Sunday, May 1, 2016

Dal Forno - Incredible

At the very top of the wine spectrum in Veneto is Dal Forno Romano, producing wines of the highest standard and quality. This quality comes at a price, but it's an experience that is hard to forget. Here are two examples I recently enjoyed.

Dal Forno Romano, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, 2009,  16.5% ABV, $300

Powerful finesse, is the overriding descriptor for this wonderful wine. The nose begins with dense, dark, sweet, fruit notes dried blackberry and warm strawberry with pie spice, sweet, dried, aromatic tobacco, and charred violet incense. The palate is delicious and complex with fruit that is concentrated but fresh, with flavors of blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry all present. These flavors are dense, but have a lean edge and good acidity, supported by fine grained grip and notes of 90% cacao chocolate. The palate has a weightless character that offsets the density beautifully. Everything is underscored by the grip and juicy acidity. The finish lingers for minutes. 98 Pts

Dal Forno Romano, Valpolicella Superiore  DOC, 2009, 14.5% ABV, $90

The details in the nose of this incredible wine just keep manifesting themselves over several minutes of examination. Those details include sweet dark tobacco, charred meat, ripe black fruit, blackberry liquor, perfumed ink, fresh aromatic herbs, sweet vanilla, and a suggestion of toasted coconut. The palate is fresh, energetic and delicious with lean blackberry and black currant, dried herbs, and tobacco. There's plenty of supporting acidity, excellent balance, and super-fine mouth-coating tannins. Made in the appassimento method, with grapes dried for 90 days, this "Valpolicella" behaves like a top Amarone. Aged 36 months in new barrique and 24 months in bottle. 97 Pts

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Thinking Pink?

It's that time of year again, when plans are made for romantic dinners with that special someone. Along with that comes flowers, perhaps jewelry, and often times a lovely bottle of wine. Rose', with it's romantic color, seems especially appropriate; and maybe something sparkling to add excitement. Here are a few pleasant options to consider, from around the world, that will lend festivity and beauty to any special occasion.

Shades of Pinkness

2011 Szigeti Brut Rose' Pinot Noir Burgenland, Austria 13% ABV, $25 -Sparkling

Beautiful crystal pink color with a delicate nose of fresh strawberry, clean mineral, pure crushed raspberry and a hint of fresh bread. There are also subtle notes of ginger spice and tangerine. The palate is fresh and energetic with more tangerine, peach, and wild strawberry notes with underlying minerality. Well balanced and a little savory on the finish. Lasts well in the glass, and satisfies. 88 Pts

 2015 Dom. Tournon "Mathilda" M. Chapoutier Victoria, Australia  12%ABV, $16 -Still

Light and refreshing with notes of dried strawberries, savory mineral Earth, and some subtle dried flowers. The palate is fresh and light with strawberry, raspberry, tangerine, a little dried herbs and fresh acidity, There's a pleasant chewy texture on the finish as well. 86 Pts

NV Francios Montand Brut Rose' Jura, France 11% ABV,  $15 -Sparkling

This sparkling wine has a lovely Salmon color and a finessed overall character. The nose is clean and refreshing with subtle raspberry fruit and tart fresh strawberry. The palate is light and peppy with more strawberry and raspberry notes, a bit of mineral underneath, some toast, and easy acidity. granache and cinsault, made in the traditional method of Champagne. 87 Pts

NV Zardetto "Z" Rose Spumante Veneto, Italy 12% ABV, $17 -Sparkling

The nose is crisp and clean with delicate strawberry, dried red cherry, mineral, and a hint of bread dough. The palate has a soft texture and creamy bubbles, with wild strawberries, a savory note, nice minerality, and some earthiness. Food friendly. 100% Raboso Varonese. 87 Pts

NV Juve & Camps Brut Rose Cava DO, Spain 12% ABV, $16 -Sparkling

This one has a beautiful, crystalline, ruby color that is stunning on the table. The nose has nice depth with ripe, dried, strawberry and dried cherry, some sweet dried flowers and a tart little nip. The palate is clean and dry with raspberry fruit, mineral underneath, and zippy bubbles. There is a long satisfying finish with lingering minerality. 100% Pinot Noir 88 Pts.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Franciacorta - Fine Traditional Bubbles From Northern Italy

What is more appropriate than a dry sparkling wine, made in the methode champenoise, to start a
festive event? Certainly the pop of the cork and the tickle of the bubbles adds to the importance of these occasions. Even better, is when the wines are of top quality, as is the case of those from Franciacorta DOCG. Produced in the Iseo Lake region, of southern Lombardy, these wines provide an excellent option for special occasions. While other enjoyable sparkling wines can be found in Italy, few reach the quality level that is the standard of Franciacorta.

DOCG regulations help ensure that Franciacorta is traditional in its style, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being the primary varietals used; Pinot Blanc is also permitted, but is much less common in the blends. Regulations also require the traditional Champagne method, but with a minimum of 24 months in bottle, six months longer than in Champagne. Consumers will find these wines to be primarily in the Brut category, showing very low levels of residual sugar. They are typically clean and crisp, with bright minerality, and an overall fresh character. Lovers of fine, sparkling wine should become familiar with the Franciacorta option.

Here are some examples I tasted recently from two top Franciacorta producers, Barone Pizzini and La Valle.

NV La Valle "Primum" Brut Franciacorta DOCG 12.5% ABV, $40

The nose is vibrant with fresh lemon flesh, sweet mineral notes, and some dried grapefruit. Very clean and energetic. The palate is well balanced and seamless with ripe lemon, some green apple, and subtle savory notes. There's a soft and easy texture on the mid-palate and a mildly tart finish with gentle minerality lingering. Lovely, complete, and very easy to drink. 93 Pts

2011 Barone Pizzini "Saten" Franciacorta DOCG 12.0% ABV, $45

Fresh, finessed lemon and lime notes, on the nose, are complimented by mineral, toasty notes and sweet white flowers. The palate texture is notably soft and silky with tart peach, subtle sweetness underneath, fresh acidity, and lingering minerality. There is a pleasant mousse texture as the bubbles dissolve on the palate. Lovely. 100% Chardonnay 92 Pts

2009 La Valle "Naturalis" Franciacorta DOCG Extra Brut 12.7% ABV, $55

The nose is complex and forthcoming with ripe grapefruit flesh, wet stones, white mineral Earth, and a hint of apple pie. Very elegant, with a pure, fresh overall character.  The top note on the palate is the pleasant minerality followed by dried lemon rind, some underbrush, crisp acidity and toasted bread. The minerality carries everything to a satisfying, mouthwatering finish, Solid and a little bold. 92 Pts.

2008 Barone Pizzini "Bagnadore" Franciacorta DOCG Riserva, Dosage Zero 12.0% ABV, $60

This single vineyard beauty is a particularly outstanding example of the quality one can find in Franciacorta wines. The nose offers fresh tangerine and lemon flesh with blended mineral notes, and emergent aromas of sliced peaches. On the palate there's tart peach and nectarine,
and a noteworthy weight to the mouthfeel. Crushed white flowers and minerality and provide further detail that lingers long on the finish. This wine develops very well with time in the glass, and still shows lovely details long after being poured.  A complex and elehgant experience. Aged 60 to 70 months in bottle on natural yeasts and named for the nearby river; the grapes come from the vineyard named Roccolo, which is farmed naturally. The winery was one of the first in the region to promote biodiversity and natural farming methods. 50/50 Chardonnay/Pinto Nero 93 Pts

La Valle Rose Franciacorta DOCG Brut N/V 12.5% ABV, $55

The nose is finessed, overall, with floral spice, fresh strawberry, pomegranate and a saline note. The palate has a creamy texture, with tiny bubbles, bread dough, dried strawberry, a subtle savory note, and clean minerality. Nice length on the finish. 90 Pts

2011 Barone Pizzini Rose Franciacorta DOCG 12.9% ABV, $45

Toasty on the nose with bread dough, dried raspberry, tangerine undertones, and a nice tangy snap. Over time in the glass, plenty of detail emerges, filling out the personality. On the palate there's great texture, with minerally acidity, and a bit of grip, under the lean raspberry and fresh brioche. Shows some nice structure and a long mineral finish. 91 Pts

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Badia a Coltibuono - Outstanding and Organic

Badia a Coltbuono was established in 1051, yes 1051; that's not a typo. It was founded by the Vallombrosan order, who may have been one of the first to cultivate Sangiovese in the region. Today, the Stucchi Prinetti family runs things, and produces Chianti Classicos that are one of the standards for the area. In addition to being elegant, and impressive, their wines are also organic. The wines of Badia a Coltobuono can be relied upon for consistent quality and stature, year in and year out. Below are a few examples of this go-to wine with a classic Chianti heart.

2009 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva 14.5% ABV $35

The dark red cherry fruit is beautiful and pure on the nose with rose petal scents and cedar on top. The general character of the nose is fine toned, elegant, and precise. The palate has aromatic red cherry dust, pomegranate, with charred Earth, sandalwood, cardamom, fine texture, and firm undertones. Well structured, with fine grip and dark acidity. The finish lingers nicely, with tart mineral Earth, dried herbs, and leather. 91 Pts.

2012 "Coltibuono RS" Chianti Classico 13% ABV $15

The nose starts off with a distinct, dark, brambly note, followed by a streak of fresh red cherry skins, a little perfumed vanilla, flinty Earth, and dried flowers. The palate is fresh and light with bright red cherry, and red currant, with plenty of acidity, subtle tannins, and a lingering, chewy finish. Aged in French barriques, 120,00 bottles produced. 88 Pts

 1999 Badia a Coltibuno Chianti Classico Riserva 14% ABV, $65

 Quite finessed on the complex nose, with elegant black cherry, and layers of spice, faint incense, spearmint, dried oregano, and forest floor. The palate is Earthy but elegant, with dried blackberry and other fresh dark fruit, clean acidity that lends a subtle tartness. Fine tannins and gentle structure on this lovely, mature, Riserva. 91 Pts.

 2012 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 13% ABV, $20

Pure, piercing red fruit is featured on the nose of this solid Chianti Classico with wild dried strawberries and lean red cherries and a subtle core of richness. Notes of dried leaves, iron, and subtle dried mint round out the complexity. The palate is juicy and appealing, with aromatic dried red cherry, nutmeg, mineral Earth, and dried herbs. Well structured with sweet tannins and juicy acidity. Traditional and satisfying. 88 Pts

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Four Vintages - Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico

A study in vintage characteristics

Castello di Querceto in Greve
Here is a revealing look at vintage differences in a solid traditional Chianti Classico Riserva.  Castello Querceto produces these wines from grapes grown in a valley near the lovely village of Greve, in the north-eastern part of the Chianti Classico zone. The vineyards are at elevations ranging from 350 to 500 meters, which is very favorable to Sangiovese quality. These wines were composed primarily of Sangiovese, with approximately 5% Canaiolo, and small amounts of other ancient varetals traditional to the region.Castello Di Querceto was one of 33 founding members of the Chianti Classico Consortium, in 1924.
From one vintage to another, there is little variation in the methods employed to produce these Riservas, with the exception of fine tuning that must be made to deal with variations in weather. This consistency in wine making makes these wines an excellent tool to compare vintage impact on wines in the region. I found the differences to be pronounced and very interesting.

2005 Castello Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva, 13.5% ABV, $15

The first impression on the nose is that of organic Earth notes and forest floor, suggesting some age. This was less pronounced as it opened up in the glass. Also on the nose is lean red and black cherry with Asian spice and tobacco underneath. The palate is rustic, with dried black cherry, tobacco, leather, and dried herbs. The finish continues the pleasant theme of rusticity with lingering tobacco notes. 88 Pts
2006 Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva, 13.5% ABV $15
The nose starts with firm dark fruit, blackberry and black cherry skins, with a little white pepper and anise. There is also a slight note of sweet vanilla. The palate shows more of the same black fruit which is dense and textured with mineral and tobacco notes, and good complexity. This developed well in the glass and was complete from the classic start to the fairly long finish. Well balanced, and satisfying. 91Pts
2007 Castello Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva, 13.5% ABV, $15
Beautiful aromas of spiced, ripe, black cherry flesh pushes out of the glass to meet you. This is followed by aromatic dried herbs, and some dried flower notes. On the palate, there is ripeness at the core of the black cherry and blackberry fruit, with firm edges supporting it, dried herbs, cardamom, and some mineral. There's a distinct contrast between the plush nose and leaner palate. 89 Pts

2009 Castello Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva, 13.5% ABV, $15
This one is straightforward with firm red cherry and a bit of dried herbs on the nose. The palate has tart red cherry, fresh acidity, and good grip. The elements that form the base of any decent Chianti are here, but not much else. There are no flaws, per se; it just doesn’t go past the basics. Earthy, baseline Chianti. I've tasted the 2009 Riserva from bottles with two different labels, but there was no noteworthy difference between the two. 86 Pts

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Producer Focus: La Fiorita

Making Wines with Style and Grace

The lovely floral label, on a bottle of La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino, is a fitting allusion to what one will find inside, and to the qualities of the people who make it. Roberto Cipresso and Natalie Oliveros are the team that have blended their individual talents to take La Fiorita to a high standard, and beautiful style. Here is some of the story behind this excellent Brunello producer.

Roberto and Natalie at La Masseria New York

Natalie Oliveros and Her 2006 LaFiorita Riserva

Natalie, Roberto, the Vineyards, and the Wine

I recently spoke with Natalie, as we shared a bottle of her 2006 Riserva Brunello, and enjoyed seeing her love for wine making, and for La Fiorita. Her first venture into wine came when she partnered with Roberto Cipresso, in 2006, producing wines made from grapes grown in the Lazio and Campania regions, under the "Savanna" label. These wines, produced from special ancient varietals, were critically acclaimed, and decidedly flamboyant in their branding. 
Not long after that, Natalie bought-out Roberto's partners at La Fiorita, and teamed with him to produce Brunello Di Montalcino.
Their Brunelli are blended from the fruit of two distinctly different vineyards, adding greater complexity to the final product.The two vineyards of La Fiorita are Poggio al Sole (150 m elev.) and Pian Bossolino (350 m elev.), both located in the Castelnuovo dell'Abate region of the Brunello DOCG zone. The impressive 2006 Riserva that we enjoyed, was composed of Pian Bossolino fruit only, although it's not designated as a single vineyard wine. The '06 normale Brunello was composed of grapes from both vineyards.

Natalie described an additional vineyard that they are adding (Giardinello?) , where they are converting an area that was an olive grove. "It's very beautiful with a staircase down the middle leading away from a pool, with roses, ancient olive trees, and a statue. The vineyard is south-west facing, with sandy soil" Sounds beautiful. 
The winery itself is located about 15 minutes west of the village of Montalcino. There they produce less than 30,000 precious bottles. Another factor that adds to the quality of their wines is the aging time before it is released. The DOCG laws require 24 months in wood and 4 months in bottle before it can be released; La Fiorita ages for 24 months in barrel, 8 months in steel, and another 24 months in bottle. The barrel time is further divided by 12 months in French barrique and 12 months in large Slavonian Botti. This results in an arrival to market slightly later than many of their Montalcinese counterparts, but they believe it is necessary for the best expression.

I asked Natalie if she finds people fail to respect her role at La Fiorita, and discount her value, since she is a woman who did not grow up in the wine business. "Yes, I do get that sometimes. I'll be talking about the wine, and the vineyards, and people will turn to someone else in the middle of a sentence, and I'm like, "Hellooo?" On the subject of respect she says, "I love it when I sense people are discounting my role, and knowledge of wine, and then I see their expression change as they realize I do know what I'm talking about, and I am fully involved in the wine. That gives me some satisfaction."
Natalie has put real effort into learning about wine making, getting involved in the process, and  understanding what makes the La Fiorita wine style.
"I became interested in wine through my ex-husband, and met Roberto [Cipresso] through him, and decided that I wanted to do more with wine, and build on my knowledge."
As a child Natalie had some exposure to wine making, as her father would make wine every year in the cellar of their home in Gouveneur, NY, located in the far north, near Canada. Today, Natalie says of her move into the wine business, "I wanted to do something my family could be proud of....this is who I am today."
Natalie is actively involved in the business decisions for the winery, for example, recently deciding whether to lease or purchase a new tractor and working it out with their accountant. She also contributes her opinions on the blending of the wines, although she says, "It's Roberto Cipresso's baby". 
I asked her about the style of La Fiorita wines, their elegance and the brand. 
Natalie explained, "It's the wine that made me fall in love with Roberto as a winemaker."  "But I never really liked the was kind of masculine." 
 "So you designed a different label?" "Yes, I wanted to keep true to the brand, but added these roses that represent the beauty in the vineyard, and an elegant style. Like a clean slate."

Roberto Cipresso 
Roberto Cipresso 
Roberto began his career with wine in 1985, at  Case Basse, the home of Gianfranco Soldera, and (arguably) the greatest Brunello made. Working along side a master of Sangiovese, such a Soldera, was certainly a great place to build a reservoir of knowledge. From there he moved on to become the Director of Ciacci Piccolomini, in 1987, and then established La Fiorita in 1992. Mixed in with that history are countless affiliations with other winery's and accolades for wine making greatness. Considering Roberto's bio, it is no surprise that the wines of La Fiorita are so beautiful.

Natalie said, "He has a special passion for La Fiorita. He oversees a lot of vineyards, but this one is his very own."

Together, this passionate duo has taken La Fiorita to a place of high quality, and beauty.

Here are my notes on a few La Fiorita Brunelli I have tasted recently.

2009 La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $65

The nose starts off with beautiful, dense, black cherry flesh, subtle smoke, dried aromatic herbs, and some charcoal. The palate is solid, with substantial fruit presence, but good balance. Balckberry and lean black cherry lead the way with some underbrush and anise compliments. The structure is refined, and sufficient, with fine grained tannins, and enough acidity to keep it fresh and energetic. 90 Pts

2008 La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $70

The nose is elegant and pure, with fragrant red cherry and Asian spice and a fresh and clean character. The palate is forward with a ripe core of raspberry and red cherry flesh. The fruit is luscious and mouthwatering with dried herbs in the finish. Balanced and easy to drink. 90 Pts

2007 La Fiorita Riserva Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $95

There is beautiful depth on the nose, with rich Asian spice,anise, fragrant red cherry and red cherry skins, a little burnt orange rind, and a faint layer of crushed forest leaves. Later the nose shows subtle dried flowers. The palate continues the theme of aromatic red cherry, with subtle tartness, and mineral underneath. Dried sweet herbs, sweet tannins, and mouthwatering acidity add to the completeness. There is excellent texture and detail in this wine, and good length on the finish. Thoroughly enjoyable. 93 Pts. 

2007 La Fiorita Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $55

Pretty dried floral aromas and subtle pie spice form a layer atop the black cherry flesh on the nose of this lovely wine. Underneath, there is a subtle woodland aroma, with dried violets, and a bit of iodine, providing a nice counterpoint. The palate has delicious spiced black and red cherry flesh, a bit of strawberry, with lingering tobacco and black fruit on the long finish. Well balanced, aromatic, and very drinkable. 91 Pts

2006 La Fiorita Riserva Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $70

Decanted for 1 hour. Wonderfully spiced red and black cherry fruit with strawberry notes as well. Notes of fennel, nutmeg, and other dried herbs overlay the fruit, along with dried flowers and dusty aromatic wood.
The palate is pleasantly chewy, with a fine granularity. More sweet spice and dark cherry extract with strawberry preserves and some plum. Quite dense all around, with a pretty layer as well. The structure features juicy acidty and moderate tannins, both playing an important balancing role to the rest of the characteristics. The finish is long and interesting with spice cake and mineral notes.

This riserva walks the line between modern and traditional very well. There is plenty here for everyone: fruit, texture, structure, and satisfaction. Interestingly, this wine spends time in both new French oak and traditional Slavonian botti, which apparently helps with it's split personality. Also contributing to the traditional side is the altitude of the vineyard from which these grapes are sourced, 320 meters located in the Castelnuovo dell'Abate subzone of the Montalcino DOCG, an area rich in fine Brunello producers. 92 Pts.

2004 La Fiorita Riserva Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $100

Masculine, deep and rich on the nose, with dark red cherry, red currant, some spiced Earth, and dried rose petals. The palate shows lean red cherry fruit, mineral, leather, and aromatic Earth. Lean on the finish, with easy acidity, lingering anise notes, and fine grained tannins. 91 Pts.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

2010 Brunello Vintage Report - Part 1

Benvenuto Brunello 2010

 I very much enjoyed this year's Benvenuto Brunello event, where approximately forty producers gathered to introduce the 2010 vintage. The setting was Gotham Hall, in Manhattan, as it has been for the last three years. It is a wonderful space, and a well run event, but the best part, of course, was the wine. This year was especially wonderful because the current vintage release is 2010.

After tasting approximately 40 examples of 2010 Brunello, it is safe to say this is an outstanding and classic vintage; a fact that is fairly well known thanks to the abundant press to that effect. Perhaps the most pronounced common thread among these examples is the freshness of fruit; not a "new wine" kind of fruit, but rather a freshly cut black and red fruit style. This freshness supports a finesse that I saw in many examples. By finesse, I mean an elegance despite the firm power and structure that comes with well made Brunello.
In a word, 2010 Brunello Di Montalcino is versatile. So many of them are drinking well now, but are still showing great composition, balance, and depth that indicates they will last and improve with age.
You won't find very many highly extracted "fruit bombs" in this year's class, except for those producers who have that style as a deliberate goal, but the fruit is completely ripe, and well supported by the acidity essential to the Brunello experience. The tannins are there as well, and in some cases they are pronounced, but that only speaks to the longevity of the vintage, which should be significant. Add to that the prevalence of great balance, and you have a vintage made for the classic Brunello lover.
Is this the vintage of the century or of a lifetime? I hope not, since this is the way Brunello should be every year, weather permitting. Should you run out and buy 2010 Brunello? Of course, but don't forget the other vintages which will be available at a lower price. Personally, I'm shopping for 2004 and 2006, in addition to the '10s. Enjoy!

Here are my notes on a few representatives and favorites from the event, and elsewhere.*

2010 Le Ragnaie "Fornace"  Brunello Di Montalcino $14% ABV $120

  There's a "wow" factor as the aromas push their way out of the glass making an immediate impression with dark, warm, red cherry blended with cardamom, turmeric, and cloves.The palate has a savory character, with sweet charred meats, anise, dark Earth, dried basil, and wonderful aromatic action. Quite complex, and hard to pin down, which is what I love about well made Sangiovese wines. Very well balanced and complete, with plenty of stuffing and a long finish. 96 Pts




   2010 Il Poggione  Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $65

The nose is solid and finessed at the same time, showing dense, firm black cherry fruit and skins,  with some warm spice, rose petals, and lanolin. The palate has a dignified character with plenty of detail, but expressed in a reserved way, letting out a little at a time. There is delicious spiced red cherry with fresh acidity, and a firm streak. In addition there are layers of tobacco, aromatic dried herbs, and a faint dairy note. Clearly poised for a long life and improvement with integration, it can easily be enjoyed now too. Il Poggione consistently produces excellent, traditional Brunello at a price point that is very good for this level of quality and the 2010 is a prime example. 95 Pts


2010 Le Chiuse  Brunello Di Montalcino 13.5% ABV $57

The nose is full and firm with minerally black fruit richness at the core, faint vanilla bean, dates, sweet grilled meats, a little dark chocolate, and a layer of dried flowers.There's a pleasant, slightly chewy texture to the palate, with baked red cherry fruit that combines rusticity with subtle sweetness. The grilled meat carries through on the palate as well. Finishes with savory notes, and good balance. 89-90 Pts



  2010 Castello Banfi "Poggio lle Mura" Brunello Di Montalcino 14.4% ABV, $75

Straight forward with pronounced fruit, on the nose and palate, making up the primary component of its personality. The nose starts with some floral notes atop the solid black cherry, and woodsy brambles. There is a hint of caramel present there as well. The palate is full of tart black cherry and blackberry with some sandalwood and fine grained tannins. The mid-palate falls off a bit, but this is a relatively easy-drinking style that is ready to go now. 89 Pts




  2010 Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino 14.4% ABV $85

The nose is firm, and a bit closed at the moment, but reveals more with coaxing. Pretty dried black cherry skins with a lovely floral layer, some charred Earth, and aromatic dried herbs all unfold with a little time. Later, some pie spice and tobacco evolve on the nose. The palate starts with fresh red cherry and blackberry flesh that are underscored by clean mineral Earth, turmeric, and more dried herbs. The structure is serious and finessed, with good acidity that blends into the fruit, and fine grained tannins underneath. Good length, and a elegant finish. Probably the most classic and best Brunello I've tasted from Il Palazzone. Outstanding. 95 Pts





2010 Bottega S.p.A. "Il Vino Dei Poetti" Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV Not Yet Imported

This wine offers the complete experience from start to finish. The nose shows dark black cherry that is tart, fresh and pure, followed by warm Earth, orange rind and dried herbs. The palate has a lovely light weight and soft texture, with more clean dark cherry, mouthwatering acidity, savory herbs, and a very fine grained grip. There are no week spots here, and the structure and balance bode well for a long life. 94Pts

2010 Caparzo Brunello Di Montalcino 14% A.B.V. $50

Rich blackberry fruit and a little sweet vanilla bean are notable on the nose, with some mineral notes as well. The palate has fresh blackberry, flinty Earth, and a dusty finish. Well balanced with a nice freshness. 90 Pts

2010 Col Di Lamo Brunello Di Montalcino 14% A.B.V. $60

This was a very pleasant standout in the class of 2010 that showed great complexity and finesse. The elegant nose starts off with dried black cherry skins, with subtle black cherry flesh and cranberry at the core, underscored by mineral Earth, dried basil, and a faint dairy note.Quite fragrant. The palate has a nice medium weight with tangy black plum, other firm, dark, aromatic fruits, grilled beef, and more mineral Earth. The structure is solid, and well balanced, with fine grained tannins that coat the mouth on the finish. Complete and satisfying, with good length on the finish. 95 Pts

2010 Ferrero Brunello Di Montalcino  15% ABV, $65 

Needed a few minutes to blow off at first, but opened up into a complex and solid wine with a distinct personality. The nose has notes of decomposed forest floor, charred meat, tobacco, lean blackberry, and dried black cherries, The palate shows full, firm fruit, with blackberry that is dark and serious. There are notes of anise, and aromatic wood with mineral Earth and dried cherry skins. Masculine, with big structural components and good balance, the development of this wine over time should be enjoyable. 93 Pts

*Watch for updates to this post in the future as I add notes from other producers.