As I wrote in Part 1 of this year’s coverage, Brunello 2017 was hardly a washout. Despite immense challenges posed by Mother Nature, producers generally handled the hot, dry vintage well. But there are always exceptions.
As a result of careful, even meticulous, vineyard practices producers were able to shield their grapes from the sun’s blistering rays. Canopy management and conservation of rain water when available could not be understated for its importance to the vines. Challenges such as these seem common place now. But producers have adapted. While the 2017s lack the structure, tannin levels and even the complexity to cellar, they are well made wines suited for early, enjoyable consumption.
I Vini di Brunello
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.
2017 Capanna “Nicco”: This is the inaugural vintage of this Cru Brunello. Gorgoeus classic color. Medium ruby is clear and bright. Complexity on the nose is very nice. Cherry, baking spices, powdered cocoa, and earthy minerality are wonderful. On the palate this is juicy and fresh. No trace of the 15% ABV. Incredibly well balanced. Bright, fresh wild berry is sapid and mouth watering. Leather, tobacco and vanilla add complexity. Turns tannic on the finish so could use 2-4 years in the cellar. Who made a Cru in 2017? Not many. But this one is very impressive. 94 points.
Caprili soldiers on. They have a great winemaker, great exposition and wonderful vineyards; to say nothing of their manicured estate. Yet somehow, they remain below the radar. Giacomo is a young energetic winemaker and the future is in good hands at this property. I’ve visited in the past and perhaps it’s time I went back.
2017 Caprili Brunello: This is a brilliant shimmering ruby. Pretty nose of sapid sour cherry, hints of vanilla, flowers and baking spices. On the palate, this is juicy and lively. Very fresh for the vintage with mouth watering cherry fruit, slight tobacco and cured olive. Elegant. Always reliable. 92 points.
No one is on a bigger roll right now than Riccardo Talenti. The largely one man show, Talenti understands his property. He understands his vineyards. His relationship extends to individual vine rows as he explained during my Rustic Tuscany Tour. He picks row by row and even knows which vine rows are too young to be included in his wines. The results are impressive.
2017 Talenti Brunello: Deep ruby. Classic color extends out to the rim. Rich cherry notes on the nose with accents of wood and chestnut. On the palate this is very lively for the vintage. Ripe cherry notes are backed by bright acidity and vanilla accents. Full bodied with substantial tannic structure. Green olives and baking spices linger on the finish. Needs time to come together but I like this. 15% alc. is very well balanced. 91 points Find this wine. Use my Coupon Code!
2017 Talenti Brunello “Piero”: This is Riccardo’s Single Vineyard Cru wine and an homage to his Grandfaher. 2 015 was the first vintage ever produced. This sees 24 months in tonneaux. Deeper ruby. Rich, riper aromas of dark cherry. Hints of menthol and herbs. Rich on the palate. Full bodied and juicy. Fresh, with mineral driven racy, elegant cherry fruit. Silkier tannins that are sweeter and less aggressive. This is a wonderful wine. 96 points. Find this wine. Use my Coupon Code!
La Magia was founded in 1976 by the Schwarz family who farm their 15 hectares that lie on sloping hillsides within view of the famed Sant’Antimo Abbey. At 450 meters above sea level, the La Magia wines retain a fresh elegance. Fabian Schwarz runs the estate operations and tends to the vineyards; many of which are 40+ years old. Since 2008, La Magia is certified organic and the estate is also fully sustainable using solar panels to generate electricity sufficient for its needs.
2017 La Magia Brunello: Deep ruby with violet highlights. At once you are struck with the freshness on the nose. Violets, raspberry and tobacco on those nose leads to a juicy fresh palate whose flavors follow the nose. Had this in Montalcino in October but this is even better. The Schwarz’s are on a major roll right now and it’s up to us to enjoy. We will be visiting them next October on the Rustic Tuscany Tour. 94 points. Find this wine.
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 surrounded and protected by forest that shelters the vines from some of the harsher winds that come up from the Maremma.
2017 Carpineto Brunello: Deep ruby color. Very Smokey upon opening but it blows off pretty quickly. Decant! Wild berry, tobacco and toasted oak notes on the nose that involve to an attractive note of mint. Fresh on the palate. It’s still primary and oaky but the wild cherry flavors are sapid and mouthwatering. Slight flavor of cocoa too. You can feel a bit of heat from the vintage and this is clicking in at 15abv. Give it 1-2 years to mellow but then enjoy. 91 points.
Collemattoni takes its name from an ancient farmhouse that is the centerpiece of the property and dates to the year 1672. Since at least 1798, the estate has been in the hands of the Bucci family when Giuseppe, who was “head of a large family” purchased the estate. Generations have come and gone and today the estate is run by Marcello Bucci with the helpful counsel of his parents.
The Buccis farm just over 11 hectares of vineyards; a small operation, that are scattered throughout the Brunello production zone. During 2012, the wine production and cellar areas were completely renovated and now the entire process is gravity fed. Additionally, the estate received organic certification from the 2012 vintage and generates approximately 80% of its own electricity from solar panels.
2017 Collemattoni Brunello: This is a deep ruby in the glass. Lots of cherry, perfume and fresh herbs on the nose. Rather pretty to smell. Loads of cherry fruit and spices on the nose with dusty minerality too. But man do the tannins clamp down. Still, the freshness here is incredible. Another winner from this estate, but it needs 2-3 years to soften those tannins. Collemattoni is Talenti’s next door neighbor. 91 points. Find this wine.
Argiano was a wonderful stop on last year’s Rustic Tuscany Tour. The estate has undergone extensive renovations under its new Brazilian owners. Unfortunately, that comes with a cost for consumers. Many of Argiano’s wines have seen substantial price increases. Fortunately, the two most widely available – the Rosso and Brunello – are still reasonably priced.
2017 Argiano Brunello: Dark ruby in the glass. This is brightly floral with tobacco and sage aromas providing accents to the cherry fruit. Well structured with broad shouldered red cherry flavors. big scale. Concentrated and rich. Long, warming finish. 14.5% You can see the effects of the vintage here. 9o points. Find this wine.
Uccelliera is a tiny estate, all of 6 hectares, that sits in the southeast corner of the Brunello zone near Castelnuovo dell’Abate. This area of the DOCG is generally known for producing bolder wines due to the lower elevation and the resulting warmer temperatures. However, Andrea Cortonesi handles this masterfully.
The land that is now the Uccelliera belonged to the neighboring Ciacci Piccolomini family until it was purchaed by winemaker Cortonesi in 1986. He has become one of my favorite winemakers.
2017 Uccelliera Brunello: This is a gorgeous deep ruby to garnet color. Amazingly complex nose! Savory herbs, red cherry, mushrooms and fennel are intricately woven. Drop dead gorgeous on the palate. Wow! Fresh, juicy and so well balanced. One of the best from the vintage that I’ve tasted. Huge cherry, porcini, tobacco and soft vanilla notes are excellent and persistent. A masterpiece. 98 points. Find this wine & Use My Coupon Code!
Finally, at a long, relaxing lunch at the epic Boccon di Vino in Montalcino during the Rustic Tuscany Tour, we lingered over the next wine that we purchased from magnum. Roberto Cipresso was the winemaker for La Fiorita and now produces under his own label.
2017 Cipresso Brunello (magnum): Roberto restricts the yields from his vines so that he realizes about one bottle of wine per plant. This is a deep, dark ruby trending to garnet in the glass. Warm, concentrated aromas of black raspberry, coffee and toasted spices mark the engaging nose. Long, fresh and masculine on the palate. Loads of black cherry, pulverized porcini and dried herbs are notable. It’s a “bit” hot – but I think this may settle down with a bit of aging. It’s very young from the magnum. 91 points. Find this wine.
With that, we put a bow on Part 2 of my 2017 coverage. Yes, there will be a Part 3 later this winter, so stay tuned.