Brunello is the purest expression of the sangiovese grape from the picturesque hillside town of Montalcino in Tuscany. It is the only red wine in Tuscany that is not blended. These are big personality wines, that are highly age worthy and feverishly sought after by collectors. Brunellos are like time in a bottle, they age extremely well. The DOCG requires Brunello di Montalcino to be aged for a minimum of four years before release, thus the premium price tag on the wines. The Consorzio Del Vino Brunello di Montalcino awarded the 2012 vintage a 5-Star rating, its top and highest rating. Fans of Brunello di Montalcino will be enamored with the magical 2012 vintage.
In all my years of attending wine tasting events, rarely have a come away feeling a sense of delight and pleasure in the way I did last week with the 2012 vintage tasting of Brunello Di Montalcino. Benvenuto Brunello is always one of my favorite tasting event in NYC, because I know I am tasting something remarkable, unique and special. Being in NYC we are the first to have the opportunity to taste the new vintage of Brunello Di Montalcino before they hit our shores.
Benvenuto Brunello started off with a seminar tasting of 8 remarkable wines. One by one the wines brought out feelings of delight, excitement and sheer joy. I was so pleasantly taken aback, as I was not expecting to fall head over heels and madly in love with the 2012, especially after coming off the epic vintage of 2010. Having tasted the 2010’s, which in my opinion, was the vintage of a lifetime, the 2012’s held my attention and wowed me in a very different sort of way than the 2010. 2012 was fresh, clean, smooth, fruit driven and truly magical.
I use the term magical to describe 2012 Brunellos because the growing season was difficult for this vintage. The 2012 season was characterized by a very hot and dry summer, which is so mystifying when you taste the wines, cause the wines of 2012 taste more like a cooler vintage. The climate was not favorable year round, with a cold harsh winter and a wet spring. 2011 was similar in climate and thus the winemakers learned from experience, and worked the fields to accommodate the conditions. 2012 was a year where winemakers expertise and active vineyard management made for a wonderfully elegant wine with finesse and style, in spite of the conditions.
The 2012 vintage was all about the opulence of the fruit. The nose had beautiful perfume characteristics. The fruit was fresh, delicate and fragrant, with notes of cherries, black currants, raspberries and cassis. The velvety texture of the wine was emphasized by its soft tannins and there was also a strong presence of minerality, with seashell like notes that was consistent across the wines. The finish was long and graceful, and it was all fruit, fruit, fruit till the end. Like 2010, the 2012 Brunellos have solid structure, but in a distinctly different way, there was lively acidity,a balance and richness of fruit, and silky tannins. The wines of 2012 were more feminine that its 2010 counterparts, almost Burgundian in nature with this current vintage, yet undeniably a Brunello.
For years to come Brunello lovers will find sheer magical pleasure in this vintage. Due to its freshness, the 2012’s are so tempting to drink young. The wines are approachable now in its infancy yet will evolve into the most elegant wine with time in the cellar. This is one vintage that I believe is drinkable the moment it arrives on the shelves and then stock up and put a away in the cellar too.
The first eight wines selected by the Consorzio, and were all beautiful and special wines and were the wines tasted in the seminar. The last few are just a sampling of my favorites from the tasting.
1. Castelgiocondo $70 – This wine had a bright nose with rose, red cherries and spice. The palate was round, smooth and velvety with sour cherries, and mocha. Great balance of acidity, fruit, and tannins.
2. Collosorbo $50 – Charming wine with hints of pressed flowers and ground spice on the nose. Great structure to this wine, with balanced tannins, black fruit and lively acidity. Wonderful added component of minerality and earthiness.
3. La Magia $50 – Perfumed nose, like rose petals and notes of wild cherries and cinnamon. Purity of the fruit on the palate. Elegantly long finish, again with fruit, fruit, fruit, till the finish line. Lively beautiful bright tones.
4. Le Macioche $65 – This vineyard is close to my heart as I remember visiting Le Macioche in Montalcino and remembering the beautiful drive into the property that was lined with 200+ year old Cypress trees. When I think magical, I visually think Le Macioche and my trip to Montalcino. This wine had a gorgeous ruby hue. Young in flavors with dry spice, cherry and plums. Lovely acidity and smooth tannins.
5. Loacker Corte Pavone $75 – One of my favorites from the seminar. You will want to own this wine. This vineyard is just east of Montalcino village. The wine has rich cherry, spice and a slight note of earthiness on the nose. In the mouth the wine was round ,soft and smooth. This wine is organic/biodynamic. The wine is extremely fresh with lovely acidity that holds the wine together. Very impressive in taste, quality and structure.
6 Pian Delle Querci – Ruby hues with a fruity bouquet of cherries, beautiful structure with its fresh fruit, acidity and silky tannins. Note of raspberries, cocoa and spice.
7. Talenti $70 – Very young on the palate in a good way. It was very a expressive glass of fruit. Noticed spice and chocolate and again that deep sense of minerality. The wine was wonderfully smooth and elegant
8. Banfi Riserva Poggio Alle Mura 2011 $150 – This was the only 2011 in the tasting and was a perfect example that with a skilled and talented winemaker, you can produce exceptional wine even in a average vintage. The wine was mellow and restrained yet beautifully fresh and youthful. Medium body with hints of stone fruit and black cherries. This wine will age wonderfully. Lighter in body than the 2012 vintage, there is a harmonious balance of fruit, acidity and tannins.
1. Máté 2012 – This was hands down my most favorite Brunello. In addition Máté also does wonderful cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Candace Máté was present to pour the wines herself. She is such a talented, graceful woman in so many ways. Candace Máté is an artist and she hand paints and designs the labels herself. More to come about this producer and Candace Máté in a separate post. The Máté Brunello is naturally endowed with a pedigree of its own, with prestigious neighbors like Gaja and Soldera. The wine had tart red fruit and cherry notes with hints of coffee and cocoa. On the palate it was just magical. The lively acidity, the fresh fruits, and silky tannins were sheer joy to the palate.
2. Voliero 2012 – This is the sister wine to the prestigious Uccelliera. Many Brunello lovers are familiar with Uccelliera, so you must give Voliero a taste. This was a truly elegant Brunello. Voliero had a beautiful expression on the nose, fresh cherries, raspberries, with notes of pressed flowers. It was medium body, with soft tannins and juicy acidity. Beautifully long finish that danced on the palate and again that impressionable young fruit till the finish.
3. Uccelliera 2012 – Deep ruby hues on the wine. This wine is youthful yet approachable. Silky and elegant Enticing aromas of cherries, licorice, and nutmeg. Plush mouthful of smooth tannins, mouth puckering acidity and the oh so glorious fruit till the end. A wonderfully silky, elegant, high quality wine from a solid producer.
4. Il Poggione 2012 – Everyone’s beloved Brunello. This vintage was truly special. The wine exuded a feminine romantic quality compared to the 2010 vintage. Sensual floral notes on the nose, most prominent rose petals and lavender. On the palate, lovely fresh fruit with cassis and sour cherries. Hints of cinnamon and cocoa and intense minerality. Lengthy finish with acidity that was mouth watering and tannins that were smooth and silky.
5. Le Chiuse 2012 – Sometimes you love a wine because you love the story or the winemaker behind the label, well this might just be the case for me with La Chiuse. Lorenzo Magnelli is the most stylish winemaker I know and just a wonderful guy all around. Sangiovese is in his blood as his family(the famous Biondi-Santi) have been making wine since the 1800’s. His 2012 Brunello is a stunner and is as stylish as he is. The wine has a persistent fragrance of fruit, floral and spice. Lots of plum, cherries, lavender and cinnamon on the palate. There is a velvety, smooth finish, and I will sound like a broken record, but there is persistent fruit through the very end. But make no mistake this wine is no broken record, it will be singing music in your mouth for years to come.