Despite the fact that the 2017 Brunello have been officially released, it’s the 2016s (and even 2015s) that are still dominating shelf space in wine shops. This is more than OK, in fact, it’s a great time to buy. With the glass shortages, supply chain issues and inflationary pressure running rampant, the 15s and 16s on shelves are generally less expensive than the few 2017s that are in the market place. In this final installment of my 2016 Brunello coverage, I touch on some excellent surprises and some classic beauties of Brunello.
As always, if you’re looking for any of the Brunello I’ve reviewed, I encourage you to browse online at Enoteca di Piazza and use my coupon code “Fodera” to save 10% on any wine, no exceptions. Now, let’s get started…
I Vini di Brunello
Montalcino welcomed Fattoria Il Pino to the landscape in 2000 when owner Jessica Pellegrini acquired 5 hectares of vineyards to the west of Montosoli hill. 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.
The 2016 Fattoria Il Pino Brunello is a medium ruby color. Lovely, fragrant nose of cherries, sandalwood, anise and red flowers are nicely woven together. Super smooth and elegant in the mouth with flavors matching the aromas. Not a tannin in sight. Medium bodied and Burgundian like. Stylistically very similar to the 2015. Balanced well, but not sure how this will age given it’s easy drinking nature. Beautiful now. 90 points. Find this wine.
Caparzo has its etymology in the Latin phrase Caput Arsum, meaning Land Touched by the Sun. Indeed, when Caparzo was established there were only 13 producers of Brunello. They’ve been toiling in the verdant hills of Montalcino since the 1960s and when I caught up with proprietor Elisabetta Angelini at a tasting not long ago, I asked her to tell me why. I thought I’d share her answer with you.
“Sometimes certain places attract your attention before you know why. This was true for Caparzo. Since I was a child I have dreamed of living in a place like this, immersed in the green, far from the chaos of big cities, where time seems to have stopped.
Montalcino is the land of Brunello, made only with Sangiovese grapes. When I purchased Caparzo in 1998, I had the chance to test myself with a great Tuscan wine and become acquainted with the pride of an ancient agriculture. It is a constant commitment that fills me with pride. Today I feel part of this world. My land, my seasons and my efforts are found in my wine. This is a feeling that repays all the work and all the efforts made for creating that bottle.”
The 2016 Caparzo Brunello La Casa is a deep garnet color throughout. Where’s the nose? Heavy swirling and extended air reveals black cherry, sweet fennel, pipe tobacco and herbs. The palate is drop dead gorgeous. Concentrated black cherry is powerful, elegant and juicy. These flavors are augmented by toasted oak, grilled meat, porcini laced turned earth and juicy, fresh sapidity. Maybe the best La Casa I’ve ever tasted. A wow wine and a must Sangiovese in this vintage. Is La Casa ever a disappointment? I think not! 97 points. Find this wine.
Named after a 12th century bandit that led the people of Montalcino against the ruthless oppressors from Siena, Ugolforte is the flag bearer for Tenuta San Giorgio. Situated not far from the symbolic Abbey at Sant’Antimo, San Giorgio is perched about 350-400 meters above sea level near the town of Castelnuovo dell’Abate. The vineyard soils consist of clay, chalk and loam and as a result, “the essence of ancient seabeds” lend a distinct minerality to their wines.
The 2016 San Giorgio Brunello Ugolforte is amazing and is the Brunello estate of Montecucco’s Collemassari. Brilliant ruby with violet highlights throughout, this leads to a wonderfully perfumed nose. Violets, roses, and crushed cherry are simply beautiful. Gorgeous on the palate! Wild cherry, fresh herbs, spices, iron and dusty minerals are really complex. Elegant with medium weight finely grained tannins that turn sapid. I just love this. Best wine I’ve ever had from this estate. 95 points. Find this wine.
Castello Tricerchi extends over 400 hectares on the northern slopes of Montalcino. However, only 13 hectares are dedicated to the cultivation of Sangiovese Grosso. The Castle of the family, which was completed in 1441, dominates the property and is now the home and headquarters of the Tricerchis’ direct ancestors, the Squarcia family. It’s also the namesake of the first wine in this report.
The 2016 Castello Tricerchi Brunello AD 1441 is a brilliant medium ruby. The aromas are captivating. Pretty crushed cherry, cured salume, sandalwood and fresh flowers mark the very interesting nose. Very fresh on the palate. Full, viscous body is just gorgeous! Lovely black cherry fruit is juicy and pure. Primary, but with soft spice and new leather notes adding complexity. Tannins are expertly woven. This is tremendous. 96 points. Find this wine.
20 small hectares is all you need for excellence.
Owned by the Cencioni family since 1957, Capanna sits just north of Montalcino near the Montosoli hill. The first vintage was 1960 and at that time Giuseppe became one of the founding members of the Consorzio. Today, the estate is comprised of 24 hectares in total. Twenty are devoted to Sangiovese while the balance is Merlot (1 hectare) and Moscato. Paolo Vagaggini is the consulting winemaker.
The 2016 Capanna Brunello is a medium to dark ruby in color. Wild berry and dusty minerals on the nose are joined with toasted spices. Sapid and juicy on the palate which is fresh, lively and persistent. Medium to full bodied with sour cherry, fresh herbs and tobacco notes combining nicely. Delicious, with medium bodied tannins that don’t intrude but make their presence known. Always a winner. 95 points. Find this wine.
The Corte Pavone Estate sprawls for a modest 19 hectares within sight of Montalcino. Proprietor Hayo Loacker, who hails from South Tyrol in northern Italy, has identified 7 dynamic and distinctive vineyard plots on his estate from which they craft three exciting Biodynamic Cru Brunello. The project is very similar to that of Val di Suga, though each year Loacker will make a selection from the various vineyards. All 3 Cru’s including the Estate Brunello will be featured in this year’s coverage. Campo Marzio was featured earlier.
The 2016 Corte Pavone Brunello Cru Fior di Meliloto is organic and biodynamic. In the glass, it sports a gorgeous bright ruby color that fades to iodine at the rim of the bowl. Bright crushed berry on the nose with vanilla, shaley stones, tobacco and fennel. I love how this smells. Bright, juicy, lively fruit on the palate is so fresh. Crushed wild cherry, blood orange, iron and charred tobacco are very interesting. Hints of spice. Very complex. This has a life ahead and will only get better with 3-5 years cellaring. Bravo! 97 points. Find this wine.
The 2016 Corte Pavone Estate Brunello is another dark ruby wine trending to garnet. Slight funk on the nose is joined by dusty cherry toasted spices and tobacco. Rather attractive. This is steely, irony and austere on the palate. It’s rather tannic and needs cellaring. With additional air, wild berry emerges with spices but the tannins are still in the way. Give it 5+ years and try again. I’m not sold on this one but it may come around. 90 points. Find this wine.
I’ve written a lot about Barbi over the years and justifiably so. They are a Brunello icon. The most recent article I penned was a feature on their newly released 2019 Rosso di Montalcino which is delicious. Today, I’m including their newest release. Interestingly, Barbi Brunello can be often slower to market. For example, locally Gary’s is still selling the 2015. Use this review as an almost pre-release of what’s to come.
Barbi has been around for over 6 centuries and is helmed by Stefano Cinelli Colombini. The estate spans 300 hectares from which 800,000 bottles of Brunello and other wines are produced in most vintages. The family wine cellar in Montalcino holds vintages as old as 1892. Despite this lengthy pedigree and enduring success, Stefano Colombini remains a humble farmer.
The 2016 Fattoria Barbi Brunello is a medium ruby to garnet color. Wild berry notes greet the taster on the nose with toasted spices and leather. Angry at first, 2016 is proving to be fickle, this blossoms considerably with air. Ripe berry, fresh herbs and sandalwood create an elegant palate. Juicy, fresh with nice persistence. This is already closing down, but given my long history with this estate I trust that the future is bright. 92 points. Find this wine.
The Tenute Silvio Nardi Manachiara Brunello was featured in Part 3 of this year’s coverage. We round out the representation from this estate with an intriguing second Cru. What’s unique about Poggiodoria is that it lays claim to being the Brunello vineyard situated furthest to the West in the appellation. As a result, it gets long days of sunshine well into the mid-evening hours.
The 2016 Silvio Nardi Cru Brunello Vigneto Poggiodoria is a gorgeous deep ruby color. Perfumed nose with deep wild berry, fresh floral notes of iris and roses, with spice and toasted nut aromas. Viscous palate is loaded with fruit. Ripe notes of wild cherry, Christmas cake spices, herbs and mushrooms are long and complex. This is really special. Finishes with dried herbs, toasted nut spice and a bit of peppery heat. No ABV is present on the sample label. 93 points. Find this wine.
Castello Tricerchi may not be the first name that rolls off your lips when discussing Brunello, but like the 1441 above, their Estate Brunello is rather notable.
The 2016 Castello Tricerchi Brunello is a medium ruby color and slightly transparent in the bowl. Bright berry, cherry and sandalwood aromas mark the nose with just a hint of fennel. Juicy and fresh in the mouth with sapid flavors of dried herb, cherry and bitter olive. The tannins are a bit astringent but very mild in texture. This one is much better with food than without. That’s expected and that’s ok. Decant it an hour and enjoy this nice value. Drink now. 92 points. Find this wine.
Poggio Antico is