Posts tagged ‘rosso di montalcino’
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!
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.