|~ The Tasting Lineup for the Seminar ~|
On January 20th, Benvenuto Brunello descended upon Manhattan to present its most recent vintage of wines to the trade and media. I tasted over 75 wines, many more than once. In the coming months, I’ll publish extensive coverage of the event. Today’s article is restricted to the private tasting I attended before Benvenuto Brunello began.
Although the main event did not begin until 1PM, I was registered for advance access which included a Guided Seminar at 11AM where nine Brunello were selected by the Consorzio for tasting.
Master of Wine, Christy Canterbury moderated the tasting. After brief rudimentary remarks by Canterbury, we began tasting the wines in the order they were arranged for us. The tasting lasted about 75 minutes so there was ample to time to smell, taste and re-visit the wines during that time. All wines were opened approximately one hour before tasting. Due to the youth of these wines and the absence of food, only score ranges are provided.
Brunello for Breakfast – I Vini
Wine #1 2010 Castello Banfi Brunello Poggio Alle Mura: This Brunello, produced from specially selected clones, is sourced from vines planted in 1992. The sloping vineyards providing the grapes for the wine are adjacent to the historic Castle walls. Fermented in the patented Castello Banfi hybrid tanks, the wine is then aged 24 months in a combination of French barrique and Slavonian cask. Bottle aging before release is an additional 12 months.
The Poggio Alle Mura is a deep garnet ruby. Loads of wild berry and floral aromas on the nose. As it opens, it adds a touch of mocha and spice. Very attractive to smell. On the palate there is a masculine full bodied core of ripe wild berry fruit. Chewy, quite tannic but balanced well with a long, fruity, juicy finish. Spices and toast dot the finish as well. This is really good, but clearly needs time. 92-95 points.
Wine #2 2010 Bottega Brunello “Il Vino dei Poeti”: The wine of poets… Bottega is a family company whose main business is distributing Prosecco but who also produces wine in both Montalcino and Valpolicella.
This wine is a medium ruby color – a bit lighter. Sandalwood, red fruits and spice appear on the nose. Not distinct. Medium bodied on the palate and already somewhat approachable. Not too tannic, but balanced well acidically. Displays a nice wild cherry note on the finish. Solid effort. 88-90 points.
Wine #3 Tenuta Caparzo Brunello: The Caparzo estate is a mere 8 hectares and lies in the northern part of the zone. The grapes are sourced from four family owned vineyards: Caparzo, La Caduta, Il Cassero, and San Piero which range in altitude from 220 meters ASL to 300 meters ASL. Aging takes place for 3 years in a combination of Slavonian cask and French tonneaux.
Very dark garnet in color. Wild berry, flowers, spices and caramel appear on the nose with good persistence. Huge core of wild berry on the palate with a long perfumed finish. This is excellent and will likely be an outstanding value once released. 92-95 points.
|~ Proprietor Giovanna Neri addressing the seminar on her Col di Lamo Brunello ~|
Wine #4 Col di Lamo Brunello: Completely organic. Many people, myself included, were unfamiliar with this producer located in Torreniere. Producing 3 wines from 80 hectares, Col di Lamo uses only green manure practices and organic fertilization. The first vintage for this estate was 2003 and the vines are just now 15 years of age.
The 2010 is a medium ruby. This is all flowers on the nose with a huge lilly component. A bit off-putting, though I suppose those who like Lillies will be in heaven. This is leaner on the palate than the first three wines and displays more tannic personality. More savory than fruity, the red fruits happy to play second fiddle for now. Good potential here but needs lots of time. Not my favorite. 88-91 points.
Wine #5 Ferrero Brunello: This was perhaps the most talked about wine of the early day. Ferrero is the family winery of former Castello Banfi winemaker, Pablo Harri. Ferrero is the maiden name of Pablo’s wife and together, along with their 3 daughters, they farm their 4 acres of vineyards.
This is a deep bright ruby garnet color. Ultra funky on the nose. It smells like a skunk! What is going on here? Lots of old leather, char and smoke on the nose. On the palate the wine is very charry and earthy. It’s all secondary. Very difficult to judge. Pablo said they bottle the wine in their front yard using a portable bottling machine attached to the back of a truck! 87-89 points but judgement largely reserved.
I spoke to Pablo later in the day and asked him what he thought of the way his wine showed in the morning. He was confused by my remarks but we tasted the wine together a second time. The funkiness of the nose had dissipated some, but it was still notably earthy. More fruit had come forward on the palate. I think this wine needs a long, long slumber.
|~ Pablo Harri, of Ferrero, discussing his Brunello ~|
Wine #6 Il Marroneto Brunello: The subject of a recent feature, Il Marroneto’s wines are classically made and built for aging. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and aging lasts for 41 months in large oak barrels.
The 2010 is lighter to medium ruby in color. Clean aromas with soft wood notes, flowers, red cherry and spices present the nose. There’s a huge wonderful core of fruit on the palate – wild cherry, spices and sweet tobacco. It’s mouth watering. So, so good. Will cellar effortlessly for the near perfect balance. 92-95 points.
|~ Alessandro Mori with his “Madonna” Brunello – Tasted as part of the Main Event ~|
Wine #7 Il Palazzone Brunello: This estate has been widely discussed here at TuscanVines and winemaker Paolo Vagaggini and his team are on a roll. I tasted the 2010 and the future 2010 Riserva with Laura Gray and Marco Sassetti in Montalcino this summer and the wines showed amazing promise. Those promises are being fulfilled. Fermented in 50 hectoliter barrels, all lots are vinified separately and then blended 4 years into the process to create the wine. Aged in Slavonian cask for 41 months.
The 2010 is a deep ruby. A simply outstanding nose of minerals, wild cherries, flowers and spices are redolent! Juicy, ripe, long and delicious on the palate – the flavors follow the nose and accent a huge core of ripe fruit. Elegant, but with large scaled tannins, while in balance this will only improve. Wow! 95-98 points.
Wine #8 Palazzo Brunello: This is a small family operation in the south east of Montalcino that sprawls on 10 acres. Vinification takes place in stainless steel vats and barrel aging lasts between 30-36 months depending on vintage character. 25 hectoliter casks are strictly employed.
The 2010 is deep garnet. Earthy, funky, with garrique and smoke on the nose. Animale! On the palate, the wine is fruit driven. Wonderful core of cherry fruit is accented with coffee and spice. Generous and very tannic but the fruit balances the tannins well. Long finish, but this needs time. Once the nose develops and or blows off, I think this will be very nice indeed. 90-93 points.
Wine #9 Villa I Cipressi Brunello: Lying just outside the hamlet of Montalcino, Villa I Cipressi is a small family run operation on 10 acres of land – much of which is also devoted to honey and nut production. Now using solar panels to run their operation, the company is also focused on organic agriculture. Vinification takes place in stainless steel and 24 months barrel aging is comprised of 60% barrique and 40% cask.
The 2010 is a lighter to medium ruby in color. Restrained nose of soft wood and berry fruit with a touch of spice is pleasing. Moderately tannic with a medium body and already very approachable. This should not be a wine to cellar. When released, drink in the near term. 88-90 points.
It was interesting to hear the perspective of a Master of Wine whose brief comments on the wines were not that dissimilar to my own. Regarding the Ferrero, when I first smelled the wine I was convinced it was flawed. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to speak to Christy separately. I would have welcomed her comments on that.
Pricing….. Many of the wines above listed suggested prices in accordance with 2008 and 2009. That will be good news for consumers if it bears out. However, many of us are still expecting deep discounts on 2009 once they enter the market in earnest.
Stay tuned for my full coverage of 2010 Benvenuto Brunello in the coming weeks.
January 23, 2015