|~ The famed Abbey in Sant’Antimo from the vineyards of Tenuta Fanti ~|
Compleanno Vini! Yes, we had reason to celebrate recently and crack the cellar door we did. The 2004 and 2006 vintages were simply among the greatest for Brunello di Montalcino. They will stand side by side with 2010 and 2015 as icons of the best modern vintages. Over the span of weekend, we enjoyed three amazing wines, each different, but each seemingly better than the next. With a vast array of foods from pasta alla gricia, veal chop valdostana, grilled ribeyes and more, these wines were the pinnacle of Sangiovese.
|~ The Cellars of Stella di Campalto ~|
Stella’s farm, the Podere San Giuseppe, sits in the far South East corner of the Brunello zone near the Sant’Antimo abbey and takes it’s name from the sharecropper Giuseppe Martelli that established the farm in 1910. Stella acquired the farm in 1992 and set about making wine; the way she wanted, involved in each step of the process.
Since 1996, her estate has been certified organic but Stella has taken a further step and since 2002 she has become completely biodynamic. Her six individual vineyards, five of which are dedicated to Brunello production, cover 5 1/2 hectares (13 acres) and sit at elevations ranging from 240-340 meters above sea level. This amount of diversity allows her to vinify each vineyard separately and then adjust the blending for her Brunello each year as vintage dictates.
The 2006 Stella di Campalto Brunello is drop dead gorgeous. It’s been a little over 4 years since I last tried a bottle and my suggestion at the time was that the wine would age well, but didn’t need the aging. I stand 100% behind those thoughts. This wine hasn’t changed much at all. It’s elegant with power. Light on it’s feet but absolutely full bodied. A dark crimson in the glass, you can see the fade to copper at the rim of the bowl. The aromas are deep and penetrating: crushed berries, cherry, violets, lavender, a sweet fruity, earthy, perfumed scent, all in harmony. Flavors follow the nose with powdery, mineral like texture and powered indian spice notes. Perfectly balanced. Drink or hold. 98 points. About $80-$90 on release.
|~ Note the copper rim at the edge of the bowl. So classic of Sangiovese Grosso ~|
I think it was Jeff Goldblum in “Jurassic Park” who said: “God, I hate being right all the time.” Well, I’m not trying to toot my own horn that loudly, but this next wine was miraculous and my first two reviews of it were spot on.
The 2004 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova differs slightly from the Stella di Campalto. There’s plenty of complexity and nuance, but this wine illustrates the more masculine side of Brunello. First tasted in 2012, I called this brooding and angry. In August of 2013, the tide had started to turn, but I still thought it needed cellaring. Now, it’s good to go. So the lesson for me and you, in great years – sit this one in the cellar until it turns at least 10-12 years old.
Darker in color than the Stella, this wine has fully blossomed. Crushed cherry, tobacco, roasted espresso, tea leaf, and fennel pour from the glass. On the palate, the wine is full bodied, silky and long. Throwing an enormous sediment. Flavors follow the nose with intense crushed berry, sweet juicy pipe tobacco and loads of Tuscan herb. The tannins have resolved nicely but the structure is so wonderful and all is in balance. Very worthy of the price. This is a special wine. Paired perfectly with grilled ribeye steaks. 98 points. About $50.
|~ Gorgeous ~|
For reasons passing understanding, I didn’t decant the Tenuta Nuova. File this away in the “lesson learned” drawer. Look…….
|~ My stem after the last glass was poured. You should have seen what was in the bottle ~|
Finally, I rolled the dice and decided to try a bottle of the 2006 Capanna Riserva Brunello. I purchased these after tasting the wine at Benvenuto Brunello and I sure am glad I did because I think I low balled the score at the time. (I do tend to be conservative)
Owned by the Cencioni family since 1957, Capanna’s estate sits north of Montalcino near the forest and hills of Montesoli. This is widely regarded to be among the best Cru areas for growing Brunello and in 2006 the Cencioni’s got it right. Very right.
The 2006 Riserva is deep garnet with barely any lightening to the rim. This is pure masculine power from start to finish. The aromas are harmonic. Crushed wild cherry, fennel, pipe tobacco, espresso, hazelnut, flowers and grilled meat – it’s all there! On the palate the wine has cascades of ripe fruit with a wonderful load of silky, powdery tannins that coat the palate without being astringent. Waves of fruit, Christmas spices, cured meat, fennel, pipe tobacco and Tuscan brush meld seemingly into one flavor. The finish lasts on your palate for minutes. With veal chops valdostana, assorted pastas, and charcuterie, this was ethereal. My oh my. 100 points. About $65 and frankly, in the realm of Brunello Riserva, a compelling value.
|~ It doesn’t get better ~|
Buon fine settimana!
March 11, 2016