Posts tagged ‘mocali’

2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva

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.

Alessandro Bindoccci, Il Poggione (Photo ©Tom Hyland)



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.


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.


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.


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

February 20, 2010 at 12:04 pm 3 comments

The Latest from Montalcino

Montalcino View (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

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. 


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.


Cedar and red cherry notes; generous mid-palate. long, beautifully balanced finish; notable effort from an underrated estate.


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.

Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia (Photo ©Tom Hyland)



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.


Beautiful garnet color; silky perfumes of red cherry and dried strawberry; medium-full with a long, elegant finish; very classy!

Emilia Nardi, Tenute Silvio Nardi (Photo ©Tom Hyland)


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.

February 15, 2010 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

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