The origins of La Serena begin in 1933 when the Mantengoli family purchased the estate – all of one hectare at the time – and began producing wines mostly for local consumption. Since 1988, under the direction of Andrea Mantengoli, production has increased from 2,700 to 30,000 bottles and plantings have increased to 8 1/2 hectares. That’s still very small by some standards, but Andrea is pleased with his capacity.
Click below for a brief video overview of the La Serena Estate which is guaranteed to make your mouth water for Brunello. It’s well worth the look.
Today the estate is producing organic wines within their microclimate and in this quote Andrea reflects on the characteristics that make Sangiovese special in Montalcino: “Sangiovese grapes find here the perfect balance, it doesn’t need to be pushed, but it is very demanding to reach the perfect ripeness, it is wild but at the same time it changes a lot according to different soils. You can see easily the different morphology of the grapes within a short distance according to the nature and aspects of the land.”
This quote addresses the heart of many issues surrounding Sangiovese. The very nature of the grape is why Brunello is so different from lower versus higher altitudes, in different soils, and from different clones. This is part of the main reason for the potential “Zonazione” project that is often discussed with fervor around Montalcino. And even, to a lesser extent, it’s why Sangiovese produced in California never truly appears to be a descendant of Italy, but some form of hybridized grape. Regardless, the impact of Andrea’s words are not lost on me.
The 2006 La Serena Brunello di Montalcino is magic. The image below captures the intensity of the color better than any words I could use. Vibrant, nearly black, opaque with slow, lustrous legs. Amazing. A complex array of bottle matured aromas captivates the taster. Mulch, porcini, smoked game, terra cotta and cinnamon all provide orchestral harmony to the ripe cherry choir that dominates the aromas. On the palate, this Brunello is also a bit “wild” to my tastes. An untamed maverick with grilled meat, truffle, dried herbs and an “animale” quality that provides interest to the intense core of cherry fruit which sits nimbly but forcefully on your mid palate. Absolutely delicious with crostini lathered with duck liver mousse, this continued to be enjoyed with grilled porterhouse and basil aioli. Still a good value in Brunello as the price approximates $45. 96 points. Find this wine.