It seemed as though the 2015s had just been barreled when winemakers started talking of 2016. Of course that’s not true, but as soon as bunches began appearing on vines, winemakers began sharing their excitement. As the vintage progressed, I kept hearing about aromatics, vibrant aromas, pure scents. I chronicled many of the quotes I received in that year’s Harvest Report. I’m always amazed at how right an experienced winemaker can be. Now that the 2016 Brunello are fully on the market, they are generally fresh, elegant and aromatic wines. The wines I’ve tried thus far bear this out. 2016 stands in contrast to 2015, but they are both wonderful vintages to stockpile.
Part 2 of my coverage published last month. Now, let’s get going with Part 3.
I Vini di Brunello
Antonio Zaccheo may very well be the most underrated winemaker in Montalcino. The head of operations for Carpineto, Zaccheo crafts high quality wines from Chianti Classico and Montepulciano. His single vineyard Vino Nobile are well kept secrets and some of the best wines from the zone. The notches in his belt extend beyond Brunello.
Carpineto’s vineyards in Montalcino are some of the highest in the appellation and sit approximately 1,400 feet above sea level. The farm consists of preserved stone buildings, olive groves and over 25 acres of north-west facing vineyards which are all surrounded and protected by forest that shelters the vines from some of the harsher winds that come up from the Maremma.
The 2016 Carpineto Brunello is a deep violet, gorgeous color. Not decanted and this is just great right out of the bottle. Vibrant aromas! Cherries galore with baking spices, new leather and fresh tobacco leaf. Mint? I love it! On the palate, the wine is soooo fresh. Juicy with vibrant cherry, juicy red plum and tobacco notes with a streak of minerality. There’s nothing not to like here and should drink well for 7-10 years. 95 points and should be about $45. Easily one of the best values from the vintage. Find this wine.
When your lineage begins with several generations of Biondi Santi I sort of feel the way winemakers do when they are praising their agronomists: “They bring me great fruit, all I have to do is not screw it up!”
Simonetta Valiani inherited the estate in 1993 and decided to start producing wine under the Le Chiuse name. Until then, the vineyards were rented to her uncle, Franco Biondi-Santi, and the fruit was being used for Biondi-Santi’s Riserva bottling. Today the estate’s vines are approaching 70 years of age and are planted to rootstock chosen by Tancredi Biondi Santi himself.
The 2016 Le Chiuse Brunello is a deep ruby color. The aromas are absolutely wonderful with deep, pure cherry aromas. Mushroom, leaves, shale and smashed clay add complexity. In the mouth, this is long and concentrated. Very ripe cherry and wild berry flavors are backed by zippy acidity. Medium weight tannins are noticeable and a little bitter. Iron, mineral and beaten leather frame the fruit finish which is very, very long. Really wonderful, that right now, I think the 2015 is better. 95 points. Find this wine.
With the review by a certain main stream critic who rated the wine 100 points, the price for Le Chiuse has increased by about 50%. I strongly suggest seeking out the 2015. The review in question surprises me given the ripeness of the wine and the reviewer’s routine criticism for Brunello over 14%. I can’t get there.
Collemattoni owns just over 11 hectares of vineyards that are scattered throughout the Brunello zone. During 2012, the production area and aging cellars were completely renovated. As a result of that project, the entire winemaking process is now gravity fed. These sustainability efforts also extend to the estate’s power consumption as solar panels generate 80% of the property’s electricity. Since 2012, they are certified organic.
Recently, I spotlighted their amazing 2019 Rosso. That’s another wine to seek out. Collemattoni is on a roll and their wines are often positioned as values. Shop around!
The 2016 Collemattoni Brunello is really fresh. Flowers and berries on the nose add hints of Tuscan herbs and black tea. Juicy and sapid on the palate with ripe berry, tobacco leaf and toasted hazelnut. Really fresh and elegant. Medium bodied in weight and tannins. Should blossom even more with 2-4 years in the cellar. Added weight with air. 93 points. Find this wine.
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. In this installment we’re looking at the Cru Manachiara, which means “bright morning”. The name is a nod to the east facing vineyard which soaks up the sun’s early morning warmth.
The 2016 Tenute Silvio Nardi Vigna Manachiara is a deep ruby/violet clear to the rim. Black cherry, chocolate covered cherries, espresso, leather and carob aromas are breathtaking. I love how this smells! Huge black cherry flavors tinged with espresso, toasted oak, iron and crushed stones are graceful yet seriously masculine. Huge wall of tannins to resolve but the fruit balance is there and so is the acidity. The finish goes on for minutes. (yes, I timed it!) A monumental Brunello and one that will live a decade plus. Best wine I’ve ever tasted from this producer. 98 points. Find this wine.
The next estate also has roots belonging to the Biondi Santi lineage. What then became La Gerla was purchased in 1976 by Sergio Rossi who sadly passed away in 2011. The estate remains in the Rossi family and today is managed by Sergio’s wife Donatella. Vittorio Fiore is the consulting enologist. The estate extends over 15 hectares; 11.5 of which are vines and 2.5 of which are olive groves.
The 2016 La Gerla Brunello is a classic large barrel medium ruby color. Bright berries and roses on the nose add a hint of fennel. On the palate, mouthwatering, sapid, sour cherry fruit is juicy, ripe, sweet and fresh. Elegantly framed; this medium bodied wine is so well balanced it’s hard to identify individual components. Spices, fresh tobacco leaf and sandalwood notes add complexity. Bright and fresh. 92 points. Find this wine.
I’ve a long history covering the wines from Donatella Cinelli. Whether it be the 2015 Estate wine or the 2016 Prime Donne which I covered earlier this year, the wines are consistent, aromatic and fresh. The 2016 estate wine appears to buck the trend of aromatic elegance that I associate as a hallmark of this estate. But I have a feeling that may just be temporary.
The 2016 Donatella Cinelli Estate Brunello is a classic ruby to deep garnet color. Funky on the nose at first but with air that blew off. Decant this. Earth notes, tobacco, smoke and roasted nuts join the berry aromas. Bright fruit in the mouth is juicy,clean and long. Cherry, tar, iron and tobacco are mineral driven. Tannins clamp down on the finish which is a bit drying. I think this one needs some time to resolve the tannins and settle down. For now it’s more brutish than it’s typical elegant personality. 91 points. Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.
Situated Southwest of Montalcino, in the direction of Tavernelle, is the 27 hectare estate of Podere Brizio. Founded in the late 1970’s, the estate has 9 hectares under vine and 2 devoted to olive trees. The vineyards have south west exposure and sit at 350 meters above sea level. With vineyards approaching 30+ years of age, this comparatively young estate is beginning to produce grapes and wines with more notable complexity.
The 2016 Podere Brizio Brunello is a deep, full ruby. The aromatics are all about freshness. Crushed cherries, fresh flowers, fall spices and lightly toasted sandalwood are so attractive. Beautiful cherry and raspberry flavors on the palate add dried herbs and juicy ripe pomegranate notes on the finish. Mouthwatering. Medium to full body with substantial tannins that are well integrated. Give it 2 years or decant an hour. Really impressed. 94 points. Find this wine.
Just south of Montalcino, near Castelnuovo dell’Abate, lies the 60 acre vineyard of La Poderina. The Saiagricola group has retained Riccardo Cotarella as the consulting winemaker and as a result, their Brunello tends to take on a more modern “flair” stylistically. The 2015 was a bit of an outlier in support of this generalization. But I think the 2016 reverts back to that style.
The 2016 La Poderina Brunello is a medium ruby color. Aromatic, with a very pretty nose of flowers, sandalwood, truffle and wild berries. Really intriguing. Full body and with substantial tannins. Creamy mouthfeel with vanilla, raspberry, cherry and warmed spice flavors that are concentrated. New leather too. As expressive as this is, it needs some time to settle the tannins and make the fruit come to the fore more. It’s huge right now. 92 points. Find this wine
There’s a trend emerging at Camigliano and I don’t like it. Referring back to my reviews on the 2015 Brunello from this producer, the estate wine was forgettable while the Cru was more impressive.
The 2016 Camigliano Estate Brunello is a medium ruby color throughout. Lithe aromas of raspberry, sandalwood, rosemary and wet earth. Looks and smells like Burgundy. On the palate, rather simple and straightforward. Cherry, soft balsam notes and dried herbs are nice but somewhat hollow on the mid palate. Slightly bitter tannins emerge on the finish. Not one for the cellar. Decant and enjoy now with medium weight fare. 89 points, but at least its inexpensive. Find this wine and Support Tuscan Vines.
And some food… We do eat well when we’re trying new Brunello.
The estate of Castiglion del Bosco dates back to the 1200’s and has the dubious reputation for paying the highest property taxes in all of the Sienese republic. Over the centuries the estate has been conquered several times; eventually ending up in the hands of luxury product producer, the Ferragamo family. Today the estate covers almost 2,000 hectares in the northwestern portion of the Brunello zone, but most of that is devoted to forest, an 18 hole golf course, a refurbished castle and the large Borgo consisting of 23 guest suites. There are 62 hectares of vineyards. It may appear as more of a resort destination that makes wine, but the 2016 is impressive enough.
The 2016 Castiglion del Bosco Brunello is a medium violet color throughout that is very pretty. Aromatic, with fresh flowers and lavender framing pretty notes of crushed cherry and toasted spices. On the palate, the wine is full bodied and largely framed – though the tannins are more refined than you might expect. Wild cherry, rosemary, hazelnut and tobacco flavors are very well delineated and interesting. Needs 2-4 years in the cellar to flesh out some but this is a very nice effort. 93 points. Find this wine.
That puts Part 3 in the books. However, Part 4 is already under way and will include some very heavy hitters in the Brunello space. A lot of these wines are available for sale now as the 2016 vintage still dominates the market. Take notes and go shopping! And don’t forget, using the “Support Tuscan Vines” link when you see it will do just that; defer the costs of running this website. Also, don’t forget the Enoteca di Piazza Coupon Code which will save you 10% on any of your purchases.