Come February and…it’s Bunello time! Every year the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino (the Brunello producers’ Association) organizes an event called “Benventuo Brunello”. This is the official presentation of the new Rosso, Brunello and Brunello Riserva vintages to the international press and trade sector. One hundred and something top Brunello producers gather inside the main hall of the picturesque medieval Fortress in Montalcino to showcase their new wines to both the Italian and the foreign trade operators. This year three highly contrasting vintages were presented:
- Rosso di Montalcino D.o.c. from the cooler-than-normal, rainy, late-ripening 2014 harvest
- Brunello di Montalcino D.o.c.g. from the hot, sunny and medium/early 2011 harvest
- Brunello di Montalcino D.o.c.g. Riserva from the classic, well-balanced, widely acclaimed 2010 harvest
Vintage generalizations are always wrong, in particular when it comes to such a large and diverse wine appellation as Montalcino (over 2.100 Ha. of total vineyard land): North to South the Brunello di Montalcino Docg zone spans over 25 Km, and the elevation of the vineyards ranges from 150 to nearly 600 mts above the sea level. The local connoisseurs as well as the international experts nowadays distinguish five sub-zones (or ‘macro areas’) inside the Montalcino appellation.
The North (Montalcino / Torrenieri) vs. South (Castelnuovo dell’Abate / S.Angelo in Colle) divide is certainly the most recognized – and most easily recognizable – factor at play in every vintage: in cooler years like 2008, 2013 and 2014 the warmer sites in the South tend to be more successful, whereas the opposite is true in the hotter years like 2009, 2011 and 2012. In those rare, perfect and well-balanced years like 2004, 2006 and 2010 both areas produce complex, full-bodied, age-worthy Brunellos.
Novovino Wine Co. distributes two first-rate, artisanal Brunello small growers located in the North and in the Center of the Montalcino appellation, therefore ensuring a consistent quality level in both hot and cool vintages.
PIAN DELLE QUERCI (Montalcino - North)
CANALICCHIO - F.PACENTI (Montalcino - Center / Canalicchio ‘Grand Cru’ sub-zone)
After tasting dozens of samples we have drawn the following, modest and humble conclusions:
- 2014 Rosso / the best ones are medium-bodied, highly aromatic, with a PinotNoir-like bouquet of crisp red cherry fruit, red flowers and a touch herbs. Natural-born “food wines” or “restaurant wines” that beg for food to tame the medium/high acidity and the delicately vegetal tannins.
Our pick: PIAN DELLE QUERCI 2004 ROSSO DI MONTALCINO
- 2011 Brunello / it’s a mixed bag, the best exemplars from the North offer a deliciously opulent, ripe, open-knit nose, reminiscent of red cherry jam, mint, incense / cinnamon stick and scorched earth. The mouthfeel is rich, savory, with a ‘meaty quality’ to it, uncommonly resolved and smooth for a young Brunello. The acidity is medium/low and the tannins as ripe and sweet as you can get from Sangiovese. A good deal of Brunello from the South, however, show a slightly roasted fruit, too high alchol (15% and over…) and lack acidity in the mouth.
Our pick: CANALICCHIO PACENTI 2011 BRUNELLO
- 2010 Brunello Riserva / tasted side-by-side with the shamelessly voluptuous 2011 Brunello…the 2010 Riserva clearly affirm their superior, racy structure and their “cooler-climate vintage” character, but they suffer in terms of sheer drinking pleasure. Many top 2010 Brunello Riserva are showing fierce tannins and a pretty high acidity at this stage, and they are anything but ‘hedonistic’ wines. At least 5 years of cellar time are necessary for the classic 2010 Riserva to settle down and let some sweet “bottle bouquet” emerge from their huge polyphenolic structure. Be patient and you will be rewarded.
Our pick: CANALICCHIO PACENTI 2010 BRUNELLO RISERVA
Written for Novovino Wine Co. by Luca Mazzoleni
https://www.youtube.com/user/brunello1888/videos (Brunello TV channel on Youtube)
http://www.consorziobrunellodimontalcino.it (official site of the Brunello di Montalcino producers' Association)