Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Terralsole Brunello Di Montalcino 2004




2004 Terralsole, Mario Bollag, Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV, $55

Decanted 1 hour prior with plenty of sediment present. Firm, dark, dense black fruit,  is the primary feature to start on the nose. Overlaid on that foundation is dried flowers, subtle dried mint leaves, some green tobacco, and savory herbs. The palate has aromatic black cherry, and more savory notes, with a ripe core, but still giving an impression of rusticity with it firm grip and flinty undertones. Later, notes of coffee emerge. Tertiary notes are present, but hard to pin down. Masculine at its heart with long finish, and a little salinity at the end. 90 Pts

Terralsole is located in the south-eastern section of the the Brunello DOCG, near Castelnuovo dell'Abate. Grapes for this Brunello are grown at an altitude of 250m in classic marl. While not officially certified organic, their practices follow the principles of organic farming. The wine spent 28 months in large French tonneaux , and six months in bottle before release.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

2009 Brunello - Vintage Report

  Welcoming the 2009 vintage

Gotham Hall NYC - Seminar on the 2009 Brunello Vintage
January 27th saw the arrival of the Benvenuto Brunello road show, from The Fortezza in Montalcino, to Gotham Hall in Manhattan. The purpose of the event was to showcase (and welcome) the 2009 vintage of Brunello Di Montalcino, being as it was, the January five years after the harvest year.

Approximately thirty producers were present to pour the wines of Montalcino: 2009 Brunello, 2008 Brunello Riserva, various Rosso Di Montalcino (Mostly 2012), Sant' Antimo DOC.

Many bottles have now found their way to store shelves, so I thought it a good time to share my thoughts on the vintage.

The 2009 Brunello Vintage

Officially rated at four stars, out of a possible five, 2009 was a season that provided challenges for producers, but seemed to have a relatively happy ending.
 Here is the official description of the vintage from the Corsorzio Del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino:
"During the first phase, there were many rainy days which resulted in a large accumulation of water reserves in the land. This was in the Spring, at the beginning of the vegetative development of the vines. This mainly rainy phase lasted longer than normal, until the middle of July. During the second phase, the summer season, the weather was very dry and hot. The water reserves, accumulated during the first phase, proved very useful. The ripening speeded up from the second half of the month of August and followed a steady rhythm, as is clear also from the analytical data collected by the Consorzio. The potential alcohol contents of the grapes are quite high, but with excellent levels of total acidity and extracts. The amounts of polyphenols are both substantial and well balanced."

My General Impressions of the Wines Tasted
Lovely fruit was a frequent characteristic, with many showing especially rich spiced cherry that lends itself to early drinking. Many wines ended up with slightly higher alcohol levels as well. That said, there is still good balance and structure in many of the wines that I tasted, which bodes well for some aging potential. One pitfall of the vintage was the heat that lingered into late summer. Poor timing during harvest could result in poor balance, and weak structure. As always, these generalities are subject to the practices of individual producers. Sadly, some producers never quite meet the mark of this noble wine, for one reason or another, but there are many fine examples in the class of 2009.

Notes on several 2009's tasted, at Benvenuto Brunello and elsewhere.



2009 Le Ragnaie V.V. Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV
Aromatic and rich with solid depth to the dark spice red cherry fruit.Notes of espresso beans are pronounced on the nose with delicate dried flowers on top. Soft textured, and elegant in weight in the mouth. More aromatic action energizes the red cherry fruit with dried herbs and dusty charred Earth. The finish has good length, more espresso, and a very fine grained texture. At over 600 meters elevation, the Le Ragnaie vineyard is the highest in the Montalcino zone, which seems to have helped in the high temperatures of the 2009 summer.. Only 2200 bottles produced. 92Pts




2009 Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino14% ABV, $60

Rich Earth and aromatic red cherry skins with underlying minerality and notes of dried herbs (thyme?). Later green tobacco and sandalwood appear on the nose. The palate is delicious being somehow rich and lean at the same time.Spiced red cherry leads the way with nice freshness and juicy acidity. The finish is long and finely textured. Satisfying, and complete. 91 Pts








 

2009 Pinino Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $50
Iron, dried herbs, tobacco, red cherry skins, and some vanilla bean on the nose. The palate consists of tart red cherry fruit that is a bit lean, accented by sparse Asian spice. The brief finish is firm and rustic. 87 Pts



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 2009 Col D'Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $55


First out on the nose is warm, spiced, dark cherry with a bit of tangerine rind, clay earth,
and pretty floral notes. The palate has an elegant weight, and is a bit subdued, showing subtle flavors of spiced red cherry, dried herbs, tobacco, and mineral Earth. Perhaps a bit shut down at this time, and likely to open and improve with time. 3 years in Slavonian oak and a year in bottle. An organic producer since 2013. 200,00 bottles produced. 88-90 Pts

 

 

 

 

2009 Tenuta Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino 13% ABV $60




The nose is dark and firm, with black cherry skins, mineral Earth, and serious floral notes on top and a suggestion of spearmint. The palate is finessed, with great strength underneath, showing elegant red cherry, and raspberry, with Asian spice, and fine texture. Notes of charred Earth accent the structure, which is complete and balanced, albeit a bit disjointed at this young age. The finish has good length and a fine grained grip. There is a depth to this wine that draws you in to focus your attention. No riserva was made in 2009, so all of the Brunello grape production went into this wine, and it shows. Luca told me that the challenge in 2009 was deciding when to harvest. The heat in the summer was substantial, and carried through into September, harvesting too early in September had to be avoided; Luca harvested late in the month. 91 Pts





2009 Loacker Corte Pavone Brunello Di Montalcino 15% ABV  $75

Rich spiced red cherry is dominent on the nose. The palate shows brite acidity, lots of rich cherry,
with a hint of sweetness, all supported by a subtle firmness. Easy drinking. 89 Pts

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello Di Montalcino 13.5% $50

Here is a wine that is consistently solid, ready to drink, and well balanced. The 2009 is no exception. Starting with a core of dark, spiced, black cherry flesh and skins, the nose draws you in. The presence of mineral and bramble notes provides added complexity as dried flowers float over it all to punctuate things. The palate has nicely aromatic fruit, black cherry skins and a bit of strawberry, with some anise, and dried herbs. Well balanced, with plenty of acidity to carry things, and medium grained tannins framing it out. Complete and easy to drink now, and likely to improve in the short term. 90 Pts.

 






2009 Castello Romitorio Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $50

 The nose is understated, with Earthy notes and some fragrant wood and fine red cherry skins. The palate is much more pronounced with tart red cherry, and bright acidity with sandalwood and subtle dried herbs. Most enjoyable was a fine green tobacco aroma late on the nose and also in the long, finessed finish. Perhaps a bit closed, I think it needs to be revisited in a year or two to see how it settles out. 12 months in French oak, and 14 months in Slavonian. Only 24,000 bottles produced.



 

2009 Palazzo Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $70

Subtle smoke and incense overlay dusty dried red cherry skins on the nose, with a pleasant little note of smokey candle wax.
Nicely structured and well balanced, the palate shows red cherry skins, dark Earth, and flinty stones, with
dried herbs and a fine mouthcoating finish that lingers. Elegant and solid at the same time. 92 Pts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

 

 

 

2009 Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $50

 Fine, black cherry, and black berry fruit, with elegant dried floral notes are the focus on the nose, along with burnt orange, iron, and a subtle richness. The palate has a fine grain, and elegant weight, with flavors of black cherry skins, anise, and some dried herbs. A bit awkward at this young age, with plenty of upside. 90Pts

 

 

 

 

2009 Siro Pacenti  "Pelagrilli" Brunello Di Montalcino 15% ABV $40

Beautifully rustic on the nose with cedar, forest floor, warm Earth, dried herbs, and firm black cherry fruit and skins. The palate has firm black fruit, more forest floor, and acidity in good measure that melds into the firm, fine tannins. The finish is long and interesting with some funk, and fine, mouth-coating tannins. 90Pts

 

 

 

 

2009 Siro Pacenti  Brunello Di Montalcino 15% ABV $75

The nose first shows firm masculine black cherry and black berry fruit with aromatic wood and some incense. On the palate, solid black cherry, some sweet tobacco and Earthy underbrush lead into a long, mouthwatering finish that has fine grip, and lingering tobacco notes. 91Pts

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV, $70

Forward, warm and toasty, spiced cherry leads the way on the nose.
Like a roasted cherry cobbler, with aromatic herbs, dried flowers, and forest floor. Very nice complexity. The palate has firm, fresh,  black cherry,with solid tannins, some espresso notes (which also develop later on the nose) and a long clean finish. Quite a nice ride. A blend of grapes sourced from twenty different vineyards, with an average vine age of 20 years. 12 months in barrique (new & used) followed by 18 months in botti. 150,000 bottles produced. Yummy and serious at the same time. 91Pts

 
2009 Il Grappolo - Fortius Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV

  The first impression on the nose is of beautiful spiced, red cherry fruit, followed by tobacco, some forest floor notes, orange rind, molasses, and dried flowers. The palate has lean red cherry, with more spice, mineral, dried herbs, and a moderately long finish. Well balanced, with good structure. 37,000 bottles produced. 90 Pts

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Capanne Ricci Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $55

Quite Earthy on the nose, with roasted black cherry flesh and a grilled meats.
The Earthy quality continues on the palate along with spiced black cherry, the acidity is a bit
understated, being upstaged by the solid fruit and pronounced,but fine tannins. 89 Pts.


 

 

2009 Mocali Brunello Di Montalcino 

Fresh red cherry and red cherry skins, with smokiness, and Earth. On the palate, lean red cherry, some green herbs, and  good structure. Straightforward and ready to drink now. 87 Pts






 








2009 Gianni Brunelli Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $60

Red cherry skins, and dried flowers lead the way on the nose with some clay Earth, mineral, and meatiness. The palate is nicely balanced, with finesse, showing more firm red cherry and floral notes, followed by a long, dusty finish. This is the full package, complete, satisfying, and likely to last in the cellar for a while.  91 Pts

 

 

 

 

 

2009 Uccelliera Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $45

Fragrant, dried black cherry, with Asian spice notes, flinty Earth, and a subtle dairy notes, comprise the nose on this welcoming wine. The palate shows fresh, red cherry, some anise, with mouth coating dusty tannins and long, mouthwatering finish. Well built, and really easy to drink. An excellent value. 91 Pts

 

 

2009 Tenuta San Giorgio Brunello Di Montalcino 14.5% ABV $55

Sweet wood notes on the nose with cranberry, dried herbs, black pepper, and some cinnamon candy. The palate is fresh, and light in weight with clean red cherry, moderate acidity, and fine grained tannins. 87 Pts

Thursday, June 12, 2014

2009 Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico


2009 Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico Riserva 13.5% ABV  $33


This producer is one that provides "next level" Chianti perennially. The immediate first impression on the nose is of depth, darkness, and complexity. The beautiful rich dark fruit, black cherry and blackberry, has a pleasant hard edge that suggests seriousness. Overlying the fruit is cedar, dried violets, charred sandalwood, faint vanilla bean, and subtle spice cake aromas. The palate is mid weight and mildly chewy. With the dark fruit leading the way again, the palate shows lean black cherry, dried flowers, and subtle grilled meat. Very firm and structured, but still quite approachable because of the fine fruit component. There is a long savory finish, with minerality and fine grained grip. Big and balanced, this will certainly reward cellaring. 92 Pts

Check out Levi Dalton's interview with Castello Di Ama director Marco Pallanti, on the I'll Drink to That! podcsast.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Castello Dei Rampolla - Sammarco 1997




Castello Dei Rampola, Sammarco 1997, IGT 13% ABV


Solid and full of character, this has not faded like some other '97's. With solid, dark, red plum and black cherry skins giving it a fullness on the nose and a rich core, it is very much alive and well. Other notes on the complex nose include dry underbrush, forest floor, rare roast beef, dark incense, and some black pepper. The palate has plenty of backbone, with firm acidity and  somewhat chewy tannins. Savory, with more black cherry skins, incense, and some dried floral notes. The finish is lingering and carries through the savoriness. Late notes of dark tobacco developed on the nose. There is no sign that this is near its crest. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Sangiovese and Merlot. A real pleasure. 92 Pts

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Barbi 2007 Brunello

Fattoria dei Barbi 2007 Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV, $40

The nose is full and rich with spiced red and black cherry fruit, rare beef, iron, aromatic dried herbs, hints of burnt orange rind and pleasing Earth undertones. The palate is light weight, but satisfying and full flavored, showing red cherry skins, and Asian spice with anise notes. Well structured with sweet acidity and fine grained chewiness on the finish, which lingers briefly. This is a much more readily enjoyable Barbi than ones I've tasted in the past. Easy to drink now, and built to support aging. A very good value. 90Pts.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sangiovese Sources -Part 2 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano


Wine with a Noble Heritage


Montepulciano. Photo Bob Fyke
 In my ongoing love affair with wines made from the Sangiovese grape, I regularly explore the various manifestations that different places produce. Each puts its own special mark on the Sangiovese personality, and provides nuances that make my pursuit even more pleasant. I keep arriving at the same conclusion; nowhere outside of Italy seems capable of bringing out the best facets of this gem. Tuscany, first and foremost, is perfect for Sangiovese, and vice versa, but other Italian regions too can illuminate its heart. Among them are Romagna and Umbria. I will keep looking elsewhere, and would love to find examples that disprove my conclusion, but for now Italy is the only place that captures Sangiovese's greatness.

The Author and His Lovely Wife in Montepulciano
In today's post I focus on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the product of vineyards surrounding the beautiful Tuscan village of Montepulciano, a place no visitor to Tuscany should miss. Classically crowning a dramatic hilltop, its spectacular views and wonderful charms make for great romance and memories.


 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was the very first wine to receive Italy's coveted DOCG designation, today there are 73 DOCG wines, but it was the first. What placed it at the head of the line? To start, it has a long history, having been mentioned by name in documents dating back to 1350. Add to that the fact that it has a history of being preferred by "nobles" such as popes, poets, and kings, and one can see why it was bestowed this honor. And then of course there is the fact that it is a consistently fine wine.

The DOCG laws require that Vino Nobile be composed of a minimum of 70% Sangiovese, locally called Prugnolo Gentile, with up to 30% being composed of other permissible grapes such as Canaiolo Nero and Colorino.

Regarding the name, be careful not to confuse it with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which is made from a different grape (Montepulciano), and in a different place (Abruzzo). Yes, it's a little confusing, but worth sorting out.

Generally speaking, Vino Nobile presents a Sangiovese of solid stature, with lovely aromatics of Earth, woods, and spice, and excellent balance. Many of them age quite well, and will reward patience, but it's not a wine that starts out backward or brutish. Rather, it can be enjoyed soon after release, or five, ten, or more years later. As is generally true with well made Sangiovese wines, they are best enjoyed with good food and good friends.

Here are notes from examples recently tasted at the Gambero Rosso event and seminar, "Italian Wine Tales", held in New York's Metropolitan Pavillion, in Manhattan.These are a small, but solid, sample of what wine lovers can enjoy from the eighty or so producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.


Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008 13.5% ABV,  $27
Here is a winery that takes environmental consciousness very seriously. Not only are they
certified organic / biodynamic,but they are completely off-grid as relates to electricity.
All electricity used in the production of this wine comes from
renewable resources, very impressive.
The wine shows no sign of being deprived in the production process. Serious, showing mineral and flinty notes, along with dried pine needles, all overlaying dusty dried black cherry. Later on the nose,
charred wood and meat fragrances came out. The palate is firm, showing roasted black cherry and lean,
finessed sweetness, on top of everything, that lends an elegant quality to the palate.The finish has some length with scents of sandalwood supported by sweet acidity and subtle tannins. Balanced and complete, this is impressive for a normale level Vino Nobile. 91Pts




Salcheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2010 13.5% ABV,  $27
Subtle dried herbs overlay dark Earthy cherry and leather. The acidity is understated on the soft textured palate that opens with round, spiced cherry preserves, followed by firm Earth and a good grip. Well structured and easy. 88 Pts.











La Braccesca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva "Santa Pia" 2008  14% ABV, $36 
This single vineyard Riserva is raised in French Oak and shows it with its approachability.
The nose jumps out with dense black cherry fruit that is forward and full of flavor, with cappuccino aromas and faint toast hovering over the fruit. Also present are light, dried herb notes. The palate has a soft texture
and shows more of the coffee, ripe black cherry flesh, as well as dried underbrush. There's a woody finish
of some length, with tobacco surfacing late. 

Fine grained tannins and subtle acidity underpin everything. 89 Pts


 

 

 

La Ciarliana Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Vigna 'Scianello 2007 $37

Dark incense and charred sandalwood float atop the spare black fruit in this very traditional nose. Plenty of aromatic mineral and leather further enhance this lovely wine. On the palate, the sweet leather, Earth and brambles continue the aromatic personality. There are no gaps here as each phase transitions into the next. Quite brambly on the mid-palate, then aromatic dried cherry skins takes over and carry into the long finish where fine tannins, more leather, and a little tobacco finish things off. Finessed, but solid, with fine grained tannins that provide a big satisfying grip. 92Pts


    

 

Vecchia Cantina Redi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva "Briareo" 2007 $35


The nose shows green and black pepper notes over lean black cherry fruit with a bit of vanilla bean as well. Forward and a bit fragrant, with a little chocolate coming out later on the nose. The palate is straightforward, primarily showing dense blackberry with a little chocolate. The tannins are dusty and the acid understated. The finish shows a little incense and flinty Earth. 88Pts







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vecchia Cantina Redi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano VeCam 2010

Lovely spice and dried herbs up front on top of dried red cherry skins, mineral Earth. The attack on the palate is soft in texture with clean red cherry and raspberry, with fresh acidity, and subtle earth. Moderately long on the finish with the mineral and herbs lingering. Elegant and finessed. 89Pts


 

La Berne Vino Nobile di MontepulcianoRiserva 2004 14% ABV, $40


  There is a solid depth to the full black cherry fruit here, making a nice core that is accented by dried flowers, sweet tobacco, and coffee notes. The attack on the palate is soft and pleasant. with lots of character from start to finish. Aromatic wood and dried cherry fruit dominate, with juicy acidity and some stature. Solid and finessed at the same time, it seems to have plenty of life left. 91 Pts.











 

 

Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2001 14% ABV

Here is an excellent example of the complexity and beauty that can develop in Vin Nobile that has had time in the bottle. The nose starts with solid dark fruit, blackberry and dark cherry, with pretty dried herbs, tobacco, and some mint coffee notes. The palate is soft textured and complex with dusty black cherry skins, eucalyptus, pine, underbrush, organic Earth, and a touch of milk chocolate. Clean and fresh in character, with a long finish of mouth coating fine tannins and tobacco. 92 Pts.






Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Nocio dei Boscarelli 2009 14.5% ABV, $70

 This comes from the single Vineyard del Nocio, which was planted in 1972, and is 100% Sangiovese. Aromatic and savory on the nose, qualities of charred Earth and grilled meat come through, along with dried sage and dried red cherry skins. Fresh and juicy on the palate, with brisk acidity, clean red cherry flesh and black cherry skins, and leather. Balanced and quietly structured, it carries through the finish with satisfaction. 90Pts



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Santa Lucia A'Luciano 2011 Morellino di Scansano

 


2011 Santa Lucia A'Luciano Morellino di Scansano 13.5% ABV,  $18

Sweet nose of roasted and spiced, dark cherry with pleasing richness and Earth. A really solid nose, with additional aromatic components circulating about the dried herbs, subtle floral notes and flinty Earth underneath. Nicely complex. The palate presents with a soft texture and continued floral characteristics over red cherry / strawberry preserves and sweet aromatic wood. The structure is refined and sufficient, providing nice support with moderate acidity and fine tannins. Provides a mouthful of flavor that stands solid for the whole bottle. Elegant and bold at the same time. 90 Pts.
 This was a sample bottle provided to me, and I can't find it listed for sale in the U.S., but I am told that it is available here.  I see it priced around $18 in Europe. Other wines from this producer are availbale in the U.S. and are solid values as well.