Category Archives: Montalcino

Caprili: Traditional Brunello at its Best

As co-chair of the Wine Media Guild I go to Felidia Restaurant often because we hold our monthly lunches and tastings there. This time however I was invited by the Wine Director of the restaurant, Giuseppe Rosati, for a tasting and lunch featuring the wines of the Carpili winery in Montalcino in Tuscany. The speaker was  Giacomo Bartolommei   a member of the family that owns the winery and the sales manager.

Giacomo Bartolommei

Giacomo Bartolommei

Giacomo told us a little of the history of the winery that was established in 1965 and their philosophy of making wine.  The Carpili estate is located in the southwest part of the municipality of Montalcino.  Because of this location and the clones that they first planted in1965, the vines show great resistance to heat and disease. They only use grapes from their own vineyards and the only treatments used are copper or sulphur based. The natural yeasts, found on the grapes themselves, is favored. Terroir is very important and the use of natural yeasts contributes to a more precise territorial identity. Vinification follows a natural process avoiding the addition of yeast and other exogenous correctors. The Rosso and the Brunello are all aged in large 22 to 63 HL Slovenian oak barrels.IMG_3887

After 15 years of age the vines that make the Rosso can be used for Brunello.  In response to a question about vintages, Giacomo said that 08,06,04,01, 99,95 90,88 and 85 were all great vintages for his wines. Of the vintages that we tasted I believe his favorite was the 2004.

The wines were paired with dishes prepare by the executive chef of Felidia restaurant, Fortunato Nicotra, and each was a perfect match.IMG_3840

Rosso di Montalcino 2011 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The grapes come from the Testucchiaia vineyard, which was planted in 2001. The vineyard is at 335 meters, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is runner and guyot. Vilification is with natural yeasts, followed by maceration for about 25 days, with automatic temperature checks. The wine is aged in large Slavonia oak barrels (botti) for a short period of time and in bottle before release. $28. This was served with a rabbit and vegetable terrine with Castelluccio lentils.IMG_3841

Brunello Brunello Di Montalcino 2008 100% Sangiovese Grosso from 4 different vineyards that are between 15 and 25 years of age. The training system is the runner. The wine is aged for at least 3 years is Slavonia oak barrels and a minimum of 4 months in bottle before release.


The Risotto

Brunello di Montalcino 2006 same vinification as the above wine. $60

The two Brunellos were paired creamy risotto with mushrooms, hazelnuts and black truffle pesto.

Brunello di Montalcino 2006 Riserva 100% Sangiovese Grosso from two different vineyards.  The vines are 25 to 40 years old. The training system is runner and guyot.$75

The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels for at least 4 years and in bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release. This wine was served with steak tagliata, summer beans, corn and red quinoa.

The Steak

The Steak

The chef explained that he cooked the  steak   in three separate steps to preserve the juices. This was perfection! When in Tuscany do what the Tuscans do – drink Sangiovese with steak- the perfect combination.

Brunello di Montalcino 2004 Riserva same as aboveIMG_3844

Brunello di Montalcino 2001 Riserva same as above.

The last two wines were served with an assortment of Tuscan cheeses.

All of the wines had very nice fruit with a characteristic hint of cherry. These are traditional, classic, wines that need time to develop. The 2004 Riserva still needs more time but the 2001 Riserva was just starting to come around.


Filed under Brunello, Caprili Winery, Felidia Restaurant NYC, Giacomo Bartolommei, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Montalcino

Aroma, Wild Boar and Brunello

Whenever I think of wild boar, I think of Brunello, both of which remind me of the unforgettable meal I had in Tuscany a few years ago which featured pasta with wild boar ragu followed by wild boar ribs.   So when I heard that Aroma Restaurant in NYC was doing a wild boar menu and each course would be paired with a Brunello from Castello Banfi, I couldn’t resist.  

Castello Banfi

Castello Banfi

Philip Di Belardino, the director of fine wines for Banfi, was the host and speaker.  I have known Filippo, as his friends call him, for a number of years.  He is passionate about all things Italian and is an entertaining and knowledgeable speaker.  He explained how the Banfi company came to Montalcino in 1978 and purchased Poggio Alla Mura, now Castello Banfi.  Currently, Banfi is the largest continuous landowner in Italy. The company has done intensive research on the Sangiovese clone found the area.  They studied over 650 clones and isolated 3, which are vinified into their Poggio Alla Mura Brunello.

The WinesBrunello_di_Montalcino_Bottle

Brunello Di Montalcino D.O.C.G. 2007 100% Sangiovese (select clones).  The winter was mild and the growing season started early. Heavy rain in May and early June provided enough water reserves for the mid-June heat wave. The fall rainwater was perfect and the harvest was one week early, but lasted into the middle of October. The grapes come from over 100 small vineyards, some older, and some more recently planted with the selected Banfi clones.  A meticulous grape selection takes place. Fermentation is in temperature–controlled stainless steel/ French oak hybrid tanks, with skin contact for 10 to 12 days. Philip said that this was the first year Banfi used these hybrid tanks. The wine is aged in 50% French oak barriques, and 50% Slavonian oak casks for two years. Philip said that 2007 was a great vintage for them. By law the wine is released the 5th year after the harvest.
The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry and plum and a touch of tobacco. It has a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste. A winter greens salad, and braised boar shoulder with lardoons, which I really enjoyed, went very well with the wine.

The hybrid tanks–half stainless steel and half French oak–were invented and patented by Banfi. They had an exclusive on these hybrid tanks for three years before they were released for sale to other wineries.

Brunello Di Montalchino D.O.C.G. 2006 Spring rainfall allowed for water reserves over the hot summer months. High temperatures in July and an ideal range between daytime and nighttime temperatures in August allowed the grapes to ripen exceptionally well. The warm weather in September made it an excellent harvest. The vinification   was in stainless steel tanks otherwise it was the same as the 2007 as was the aging. Philip said that their wine maker believed 2006 was a slightly better vintage than 2007. Pici (handmade pasta strands) with wild boar ragu, porcini and pecorino tartufo went very well with the wine.

Pici, wild boar ragu,porcini and pecorino tartufo

Pici, wild boar ragu,porcini and pecorino tartufo

The next three wines were served with wild boar ribs in porchetta with Brussels sprouts. I like this best with the1998.Poggio_alle_Mura_Bottle

Brunello Di Montalcino D.O.C.G. “Poggio Alle Mura” 2006 This is a cru (single vineyard).  The selected clones are from the slopes surrounding Castello Banfi. Fermentation for 12 to 14 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, traditional maceration with frequent pumping over. Malolactic fermentation is in barriques. It unfiltered. Philip said it was Banfi’s first unfiltered wine. The wine is aged for 24 months in 10% Slavonian oak casks (60hl & 120hl) and in French barriques. These are custom-made 350-liter oak barrels (larger than a barrique, smaller than a tonneaux).  These oak barrels are 1/3 new, 1/3 one-year-old, 1/3 two-year-old and are used for all of the Poggio Alle Mura.  This is an elegant wine with hints of plum, tobacco, coffee and a touch of leather. It has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste and has great potential for aging.

Brunello Di Montalcino D.O.C.G. 2004 This was a normal growing season, rain in the spring, overall lower summer temperatures, variations between night and day temperatures which lead to balanced ripening. Fermentation and aging is the same as for the 2006.
This is a complex wine, well structured with red fruit flavors and aromas, spice and a hint of vanilla.  This is the only one with a hint of vanilla. Personally I prefer the regular 2004 which I have tasted on a number of occasions and believe it to be a great wine. The wine needs time.  2004 was a very good vintage.

Wild boar rib in porchetta and brussels sprouts

Wild boar rib in porchetta and brussels sprouts

Brunello Di Montalcino D.O.C.G. 1998   Very dry and hot summer had a significant impact on the quality of the grapes, resulting in a contained vegetative development and, most significantly, a smaller berry size. The greater proportion of skin and seed to pulp dictated the terms of vinification. In order to soften the tannins, it was necessary to reduce the maceration time and remove the seeds from the vinaccia as much as possible.  Philip said that this was the second vintage of this wine coming from vineyards made up entirely of clones selected on the estate. This was my favorite wine of the evening. Elegant and complex with hints of raspberries, blackberries, plums and a touch of licorice with great balance.


Filed under Brunello, Castello Banfi, Montalcino, Poggio alle Mura

Of Ploughs and Brunello in Montalcino

Emilia Nardi, president of Tenuta Silvio Nardi, likes to joke that her father Silvio was the first “foreigner” to buy land in Montalcino in Tuscany.  He was from the neighboring region of Umbria.

The year was 1950 and Silvio was selling agricultural equipment in the Montalcino area for the company that his father Francesco had started.  After visiting America, Francesco had returned to Italy with the idea for a new type of plough, called the “Voltarecchio”.   The new tool was used as part of the “Nardi System” as it was cited in the American Encyclopedia of Modern Agriculture and the Nardi agricultural machine company still produces farm equipment to this day

One of the farmers suggested that Silvio buy land in the area, which today is the family’s present day winery.

Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s and the world’s greatest wines. Brunello di Montalcino was among the eight Italian wine producing zones to be designated DOC in 1966 and in 1980 it became the first Italian wine to receive the DOCG. It can age for many years. 

The Wines of Silvio Nardi at Aldea Restaurant NYC

Rosso di Montalcino 2010 DOC 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The grapes were hand harvested from the Casale Bosco estate. There is a northwest exposure and the vineyard is at 300 meters. The soil is marl and marl sandy formations. The training system is spurred cordon with 5,200 vines per hectare. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with skin contact from 10 to 15 days. The wine was aged in used casks for four months and in bottle for 4 months before release.

Emilia said that this was a controversial vintage in the region but a great one for them. In the end the harvest brought healthy grapes with thick well-structured skins, intense concentration and excellent alcohol levels. This is a wine ready to drink with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of spice. $26.99

The principal vineyard of the winery is located on the original estate of Casale del Bosco, a property of 2,022 acres, with 100 acres of vineyards, in the northwest part of Montalcino overlooking the Val d’Orcia. The vineyard plots of Oria, Sassi Sant’Adele and San Michele lie within the estate. The soil here is composed of clay schists and jasper, a type of opaque, granular quartz.

Emilia said that they were moving away from the use of new oak and using barriques of second and third passage in these wines. They were also moving in the direction of using more large oak barrels.

She also pointed out that the winery follows the strict DOCG laws required of a classified Brunello di Montalcino and her winery was not involved in the scandal of a few years ago. She also voted in favor of keeping Brunello 100% Sangiovese, a subject that has stirred much controversy

Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 DOCG 100% Sangiovese Grosso from the Manachiara and Casale estates.  Soil composition is jasper and shale. Grapes come from various vineyards in the municipality of Montalcino with northwest/and south/east exposure at 350 meters. The yield is limited and only the top 70% of the hand-harvested grapes are used in this wine. The grapes were carefully hand picked and sorted. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Allier barriques and 12 months in large Slavonian oak botte. It remains in bottle for 6 months before release. This wine needs many more years in the bottle. There were aromas and flavors of red berries and a hint of leather. $66.99

Emilia said that 2007 was a fairly even vintage weather-wise. High daytime temperatures gave the grapes concentration while low nighttime temperatures allowed aromas to develop. After beneficial mid-September rains, harvest began in the Casale del Bosco vineyard, and in early October in the older Manachiara vineyard. The average yields were lower than required and the fruit quality was excellent. $70

Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 100% Sangiovese Grosso DOCG. Same as the 2006 except that it is aged for 30 months in French barriques and Slavonian oak. $66.99 This wine seemed a little more approachable than the 2006 but still needs more time.

The noted viticulturist Andrea Paoletti was engaged by Emilia to study how the different clones of Sangiovese could best be matched to vineyard plots. From 120 clones five were chosen as making the best match. This led to a program of focused replanting and is the reason why some of the vineyards are only ten years old. 

Emilia spoke very fondly of the late, Bordeaux enologist, Yves Glories. He applied his new principles of phenolic ripeness to indicate harvest dates and adjust the vinification process at the winery

The Manachiara estate is in the southwest corner of Montalcino near Castelnuovo dell’Abate. It covers 505 acres and 95 acres are planted with vines. The vineyard plots of Pinzale, Stercolati and Colombaiolo, as well as the vineyard of Manachiara proper, lie within the estate.

Brunello Di Montalcino “Manachiara” 2006 DOCG 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Emilia said that the vines for this single vineyard Brunello were 50 years old. Soil composition is sand rich in quartz and pliocene clays. The Manachiara vineyard is located in the municipality of Montalcino with southeastern exposure at about 300 meters. There are 4,500 plants per hectare. The manual harvest takes place the first half of October. After a complete destemming, the must underwent fermentation and maceration for at least 20 days at controlled temperatures. The wine spends 12 months in French Allier oak barriques, followed by 18 months in large Slavonian oak barrels. The wine is aged for at least one year in bottle before release. Emilia said that they only make 11,000 bottles. This is a classic Brunello, full-bodied, complex, with intense fruit  and hints of spice and the right degree of acidity. This wine will age very well. $106.99

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Filed under Brunello, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Sangiovese, Sangiovese Grosso, Tenute Silvio Nardi, Tuscany