In 1967, Dino Ciacci, the founder of the Mocali estate, was one of the first 25 vignerons who helped found the Corsorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. At the time, and like other estates in Montalcino, the Mocali farm grew grapes alongside grain and olive groves for the production of oil. The farm remained diversified in this fashion into the 1980s. But in 1985, a terrible frost decimated the population of olive trees in Italy, decimating the trees in Montalcino. Tiziano Ciacci, Dino’s grandson, was just married and looking to start his career. While his father and grandfather had only grown grapes for sale and made simple wine for local consumption, Tiziano and his wife Alessandra set their sights on bottling their own wine. Rather than replant the destroyed olive groves, they would replace them with vineyards for the production of Brunello.
Today, Tiziano and Alessandra farm a total of about 20 hectares, only 10 of which are devoted to Brunello. The couple took over the farm in 1990 and at the time, the production was limited to about 500 bottles per year but slowly the pair have increased production which is now about 5,000 bottles.
Mocali possesses some of the lowest lying vineyards in the Brunello production zone; a fact which I believe contributes to the approachability of the wines. Without the higher altitude, the swing between daytime highs and night time lows are not as wide. Sangiovese performs very well with notable diurnal temperature swings and grapes grown at higher altitude often possess a more floral, mouthwatering nature than wines made from their lower lying cousins. As a result, Mocali’s Brunello aren’t the longest lived wines nor are they the most complex. However, they are well made and affordable.
The 2004 Mocali Brunello Riserva certainly attests to the quality of the Mocali estate. This is old school Brunello. Hand harvested, selected and aged exclusively in giant Slavonian barrels, the Brunello Riserva is only produced in optimal vintages and miniscule amounts. At 14 years of age, this wine is showing lots of secondary attributes, but is still a ripe, fresh, notable Riserva. Deep ruby in the glass, the wine fades slightly to brick at the rim of the bowl. Warm cherry compote, sweet balsamic notes, pipe tobacco and chestnut perfume the aromas rising from the glass. It’s easy to note that this is a mature wine….ever so gracefully fading.
On the palate, the wine carries a broad swath of crushed ripe cherry that sits softly on the palate. Joined by turned earth, porcini mushroom and autumn leaves, this exhibits enough tertiary notes to make this wine interesting. Medium to full bodied, the structure of the wine appears to be significantly softened and the tannins have melted away leaving only a trace of silt like sediment. Very interesting, but to my earlier point, I’ve had 2004 Brunello normale recently from other producers that have seemed fresher than this Riserva. Again, not a knock, but an observation of style. This wine was enjoyed with grilled karobuta pork chops lathered with toasted fennel seed and carmelized onions. Since 2004, produced in only 5 vintages, oddly omitting the great 2006. (2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012) 92 points, about $40 upon release. Current vintages sell for about $65. Find this wine.