the tenebrous dimension with a clarity of cool savour. Power is kept in tow so that notes in mind of things like svelte and grace are given due consideration. This southern slice shows Tommaso’s specific mentality, as will the other, but here it’s one of care and precision. Poggiarelli as a cru is not La Mannella, but they are inextricably tied together by their one maker. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted March 2018 @LaMannella@Nicholaspearce_marcora85nicholaspearcewinesTommaso CortonesiNicholas Pearce
Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $202.95, WineAlign)
La Mannella Riserva ’12 is composed of grapes taken from the oldest vines though by a predetermined decision communicated to the consorzio one year before release, whether it turns out to be a vintage from which a Riserva is made or not. This is an essential rule that prohibits producers from not giving a wine an identity. Riserva is a completely different wine than the Annata, as always with more mature notes though here in salumi hyperbole, long aging oak spice and fruit elongation. Cortonesi’s spent four years in large Slavonian oak barrels and at this five point five year mark it turns to wild strawberry, chocolate and cocoa. It’s both elegant and taut while just now beginning to stretch its legs. Even if you can’t quite imagine or envision what will be, there has to be some level of blind-spotting or just plain denial to not see this is as pure magic. Drink 2022-2034. Tasted March 2018 @LaMannella@Nicholaspearce_marcora85nicholaspearcewinesTommaso CortonesiNicholas Pearce
Vallocchio is Fanti’s single (Vigna) expression from Castelnuovo dell’Abate fruit gained off of vines up to 35 years old from what the estate refers to as their mosaic of uniquely gifted plots; Vigna Bellavista, Vigna Sassone, Vigna Casabandi and Vigna Macchiarelle Nuova. The two hectares produce only 10,000 bottles (in many but not all vintages) in what can only be translated as “the valley of the eye,” or it is these highly perceptive vines that see the forest for the trees. Always a rather grand and impressive expression of Brunello with big bones, fruit and alcohol, Vallocchio is remarkable for how it smells and even more so tastes like limestone, with thanks to the presence of Galestro in sand. The focused and precise 2012 is aged mostly in large casks with just a few barriques, an elévage stylistic that will only continue to trend in the direction of older wood restraint as time goes by. Drink 2020-2031. Tasted March 2018 tenuta_fantilesommelierwine@tenutafanti@LeSommelierWineElisa Fanti@LeSommelierWine
Fanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Le Macchiarelle 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $139.95, WineAlign)
Two and half hectares of old vines (averaging 35 and some as old as 40 years) at 250m is Fanti’s cuore di sangiovese vineyard called Le Macchiarelle, or shall we say “the little thicket.” The soil is critical to this sangiovese, sandy with scattered Galestro rock in the marl. Like the Vallocchio the terroir is very much the same but the wine so very different. Structure rich, layered and extrapolated is the understatement but “raffinato” is exactly what this Riserva should be called. That it speaks to refinement or “sottile” is amazing considering how much its size, wildness and density attempt to obscure or blemish (macchia) the beauty of its red fruit. A broad expression it surely is but one that will stretch, extend and unwind over a decade or more of time. Drink 2021-2031. Tasted March 2018tenuta_fantilesommelierwine@tenutafanti@LeSommelierWineElisa Fanti@LeSommelierWine
FattoiBrunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (33498, $39.95, WineAlign)
It gets neither more modern nor accessible than this fruit-centric Fattoi, a sangiovese of primary charm and acidity to manage that precocious, boyish charm. Expect early returns from this succulent sangiovese but less structure for longevity. This needs to be expressed and turned into a positive because some Brunelli need to offer immediate gratification. Perhaps not too many but this is the one to take one for the team. Drink 2018-2021. Tasted February 2018 #Fattoi@BrunelloImports#fattoibrunelloimportsLucia FattoiBrunello Imports Inc.
FuligniBrunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (245225, $92.00, WineAlign)
Fuligni’s is classic Brunello, as expected, because it really celebrates its acidity more than it presses for tannin to lead it into a long future. Though the tannins could not be accused of not drying a bit and the fruit may not live for two decades it is the fine acidity that will keep it very much alive. I for one will look forward to seeing how this particular Fuligni keeps the energy alive. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2018 #eredifuligni@HalpernWineFulignihalpernwine@halpernwine
Gianni Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Le Chiuse Di Sotto 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $89.00, WineAlign)
The push-pull, ying-yang workability of density and elegance move to and frow in Gianni Brunelli’s 2013, a wine of substance and finesse. The Le Chiuse Di Sotto estate fruit from an area south of La Croce and north of Castelnuovo dell’Abate has a lovely freshness about it, fully expressed in chalky cherry liquidity and a side addendum of smoulder and wood spice. Good to very good structure will deliver a long run into the next decade and beyond. Drink 2019-2030. Tasted February 2018 giannibrunellibrixandmortarwineco@brixandmortarLaura Brunelli (Le Chiuse Di Sotto)@brixandmortarwineco
Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
If you wish to be quick to point out a sangiovese as acting as a classic poster child for the vintage almost before it has even lived, this from Il Palazzone could very well be the one. It’s as fresh as a 2013 can be though also compresses deep down into the syrupy Brunello well. Once again it is a vintage related affair that speaks quite clearly through the opaque lens of 2013 eyes. Young by territorial standards with the first vintage having been produced in 1990, the estate’s (just southwest in direction) close proximity to the village of Montalcino links it to the centre of the regional psyche. I would not hesitate to make use of Il Palazzone as a yardstick from which to measure the 2013 Annata in every and all directions. Drink 2019-2027. Tasted February 2018 ilpalazzone@ilpalazzoneIl Palazzone
Il Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $62.50, WineAlign)
This is found to be a dense, compressed and intense sangiovese and as a result the tannins are quite formidable at this youthful early stage of its evolution. Nothing says strutura like this angular and impressive Brunello but anything less than five years of patience will do little to offer an immediate or near-term reward. Plus the necessity for fruit longevity is part of the package of hope. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2018 @IlPoggioneWines@LiffordONilpoggioneliffordgram@villailpoggione@liffordwineandspirits
The deeply hematic, ferric and brooding nature of Lazzretti’s 2013 demands attention and time though there is hardly that much available at this early stage. This is one of the grippiest and firm of the lot, a wine of intensity, full throttle activity and ambitious-driven functionality. Everything here is grand; fruit flesh, strong bones and heavy footprint. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2018 @ViniLazzeretti@ViniLazzeretti
La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $59.95, WineAlign)
Modernity for 21st century Brunello is truly forged from sweetly ripe, perfectly phenolic fruit. Just as noted in the estate’s ’12 Cilegio I once again imagine the winemaker walking the vineyards at harvest, chewing on seeds, waiting for that optimum combination of tannin resolution and crunch. Sweet spot found once again. In 2013 there is also a new found spice, so much it bites but the precision, finesse and elegance remains. The fruit is of a deep red clarity, at times downy soft but then the pique moments strike, again and again. So much fun. Drink 2019-2031. Tasted March 2018 lamagiamontalcino@fattorialamagia@lamagiamontalcino
La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $59.95, WineAlign)
Brunello di Montalcino La Màgia is aged for three years mainly in 500 litre French oak tonneaux with an eye towards grip and a construct to age, all the while staying true to the ripe and the elegant. This 2012 tasted side by side with 2013 is quite similar and the consistency is bred from great phenolics. It is admittedly firmer here in ’12 but the red berry fruit and spice are both hushed in quieter tones. Tangy tart edging mixes with grippy, chalky tannin. The two wines will age in similar fashion. Drink 2018-2029. Tasted March 2018 lamagiamontalcino@fattorialamagia@lamagiamontalcino
La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, WineAlign)
La Màgia the name is likely from “magione” a Tuscan rendition of the French “maison.” The house produces exceptional south-central Montalcino Brunello and this Riserva from vineyards at an altitude of 400-450m is only produced in exceptional years, from the very best old vines (35-40 years) grapes. It’s aged in new (500 litre French oak) casks for a period of three and a half to four years. The profile from Annata through Riserva and into the estate’s Cilegio is consistently uncanny and with subtle variegation, also magical. The Riserva highlights and perhaps even hyperbolizes the liquid chalky and talcy feel of the others, along with an elevated tonality and acidity. It’s age proposition is boundless. Drink 2020-2033. Tasted March 2018 lamagiamontalcino@fattorialamagia@lamagiamontalcino
La Palazzetta Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
From Luca and Flavio Fanti’s 20 hectares of vineyards on the hill overlooking the Badia valley of Sant’Antimo, southeast from Montalcino in Castelnuovo dell’Abate. La Palazzetta’s is the rare and elusive Brunello at once full-throttle yet still elegant enough to remind that it can only be a factor of sangiovese. Even with a full-pressed compliment of fruit and acidity it’s actually quite pretty and certainly full of flesh and charm. The acidity is in fact quite striking, as are the grippy and hydration stripping tannins. Some time will be required to bring it all together. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2018 lapalazzettapillitteriwines#lapalazzetta@PillitteriwinesLa PalazzettaPillitteri Estates Winery
Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $114.00, WineAlign)
Le Ragnaie farms four vineyards in the central zone of Montalcino; Vigna del Lago, Vigna Fonte, Vigna Cappuccini, Vigna Vecchia but also plots in Castelnuovo dell’Abate and Petroso close to the village. It is the gathering of contrastive and complimentary fruit that deals in defining an estate stylistic for the Classica Brunello. Le Ragnaie’s emits the most exotic perfume of almost any of the oft-stingy ‘13s, in fact this brings a level of fragranza that’s almost impossible for the vintage. I will admit to having waited the entire morning to come across such a floral sangiovese from a vintage that seems reluctant to give such aromatics away. The palate follows along, with smoky smoulder and spice, then turning wonderfully savoury, sapid, salty and herbal. This is the complexity we’ve come to covet from Montalcino, along with a fineness of acidity and lightness of touch. Drink 2019-2027. Tasted February 2018 #laragnaielesommelierwine#LeRagnaie@LeSommelierWine@leragnaie @LeSommelierWine
Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Fornace 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $171.95, WineAlign)
Tasted one year later the special selection, 2,000 bottle lot from the Castel Nuovo Vigna Loreto vineyard has come to teach us a thing or two about Montalcino patience. If only the Benvenuto could skip a year to allow vintages like 2012 to gather themselves in bottle then the unresolved angst of fruit heft, wood and structure might never be noted. Fornace is now a matter of layering, stratified by mille-feuille intersectionality of earth, acidity and dark fruit. The pieces fit snugly together and move as one, without the sort of tension that makes you hold your shoulders high. The relaxed state is such a better way to go. Imagine the weightlessness two years from now. Last tasted March 2018
Le Ragnaie’s Fornace (the furnace) is riper than the old vines but lower in warmth, and I suspect, alcohol. Also prevalent on the nose is some reduction, along with more obvious wood than many. The intent here is clearly for size so more than a few years will be needed to settle the heavy door on its hinges and nearly immoveable parts. The reduction will dissipate in a few and the tannins should begin to relent in two more. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2017 #laragnaielesommelierwine#LeRagnaie@LeSommelierWine@leragnaie @LeSommelierWine
Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG V.V. 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $171.95, WineAlign)
The 60-70-year-old vines (Vigne Vecchie) Brunello planted at 620m in Ragnaie’s Vigna Vecchia make it the highest altitude vineyard in Montalcino. The more you discuss with winemakers what makes for and separates great sangiovese from its peers, the more altitude comes up in such discussions. Winds from the Maremma, vineyard situation with respect to Monte Amiata, soil composition (with or without Galestro marl) are all matters of importance as well but it is the winds and temperature fluctuations at heights that producers are so keen to impress. Ragnaie’s trump card is this vineyard and that is exactly why this wine, especially from a vintage like 2012 (and 2013 won’t change this attitude all that much), why this wine needs time. I did not understand or see the clarity through the clouds when I tasted it last year. The skies have cleared, the polish and the beauty have emerged and the heat by day has turned over to a great sapidity and cool savour of the night. Traditional and old-school ideals are still the order of the day with the old vines digging deep into the dirt and keeping a compression of the faith. The window will not open for a while yet but when it does the air will be fresh, sweet, pure and honest. Last tasted March 2018
I sense an increase in alcohol from the old vines and perhaps this is completely necessary because of what they do in terms of compression and density. As a rule I am not finding high alcohol in 2012 even as I do find richness and ripeness that is not always easy to manage. These old vines are not a problem for the latter but the heat on the nose mutes the fruit and is ill prepared to set up the palate for acidity and tannin management. A bit rustic and old-school and certainly right for fans of the style. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted February 2017 #laragnaielesommelierwine#LeRagnaie@LeSommelierWine@leragnaie @LeSommelierWine
Piccini Villa al Cortile Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Docg Tuscany, Italy (434696, $37.00, WineAlign)
A fruit first, copacetic and highly floral sangiovese from the Villa al Cortile estate southwest from Montalcino in the Tavernelle zone. Winemaker Santo Gozzo accesses varietal purity through sincere concentration on place, altitude (350m), climate (breezes that blow in from the Maremma coast) and soil (limestone with schist and clay). Red fruit honesty and exquisite texture lubricated by wood build this Brunello home with solid intent. Villa al Cortile is a true, honest and lithe expression, using the vintage with exact and correct complication. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted at the estate February 2018 picciniwinespicciniwinewineloversca@PicciniWinesUK@WineLoversCAPICCINI WINESPiccini Wines UKWine Lovers Canada
Piccini Villa al Cortile Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012, Docg Tuscany, Italy (Agent, 205724, WineAlign)
When you consider how firm and grippy the 2012 Riservas can be this Villa al Cortile is just beautiful. Winemaker Santo Gozzo comments “we don’t need café or vanilla. These things are not about the identity of the sangiovese or the place.” And so wood is not used to flavour but rather to slowly oxidize, develop flavours and exchange information with the outside world. The fruit swells forward accompanied by gentle and mild developing spice. Still just a baby and not yet morphed into its true character but the assurance for longevity is assumed by a taut structural quotient understood. It’s layered yet elastic and will be easily adjustable to and the ups and downs laid out by the adversities of time. Is it an example of a five-star Brunello vintage? “Stars are for meteorologists,” notes Santo, “not for rating vintages.” Then quips Mario Piccini “I have wine, women and music. Which one do I give up first? I give up music. Next? Depends on the vintage.” Drink 2020-2029. Tasted at the estate February 2018 picciniwinespicciniwinewineloversca@PicciniWinesUK@WineLoversCAPICCINI WINESPiccini Wines UKWine Lovers Canada
Podere Le Ripi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Cielo d’Ulisse 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
Impressive debut for a new Ripi Brunello, from schist and limestone just northeast of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Quite a closed and reserved for 2013, built on promises and ideas, with a chalky vein, salty even, and a temptation for a sensuous future. Le Ripi is in no hurry to give anything away for free, choosing structure over all else though the complete absence of astringency says so much about the strength of the agriculture and the winemaking. This promises to be beautiful. Drink 2022-2033. Tasted February 2018 podereleripi@PodereLeRIpiPodere Le Ripi
Really forward, beauty before beast ’13 Brunello that speaks to the fineness of sangiovese. This strikes as coming from an estate that chose to do less is more from the dangerously confounding and mistake tempting vintage, with a celebration of fine fruit balanced by equal and supportive acidity. Would have really climbed to a next level elegance by restraint away from the modernity of sweet oak, but still there is much to learn from this early enjoyment style and approach. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 tenutadelpoggioanticohalpernwine@poggioantico@HalpernWine@tenutadelpoggioantico@halpernwine
First made in 1983, the Vigna-designate Altero spent two years in French Oak, so at the time it couldn’t be labeled Brunello. Then in 1995 the regulations were brought down from three years to two, so it left IGT and became labeled as a second Brunello. Altero is the one of the two Annata gifted greater structure, deeper notes that think of the wood and how it spices the fruit and finally, what happens down the road. The smoulder and spice are much greater, the shoulders broader and the musculature ready for bigger fights. The composure is quite something, the confidence great and the results striking. Drink 2021-2029. Tasted February 2018 tenutadelpoggioanticohalpernwine@poggioantico@HalpernWine@tenutadelpoggioantico@halpernwine
In terms of the structured and the formidable it is this Poggio Antico Riserva that sits in the upper reaches of such a stratified realm. If the Altero is broad shouldered (in either or both 2012 and 2013) than it is this ’12 Riserva that walks with fierce confidence. With an extra year to show for its troubles Poggio Antico’s Riserva 2012 has accumulated more body, what seems like greater acidity and certainly a wild side. Here the reminder that more is sometimes more comes out in Riserva level impression. The oak is massive and intense, fully in charge, in a how do you say, a Silver Oak Napa Valley way. This is a massive expression of top quality selected fruit and its youthfulness is only exceeded by its over the moon acidity. Just a massive construct that will take 10 more years to begin to break down. Why anyone would touch this before 2022 would fail to teach me anything. Drink 2022-2034. Tasted twice, February 2018 tenutadelpoggioanticohalpernwine@poggioantico@HalpernWine@tenutadelpoggioantico@halpernwine
With six more years in the rear-view mirror the wood has integrated substantially and so the beauty and the charm is beginning to be revealed though the barrel will always be a part of the equation. There is this sense of savour and sapidity now that would not have been in the mix before. Even still the cask strength quality dominates and so the largesse and impressive concentration can not be denied, though the finish is all sweet digestif and demerera sugar. Big oaky Brunello, very international in style, in adherence to time and more specifically, vintage. Drink 2018-2025. Tasted February 2018 tenutadelpoggioanticohalpernwine@poggioantico@HalpernWine@tenutadelpoggioantico@halpernwine
Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Docg Tuscany, Italy (337774, $180.00, WineAlign)
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#poggiodisottoPoggio di Sotto
Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012, Docg Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
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 #poggiodisotto#poggiodisottoPoggio di Sotto
Salvioni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG La Cerbaiolo 2013, Docg Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
The utter freshness of sangiovese is the ideal and the rasion d’être in Giulio Salvioni’s most important work, with little to no encumbrance. This is a Brunello that eschews bright, clear and deeply honest work from out of the shadows cast by years of adulteration. Salvioni is the never wavering producer, continues to dream lightly and without panic, in the most calm and collected manner. The vineyards southeast of Montalcino at 420 meters are a collection of exceptionally rocky, friable marly soils and from 2013 they open the window into fruit, structure and longevity. It’s cool and soothing sangiovese for the beautiful in everything that is Montalcino. Drink 2021-2034. Tasted February 2018
San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $89.95, WineAlign)
Certainly one of the more aromatic sangiovese from 2013, with exotic scents, floral and spice, far from feral and dangerous. There is warmth to be sure but not out of a compressed or angry place. There is also a bit of brettanomyces, well beneath the threshold and serves to develop character within the fine-grained chalky network. This needs several years to integrate and ultimately come into balance. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted February 2018 #sanpolino thelivingvine@SanPolinoVino@TheLivingVine#SanPolinoBrunelloThe Living Vine inc.
San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $169.95, WineAlign)
San Polino. This is just beautiful. Though the richness of juicy, fleshy and tangy fruit is so important to the core, it is this sweet earthy compost that really brings the character and the charm. The acidity is rounder than some though its integration is seamless. How this will evolve into a wise and curative secondary sangiovese will come about because of the turning to nuts and dried fruit stone. Finally it will fade into a truffle and tea sunset. Drink 2020-2038. Tasted February 2018 #sanpolino thelivingvine@SanPolinoVino@TheLivingVine#SanPolinoBrunelloThe Living Vine inc.
Scopetone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
In certain Montalcino vintages a house will craft a sangiovese that pulls no punches nor pushes the river. Scopetone’s is really big, warm and clearing of the throat speaking sangiovese, with smoulder by tobacco and deep black cherry fruit, pressed to deliver quicker access and hopefully, success. So we can get down to the real tang and the real soul. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2018 #scopetone#scopetoneScopetone
Another deep and pressed 2013 with a very drying impression so there is no question about the tannic quality and age potential. The fruit too is a bit dried, with a currant-salumi-pomegranate mix that takes quick, sharp turns as if along angles of geometry. This needs time to gather its thoughts and to take fuller advantage of its greater cool abilities, of herbology and savour. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2018 #Scopone
From Giuseppe Sesti who planted his vines at Castello di Argiano in 1991, a 13th century property with Etruscan origins just west of Sant Angelo in Colle. Now in the hands of Elisa Sesti the élevage is territorially appropriate and necessary thirty-nine months in 30 hL botti. The result is quite a gregarious one this Sesti, with really bright acids circling the sangiovese wagons and tying the fruit up in ropes and casings. You can sense the alcohol though it’s not really a heavy, pulling or dragging feeling. It persists as airy and free in spite of the early heat spikes. Should float on, through the skies for a decade or more. Classic finish of deep red cherry liqueur. Drink 2020-2031. Tasted February 2018 #sestilesommelierwine#Sesti@LeSommelierWineLe Sommelier, Wine Agency
Talenti’s Annata comes from vineyards in the area of Castelnuovo dell’Abate and like the Rosso but 10 times more concentrated and focused this is sangiovese of a most intense aromatic, flavourful and textured liqueur. Cherries never came swelling and macerating so succinctly pure and fascinating as they do here, taking every advantage of vintage and how it works in conjunction with place. This is what happens when vines spend long hours in an arid yet humid place to develop grapes for the purpose of variegation and structure. The layers will take two years to peel away and expose the true character, followed by five more for a classic transparency of expression. Talent’s 2013 builds like a jet engine preparing the craft for take-off. The two years will pass and you’ll then feel the angle skywards while you press back in your seat. This is the effect created by truly tactile Brunello. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted March 2018 talentiriccardobrixandmortarwineco#Talenti@brixandmortarTalenti Montalcino@brixandmortarwineco
Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Pian di Conte 2012, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $120.00, WineAlign)
Two of the 20 estate hectares in Castelnuovo dell’Abate are dedicated to the the vineyard Paretaio, planted to a sangiovese clone selected by Pierluigi Talenti. Pian di Conte is only made in years deemed worthy of carefully selected grapes from 20-plus year-old vines out of this highly specific, 400m of altitude micro-climate block. It’s a wow Riserva from 2012, perfumed with classic extra time in barrel that Annata Brunello only seems to reach. Notes like dark berries, pipe smoulder and rich ganache, the 2012 is already showing some maturity signs of integration. It’s a fineness of tart dark citrus styled-sangiovese wrapped so tightly around the structure’s finger, indelibly inked, modern and with all parts fine-tuned in synchronicity. Riservas will often sting until they pass at least a ten-year mark but Talenti’s croons romantically with stand-up base note ease. For Montalcino it’s a hit of the vintage and to it I can safely say “I can see the destiny you sold turned into a shining band of gold.” Drink 2020-2030. Tasted March 2018 talentiriccardobrixandmortarwineco#Talenti@brixandmortarTalenti Montalcino@brixandmortarwineco
Tenuta Buon Tempo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
This is a most beautiful, composed and seamlessly constructed southern Brunello di Montalcino 2013, with exceptional blending of vineyard fruit for balance and pure pleasure. What is so special here is the realized Castelnuovo dell’Abate area phenolic ripeness and the way in which great Galestro marl and sandstone terroir, exceptional micro-climate and hands free viniculture conspire for such elegance. Tenuta Buon Tempo delivers the vintage warmth with grace and the deeper understanding. It is precise and focused for what needs to be accomplished, in a modern world with so much temptation but ultimately it is restraint and doing things the right way that matters most. Drink 2020-2033. Tasted February 2018 tenutabuontempo#TenutaBuonTempo@TenutaBuonTempoCarpe Vinum
A lovely freshness in the wild berry fruit of Crocedimezzo’s ’13 brings fine definition, that and bright acids with chalky, grippy tannins. The purity and honesty in this focused sangiovese is a breath of fresh, not connected with before air. The relationship should continue for a decade, then on to subsequent anticipatory vintages. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted February 2018 tenutacrocedimezzo@crocedimezzoTenuta Crocedimezzo
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 tenutenardimajesticwinesinc@TenuteNardi@MajesticWineInc@tenutenardi@majesticwinecellars
The Casisano Estate is found eight kilometres south of the town in Sant’Angelo in Colle, incidentally of population 204, as noted by a 2011 census. At 500m the vineyards benefit from temperature swings and the necessity of prevailing cool winds from the sea to the west. The Brunello developed here (like Ragnaie) turns out classic red clay and stone derived deep cherry liqueur but of a constitution and flavour unlike any other sangiovese on earth. It’s almost brambly and even a bit scorched. It’s rich, proper and righteous. Best of all, the best years still lay ahead. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted March 2018 tommasiwineunivinscanada@Tommasiwine@UNIVINS@tommasiwinesUnivins et Spiritueux / Univins & Spirits
From Casisano in Sant’Angelo in Colle, to the south of the village. Tomassi’s Montalcino situation is another one of altitude and therefore a great choice of location from which to develop a strong and structured Brunello ideal. This ’12 is not unlike the ’13 but perhaps with a bit more hyperbole, at times of warmth and at others, elegance. It’s not completely sure of its position, but that is both a matter of vintage and still getting to know the lay of this land. The follow-up 2013 will continue to cement the altitude influence and the understanding of these exceptional vineyards. This ’12 is a great building block for the future of what will be one of the more storied cru in Brunello di Montalcino. Drink 2018-2022. Tasted March 2018 tommasiwineunivinscanada@Tommasiwine@UNIVINS@tommasiwinesUnivins et Spiritueux / Univins & Spirits
Tommasi’s Colombaiolo Brunello is the pinnacle of their tier from grapes sourced out of the 1991 planted, hectare and a half single vineyard on the Sant’Angelo in Colle Casisano estate. This 2011 is Tomassi’s first vintage though a wine has been made from Colombaiolo fruit since 1996. Fermented in wood vats and then aged ion Slavonian casks. No French wood is used, as per the direction of oenologist Emiliano Falsini. The ’11 dovetails as only Riserva can so “dream, if you can, a courtyard, an ocean of violets in bloom.” This is an ethereal prince of Brunello di Montalcino thieves, thick as black cherry liqueur, sumptuous, chalky, coming down like purple rain. It’s the juice of a revolution, now integrated, evolved but as music that stands the test of time. It’s also hard to get in its very structured way so you may find it too demanding or that you’re yelling at each other. More time and reconciliation will bring you and it together. “This is what it sounds like, when doves cry.” The finish is just on point, between balance and perfect. Drink 2019-2027. Tasted March 2018 tommasiwineunivinscanada@Tommasiwine@UNIVINS@tommasiwinesUnivins et Spiritueux / Univins & Spirit
Ventolaio’s leads with a new age earth wealth of grippy charm and accentuated perfume right from the word smell though the rock layers are many and the well runs severely deep. This is an ambient sangiovese of seriously condensed and compressed liqueur, hematic and poignant, dense and yet somehow the eventuality of the ashra electrical meets the minimalist ethereal will be found. In the deep distance. Drink 2021-2030. Tasted February 2018 #ventolaio#ventolaio@Ventolaio
Certainly richer and deeper than cousin Caparzo but really just a different child for Elisabetta Gnudi and just as important in its own right. This Altesino Rosso exhibits the ’15 freshness but with a year further under wing it has settled and added some weight, albeit in liquidity, sweet, viscous liquidity. So much joy here. Drink 2018-2021. Tasted February 2018 altesino_wineryrogersandcompanywines#altesino@rogcowinesAltesino SrlRogers & Company
Antinori Pian Delle Vigne Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016, Tuscany, Italy (467787, $31.95, WineAlign)
Pian delle Vigne is quite a perfumed affair in 2016, raspberry to plum fruity and then a courtyard of exotic flowers in early bloom. The fruit is very primary, almost fresh from the tank and so early in its evolution. This will smell and taste so completely different in six months but looking past this should act and play out as an ideal indicator for the fleshiness and grippy nature of the vintage. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 marchesiantinorihalpernwine@AntinoriFamily@HalpernWine@MarchesiAntinori@halpernwine
With new winemaking ideals in place since 2013 Argiano is now coming into its new own, into a place and position of deep confidence and mature mastery. Though tighter and grippier than many this persists as a joyous bit of Rosso, albeit more in a young Brunello vein than many. Should live with its tart fruit and grippy acidity for five years minimum. Drink 2019-2024. Tasted February 2018 @Argianowinery@Noble_Estatescantina_argianonoble_estates@argiano@NobleEstates
Brizio’s is a strong candidate for one of the firmest 2016 Rosso that delivers a distinct and serious impression. It too seems so recently drawn from the barrel with piqued notes that bite and sting overtop not yet developed fruit. This is a serious Rosso, ambitious, woody and wise. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 poderebrizio@PodereBrizio@poderebrizio
Caparzo’s 2015 is a red fruit forward, ropey, rosy and wild citrus Rosso di Montalcino done up in botti grandi for one year. In replay of that aromatic intensity it follows with a vivid and bright red acidity and a flavour run in the pomegranate-currant-sweet basil vein, pretty and fresh and all in all, just a lovely rendering. Drink 2018-2019. Tasted February 2018 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
Caparzo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC La Caduta 2013, Tuscany, Italy (SAQ 857987, $34.95, WineAlign)
Caparzo Rosso di Montalcino 2013 is from fruit in La Caduta vineyard, the name the place used to have, on the west side of Montalcino, where vines take advantage of the winds from the sea. The Rosso is aged in tonneaux and then after in bottle. It’s quite a fresh and fragrant Rosso, not taking itself too seriously but certainly with more power and for certain intents and purposes, may as well be Brunello. A terrific expression that would just make grilled and roasted meets rock and sing. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted February 2018 caparzo_winery@CaparzoWines@TheCaseForWineCaparzo
The finest of fruit-acidity-tannin continuums comes through in Romitorio’s Rosso ’16, a wine of more structure than most. This is a Rosso from whose lens will really help to imagine where the Brunello will come from and to where they will go. Firm, strong, grippy and intense, not only for Rosso but Romitorio has crafted a sangiovese to stand as a beacon for the greater Montalcino good, whole and exemplary of the vintage. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted February 2018 #CastelloRomitorio@WineLoversAgncycastelloromitoriowineloversagencyCastello Romitorio@wineloversagency
Cortonesi La Mannella Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $31.78, WineAlign)
Lovely effulgent fruit in this Cortonesi family Rosso radiates to extrapolate for a 2016 Brunello future, in many ways. First it is this Rosso that benefits from the particular handling, showing in an immediately gratifying plus available sangiovese that drinks with fast-forward Rosso promise and does so on its own terms, for the right Montalcino reasons. Second, even though the producer’s approach to Brunello is another matter in which generally speaking it deals only with older vines, it is this youthful exuberance and wealth of amenability meeting attack that bodes well for the impending grandi vini. It is here that we see the present and the future of Rosso di Montalcino and the respect it is both given and deserved. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 @LaMannella@Nicholaspearce_marcora85nicholaspearcewinesTommaso CortonesiNicholas Pearce
Of the first couple of dozen Rosso tasted this is the one with some true, purposed reduction, if only as an early veil of protection, to lock in freshness and deliver this forward. Some pretty firm and fleshy fruit directs the body politic so that the first two years will seem hushed and suppressed. It will open like a flower and reveal some charm, soon after that. Another clear winner of purpose and focus from Donatella Cinelli Colombini. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2018donatellacinellicolombinilesommelierwine@news_donatella@LeSommelierWineDonatella Cinelli Colombini@LeSommelierWine
Gianni Brunelli Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Le Chiuse Di Sotto 2016, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $44.00, WineAlign)
Le Chiuse di Sotto ’16 is blessed of lots of firm flesh and full fruit extraction to mark a territory of style, a wine as much in common with Brunello as any Rosso from the vintage. This runs deep, into macerating cherry and a real feeling of wet argilo filling in as mortar in the crevices of brix. Not exactly formidable but this is certainly one of the bigger and more structured wines of the Annata. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 giannibrunellibrixandmortarwineco@brixandmortarLaura Brunelli (Le Chiuse Di Sotto)@brixandmortarwineco
As with all wines, Poggio Antico’s Rosso, like everything is vinified separately, along with Annata, Riserva and Altero. A sharp and fleshy Rosso from a longer fermentation after a longer ripening period, with clearly more structure than 2015 and this cool, almost minty savoury streak. It’s darker and surely carries a deeper intensity and in the end, a nice Rosso is made. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 tenutadelpoggioanticohalpernwine@poggioantico@HalpernWine@tenutadelpoggioantico@halpernwine
San Polino Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016, Tuscany, Italy (Agent, $48.95, WineAlign)
San Polino’s is a beautifully earthy, funky and natural Rosso with a fleshy red fruit upside and fine, liquid chalky grains of acidity meeting tannin. There are some Rosso that really need to be considered and assessed as Brunello and it is only where such structured sangiovese fit relative to the estate’s other Brunello that need qualify it as Rosso. In today’s Montalcino one’s Rosso is another’s Brunello. It’s now more than ever a matter of location, soil and altitude. This San Polino is quite a tart affair that needs two years to soften and ultimately please. Drink 2020-2026. Tasted February 2018 #sanpolino thelivingvine@SanPolinoVino@TheLivingVine#SanPolinoBrunelloThe Living Vine inc.
Riccardo Talenti’s is Rosso for Rosso addicts, a pure, unaffected, grippy cherry liqueur welling sangiovese of ultra-precise focus and deliciousness. That it manages to acquiesce the holy trinity of Rosso di Montalcino ideals of flavour, texture and structure means that it can accomplish the two most important aspects of sangioveseness. Drink and enjoy now or wait five years for it to begin breathing anew. Drink 2019-2023. Tasted March 2018 talentiriccardobrixandmortarwineco#Talenti@brixandmortarTalenti Montalcino@brixandmortarwineco
Tenuta Buon Tempo Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016, Tuscany, Italy (Winery, WineAlign)
Tenuta Buon Tempo offers up just a lovely aromatic profile in delivery of what 2016 should and could, with exotic florals, red citrus starlight and a sense of airy breaths. The best of 2016 acidity is brought out, alongside and of hands intertwined and interlaced with the fruit. The slightly firm finish indicates a few years of low and slow development. Drink 2020-2027. Tasted February 2018 tenutabuontempo#TenutaBuonTempo@TenutaBuonTempoCarpe Vinum
There is a nice bright freshness in this 2016 Rosso by Crocedimezzo, a sangiovese of great presence radiating in its effulgent nature. You really have to appreciate the round acidity circulating to encompass the red fruit and then the earthy quell that helps to soften the firm composure. A really correct, clean and pure Rosso. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 tenutacrocedimezzo@crocedimezzoTenuta Crocedimezzo
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 2018 tenutenardimajesticwinesinc@TenuteNardi@MajesticWineInc@tenutenardi@majesticwinecellars
Pierangelo Tommasi notes that they began making Brunello but decided mid-gear to declassify and only make a Rosso instead. With best available fruit in hand Tomassi went ahead with this firm, grippy, saucy, sassy and forest-scented verdant sangiovese. It’s oh so drinkable but with more structure than many of the fresh, spirited and tart red fruit specimens that populate the Rosso spectrum. The ’14 is like Brunello but with the vintage savour and who knows how long this can go. Just might fool us all. Drink 2018-2021. Tasted March 2018 tommasiwineunivinscanada@Tommasiwine@UNIVINS@tommasiwinesUnivins et Spiritueux / Univins & Spirits
Val di Suga Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016, Docg Tuscany, Italy (455683, $24.95, WineAlign)
Val di Suga offers a lovely turn for the 2016 vintage and for the house, clearly making a statement of fruit first and all else second. There is an airy freshness about this Rosso and still the sensible firmness of backbone to carry it forward. A shot of juniper tonic marks the final stages of its youth. Should develop into next stage character with a lovely secondary impression. Drink 2019-2025. Tasted February 2018 #valdisugachurchillcellars#ValDiSuga@imbibersreportVal di SugaChurchill Cellars Ltd.
Ventolaio tries neither too hard nor does it try to be exaggerate in the direction of either too lithe or too strong. It’s this candid and focused confidence that shows the strength of resistance to speak in a Brunello voice. The precision and clarity make this sangiovese certainly act Brunello-like but this always remains grounded in the Rosso culture. Just terrific as the previous vintage was, so consistency from Ventolaio persists in the guarantee. Drink 2019-2026. Tasted February 2018 #ventolaio#ventolaio@Ventolaio
Montalcino (c) Consorzio Vino Brunello di Montalcino