Brunello di Montalcino 2010 & The “Best Ever” Wines of Mastrojanni

Brunelli 2010 - "Vintage of A Lifetime" JS

Brunelli 2010 – “Vintage of A Lifetime” JS

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino hosted the Benvenuto Brunello event this year on January 22 in San Francisco at The Fairmont – an indispensible opportunity to taste (first hand) roughly 40 producers and more than 80 bottlings. The most important offers by far were the 2010 Brunelli, Rossos and older Riservas went virtually unnoticed. With much anticipation, I made my way through the crowd, tasting diligently and critically – determined to build the case for (or against) these much-hyped Sangiovese beauties.

In the end: I was floored! These are quite possibly even better than originally billed. And the top wines? So much perfection… Allocations are going to dwindle; prices will soar… What was the recipe for so many successes?

More than one winemaker I spoke to echoed the sentiments of Francesco Ripaccioli the young winemaker of the historic Canalicchio di Sopra estate:

“2010 is a success as a result of the rare combination of power and elegance, which are two qualities that are seldom found in a single vintage of Brunello.”

Of all those tasted, one of the most sought after, nearly impossible to acquire wines of the 2010 Brunelli campaign, Mastrojanni took my breath away. Offering multiple crus – all stellar – Mastrojanni has long been the darling of classicists. Perfectionists to their core, Mastrojanni will declassify a vintage (sending it to the distillery) if conditions fail to meet their standards. The 2002 vintage, with its universally green tannins and under-ripe conditions is an example. Mastrojanni maintains their enviable placement and reputation, willing to sacrifice harvests in their search for perfection.

Two 2010 crus – unique, individual – topped the charts (professionally and for yours truly) Chez Mastrojanni :

  • Brunello – Traditional barrel aging for 36 months (larger barrels: Allier oak barrels of 16-33-54 hl). Finished in bottle for 6-8 months.
  • Brunello “Vigna Loreto” – Cement fermentation before traditional barrel and bottle aging as with the Brunello. The newest (ca 2007) Cru for Mastrojanni. Built to age.

2010 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino

What a tightly knit wine this is with so much fabulous character of dried meat, orange peel, berry and spice. Dried and dusty earth too. Full body, sweet fruit character and ripe tannins but loads of structure and intensity. Structurally intense and dry at the finish. It goes on for minutes. Best ever. Better in 2018. ~ 98 points – James Suckling

2010 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Loreto

I love the savory character and silky texture to this wine. Full body, chewy tannins and a juicy and delicious finish. A baby still. Needs three to four years to soften. Better in 2017 ~ 97 points – James Suckling

These are among several darlings of the vintage, their scarcity speaks to the trend for 2010…

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2008 Brunelli – The Savvy Buyer’s Vintage

montalcino vineyards

 

This looks to be a great opportunity for savvy buyers to secure carefully selected premium Brunelli for some of the very best prices of any vintages currently available. Why? Consider the words of Antonio Galloni when he informed us

“I am also very optimistic about 2008. Consumers and the trade will focus on 2006 and 2007, which sets up the very real possibility 2008 will be completely overlooked. Based on what I tasted from barrel, it shouldn’t be. The 2008s are beautifully delineated, mid-weight wines that impress for their finesse and exceptional overall balance. My instincts tell me that a number of 2008s are going to turn out better than expected.”  — Antonio Galloni

And it’s precisely this tendency that’s allowing for such a fantastic pre-arrival opportunity as we’re witnessing today.

Here are my notes on a couple of favorites – year in and year out – and in particular from vintage 2008. Now that these selections are being offered at better retailers, consumers are advised to take note. At the prices currently being offered, these top wines will be sold out (at these prices) quite soon.

2008 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova
Casanova di Neri
A Sangiovese Grosso Dry Red Table wine
Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
94 points
Review by James Suckling

This is very floral with blackberries on the nose. It’s full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a ripe fruit, caramel and berry aftertaste. Delicious for the vintage. One of the wines of the vintage. Better in 2015. — James Suckling

Giacomo Neri’s singular expression of Brunello – based exclusively on the Sangiovese Grosso clone – is one of the most celebrated of the genre. The 2001 was selected as Wine Spectator’s #1 wine of the year in 2006; the 2006 release was crowned a 100 point masterpiece by James Suckling while the 2007 version continues to garner high praise from Antonio Galloni and other professional critics worldwide.

This current release – the 2008 – was selected as the number two highest scoring Brunello of recently reviewed selections by the Wine Spectator and James Suckling has already claimed it to be “one of the wines of the vintage”.

Of all the 94 point (or higher) rated Tenuta Nuova selections, JJ Buckley has THE very best price currently available for ANY of them – they’re offering the 2008 for $64.51. Of all the other releases rating 94 or higher (WS), the average price currently offered is $100 (with the range being $70 to $145).

 

2008 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli
Altesino
A Sangiovese Grosso Dry Red Table wine from
Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy
95 points
Review by Wine Spectator Insider – Hot Wines Designation

“Intense balsamic and mint notes make this red distinctive, along with currant, raspberry and floral touches. Silky, ripe and impressive, this shows elegance and a vibrant structure. Offers terrific length and resonance on the finish. Best from 2016 through 2032.” From Italy. — B.S. “Hot Wines” designation. “Wine Spectator Insider”

There’s no questioning Altesino’s positioning among the elite estates in Montalcino. Claudio Basla has deftly directed this venerable estate since taking the helm in the 1970s when the Palazzo Altesi was first purchased. Along with his assistant director Guido Orzalesi, Basla produces several wines at Altesino – including the Montosoli; only in the best years – and international acclaim has followed their efforts for decades.

The single vineyard cru of Montosoli is a north and northwest facing, small (~ 10 acre) vineyard that – due to its exposure (facing away from the sun) – is harvested later than Basla’s other vineyards. This later harvest, combined with the vineyard’s subsoil of mostly limestone coupled with small amounts of clay contributes to the unique characteristics consistently experienced in the wines born from the Montosoli site. This unique minerality is also the reason the Montosoli parcel is fermented apart from other parcels. Much the same as Grand Cru Burgundy or single vineyard Barolo, Montosoli is truly a pedigreed wine.

Including all offers currently posted in America, JJ Buckley has the best price available on-line for ANY vintage of Montosoli – they’re currently offering it for $68.51.

For more information on JJ Buckley’s offers, visit them on-line and ask to be part of their Private Client Offers (where these prices are part of the program):

http://www.jjbuckley.com/

2007 Brunello – Certainly Great – But Outstanding?

While the hype surrounding these currently entering the market 2007 Brunelli doesn’t quite match that which preceded the fanfare of last year’s versions (as evidenced by the multiple 100 pointers consumers witnessed for those oh-so-glorious 2006s), the news is none the less exalting. Early reviews from certain publications exclaim back-to-back 5-star vintages; while wine-makers from Castelnuovo dell’ Abate to Camigliano posit insights ranging from, “it’s a wine-maker’s vintage” (suggesting that only the finest of produttores released 5-star wines in 2007), to “it’s even better than our 2006s” (leaving everyone to believe that they’ve produced their vintage of a life-time). Be one a pessimist or eternal optimist one thing is certain, the happy medium of all this free flowing information is a vintage most certainly worthy of our attention.

So it was with that sense of enthusiasm for these newly arriving 2007 Brunelli that I and a group of colleagues set out for the annual Italian Wine Masters Tasting today, which was held in San Francisco on this absolutely beautiful Spring-like day on February 9, 2012. Scheduled to present their wares was no less than 3 dozen of the most highly regarded Brunello producing estates (along with dozens and dozens of additional producers spanning every district from Valdobbiadene to Veneto as well as the other Tuscan zones to include Chianti, Montepulciano and more). To state that our team of professional tasters was eager for this experience is quite the understatement.

As the notes that follow will attest, 2007 is indeed a vintage for Brunello which covers the range. Top producers – as should be expected – released excellent wines. Did they produce their greatest wines ever? Not quite; but certainly quite nearly. As for those producers who routinely hang their hats in the “nearly-there” or “almost as good as the greats” range, well: 2007 definitely had a way of showcasing the shortcomings of the average wine-makers. In summary, not only is 2007 a 4 (out of 5) star vintage, it’s a vintage where consumers as well as buyers need to know full well what they’re doing.

— Camigliano:

This property describes themselves as “between the modern and traditionalist camp”.


2007 Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

The color here is gentle, pale rose. Aromatically this seems a bit closed, somewhat tight and reticent, only gently hinting at the fruit today. On the palate this is soft, not overly expressive, but with some bright and clean fruit nuances of cranberry and Bing cherry. The acidity is soft, leaving a juicy quality overall and a bright, lifted, moderately intense finish. Nice.

89 points

2006 Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG

Medium-dark ruby in color. 50/50 on the wood regimen here: barrique and Slavonia. More expressive aromatically here; with a floral nuance apparent. Again, though: not overly forthcoming today. Certainly more body, with black fruits, good tannic structure and some wood spice. Just not as complex as one looks for in a Riserva. Smoky/barrique notes do add complexity, with the black fruits coming through to add a modern touch to the overall character. Good overall.

90 points

—Capanna

Here we encounter another of the steadfast traditionalists, yet an estate who practices fermentation exclusively in new barrels. And while the barrels are solely Slovenian – both for fermentation as well as the extended aging before bottling – that’s about the only aspect at this estate that one could consider truly traditionalist in nature. Having tasted multiple vintages of these ethereal beauties, as for this taster, the only conclusion is we have a very forward-thinking producer with Capanna.

2007 Capanna Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Very deep ruby in color here. Smashing aromatic profile combines myriad torrefaction aspects with deeply fruited, jammy aromas of pure currants and other black fruits. Jammy, sweetly spicy, cinnamon, clove, allspice; just amazing. Very modern, jammy, sweet and powerful style of wine making. This is a real wow wine. Big, powerful and quite serious. Very complex, completely balanced and all there. Wow.

94 points

2006 Capanna Riserva Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Opaque. An aroma that captures the senses and fills the room. This is penetrating. This 06 Riserva is big, deep, powerful, massive; just a huge, sweet, structured, decadent, gripping, unreal wine. There are buckets of the most complex fruit nuances, all allied to ethereal power, precision and punch. Aspects of dates and macerated currants melt seamlessly into the wood smoke and other torrefaction notes as vanilla extract coats the palate. A three minute finish suggests decades of pleasure ahead – but why wait? This is possibly as good as Brunello gets.

96+ points


—Col d’Orcia:

Col d’Orcia’s owner, Count Francesco Marone Cinzano presented the wines of his family’s estate today. To say that the man doesn’t suffer fools gladly is the understatement of the decade; but once you engage the man on his family’s steadfast adherence to the traditionalist approach, you’ll understand. The man has quite literally written (if not the book) several documents on the subject. This is THE traditionalist estate of the Brunello zone.


2007 Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino DOCG  

Traditional color here: brick-ish red. Beautifully floral aromatics married to crushed cherries – quite expressive aromatically. Also quite the palate presence, with grippy tannins and a big, powerful, bracing, black fruited personality. Amazingly structured wine. Quite long and palate staining. A real wow wine.

93 points

2004 Col d’Orcia Poggio al Vento Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG

Approaching opaque in color. A cornucopia of aromatic nuances. The wood smoke is very well integrated and frames nuances of sweet spices to include cinnamon and clove as well as a bevy of floral aspects. While completely palate coating, this remains soft, subtle, deeply complex and very serious. The fruit is equally complex and wrapped in toasted / roasted characteristics of truffle, smoke and graphite that allow the currant notes to really linger. Very fine stuff.

94 points

—La Lecciaia:

When one turns to the dictionary and looks for the definition of traditionalist – in terms of Brunello producers – one just might expect to find these folks as a reference. Not only were there no English speaking folk anywhere in sight at the table in San Fran on this day of tasting, the phrase “barrique” (as in French barrels) was met with utter distain. This is as “old school” as they come.


2007 La Lecciaia “Normale” Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Classic, pale, rose petal color. Very plummy, very juicy nose, combining the fruit and classic floral nuances to offer a very traditional yet forward aromatic flavor profile. This is extremely juicy / fruity and mouth-coating, with palate drenching fruit nuances of dates and ripe Bing cherries. Adding to the flavor cornucopia is a bevy of spices, especially cinnamon. Absolutely delicious wine. Full bodied, very ripe, yet classic and well balanced. A potentially long-lived wine in the making. Another wow wine.

93+ points

2007 La Lecciaia “Manapetra” Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Again, very pale, rose petal in color. Here we have a more earthy, minerally, peaty nuance combining with the sweet fruit aromas. While not as expressive in the fruit category, certainly interesting in the earthier sense. Still a very sweet fruit attack on the palate, with a very jammy, plummy style to the fruit and that juicy style found in the “normale”. Good tannic grip here, but overall I prefer the normale to this one. Quite good, though.

90 points


2006 La Lecciaia Riserva Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Pale red rose in color. Nice red fruits on the attack are met immediately and intensely with a strong whiff of earthy minerals. This is a very old school style of wine, that while very juicy / fruity on the palate – with literally buckets of red fruits and jammy nuances – may be simply too earthy for the “modern” world. Combining this much truffle with macerated fruits will have a LOT of folks murmuring.

NR

2006 La Lecciaia “Manapetra” Riserva Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

The first of these wines to be approaching the opaque spectrum, while remaining rosy colored. This is almost Gevrey-like, with a Burgundian nose of ripe plum, mineral, assorted dark fruits, truffle and forest floor. On the palate, this really sings, with a full body, rich, mouth-coating fruit and a complexity and balance one expects in a Riserva. Great balancing acidity, grip, focus as well as dynamite fruit complete the package. Quite nice.

93 points

—Tenuta Oliveto

As one begins to make their way through a few dozen Brunelli, you begin to assume that the colors of the wines will indicate a wine-maker’s position as it relates to the modernist versus traditionalist camp (or so Col d’Orcia would have us think). Darker colors tend to indicate a more modern approach to wine-making, while those “faded” colors announce an old-school wine-making theory. And then we discover the exception to the rule. Here we have the quintessential “modernist” Brunello wine-maker: 100% French barrels, no old Slovenian to be found. And yet the colors of some of the wines are as “faded” and rosy as many of the traditionalists in Tuscany today. Completely modernist – and proud to pronounce that fact – yet unless tasted, one might not recognize that fact.

2007 Tenuta Oliveto Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Medium pale ruby. Mostly wood smoke and over ripe plum in the aromatics. Very fruity and forward on the attack. This is extremely expressive in its modern style and sweetly fruited nose as well as palate. Almost exotic on the palate. Very candied, too. This is as modern as any tasted today. This is a wine that makes folks drink wine – a pleasure seeker’s wine. While not complex or one meant for aging, this is a fun wine for immediate consumption and gratification. A fun wine.

90 points

2006 Tenuta Oliveto Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

A bit deeper in color than the 2007 – the wine-maker states this is indicative of the vintage differences. This aromatic profile is loaded with wood smoke nuances. The smoke and truffle aromas border on interfering with the otherwise sweet, candied and jammy red and black fruits. The 2006 is a bit more structured and serious than the 2007, but retains the jammy house style. There’s a tannic grip to hold it all together. This is a powerful wine and it’s a bit aggressive, but for those who like power, this will capture one’s attention.

91 points


2004 Tenuta Oliveto Riserva Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Approaching opaque in color. This is so loaded with wood smoke, charcoal and barbeque notes on the nose that it recalls many a California Cabernet sampled recently. This is decadently thick, rich, roasted, jammy, smokey, yet tannic, and very grippy. This is so powerful, and the prunes, dates and currants – again – recall California Cabernet more than Brunello. While certainly a fine wine on the scale of wine in general, this may be too controversial for some in the scope of Brunelli. Worth trying for the experience itself.

91?

—Voliero

A winery whose representative coyly answered the questioned regarding traditionalist versus modernist with the answer, “the best of both worlds…”

2007 Voliero Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Deeply colored here, towards the darker spectrum. Quite a modern aromatic profile of red fruits. Quite juicy with a spicy nuance combining zesty cinnamon with the juicy / fruity/ plummy fruitiness. This shows a powerful palate presence with a big, gripping style and buckets of fruit. There’s a lot of wood spice as well and the finish is big, lush and a bit tannic. Good stuff.

93 points

—- Christopher Massie