Introducing the latest installment of FINE+RARE buyer Jessica Bryans’ Tuscany Wine Journal, documenting her whistle-stop tour of all the region has to offer.
Day Three: Meeting the Godfather of Brunello
Another great day, tasting great Brunelllo.
I started the morning with Brunello for breakfast at the estate of Gianni Brunelli – run by the lovely Laura Brunelli. With her new cellar complete (when I last visited it was still under construction) she was thrilled to show it off.
I was lucky to start with a sampling of several different parcels of 2015 which provided a great insight into the vintage that everyone is raving about. Laura is no exception, she speaks of the 2015s with stars in her eyes and, although I am only tasting tank samples, I can see that there is a concentration and balance to these wines that reminds me of 2010 but with even more structure.
A tasting of Laura’s Brunello Riserva 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010, confirmed that I am still a big fan of these wines. Laura always remains stylistically mindful of elegance and purity of fruit with her wines, so you’ll never find them to be heavy handed or clunky – she has truly captured elegant Brunello.
Next on my trip, I made a made a mad dash to Biondi Santi to taste their 2010 Riserva.
Biondi Santi is one of the world’s most revered producers and is more or less the founder of Brunello di Montalcino – to this day they remain arguably the most prestigious producer in the region. This is the Godfather of Brunello estates, and it’s a real privilege to be able to visit them.
Jacopo Biondi Santi greeted me at the cellar, and in true Biondi Santi style brought me straight into the winery to taste some 2015 Riserva that was just being racked. Again, more oohing and ahhing over the 2015 vintage and the Biondi Santi 2015 Riserva is tasting as magical as one would expect. Concentration of fruit, perfume, huge structure and balanced acidity could be found within a sample of the unfinished product.
The 2010 Riserva did not disappoint and another big surprise – the 2012 Rosso is absolutely gorgeous with pure, crunchy red fruit fused with fresh acidity and supple tannins. The Rosso is truly a baby Brunello.
I had lunch with one of my favourite people in Montalcino – Francesco Ripaccioli who takes care of his family winery Canalicchio di Sopra alongside his siblings. Because I have visited the winery before, Francesco wanted to show me some new things and decided to put together a tasting comparison of the 3 different vineyards at Canalicchio di Sopra. We tasted wines from vineyards Canalicchio, Montosoli and Casaccia in vintages 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. It was such a privilege to taste the nuances of each vineyard before they are blended to make the final wines. Generally Canalicchio and Montosoli are blended together to make Brunello and Brunello Riserva. Casaccia will make the winery’s first single vineyard wine starting with the 2015 vintage.
After finishing the tasting I move on to my last stop: Altesino at the very north point of Brunello. The 2010 Riserva here is tasting pretty great and I also enjoyed their Montosoli vineyard from 2011.
I end the day en route to Chianti and will likely have sleep for dinner before starting tomorrow with Sangiovese at 8am.
A word on vintages – high hopes for 2015
We looked a little more in depth at the more recent vintages of Brunello. Having been consumed with 2010 for the last 18 months it was nice to finally shift over to the future of the region. From my tastings in the last few days it seems 2012 will be another great vintage, 2013 is overall good but there seems to be some mixed reviews depending on producer and 2014 was difficult. All producers seem to agree on 2015 being excellent.
With 2014 being a difficult vintages, this will be a year to buy Rosso di Montalcino. Many producers have declassified their Brunello into Rosso, making it a great buy that will punch above its weight in value.
Take a look at Day Four: Chianti Classico.
View our extensive Brunello listings here.