Posts tagged ‘col d’orcia’
Plaque honoring the 2007 Brunello vintage in the main square of Montalcino (Photo by Tom Hyland)
2007 Brunello- Triumph of the Traditionalists
I’ve just returned from Montalcino, where I attended the annual Benvenuto Brunello event along with several dozen wine writers from around the world. This is an anteprima tasting, where wines that will be released later in the year are sampled for journalists. As Brunello di Montalcino is released on a five-year cycle, the new wines at this tasting were from 2007; the 2006 Riservas were also sampled as well as Rosso di Montalcino from 2010.
2007 was an excellent year for red wines throughout much of Italy; this was especially true in Toscana. The warm weather ensured excellent ripeness, yet there was also good natural acidity in the wines. True, this is a forward, somewhat international vintage, but the wines are well balanced and offer very good structure. Overall, I think this is an excellent vintage and while I do not rate it quite as high as 2006, which I thought outstanding, this is a year with many first-rate and several outstanding wines. (note: the Consorzio rated both 2006 and 2007 as 5-star – outstanding – years.)
As usual, I will review all the wines I tasted – more than 60 – in my Guide to Italian Wines. For now, I will discuss a few of my favorite wines, starting with the 2007 bottlings. As usual, the wines from Poggio Antico are excellent, delivering impressive depth of fruit as well as a long, polished finish. There are two bottlings: the regular Poggio Antico as well as the “Altero”; this year, I slightly preferred the regular bottling (5 stars-outstanding) over the “Altero” but that could change with time.
Every year, I have the Eredi Fuligni at or near the top of my list; the 2007 continues that tradition. Here is a traditionally made wine with gorgeous perfumes, a generous mid-palate, very good acidity and polished tannins. The wine is clean and has remarkable varietal purity. Bravo to Fuligni for their amazing Brunello every year, a wine that is for me, a textbook Brunello.
Francesco Marone Cinzano, propirietor, Col d’Orcia (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Col d’Orcia has been one of my favorite Brunello producers for some time now and they delivered another excellent wine in 2007. Displaying lovely rose petal and tart cherry aromas with a hint of tobacco, this has lovely balance, excellent persistence and ideal acidity. Another traditional producer, Col d’Orcia crafts wines that are true expressions of terroir, a trait on display in their 2007 Brunello, a wine I think will be at peak in 12-15 years, although it will most likely be drinking well for several years after that.
Other 2007 Brunellos that I loved included the gracefully mannered Caprili; the varietally pure and exquisitely balanced Il Poggione; the exquisite Tenuta di Sesta and the always graceful Uccelliera. Propietor Andrea Cortonesi has been on quite a streak as of late, refining his Brunello to offer a wine of lovely cherry flavors, polished tannins and a wonderful sense of place. This 2007 is outstanding!
A few pleasant surprises among the 2007 Brunello included the Ridolfi and the Sassodisole. Each year there are more than 125 Brunello normale available for tasting. I have a core group of wines I try each year, but I always make sure to sample the wines from producers I’m not that familiar with for whatever reasons. One of those producers, Ridolfi made a 2007 Brunello with lovely rose petal and dried cherry aromas along with notes of thyme and cedar, elegant tannins and very good acidity; this is quite stylish. The Sassodisole, another winery whose products I had not tried before, delivered a gorgeous traditional Brunello aged for 36 months in grandi botti that displays beautiful perfumes of tart cherry, currant and strawberry preserves (!); there is very good depth of fruit, ideal acidity and excellent persistence. Here is a graceful wine that is beautifully made – a wine from a powerful vintage that is all about finesse. This is an outstanding wine and Sassodisole is a winery to keep an eye on; I know I’l be tasting their wines every chance I get.
Claudio Tipa, proprietor Poggio di Sotto (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
If I had to select one 2007 Brunello di Montalcino, it would be the Poggio di Sotto. This has been one of Montalcino’s finest artisan estates since Piero Palmucci released his first wines from the 1991 vintage. Palmucci had several ideas as to how to produce outstanding Brunello, the core of which was two-fold; age only in large casks and age for a long period of time. The results over the years have been nothing short of outstanding.
Palmucci recently sold the winery to Claudio Tipa, a true Tuscan gentleman, who has been involved in the wine business for decades. Tipa is most famous as the owner of Colle Massari in southern Tuscany as well as the renowned Grattamacco estate in Bolgheri, along Tuscany’s coast. Tipa told me at the winery that he is a strong believer in what Palmucci has accomplished and will not change the style.
At the beginning of this post, I wrote that this year in Montalcino was a “triumph of the traditionalists.” You will note the number of traditional wines I have written about in this post and while I admit to a bias toward this style of wine, I could not help that even with the more modern wines, the oak influence has been reduced. What wonderful news for any wine drinker, as less oak in these wines lets the varietal character of these wines shine, while at the same time, allowing the wines to show a sense of place. Be it from Montalcino, Piemonte or Campania, all great Italian red wines share these traits.
Getting back to Poggio di Sotto, it is this subtle wood influence that helps define the local terroir of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, one of Montalcino’s best sub-zones. But it is also the length of time in grandi botti that helps refine these wines. The 2007 Poggio di Sotto Brunello stayed in wood for more than 3 and 1/2 years, far longer than the minimum two years required. What this achieves, according to winemaker Federico Staderini, is a lightness on the palate, an elegance that is largely unmatched. When I tasted this wine, I noted how weightless this wine seemed; this to me was a quality I normally only associate with older Brunellos, perhaps 12 or 15 years of age. But here was a new release that was as refined a Brunello as I have ever had at such a young age. This is something every producer should aim for, even if they may never realize the finesse and subtleties of the wines of Poggio di Sotto.
A few words on the 2006 Brunello Riserva. 2006 was an outstanding year in Montalcino with wines of great concentration and impresssive structure. The 2006s are not as forward as the 2007s (and thus may not appeal to casual red wine drinkers), but if you want to appreciate what classic Brunello is all about, this is an ideal vintage, as these wines will slowly unfold and offer their complexities over a long period of time – some 20-25 years. Among the finest 2006 Brunello Riservas were the Il Poggione, Canalicchio di Sopra, Talenti, Poggio Antico and of course, the Poggio di Sotto. All of these wines offered excellent depth of fruit and a fine sense of place, along with ideal balance and persistence. The Il Poggione was most impressive, as it is one of the most powerful wines I have ever tried from this great producer, yet the wine never abandons the harmonious style this winery is known for.
My notes on the 2007 Brunello di Montalcino and 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva along with notes on a few 2010 Rosso di Montalcino will be published in the Spring 2012 issue of my Guide to Italian Wines. This is a quarterly publication that carries a paid subscription of $30 a year, less than a bottle of Brunello! This spring issue will be more than 40 pages in length and will be sent out to subscribers via email. If you would like to purchase this issue separately (available around the end of March), the cost is a mere $10. For more information, email me (this information can be found here.)
One final note: the 2007 Brunello di Montalcino now carry the new DOCG strip – quite a change from the prior pink/rose colored one.
I have just returned from a week in Toscana, of which two days were spent in Montalcino. This week the Benvenuto Brunello tasting is held for journalists around the world in the town of Montalcino and is an event I eagerly await each year. I’ve attended this event several times, but as I needed to be home for another special Italian wine event, I was able to arrange a private tasting of the soon-to-be-released bottlings of the 2006 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino this past Monday; my thanks to Stefania Tacconi of the Brunello Consorzio for her help – and that of her staff – in organizing this tasting around my schedule.
After tasting 31 bottlings of 2006 Brunello di Montalcino, my initial thoughts are this: 2006 is an excellent vintage with impressive concentration, beautiful complexity and the structure to age very well. 2006 was a warm vintage in the area, but not overly hot, and there were beneficial winds, especially for estates on the western edges of the appellation that are situated closer to the sea. The wines are much bigger than 2005 and as big or even richer in some instances from comparable bottlings from 2004, though slightly less forceful than those from the wonderful 2001 vintage.
The wines are also quite aromatic, comparing favorably in that category to the 2004s. Most of the wines I tried offer a generous mid-palate with layers of fruit, while the tannins are rich, yet rarely forceful. Look for most of the finest bottlings of 2006 Brunello di Montalcino to age well for 15-20 years, with a few of the finest targeted for optimal drinking around 2030.
Among my favorites are the Il Poggione, which loyal readers know is one of my top two or three top wines each vintage; this 2006 is especially massive in its fruit concentration; the wine is superbly balanced. Look for this to be a 20 year-plus wine. The regular Poggio Antico bottling is another of my top wines each year; the 2006 offers especially lovely aromatics as well as excellent persistence. The “Altero” bottling from Poggio Antico, has a touch more wood and is not as open as the regular bottling; it is quite impressive however and should be at its best after 20 years.
The Le Chiuse offering is superb, with outstanding varietal purity; this estate excels in traditionally made Brunello and their 2006 is beautifully balanced- it is a must buy! The Ciacci Piccolomini normale bottling is also quite remarkable with its fresh morel cherry, cinnamon and nutmeg aromas, lengthy finish and graceful tannins; I actually preferred this to the more expensive “Pianrosso” bottling from this producer, though that wine is also quite well made and capable of long-term aging.
The Fuligni displays its typical class and graceful style, while the Col d’Orcia is another success; this time in a more full-bodied and tightly packed style than usual. The Silvio Nardi “Manachiara”is quite spicy with elegant tannins, while the Uccelliera displays lovely cherry fruit, silky tannins and outstanding complexity. It is not the most intense of the 2006 Brunellos (nor is it in most years), but it is one of the most subtle and harmonious.
Also look for the spicy, richly packed Maté, the supremely elegant Il Palazzone and the nicely crafted Casa Raia, which offers a nice combination of morel cherry fruit and spice such as nutmeg. This is the initial Brunello from this small estate, not far from the town of Montalcino; owners Pierre-Jean and Kalyna Monnoyer are off to an impressive start.
Finally, the Sesta di Sopra is an amazing success this year, which comes as no surprise if you’ve tasted their wines in previous vintages. This tiny estate is a traditional producer that emphasizes varietal character and elegance. This bottling offers some of the loveliest perfumes you’ll ever find in a Brunello and an elegant mid-palate with a rich finish that sneaks up on you. The wood notes are quite subtle, the acidity is perfectly realized and the finish is extremely long with polished tannins. This wine represents its local terroir about as well as any Brunello I tasted from 2006; for this reason, this is highly recommended as one of the finest wines of the vintage.
My full reviews of the 2006 Brunellos will appear in the Spring issue of my Guide to Italian Wines, which will be sent to subscribers in late March. Email me at email@example.com for information on how to subscribe.
Usually this week of the year, I am in Tuscany attending anteprima tastings of wines from Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. For various reasons, I won’t be attending this year, but I’ve tasted dozens of these soon-to-be-released wines over the past two weeks at special events in Chicago and New York. In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on the new bottlings of Brunello di Montalcino.
Produced in a zone that surrounds the fortress town of Montalcino in southern Tuscany, Brunello di Montalcino is made exclusively from the Sangiovese grape, known locally as Brunello. By law, the wine cannot be released until five years after the vintage date, so the new versions of Brunello for sale in 2010 are the 2005 bottlings.
The first question almost everyone has about Brunello is the quality of the vintage. For a year such as 2005, this is especially important, as it follows an excellent, possibly great year of 2004. The Consorzio, a group of local producers and growers, rates each vintage on a star basis, with 5 stars (outstanding) being the top rating. As 2004 was awarded 5 stars, there was tremendous attention paid to these wines.
Rarely are there two great vintages back to back and that is the case again with the 2005 following the 2004. Yet the Consorzio did rate 2005 with 4 stars (excellent), so consumers should pay attention to these wines. I liked most of the 2005s very much, as they have fine balance and good levels of acidity without too many tannins. That said, there are variations, as some wines are a bit lean, others a bit more closed down at present with a few rather approachable.
Here are notes on a few of my favorites:
Beautifully structured with very good depth of fruit, dried brown herb notes, elegantly styled tannins.
Plenty of red cherry and red plum fruit, excellent concentration, a bit tight now- give this a bit of time.
Attractive red cherry fruit, elegant tannins, overall well balanced – another beautiful wine from this traditional estate.
SAN FELICE “CAMPOGIOVANNI”
Red cherry, cedar and thyme; silky tannins, very good acidity and fruit persistence; lovely balance throughout.
Red cherry and marmalade flavors; medium-full with a lengthy, elegant finish; impressive wine for this new producer.
MOCALI “VIGNA DELLE RAUCATE”
Cedar and red cherry notes; generous mid-palate. long, beautifully balanced finish; notable effort from an underrated estate.
TENUTA DI SESTA
Cedar, red cherry and thyme aromas; very good concentration; lengthy finish with a pleasant earthiness; excellent effort in a traditional style.
Deep color; red cherry, mint and cedar aromas; medium-full with very good depth of fruit and acidity; impeccably balanced.
Ripe red cherry and violet aromas; a bit more modern with ample oak, but not obtrusive; very good depth, give time.
Cedar, dried cherry and thyme aromas; medium-bodied with a nicely balanced finish. very good acidity.
SILVIO NARDI “VIGNA MANACHIARA”
Beautiful garnet color; silky perfumes of red cherry and dried strawberry; medium-full with a long, elegant finish; very classy!
I expect most of the best bottlings of the 2005 Brunellos to show well at 10 years of age and hold for another 5-7 years, which I find is about average for this wine. This is not as good as 2004 and will not age as long as 2001, but this is an above average vintage with many very good to excellent wines. In that respect, it resembles the underrated 1998 vintage.
Along with Bunello di Montalcino, producers also make a Rosso di Montalcino, a wine that is also 100% Sangiovese, but one with minimal aging requirements. These wines are generally made from younger vineyards and are meant to be consumed much earlier than Brunello. This year many producers tasted out their bottlings of 2008 Rosso di Montalcino and judging by what I sampled, 2008 looks to be an excellent vintage. These are beautiful wines with delicious fruit and elegant, soft tannins that are at their best now and over the next 2-3 years. Among the finest I tasted were the Il Poggione (a bit more depth than most bottlings of Rosso), Silvio Nardi, Banfi, Camigliano and the remarkably flavorful and elegant San Felice “Campogiovanni”. This 2008 Rosso is a textbook example of what this wine is all about – tasty cherry fruit, medium-body, lively acidity and velvety tannins.
I also tasted some gorgeous 2004 Brunello Riservas, which will also be released in a few months. I’ll report on those wines in my next post.
A few weeks ago, I wote a post on Brunello di Montalcino (read here) in which I discussed ths wine’s characteristics and makeup along with listing some of the finest producers. I thought readers would be interested in learning what some of the top authorities in Italy as well as this country think about Brunello, so I asked several experts in this field to provide me with a list of whom they believe are the finest producers of Brunello.
I asked for a list of ten, letting them know they could add brief comments if they wished. One contributor gave me twelve names, saying he couldn’t get his list down to just ten, while another gave me his list of his top ten followed closely by another ten. No problem- the more the merrier – and it shows you how many excellent producers of Brunello di Montalcino there are.
So without further ado, here are the lists:
“Based on what I feel are indicative, traditional expressions of Brunello, available in this country…
- Le Presi
- Il Poggione
- Poggio di Sotto
- Canalicchio di Sopra
- Paradiso di Manfredi
- Altesino- cellar worthy
- Angelo Sassetti – ultimate contadina
- Argiano- stylish and elegant
- Costanti – another classic their 2004 reminded me of their 1964
- Fattoi- great pruners and dog trainers
- Il Poggione – Love these guys
- Lisini – classic archetype
- Poggio alle Mura (Banfi) – their ’71 was so great
- Poggio San Polo – new young winemaker and energy
Tom Maresca – America’s leading writer on Italian wines, having contributed hundreds of articles on the topic for more than 25 years. Lives in New York City.
- Banfi: great quality-to-price ratio
- Barbi: very traditional house
- Biondi Santi: self explanatory
- Casanova di Neri: elegant
- Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona: big, structured
- Donatella Cinelli Colombini: very true to Montalcino character
- Col d’Orcia: great finesse
- Fuligni: a pace-setter in recent vintages
- Lisini: the essence of Montalcino
- Nardi: great strides in recent years
- Poggio Antico: more and more, intensely Sangiovese
- Il Poggione: superb vineyards
Charles Scicolone – Author of the blog Charles Scicolone on Wine. One of America’s leading authorities on Italian wines. Wine writer and restaurant consultant. He lives in New York City.
- Fattoria dei Barbi- Some where between traditional and modren but I think more traditional
- Biondi-Santi -Traditional and one of the best
- Caparzo – Some wines in Traditional style, others modern
- Casanova di Neri – use of botti, small french oak barrels and tonneau
- Col d’Orcia
- Il Poggione
- Constanti- I think he is still traditional
- Poggio Antico- They changed their style went modern with the 2001 vintage -loved the wine before this
- Mastrojanni – in between
- Pian delle Vigne- Antinori
” I really liked the 2004 Brunello from Banfi- I think it is the best Brunello they ever made.
“It is difficult to tell the modern from the traditionalist except for Franco Biondi- Santi.
“In most cases the “traditionalists” are using more modern methods and the modern producers less small oak. Some make one Brunello in a traditional style and other in a modern style.
“I find Brunello to be very confusing. That is why I like my Brunello to be 1990 or older.”
Franco Ziliani – Author of vinoalvino blog and co-author of vinowire blog (with Jeremy Parzen). One of Italy’s most important wine writers and arguably the most influential in the country. Lives near Bergamo in the province of Lombardia.
- Case Basse
- Il Greppo Biondi Santi
- Il Colle
- Poggio di Sotto
- Giulio Salvioni Cerbaiola
- Col d’Orcia
- Gianni Brunelli
Plus others like:
- Il Poggione
- Gorelli Le Potazzine
- Le Macioche
- Sesta di Sopra
- Il Marroneto
- Pian dell’Orino
And finally, my choices (in alphabetical order):
- Col d’Orcia
- Il Poggione
- Le Chiuse
- Pian dell’Orino
- Poggio Antico
- Poggio di Sotto
- Sesta di Sopra
Do you have favorite Brunello producers? I’d love to read your choices- send them along.