Despite the vintage’s difficulties with frost, drought and heat, the producers of Brunello di Montalcino managed the challenges well. Although the 2018 vintage has theoretically been released, it’s mainly 2017 Brunello that are filling the shelves of wine shops and restaurants.
In Part 2 of this coverage I spotlighted some very nice wines. 2017 stands as a vintage with a degree of variability. As a result, you will note some of that mercurial nature in this installment of my exclusive coverage. That being said, the vintage is not one to skip. During the October 2022 Rustic Tuscany Tour, we enjoyed many 2017s in both restaurants and wineries. While it may not be a vintage to age, the wines are readily enjoyable.
I Vini di Brunello
Over the last few years, two vineyards have continually popped up on my radar for their amazing quality and value. One is Talenti and the other is La Magia.
La Magia is certified organic and supplies 100% of its required electricity through the use of solar panels. They are a scheduled stop on the 2023 Rustic Tuscany Tour.
2017 La Magia Ciligielo – Cru Brunello. Medium to dark violet in color. Fresh fresh fresh! Amazing in 2017. Deep wild berry aromas marry to new leather and spice. Juicy and clean on the palate with wild berry, fennel and fresh herbs notes. Some toasted spice too. This is sooo good. Long finish. Fresh and juicy. 95 points. Find this wine.
The story of how Donatella Cinelli Colombini created her winery, Casato Prime Donne, is the stuff of Disney fairly tales. Yet in this case, it’s true. My guests on the 2023 Rustic Tuscany Tour will hear all about it. But the bottom line? The wines are wonderful.
2017 Donatella Cinelli Estate Brunello – Pretty ruby color leads to a brightly aromatic floral nose. Fresh crushed red fruits dominate. On the palate this is fresh and lively, with juicy, ripe wild cherry notes backed by new suede and baking spices. The core of fruit here is awesome for the vintage and one of the best estate wines from Casato Prime Donne that I’ve tried. 93 points. Find this wine and Support Tuscan Vines.
2017 Capanna Brunello – I love the style of Capanna, but unlike the Nicco Cru from Part 2, this is a bit simpler. Bright ruby color leads to soft sandalwood and berry aromas. Focused on the palate, with berry and spice notes, but this is lighter than I expected. It’s elegant and graceful yet feels like it falls a bit short; especially when you consider what current vintages cost. 90 points. Find this wine.
Val di Suga lies on the northern side of Montalcino and its one of the first wineries you see as you drive along the Via Cassia from Siena. The winery produces three Crus and an Estate wine which is a blend of all three. Vigna Spuntali is my favorite, but Vigna del Lago runs a close second. You drive right past Vigna del Lago on your way to town.
2017 Val di Suga Brunello – Bright ruby color with nice aromatics from the glass. Sandalwood, crushed berry and sweet tobacco notes are attractive. In the mouth, this is fresh and lively. Lots of berry and cherry character and a bit of smokey tobacco character too. Very pretty for the base Brunello. 90 points. Find this wine and Support Tuscan Vines.
Next up is the spectacular Cru from Casato Prime Donne.
2017 Donatella Brunello “Prime Donne” – Brilliant medium ruby in the glass. Initial nose is filled with earthy funk and tobacco that is interesting and not at all off-putting. The large scaled palate evolves to dark cherry, tobacco, fennel and grilled toast notes. Juicy, viscous palate. This is very impressive. 95 points. Find this wine.
Col di Lamo is another compelling story. The winery’s vision states: “Who knows how much attention our own roots need to become wings.”
It’s the essence of Giovanna Neri, an energetic woman who, along with her daughter Diletta, run the Col di Lamo estate. Perhaps a triple entendre, the quote easily refers to vines that produce grapes, Giovanna’s raising of her daughter, and even the creation of the winery itself. Today the 8 hectare estate is planted to 5 hectares of grapes spread among three distinct vineyard parcels near Torreniere.
2017 Col di Lamo Brunello – I don’t know why Col di Lamo isn’t talked about more. Giovanna Neri and her daughter form an impressive team and whenever I taste their wines, I am impressed. This 2017 is no exception. In the glass this is a medium ruby clear to the rim. Aromas of flowers, newly turned earth and ripe cherry are attractive. On the palate, this is meaty and delicious. Large scaled crushed berry sit center stage with a juicy frame of tobacco, grilled earth and leather notes. Give it some time in the decanter for the texture to flesh out. 91 points. Find this wine.
2o17 Castello Banfi Brunello Poggio Alle Mura – Dark garnet in the decanter; slightly lighter in the glass. This is always a masculine Brunello, but this vintage is less tannic than I would have expected. Crushed cherry and black plum notes mark the aromas. Slightly shy at first even with some air. But, after 90 minutes, this blossomed considerably. Concentrated, juicy flavors of black cherry, espresso, clay dirt and minerality are delicious. Someone tasting with me said; this is one of the best Brunello I’ve ever had. They hit the mark here for sure. 95 points. Find this wine. (the pricing via this link is a joke. Readers should always search for Brunello using my exclusive Coupon Code at Enoteca di Piazza.
After serving the next wine at several corporate events I did earlier this year, I was curious to see how the 2017 stacked up.
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.
2017 San Giorgio Brunello “Ugolforte” – Light ruby in the glass. Pretty floral, spice and cherry aromas mark the nose. Fresh, juicy and vibrant in the mouth. Wonderfully pure berry flavors. Maybe it doesn’t have the concentration of the 2016, but this is still rather delicious. A great value around $45. 92 points. Find this wine.
Named after the flower of the same name that permeates the estate, Verbena seems to have cornered the market on value Brunello. I don’t know how they do it?
2017 Azienda Verbena Brunello – Deep, dark ruby. Beautiful nose of crushed cherry, toasted caramel, fennel and hints of cured meat. Medium bodied cherry notes on the palate are juicy and plump with more air. This really needs a decant. Spicy pepper and sapid herb notes emerge as this turns chewy on the finish. Not as good as their great 2013, but still, at $29 what a wonderful value. There are dozens of Rosso di Montalcino in or above this price range. 92 points. Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.
Beatesca is tinier than tiny; 1.2 hectares dedicated to Brunello to be exact. The vineyards are north east of Montalcino facing the direction of Pienza. The name of the estate is a chimera of names of the owners daughters: Beatrice and Francesca. Roberto Cipresso is the consulting winemaker. Since 2020 they are organic.
2017 Beatesca Brunello – In the glass, this is a bright medium ruby. Pretty nose of flowers, spices and red berries are persistent. On the palate, this is medium bodied and rather linear. Crushed, mouth watering cherries are punctuated by iron, dusty minerals and metallic blood notes. With some air, it improved noticeably but maybe this one is a bit overdone. Decant and give it a go. 89 points. Find this wine. I will have a “retro” article coming which features the 2015 and 2o16 Brunello from this winery.
The Bambagioni family tends to their small 4 hectare farm in southern Tuscany near the village of Tavernelle. Since 1997, the Fossacolle estate has been crafting wonderful Sangiovese based wines.
2017 Fossacolle Brunello – Wow! Concentration all around. Medium ruby with a copper rim. Classic color. Ripe cherry, berry, sandalwood and spices mark the attractive nose. There are hints of raw meat too. In the mouth, the wine has ripe cherry, tobacco and juicy, savory spice notes. I’ve always liked Fossacolle for its masculinity, but this is another level for them in a difficult vintage. 93 points. Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.
That will mark an end to my Published 2017 Brunello coverage. However, there will be a Part 4 coming exclusively to Newsletter Subscribers. So if you are interested in receiving that, please sign up for my Newsletter. As always it’s free and also free of spam!
Grazie e Salute!