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

Benvenuto Brunello 2022

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

Montalcino sunset

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

Related – Simply Red: Rosso di Montalcino

Looking north from Montalcino

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

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

La Fortezza di Montalcino

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

With Tommaso Cortonesi and Francesco Rippacioli

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

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

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

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

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018

Agostina Pieri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Albatreti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Argiano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

Sommeliers at BB 2022

Beatesca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

Campogiovanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Capanne Ricci – Tenimenti Ricci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

Brunello dinner at Capanna

Casanova delle Cerbaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

Casanova Di Neri Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Montalcino, November 2022

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

Cerbaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

Collosorbo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Corte Dei Venti Brunello Di Montalcino 2018

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

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Elia Palazzesi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Fanti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Fattoi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Fossacolle Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Franco Pacenti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Gianni Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Le Chiuse di Sotto 2018

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

Giodo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Gorelli Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Il Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Innocenti Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

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

La Casaccia di Franceschi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

La Colombina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

La Fornace Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Montalcino sommeliers

La Fortuna Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

La Lecciaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Vineyards at La Magia

La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Lambardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

La Rasina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Lisini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Maddalena Cordella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Madonna Nera Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Martoccia di Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Mastrojanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Maté Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Patrizia Cenconi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Montalcino, direction southeast

Pian delle Querci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Pian delle Vigne Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Piancornello Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Pietroso Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Pinino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

Podere Brizio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Poggio Antico Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Poggio dell’Aquila Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Poggio di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Paradiso di Cacuci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Poggio Landi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Poggio Lucina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Ridolfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Roberto Cipresso Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Greppone Mazzi

Ruffino Greppone Mazzi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Salvioni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

San Lorenzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

San Carlo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Scopetone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Scopone Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Sesti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Tenuta Buon Tempo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

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

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

Tenuta Poggio il Castellare Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Tenuta San Giorgio Ugolforte Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Terre Nere Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Ucceliera Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Val di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Ventolaio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Voliero Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018

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

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Etichetta 2018

Camigliano Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Paessagio Inatesso 2018

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

Castello Di Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Alle Mura 2018

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

Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Campo Del Drago 2018

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

Cava d’Onice Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Colombaio 2018

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

Celestino Pecci Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio al Carro 2018

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

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Progetto Prime Donne 2018

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

La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG NO 2018

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

La Fornace Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Origini 2018

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

La Lecciaia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Manapetra 2018

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

La Màgia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ciliegio 2018

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

La Rasina Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Persante 2018

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Vecchia 2018

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

Lisini Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ugolaia 2017

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

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG La Raunate 2018

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

Patrizia Cenconi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ofelio 2018

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

Podere Bonacchi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Molino di Suga 2018

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

Ridolfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Donna Rebecca 2018

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

Rodolfo Cosimi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Bramante Cosimi 2018

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

Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Piaggione 2018

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

San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Podernovi 2018

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

Talenti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Piero 2018

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

Tassi Di Franci Franca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Tassi Franci 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Val di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio al Granchio 2018

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

Ventolaio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Campo dei Colti 2018

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

Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Pomona 2018

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

 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Vigna 2018

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino Montosoli DOCG 2018

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

Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Poggio Alle Mura Vigna Marrucheto 2018

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

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Assunto 2018

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

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna La Casaccia 2018

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

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Montosoli 2018

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

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna La Casa 2018

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

Castello Romitorio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Filo Di Seta 2018

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

Cortonesi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG I Poggiarelli 2018

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

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna del Fiore 2018

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

Il Poggiolo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Terra Rosa 2018

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

Le Gode Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Montosoli 2018

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Casanovina Montosoli 2018

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Paso Del Lume Spento 2018

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

Mastrojanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigno Loreto 2018

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

Poggio Landi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Chiuso del Lupo 2018

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

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Helichrysum 2018

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

San Polo Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vignavecchia 2018

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

Tassi Di Franci Franca Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Colombaiolo 2018

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

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

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

Tenuta Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Manachiara 2018

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

Tiezzi Vigna Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Soccorso 2018

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

Val di Suga Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna del Lago 2018

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

Ravioli at Capanna

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

Banfi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Poggio alle Mura 2017

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

Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Carpineto Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Casanuova Delle Cerbaie Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Vigna Montosoli 2017

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

Celestico Pecci Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Fattoi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

La Cassacia Di Franceschi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Diecianni 2017

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

Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Paradiso Di Cacuci Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Patrizia Cencioni Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Pian Delle Querci Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Poggio Antico Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Poggio dell’Aquila Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Roberto Cipresso Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Teatro 2017

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

San Polino Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2017

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

Sesti Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Phenomena 2017

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

Tommasi Casisano Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Colombaiolo 2017

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

Tenuta Il Greppo

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG (Older Vintages)

Capanna Di Cencioni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Nicco 2017

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

La Magia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2017

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

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

La Magia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Ciliegio 2017

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

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

Biondi-Santi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2016

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

Federico Radi and Giampiero Bertolini, Biondi-Santi

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

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

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

Col d’Orcia on the 8s

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

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

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

Biondi-Santi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 1999

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

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

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

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

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

Filippo Bartolotta, Conte Francesco Marone Cinzano and Santiago Marone Cinzano

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOC 1978

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

Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOC 1968

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

Fabian Schwarz, La Màgia

La Magia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2021

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

With Federico Radi, Biondi-Santi

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

Col d’Orcia Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2018

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

Good to go!

godello

Benvenuto Brunello 2022

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WineAlign

Conceptual and aesthetic Brunello di Montalcino

Montalcino, 6pm

October 2019

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.

Brunello 2019

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.

Montalcino sunset

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.

Related – Awash in Brunello di Montalcino

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.

Related – Diversity in Brunello di Montalcino

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.

The visits

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.

Le Ragnaie

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.

Mario Bollag

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.

Gianni Bernazzi

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.

Francesco Ripaccioli

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.

Lorenzo Magnelli

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.

Poggiali

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.

Altesino

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.

Leonardo Bellaccini

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. 

Filippo Chia

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.

Altesino

Altesino Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016 ($27.95)

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

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (994095, $56.95)

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

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014 (994095, $56.95)

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

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Montosoli 2015 ($121.95)

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

Altesino Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Montosoli 2014 ($121.95)

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

Fattoria dei Barbi

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2012 (928028, $54.95)

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

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigna Del Fiore 2012

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

Bellaria

Bellaria Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2017

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

Bellaria Estate

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

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

View of Bellaria

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

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

Gianni Bernazzi and Assunto Peri

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Assunto 2015

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

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Assunto 2013

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

Gianni Bernazzi

Bellaria Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Assunto 2012

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

Canalicchio view

Canalicchio Di Sopra

Canalicchio Di Sopra Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2017

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

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG “Canalicchio Di Sopra ” 2014

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

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

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

Canalicchio Di Sopra Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG “Canalicchio Di Sopra” 2012

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

New Romitorio vineyard soil

Castello Romitorio

Castello Romitorio Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2017 ($28.99)

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

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

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

Castello Romitorio Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013 (236356, $63.95)

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

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2017

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

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso Di Montalcino DOC Rossofonte 2015

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

Ciacci Piccolomini D’aragona Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (1065, $84.95)

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

Ciacci Piccolomini D’aragona Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014 (1065, $72.95)

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

Ciacci Piccolomini D’aragona Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013 (1065)

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

Ciacci Piccolomini D’aragona Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Pianrosso 2015

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

Ciacci Piccolomini D’aragona Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Pianrosso 2013

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

Cortonesi

Cortonesi La Mannella Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

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

Cortonesi La Mannella Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2014

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

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 (279083, $66.00)

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

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

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

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2005

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

Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2010 ($202.95)

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

Lorenzo Magnelli

Le Chiuse

Le Chiuse Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 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

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015

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

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2014

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

Le Chiuse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG Diecianni 2010

“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

Riccardo and Godello

Le Ragnaie

Le Ragnaie Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016 ($45.00)

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 ($115.00)

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013 ($114.00)

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG La Fornace 2015

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

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

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

Le Ragnaie Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Montosoli 2015

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

Poggio di Sotto

Poggio di Sotto

San Giorgio Ciampoleto Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2017

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

San Giorgio Ugolforte Brunello Di Montalcino 2014 DOCG

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

Poggio Di Sotto Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

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

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

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

San Felice – Campogiovanni

San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva Docg Il Quercione 2015 ($136.00)

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

San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva Docg Il Quercione 2008 ($136.00)

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

San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Vigne Vecchie 2011

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

Vineyard at Salicutti

Podere Salicutti

Podere Salicutti Rosso Di Montalcino DOC 2016

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

Podere Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Piaggione 2013

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

View from Terralsole

Terralsole

Terralsole Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2013

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

Terralsole Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2013

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

Terralsole Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012

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

Terralsole Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2007

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

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Montalcino, 6pm

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