Posts tagged ‘fuligni’
I recently returned from my second trip to Montalcino this year – how nice to see the colors of the vineyards and wildflowers in May instead of the grays and browns in February – and I’ve tasted through more than 75 examples of the new releases of 2007 Brunello di Montalcino and almost as many versions of the 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. I’ve reported on these wines already and will write more in the future.
Whenever I visit a producer in Montalcino, I taste through the entire lineup, which includes their Rosso di Montalcino. This is a wine, also made exclusively from Sangiovese, that is sourced from vineyards that are less than ten years old or perhaps from cooler vineyards that do not get as ripe as the finest plantings in the area. It is a wine that is generally released some 18-24 months after the harvest – much earlier than Brunello, which is on a five-year release cycle – which makes the Rosso a lighter, more approachable wine that is meant for earlier consumption. I don’t generally agree with those who label Rosso di Montalcino as a “baby Brunello,” as it doesn’t have the richness or the complexity of a Brunello, but is is a pleasant, sometimes very fine bottle of wine that does at least give one a preview of the vintage, letting us know what that year’s Brunello will be like in some three years’ time upon release.
What all this is leading to is the remarkable quality of the 2010 vintage for Rosso di Montalcino. I met with several producers who told me about the excellence of this particular growing season in Montalcino, with Mario Bollag of Terralsole telling me that, “the grapes from 2010 are the best he’s ever seen.” Other producers echoed this thought, so while the bottles of Brunello from this vintage will be something to look for when they are released in three years, at leat now we can enjoy the new versions of Rosso di Montalcino.
I’ve tried several examples of 2010 Rosso di Montalcino to date and have been most impressed by the SestadiSopra, a small traditional estate that I’ve rated as among the best producers of Brunello over the past half-dozen years. Their new Rosso is a lovely wine, with aromas of ripe morel cherry, cedar and a hint of mint with precise acidity and an ultra clean finish and excellent persistence. I ordered a bottle of this for our small group at Taverna Grappolo Blu in the town of Montalcino and it was wonderful with lunch; I don’t know if I’ve ever tried a more delicious Rosso di Montalcino!
Other 2010 Rosso di Montalcino I love include the elegant Ciacci Piccolomini, with its lovely red cherry and red rose aromas; the Lisini, with its light herbal notes in a traditional, subdued style; the fruit-forward Uccelliera; the appealing and perfectly balanced Fuligni, which has lovely cleansing acidity; the irresistible Le Chiuse with inviting fruit and floral aromas and remarkable balance and finally, the exquisite Il Paradiso di Manfredi, with beautiful morel cherry, red plum and iris aromas, notable concentration and gorgeous varietal purity; this is as complex and as ideally structured a Rosso as you can find.
There are other examples of 2010 Rosso di Montalcino that I have yet to try, these include top producers such as Il Poggione and Gianni Brunelli. Then there are producers such as Biondi-Santi, Tassi and Poggio di Sotto, who will not release their 2010 Rosso for another 8-12 months; I can’t wait to try these versions!
While these are not wines to replace Brunello, as they do not have the depth of fruit of those wines, these Rosso are beautiful wines that are ideal bottles to enjoy while you wait for the 2010 Brunello to become available on the market in 2015. Many of the best Rosso di Montalcino from 2010 will be at peak enjoyment then, so grab them now while you can easily find them. You have been warned!
A few weeks ago in Chicago and New York, I tasted pre-release bottlings of the 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riservas. I had looked forward to the regular bottlings of the 2004 Brunellos when they were released last year and was even more excited about these Riservas.
2004 was an excellent year throughout much of the Italian peninsula and that was true in Toscana as well. The 2004s displayed lovely fresh fruit aromas with very good to excellent concentration and nicely balanced acidity. After the alcoholic and bitter bottlings from 2003 and the lighter than normal 2002′s, the Brunellos from 2004 were a step in the right direction.
To me 2004 is a classic Brunello vintage – one that emphasized elegance over power. The wines as a whole are not as deeply concentrated as those from 2001, so they will probably not age as long as those bottlngs. For that reason, some journalists have gone on record as believing that the 2004 Brunellos were not as exciting as some were making them out to be. The bottom line for me is that everyone likes the wines very much, but it’s just a case of how much. I think overall the Brunellos from 2004 are excellent, with several outstanding bottlings. So now the 2004 Riservas and as you can imagine, I like these wines very much. I was certainly looking forward to the “best of the best” from this year, and I have not been disappointed. The wines have very impressive concentration, beautiful varietal exprression and the structure to age for 15-20 years, perhaps longer in a few cases.
Here are some brief thoughts on a few of my favorites:
I am a huge fan of this producer, one of the very best who makes his wines in a traditional style. Beautiful red cherry, strawberry and cedar notes, impressive concentration, elegant entry on the palate and a long, sensual finish with excellent fruit persistence. A classic bottling, easily one of the best Brunellos from 2004.
Another of my very favorite producers in Montalcino, this is another producer that makes their wines in a traditional manner. Lovely perfumes, excellent concentration and a huge finish. This is a more powerful wine than the Fuligni and will require more aging to be at its best. Yet the wine always maintains its harmony and finesse. The Brunello Riserva from Il Poggione, incidentally, is now labeled as “Vigna Paganelli”; the Riserva has traditionally been sourced from this 40 year old vineyard, but it has only been labeled this way since the 2003 bottling.
This producer did not make a Riserva in 2002 or 2003, so this is a pleasant return. More modern than the two wines listed above, but restrained in its use of oak. Deeply concentrated with admirable ripeness, this is quite complete and should age well for 12-15 years.
MOCALI “VIGNA DELLE RAUNATE”
Lovely deep garnet color; beautiful cherry and cedar aromas. Medium-full with a lengthy finish with elegant tannins. Quite stylish!
The regular bottling of Brunello Riserva (if that makes any sense!), this is not as deeply concentrated as the “Rauante”, but is elegantly styled with very fine tannins and precise acidity and should be at its best in 10-12 years.
TENUTA DI SESTA
Cherry and berry fruit and cedar aromas; medium-full with elegantly styled tannins and a distinct, earthy, herbal finish with very good persistence. Some nice notes of balsamic add complexity to the flavor profile.
CANALICCHIO DI SOPRA
An underrated traditional producer, the 2004 Riserva has plenty of fruit along with firm, youthful tannins. Earthy finish with notes of menthol and impressive persistence. Best in 12-15 years.
I will taste many more examples of both the regulat 2004 Brunellos as well as the 2004 Brunello Riservas at VinItaly this April and will report on these in future posts. Paid subscribers to my publication, Guide to Italian Wines, will be able to read my tasting notes from all of these wines. To leanrn how to subscribe, click here
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.