Tag Archives: Brunello

Benvenuto Brunello NYC 2016

The Consorzio del Vino  Brunello di Montalcino presents Benvenuto Brunello USA 2016 in NYC, its annual trade tasting, celebrating 50 years of DOC wines and showcasing the Brunello di Montalcino 2011. The walk-around tasting featured over 40 wineries from Montalcino.IMG_9587

I also attended the seminar on the 2011 Brunello. I enjoy the seminar because I can taste the wine, listen to the speakers, and find out the latest news from Montalcino. The Moderator was Jeff Porter, beverage director for the Batali and Bastianich hospitality group.

There was an overview of Montalcino and then a discussion of the 2010 and 2011 vintages. Jeff Porter   and the representative of the Consortium agreed that 2012 was a great vintage and a better vintage than the 2011 and I had to agree. The Consortium gave the 2010 5 stars, its highest rating and called it an outstanding vintage. The 2011 was given 4 stars and called an excellent vintage. Mr. Porter said that it would be a good restaurant wine because it is more approachable than the 2010. He added that it is a good wine for the consumer as well.

I liked the 2011 vintage and it probably will not age as long as the 2010 but that is something only time will tell.

While we use terms like more approachable, restaurant wine, consumer friendly etc, I would not even think of drinking the 2011  until 2021, after all it is a Brunello!

There were 7 wines tasted and 6 of them were my kind of wines. All of them were aged in botti, large oak barrels. Only one was aged in both 500 liter barrels and botti. There was not a barrique in sight. I asked the representative if this was done on purpose and he said the wines were picked at random. Trying to bring my point home I asked if there was a movement in Montalcino away from barriques and concentrated wines toward wines which tasted like the grape and the terroir. Mr. Porter said that he believed that this was true not only in Montalcino but in the wine world in general. He said this was in response to the consumers that now prefer this type of wine.

The BrunelloIMG_9588

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Belpoggio The soil is calcareous with many skeletons and the elevation is 350 meters. Traditional fermentation takes place with 15 to 18 days of maceration at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 24 to 36 months in 30 to 40 hl oak casks. $50 IMG_9589

Brunello Di Montalcino 2011 DOCG Capanna. The soil is Galestro, with many stones and the elevation is 855 to 984 ft. Harvest is by hand, with careful selection of the grapes. They are immediately de-stemmed and fermentation with the skins takes place for 20 to 22 days in Slavonian vats at a controlled temperature. After drawing off, the wine completes the malolactic fermentation in the same vats where it is naturally cooled down.$40

The wine is aged in Slavonia oak barrels 20 to 30 hl until bottling in June of 2015. The bottles are refined in thermo-conditioned rooms and went on sale January 2016. $45IMG_9590

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Castello Tricerchi The vineyard is at 300 meters and the exposure is south/west and the soil is clayey and sandy. Training system is spurred cordon, there are 4,000 plants/hectare and the vines are 15 years old. Harvest is by hand in early October. Maceration is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 14 days. Malolactic fermentation continues for 5 months. Aging is in 15 to 20 hl Slavonic casks for 42 month and 6 months in bottle before release. For them 2011 was a very good vintage. It has hints of black cherry, strawberry, tobacco and spice. $45IMG_9591

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Col D’Orcia. Made from a particular clone of Sangiovese selected by Col d’Orcia. The vineyard is at 300 meters in the hills over looking the Orcia River with a south/southwest exposure, the soil is from the Eocene period in origin, loose, with little clay and rich in limestone. Fermentation is on the skins form18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 hlwide and shallow stainless steel tanks, designed in order to extract tannins and color efficiently but delicately. Aging is for 4 years: 3 years in 25, 50 and 75 hl Slavonic and Allier oak casks followed by at least 12 months of refinement in bottle. Since 2013 Col D’Orcia is the largest wine-producing farm in Tuscany. $55IMG_9592

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Pian Delle Vigna (Antinori) 3.5 miles south of Montalcino. There are 65 hectares under vines, and the soil is mostly clayey and calcareous with many small stones. After a careful selection both in the vineyard and cellar, the grapes are de-stemmed and delicately pressed; the must then goes into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where it ferments and remains on its skins for a period of about 3 weeks. The wine has then completed malolactic fermentation. Aging is in 30 to 80hl oak casks for over 2 years. The wine was bottled in April of 2014. $80IMG_9593

Brunello Di Mantalcino 2011 DOCG Tenuta Buon Tempo the vineyard surface area is 5 hectares at 350 meters and the soil is sandstone-galestro marl. The exposure is south/east, the training system is spurred cordon and there are 3,33/6,250 plants per hectare. Harvest is from September 10 to 20. Fermentation with natural yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel, with minimum possible oxygenation, with pumping over and a duration of 7 to 10 days. Maceration in stainless steel, carried out without exposure to air for 15 to 20 days. Aging 24 to 30 months in 500 liter French oak barrels (20% new) and 12 to 18 months in big 64hl Slovonian oak casks and 6 months in bottle. $50

New owners brought the property, changed the name and are moving away from new oak. The former owners used 50% new oak.IMG_9594

Brunello Di Montalcino 20111 DOCG Uccelliera. Production area Castelnovo dell’Abate, south/east of Montalcino, vineyard extension is 15.5 acres at 820ft. The soil is rich in minerals, medium textured sand and clay, with some gravel. The grapes are selected, de-stemmed and crushed. The must is kept for 4 to 5 days at low temperatures. Later the temperature is raised and alcoholic fermentation takes place naturally for 15 days in stainless steel. At the same time, the must macerates on the skins for about 7 days. After drawing off, the wine is kept in steel, malolactic occurs and the wine is kept in Slovenia and French oak barrels for 36 months, then aged in bottle for another 18 months, before release. This wine was a little more international in style. $64

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The Best Brunello di Montalcino!?

Last year I was contacted by Riccardo Gabriele and Elisa Bosca of Rg Pr Vino, a PR company representing a number of Italian wines to speak about their wines at luncheon and meeting of wine journalists. They have an interesting portfolio so I agreed. One of the wines I presented was the Brunello di Montalcino from Il Marroneto owned by Alessandro Mori. For me, it was the wine of the tasting and one of the best Brunellos I have ever had. Riccardo asked me if I wanted to take one of the wines home and this was my choice.

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Alessandro Mori

A few months later, Montcalm Imports was doing a tasting and one of the producers was IL Marroneto. I was introduced to the owner, Alessandro and his son, and for the first time tasted their Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna della Grazie.” It was wonderful.

Fast forward a few months and Alessandro was in New York giving a seminar about his wines featuring Brunello going back to 2006. Alessandro said that wine really makes itself and he only does what is necessary. He has a traditional and minimalist philosophy both in the vineyard and in the cellar.

IL Marroneto is one of the 10 historical wineries of Montalcino and was purchased in 1974 by Giuseppe Mori, Alessandro’s father.

The towers of the city of Siena are the backdrops of the estate’s vineyards located high on the north slope of the hill of Montalcino. The vineyards are between 305 and 400 meters and extend to the walls of the town. This is an area where grapes have been cultivated since the times of the Etruscans.

Alessandro said that they grow only Sangiovese grapes and follow a biodynamic approach to cultivation (although not certified), always abiding by the strict Montalcino regulations.  No herbicides are used on the plants.

The vines were first planted in 1975 near the church of Madonna della Grazie, (which the estates top Brunello comes from). The original building dates back to 1247. The rest of the estates vineyards were planted in 1979 and 1984. The soil is coarse sandy soil rich in minerals There is natural grass planted between the rows of vines with longer time for pollination and pruning takes place in March. The vineyards are planted for low yields and low density. The training system is spurred cordon. Grapes are harvested only when the stalks start to turn to burnt colors, indicating that the seeds have reached optimum maturity.

The estate’s name derives from a central tower that was once used to dry chestnuts (castagne or marroni in Italian), long a source of flour in Italy. The wines are aged in the base of the tower in large Allier and Slovenian oak barrels.

These are very traditional made wines with plenty of pumping over. Alessandro added there are no barriques on the estate!IMG_8643

We tasted 6 Brunellos the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 Brunello along with the 2010 Madonna della Grazie.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 100% Sangiovese. Fermentation lasts for 11/12 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 39 months and 10 months in the bottle before release. All of the wines will last for 20 years or more. These are complex and elegant wines and have a certain easy feel in the mouth that is very pleasing but hard to describe. They have hints of black and red fruit, spice, and licorice with a touch of tobacco and leather. They will age for a long time.IMG_8640

Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna della Grazie”  2010 DOCG 100% Sangiovese. This wine is made from a selection of grapes from the historical vineyard. The name of the wine comes from the little 12th century Madonna della Grazie church very near the vineyard. Fermentation is in Allier oak vats where it remains untouched for 2 days and the fermentation lasts for 20/22 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 41 months and 10 months in bottle before release. It a complex and elegant wine with aromas and flavors of citrus, cherry, licorice, mineral notes, and that certain something wonderful on the palate that just keeps on lingering. It has an extremely pleasing aftertaste and a long finish. they are excellent food wines and will age for a long time. Wine writer Monica Larner called this wine “The purest and most profound expression of Sangiovese on the market today and gave it 100 points, the Wine Enthusiast gave it 99 points and Vinous (Antonio Galloni) gave it 97points.

I have never done this before, giving other people’s “point scores” but for once I have to agree with all of them and the wine lives up to their praise.

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Filed under Alessandro Mori, Brunello, IL Marroneto, Italian Red Wine, Madonna della Grazie Brunello, Uncategorized

IL Marroneto: Traditional Brunello at its Best

Often when I go to a wine tasting, people will recommend that I taste this or that wine and say, “it is your style.” At a recent tasting of the wines from Montcalm imports, everyone I met seemed to be telling me to taste the wines at table #13. A friend even went so far as to bring the winemaker/owner from table 13 to me to introduce him saying, “you must taste his wine.” Finally, I got to table 13. It was obvious that my friends know the kind of wines I like because it was one of my favorite producers of Brunello, IL Marroneto. At the table were the owner/winemaker, Alessandro Mori and his son Jacopo.

Jacopo and Alessandro

Jacopo and Alessandro

Alessandro told me that the wine really makes itself and he only does what is necessary. He has a traditional and minimalist philosophy both in the vineyard and in the cellar. IL Marroneto is one of the 10 historical wineries of Montalcino and was purchased in 1974 by Giuseppe Mori, Alessandro’s father.

The towers of the city of Siena are the backdrops of the estate’s vineyards located high on the north slope of the hill of Montalcino. The vineyards are at 400 meters and extend to the walls of the town. This is an area where grapes have been cultivated since the times of the Etruscans.

Alessandro said that they grow only Sangiovese grapes and follow a biodynamic approach to cultivation (although not certified), always abiding by the strict Montalcino regulations.  No herbicides are used on the plants.

The wines are aged in coveted Allier and Slovenian oak casks located in the 13th-century tower, which in past centuries was used for drying chestnuts. Learn more at www.ilmarroneto.it

The Wines of IL MarronetoIMG_6117

Rosso di Montalcino “Ignaccio” DOC  2010 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 350 meters, the soil is coarse sand mixed with various minerals and the training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with constant stirring for the first two days. Fermentation lasts for 20/22 days. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 8 months and another 6 months in the bottle before release. Alessandro said that this wine was a declassified Brunello but made in the same way and style. $30IMG_6116

Brunello di Momtalcino DOCG 100% Sangiovese. Fermentation lasts for 11/12 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 39 months and 10 months in the bottle before release. $65IMG_6115

Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna della Grazie”  2009 DOCG 100% Sangiovese. This wine is made from a selection of grapes from the historical vineyards that surround the house. The name of the wine comes from the little 12th century church very near the vineyard, Madonna della Grazie. Fermentation is in Allier oak vats where it remains untouched for 2 days and the fermentation lasts for 20/22 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 41 months and 10 months in bottle before release. $85

These are complex wines with aromas and flavors of citrus, cherry, licorice and mineral notes. They have a wonderful aftertaste and a long finish. They are excellent food wines and will age for a long time.

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Filed under Brunello, IL Marroneto, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Rosso di 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.

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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.

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