Reflections on Brunello

Reflections on Brunello

With one in four bottles sold in the U.S., Brunello di Montalcino is by far one of America’s all-time favorite Italian wines. Great anticipation surrounded the new releases, which became available on January 1st, and all sorts of events and celebrations followed. In addition the reviews below, WE turned to the winemakers who shaped Brunello 2006 to hear their thoughts on the vintage.
Consortium producers are very satisfied with 2006 and awarded it five stars. “A better version of 2004,” is how vintner Franco Biondi Santi described it, while Enrico Viglierchio, managing director of Castello Banfi referred to 2006 as “part of an evolution and a new identity” for Montalcino.

Only one thing seems to get producers more excited than 2006, and that is the 2007 vintage still aging in cellars. Based on my barrel samples, next year’s release of Brunello di Montalcino may be the region’s best vintage ever—a milestone achievement that would rank it higher than classic the vintages 1995, 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2006. Wines from 2007 show the aromatic purity and intensity of 2006, and the strength, longevity and staying power of 2004.

“2006 has a beautiful nose, 2007 is a classic year, 2008 delivers lots of structure while 2009 was more difficult. So far, 2010 shows great potential,” says Cecilia Leoneschi, winemaker at Castiglion del Bosco of the future vintages.

On the Region

The tiny hilltop hamlet of Montalcino is located south of Siena in lower Tuscany. The wine was officially produced in the late 19th century by pioneer Ferruccio Biondi Santi and since his legendary 1888 bottling, the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, or local growers’ association, has grown to 250 grape-growing members, 200 of who bottle their own labels.

The territory includes 3,500 hectares (8,650 acres) of vines, with an annual production of 6.5 million bottles, 60% of which is exported. It generates 140 million euros ($185 million) in sales. Today, Montalcino is arguably Italy’s most successful wine-driven economy. Impressive synergies have been achieved between wine, tourism, gastronomy, culture and retail interests.

Below are 17 abbreviated reviews of vineyard selection 2006 Brunello di Montalcino and 21 reviews of 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Full reviews will be published in the April 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Check out the video of producers’ impressions of 2006 by clicking here.


Casanova di Neri 2006 Tenuta Nova Brunello di Montalcino, $89. Cellar Selection.
A “wow” wine on every level, it will blow you away. Lovely, dark, smooth and packed tight with intensity and personality.

Altesino 2006 Montosoli Brunello di Montalcino, $NA. Cellar Selection.
Opens with a big, bold style and enormous depth, intensity and concentration. This is a massive Brunello on every front.

Castello Banfi 2006 Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, $82.
A touch of ripe, masculine richness and spice is offset by plush cherry and blackberry. Solid structure that will soften with cellaring.

Castiglion del Bosco 2006 Campo del Drago Brunello di Montalcino, $75.
A soft, modern style that is almost ready to drink now, with creamy chocolate and opulent cherry overtones.

La Mannella 2006 I Poggiarelli Brunello di Montalcino, $NA.
Overtones of wild mushroom and moist earth add pretty dimension here. The core, however, is black fruit and spice.

La Poderina 2006 Poggio Banale Brunello di Montalcino, $NA.
A soft, succulent expression with sweet cherry and smooth vanilla, the mouthfeel is plush and rich.

San Polino 2006 Helichrysum Brunello di Montalcino, $63.
Very rich and creamy, with smooth density on the finish. Packed with intense aromas of mature fruit.

Tenute Silvio Nardi 2006 Vigneto Manachiara Brunello di Montalcino, $106.
Austere and reserved, with a dark side of exotic spice and mature black fruit. A dense, thickly concentrated expression.

Castello Romitorio 2006 Selezione XXV Anno Brunello di Montalcino, $60.
A 25th anniversary special selection, this beautiful wine shows thick structure, with rich flavors of earth, black fruit and natural rubber.

Pinino 2006 Clandestino Brunello di Montalcino, $NA.
Clean and polished with accents of spice, black fruit, touches of tobacco and resin. The tight tannins need time to age.

Fattoria La Lecciaia 2006 Vigna Manapetra Brunello di Montalcino, $50.
This wine shows soft roundness and ripe aromas of cherry and blackberry. It feels tight, firm and well integrated.

Il Marroneto 2006 Selezione Madonna delle Grazie Brunello di Montalcino, $60.
Elegant and sophisticated, with touches of forest berry and brambly notes. Austere, rich and firm on the close.

Mocali 2006 Vigna delle Raunate Brunello di Montalcino, $NA.
Smoke and spice tones rise to the forefront, followed by mature fruit and blackberry. Touches of vanilla and black fruit along the way.

Cantine Leonardo Da Vinci 2006 Conte Leonardo Brunello di Montalcino, $60.
Loads of cinnamon and nutmeg with background tones of clove and earth, the wine closes with a long spicy fade.

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2006 Vigna Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino, $NA. 
Warming notes of spice and cardamom are followed by interesting notes of ginger and rhubarb. Smooth and rich on the finish.

Donatella Cinelli Colombini 2006 Prime Donne Brunello di Montalcino, $80.

Opens with loads of ripe fruit and overtones of strawberry, blackberry and exotic spice. Nicely soft and smooth in the mouth.

Tiezzi 2006 Vigna Soccorso Brunello di Montalcino, $45.
A vineyard designate Brunello that opens with tones of ripe prune, thick fruit and lingering yet subdued spice tones.


Il Poggione 2005 Vigna Paganelli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $96. 
Dark chocolate and exotic spice are well integrated with the wine’s solid structure and crisp acidity.

Castelgiocondo 2005 Ripe al Convento Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $106.
Opens with dark richness and loads of mature berry flavors. The spice element appears in the mouth with firm tannins.

Camigliano 2005 Gualto Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $100.
Impressive density and intensity help push this wine smooth over the palate. Complex and sophisticated in the mouth.

Canalicchio di Sopra 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $88.
A pleasurable, smooth and rich wine that lavishes on layers of chocolate and cherry. Good intensity and smooth consistency.

Donatella Cinelli Colombini 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $90.

Good balance and offers sensations of richness and generosity thanks to the wine’s natural density and bright berry flavors.

Marchesato degli Aleramici 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $90.
Very rich and dark, with firm structure and integrated acidity. Bets are on that this will age well over time.

Poggio di Sotto 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $200.
A dark, smooth and rich wine with a spot of sweet succulence and ripe cherry. Offers long, smooth texture.

Valdicava 2005 Madonna del Piano Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $NA.
Rich elements of barbecue smoke and spice add background nuances to black fruit and mature cherry. Nice smoothness too.

Abbadia Ardenga 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $NA.
Nuances of clove and exotic spice are lavished over a solid base of dark fruit. The wine closes long with soft, smooth texture.

Fattoria dei Barbi 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $70.
Could use a few more years of cellaring, but already shows great promise, especially thanks to fine fruit qualities.

Il Poggiolo E. Cosimi 2005 Beato Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $165.
Opulent touches of campfire and exotic spice are followed by black fruit, plum and cassis. Rich, smooth texture on the finish.

Sesti 2005 Phenomena Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $NA.
Well defined and smooth with sophisticated tones of black fruit, smoked bacon and savory spice tones.

Terralsole 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $80.
Savory, brambly characteristics of moist earth and pressed flowers are backed by forest berries and cherry.

Col d’Orcia 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $NA.
A compact, streamlined interpretation with cherry aromas backed by slight renderings of tobacco and fine leather.

Cupano 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $NA.
There’s a tight, sharp element here with defined tones of bramble and wild fruit. Soft vanilla and spice comes later.

Ferrero 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $80.

Opens with sweet, soft tones of milk chocolate, and ripe berry with shades of leather and exotic spice on the fade.

Il Poggiolo E. Cosimi 2005 Poggiolo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $80.
A textbook Brunello with dark berry fruit, spice and bright touches of cola and smoke. Smooth, rich and all cards played well.

La Collina dei Lecci 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $55.
A clean but more compact expression with bright bursts of white cherry and forest berry, followed by light accents of smoke and spice.

Piccini 2005 Villa al Cortile Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $60.
Bright, clean and linear with pretty accents of spice, blackberry, leather and lingering tobacco. Nice, soft feel in the mouth.

Canneta 2005 Le Bruciate Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $48.
Nice, bright nuances of cola, root beer and a touch of shaved ginger backed by loads of black fruit and smooth spice.

Tenuta Oliveto 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, $NA.
Rich with meaty tones of smoked bacon, and leather backed by forest floor and bright cherry berry. Firm, textured tannins.

Published on January 5, 2011

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