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