Tuscany Signage

~ Benvenuto a Montalcino ~

I have to say, reporting on this vintage has left me rather torn.  As I remarked in Part 1 of my Brunello 2014 coverage, there are many conflicting emotions and issues when discussing these wines.  It would be one thing if the wines were simply good and ready to drink upon release.  However, when you add in the fact that they are not bargains, and will not be age-worthy as most Brunello are, it’s difficult to recommend buying them.  To be even more pragmatic, let’s not forget that wine is alcohol. So if you’re ingesting it, it should be worth it.

The majority of the 2014 Brunello I’ve tasted have fallen somewhere between 84-87 points.  “Good”; if you need a label.  Really, they’re reminiscent of solid Rosso di Montalcino.  Is that good enough? 15 or 20 years ago, a vintage like 2014 would have been an abject disaster. The wines would have been mostly undrinkable or even sold off in bulk.  The fact that these wines are somewhat pleasing is a testament to the vast improvements made in vineyard and cellar management over that span of time.   Before we go on, here’s a throwback to the 2014s at Benvenuto Brunello.  With that, let’s conclude.

2014 Brunello di Montalcino – Part 2 – I Vini

Tenute Silvio Nardi’s three estates, Casale del Bosco, Manachiara and Bibbiano, are comprised of 36 individual vineyard plots that are situated to the east and west of the town of Montalcino, at elevations ranging from 800 to 1,300 feet. Some of the vines located on the Manachiara estate are among the oldest in the region, now approaching 50 years of age. Nardi is a classic producer of “old school” Brunello. Since the early 1990s the estate has been run by Silvio’s daughter Emilia who has quietly become one of the DOCGs most respected women. The wines have improved greatly during Emilia’s tenure and the future seems bright for Nardi.

The 2014 Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello is a medium ruby color.  The nose puts forth aromas of cherries, vanilla and dried herbs that is quite nice.  There’s a bit of smoke as well.  The palate is fairly simple and medium bodied.  Moderate amounts of cherry fruit are soft and straight-foward.  Hints of spice.  87 points.  Find this wine.

Brunello wine

~ Tenuta Silvia Nardi owns the most Westerly located vineyard in the Brunello zone ~

Named after a 12th Century bandit that led the people of Montalcino against the ruthless oppressors from Siena,  Ugolforte now lends its name to the next wine in our tasting.   Tenuta San Giorgio lies not far from the Abbey at Sant’Antimo at 350-400 meters above sea level.  Soil conditions range from clay, to chalk and loam and this reduced minerality is present in the wines.

The 2014 Ugolforte Brunello is a medium ruby color with pretty violet reflections.  Nice nose of berries, spice and vanilla.  Medium bodied at most on the palate with hints of cranberry.  This is slightly tart and driven by pepper and minerality.  Nice, but nothing more. 86 points.  Find this wine.

~ Reminiscent of a heavier weight Rosso ~

The Siro Pacenti estate was purchased in 1970 by Siro Pacenti who set about planting vineyards in what has since become the Brunello di Montalcino zone. His Pelagrilli estate sits within sight of Montalcino and was expanded in the late 1990’s. In 2004, new barrel aging cellars were completed. For this report, we’re looking at his single vineyard bottling that bears the name of the estate.

The 2014 Siro Pacenti Pelagrilli Brunello is a medium ruby color with pretty violet reflections.  Lots of menthol, cypress, cherries and herbs on the nose that appear very fresh.  Dusty red fruits on the palate that are nicely concentrated and fresh are accented with tobacco and vanilla.  Does this have non-2014 juice in it too?  This is rather attractive.  91 points.  But the price is climbing up on this one a bit. Find this wine.

~ Another exception in 2014. This is an attractive Brunello that is fresh and concentrated beyond most ~

Andrea Machetti was among the first consulting winemakers I interviewed at Tuscanvines.  His style and deft touch is a hallmark for many of the regions exciting wines.  In the difficult 2014 vintage he crafted a nice wine.

Mastrojanni winery sign

~ The Mastrojanni winery ~

The 2014 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino is a nice effort.   Medium ruby in the glass with violet reflections this is fresh on the nose with berries, sandalwood and vanilla spices.  Medium bodied, with berry, toasted vanilla and hints of tobacco on the palate.  The finish displays hints of stemminess.  All in all,  a nice wine that drinks well now.  86 points.  Find this wine.

Brunello wine in a glass

~ The Mastrojanni reminds of well proportioned Rosso di Montalcino and is quite attractive. Note the temporary label sticker for the vintage ~

Alessandro Bindocci is a talented winemaker and has helmed Il Poggione for some time now.  I’ve had the good fortune to taste with him on many occasions and his wines reflect his personality; humble yet confident. Poised, but aggressive. Sturdy yet graceful. Today, Tenuta il Poggione covers approximately 1,300 acres though only 336 are devoted to vines while the balance is attributed to olive groves, grains and livestock. The vineyards sit between 475 and 1,500 feet above sea level and are located just 6 miles from the center of Montalcino.

~ Tenuta il Poggione’s barrel cellars were completely renovated in 2004 ~

The 2014 Il Poggione Brunello is reliable Sangiovese.  Light ruby in color, it displays soft vanilla, berry and wood notes on the nose and palate. Fresh and persistent with some interesting spice.  Like a very nice Rosso.  87 points.  Find this wine.

Grapes on the vines

~ Sloping vineyards on the Mastrojanni Estate. This was taken just before the 2019 harvest ~

4 small hectares is all it takes for the Marchetti’s to make great wine. The Fossacolle estate lies in the village of Tavernelle just south of Montalcino. Owner and patriarch Sergio Marchetti has familial roots that date to the 18th century, but Fossacolle is a mere baby in relation to Brunello; their first bottled vintage was the 1997.

The 2014 Fossacolle Brunello is one of the best in this report.  A darker ruby than most, this has nice aromas of pine and cypress needle, fresh berries and toast.  On the palate the wine displays nice spicy, berry flavors accented with tobacco.  This juicy and fresh with good structure and displays some of the masculinity Fossacolle is noted for.  The winery is located in Tavernelle which is a bit warmer than other areas of the Brunello zone.  As such, it seems to have helped in 2014.  89 points.  Find this wine.

~ Going at it with the Coravin. Some of these were saved for tasting again later this winter. I’m curious to see how they hold up and if they’ve been changed by the Coravin.  That is the Il Poggione in the glass ~

Just south of Montalcino, near Castelnuovo dell’Abate, lie the 60 acres of La Poderina, now owned by the Saiagricola group. Riccardo Cotarella is the consulting winemaker. Therefore, it may fit that La Poderina’s belief is that “innovation serves tradition”. In that vein, the wines are aged in barrique as well as large cask.

The 2014 La Poderina Brunello presented itself rather uniquely. In what I’ll say was a wise winemaking step, the use of oak seems to be really dialed back in this vintage.  Light ruby in color, there is cypress, pine and artichoke on the nose with soft berry undertones. Rather vegetal.  On the palate the fruit seems fairly ripe.  Vanilla, green tobacco leaf and berries combine nicely.  A bit of stemminess on the finish.  Nice enough now but I sense this will fall apart quickly in the cellar.  86 points.  Find this wine.

~ A quiet street in Montalcino ~

Fattoria il Pino owner Jessica Pellegrini acquired 5 hectares of vineyards to the west of Montosoli hill in 2000.  Today, she manages the estate along with her son who has been involved with production since he was 6!  Marco Mocali is the consulting enologist.  Last year’s 2013 was one of the standouts in that report.  Jessica’s 2014 is another success.  This is a winery to watch.  2015 anyone?

The 2014 Fattoria Il Pino Brunello is a light ruby color.  The nose is filled with red berries, cypress, soft wood tones and cigarette tobacco that is very interesting.  Tobacco and juicy sweet fruit combine on the palate and add hints of vanilla.  While not a bruiser, it is interesting to drink and that’s not been said about too many 2014 Brunello.  87 points. Find this wine.

Brunello in bottle and glass

~ That’s the Fattoria Il Pino in the glass ~

I love Uccelliera.  There are 3  vintages in my cellar and 2015 and 2016 will surely be added.  Winemaker Andrea Cortonesi also owns Voliero but from that estate, no Brunello was produced in 2014.  I thought maybe the fruit was combined, but that is not the case.  Knowing this, I expected this wine to be better.  I can tell you, I would line up to buy the 2015 without even tasting it (though I have a few times already) but in this vintage I have no idea what happened.

The 2014 Uccelliera Brunello represents an odd dichotomy. This is a light ruby color that is almost transparent.  The nose is funky with barnyard and wet leaves.  Soft fruit on the nose with some leather evolves to a light bodied wine focused on soft berry flavors that turn dry and diluted on the mid palate.  Not really worth considering. 83 points.  Want to find this wine?

Wine barrels in a wine cellar

~ The team in the cellars at Donatella Cinelli Colombini ~

I have always enjoyed the wines of Donatella Cinelli Colombini at just about every level.  The estate Brunello is always good and the “Prima Donne” Brunello often spectacular.  In 2014, the estate Brunello received a lot of de-classified fruit.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have had much impact on the finished product.

The 2014 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello is a nice violet color but the excitement stops there.  On the nose, the wine displays soft red fruit notes and little else but dried green herbal notes.  On the palate, the fruit is tart and watery with little character.  After waiting for about 60 minutes I think the air hurt the wine.  This seems like an example of what I’ve been seeing and hearing about the 2014s in general from several people in Tuscany and in the trade. They are falling apart quickly.  I can’t recommend this.  84 points.

~ An easy pass in 2014 ~

Closing Remarks

While I may be a romantic about wine, I’m also a realist when it comes to the financial side of the business. Wineries need cash flow or very, very deep pockets.  Since many are family owned businesses, typically the latter is not the norm.  Overall, the producers did a good job with a very difficult harvest.  By using small percentages of juice from other vintages and ultra severe selection both in the vineyard and the cellar, acceptable wines were made in small quantities.  There are exceptions in both directions and if you can remember these and stumble across a nice bottle on a restaurant wine list, go for it.  But the further and further removed we get from 2014 the less optimistic I become.  These wines will not last and with the promise of 2015 and 2016 coming closer and closer to market, your buying decisions are simple. 

Salute!

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