As I wrote in Part 1 of my Coverage on Brunello 2018, the vintage, despite it’s many hardships related to the weather, has mainly produced very enjoyable wines. In that sense, I plan to create a sort of “graph” or statistical analysis at the conclusion of this coverage which will plot the wines reviewed. I’m curious to see how it falls out and I suspect my early impressions formed at Benvenuto will prevail.
That said, he is Part 2 of this year’s coverage. While this group of wines includes some really nice examples, especially when adding the discussion of value to the mix, it also includes wines that illustrate the problem with a vintage like 2018. Let’s get it!
I Vini di Brunello – 2018
2018 Tenuta Fanti Brunello: This displays a classic color that vacillates from ruby red to violet to burnt umber toward the ring of the bowl. Wonderful aromas of wild berry, flowers and soft toasted spices are really attractive. Equally wonderful is the freshness on the palate. Cherry, wild berry, mineral and spice notes are alluring. This is viscous in body, but fresh. Absolutely gorgeous. I love Fanti, but this even surprised me with the level of excellence here. And the value is incredible. I asked if some of Vallocchio went into this wine. I was told that the Vallochio production was only 1,000 bottles in 2018. 92 points. Find this wine.
2018 Il Palazzone Le Due Porte Brunello: Medium ruby in color. Wild berry notes are central on the palate with baking spices and light whiffs of alcohol vapor in the background. Medium bodied berry notes on the palate are elegant and framed by soft integrated tannins. There are touches of dried herbs on the back end but it finishes with tart cranberry. Has evolved nicely since last Autumn on property. I sense this elegant expression of Brunello is going to need more time. This is already the 4th vintage of this wine. 89 points. Find this wine.
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 and I couldn’t be more excited to show these wines to my guests.
The 2018 La Magia Brunello is a brilliant ruby color with a slight fade to iodine at the rim of the bowl. Immediately you are struck by expressive aromas of fresh flowers, sandalwood, bright cherry fruit and hints of fresh fennel. On the palate, this is medium bodied and very elegant. Soft cherry notes are intermingled with red licorice and powdery baking spices. The tannins seem almost absent. Graceful and ready to drink. 91 points. Find this wine.
Campogiovanni is San Felice’s Brunello Estate. The property covers 65 hectares on the south-western side of the municipality of Montalcino. The estate is divided into different zones, comprising three different soil types. The vineyards are exposed to the south west, though relatively flat in exposition. 23 hectares are used for Brunello.
2018 Campogiovanni Brunello: In the glass this is a vivid, medium ruby. Very aromatic on the nose with fresh flowers, bright berry and hints of softly toasted spices. Balanced. On the palate, this is fresh and lively with medium to full bodied cherry flavors, hints of sweet tobacco and fresh fennel. Again it’s balanced and persistent. Soft tannins on the back end provide structure. Normally I find this wine to be rather oaky if not downright charry. But not in this vintage. Did they dial it back accordingly or does this suggest a change in style? Regardless, it’s very nice and a great value. 92 points. Find this wine.
The 28 hectares of Tenuta Buon Tempo lie in the southern most portion of the Brunello zone within the shadow of Mount Amiata. The sustainably farmed estate has 14 hectares under vine and produces only Rosso, Brunello and a tiny portion of Riserva as vintages dictate.
2018 Tenuta Buon Tempo Brunello: In the glass the wines shows dark ruby with some violet highlights and an amber rim at bowl’s edge. One of the darkest 18s I’ve seen. Fresh black cherry notes are prominent with an undercurrent of funky barnyard at first. In the mouth this is full bodied with cherry flavors backed by minerality and iron notes. Long legs…. I wonder if this has a percentage of 2019 in it? Tannins add significant grip on the finish but melt a bit with food. More rustic than others and needs some time to resolve. 92 points. Find this wine.
After a stop during the 2022 Rustic Tuscany Tour, it was obvious that the winemaking team at Argiano is very talented and capable. Unfortunately, other than their Brunello, and to a lesser extent Solengo, the wines are becoming very expensive.
2018 Argiano Brunello: The Argiano is a deep ruby in the glass – almost an impenetrable color. Aromas of berries and fresh herbs were very reticent at first but evolve more with air. This is an odd wine. On the palate, it is very restrained and during the entire dinner never really changed. Very light flavors of berries and spice with little else emerging are almost monolithic. This is pretty bland and I can’t get too excited. 89 points. Find this wine.
The story at Casato Prime Donne is one of fairy tales. The estate is a stop on the 2023 Rustic Tuscany Tour and I’m sure my guests will adore this property.
2018 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Estate Brunello: This is a light ruby brick color. Classic or a little advanced? Harmonious red berry, fresh fennel and flowers on the nose are very pleasant and gain intensity with air. On the palate this is truly delicious. Fresh and juicy red fruits burst across the palate and add orange citrus notes, hints of spices and a long sweet fruit finish. The tannins assert themselves notably on the back end but not enough to detract. An excellent effort. 92 points. Find this wine.
Elia Palazzesi’s property is about as small as it gets. The original property was planted by Elia’s Father and was all of 2 hectares. Elia planted 5 more to bring the property to where it stands today. The Collelceto Estate is fully organic and Elia, an avid horseman, patrols the vineyards to ward off Cinghiale and deer.
2018 Elia Palazzesi Brunello: Medium ruby in color that also shows some bricking. This has a bit of a funky nose. Turned earth, autumn leaves and hints of animale contrast with the faint cherry notes. Yet, this evolves to cherry after some air. The palate starts off fresh and ripe, but evolves to a somewhat artificial cherry flavor. It’s candied a bit. Not sure what’s going on here but it’s a bit off-putting to me. 87 points. Tasted twice with consistent impressions. Find this wine.
Wineries that are resorts first are not wineries. I’ve said it before and I’m just not going to be convinced otherwise. If I were a guest at this luxury resort and they served me this wine each night with dinner I’d be asking if I could BYOB.
The Cordella estate is 9 hectares and comprises 7 single vineyards which are certified organic. Paolo Vagaggini is the consulting winemaker since 2010. I don’t get it.
2018 Cordella Brunello: This is a very light cranberry red. I can see/read right through it. Watermelon on the nose with faint red berry and that’s about it. Very light bodied and somewhat hollow on the palate. Not much complexity. Nice cherry flavors are monolithic but this is delicate at another level. Not what I look for in Brunello. Tasted twice with consistent impressions. 85 points. Find this wine.
Finally, Montalcino welcomed Fattoria del 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. I have enjoyed both the 2015 and 2016 of this wine and while the 2018 is nice, it doesn’t quite meet those standards. Though, that’s not really noteworthy.
2018 Fattoria del Pino Brunello: This has a very pretty, classic color. Medium ruby, very bright throughout with a thin copper rim at the edge of the bowl. The nose is delightful. Crushed wild berry, fresh flowers and baking spices are notable. On the palate, the dusty baking spices surround the tannins, which are a bit awkward at the moment. The juicy berry fruit is center stage and somewhat one dimensional. I’d say give this 2-3 years in the cellar to let the tannins soften a little. But will that improve the wine? Drink now. 90 points. Find this wine.
That wraps up Part 2! The overriding them remains the same for 2018. Although there’s some variability to this vintage, many of the wines provide wonderful drinking. Use my articles as a guide, stick to the better producers and drink in the near term while more structured vintages cellar.