Casanova di Neri has been producing exceptional wines for over fifty years. But at the outset, success didn’t always seem like a foregone conclusion. Giacomo Neri tells the story like this.
In 1971, a small parcel of land situated North East of Montalcino became available. Neri seized the moment. But many laughed at the newcomer. “They scoffed at me”, Neri relates. “They thought the plot of land was too far north and wouldn’t be able to ripen grapes.” Realizing and accepting this, Giacomo reasoned that drastically lowering his yields would lead to excellent quality. Time has proven him right. Now, over the decades, climate change ironically has benefited the location.
The vineyard in question that was too cool for ripening? Cerretalto!
The Cerretalto vineyard lies in a natural amphitheater bounded by a small river on the eastern most edge of the Brunello appellation. It’s an area with soils rich in minerals and graphite. Although not designated as a Riserva, Cerretalto is produced only in exceptional vintages and like a Riserva, is aged for 5 years prior to release.
The 2007 Casanova di Neri Cerretalto Brunello di Montalcino is an outstanding wine. I purchased this bottle during the 2022 Rustic Tuscany Tour, from a small shop I trust in Siena that stocks mostly top shelf wines.
In the glass, the wine is a deep brick red with ruby highlights and a copper like rim at the edge of the bowl. I had mentioned to Giacomo that I planned to take this wine to a restaurant and use it to celebrate my anniversary. He advised to open it – but not decant it – 4 hours in advance. I followed his advice and opened it before we left for New York. By the time we sat down to dinner, it was indeed open 4 hours.
The aromas are potent but not complex at this stage. It is all leather and chocolate. There is a hint of balsamic but the leather and chocolate notes simply dominate. On the palate, this is much fresher than the nose suggests. Ripe cherry flavors, with crisp mouth watering acidity drives the show with dark cocoa, sweet pipe tobacco and sweet herbs backing the full bodied fruit. Texturally, this is so suave. The tannins are resolved and this is throwing a massive sediment, but they provide balance now, not intrusion. Simply put, this is an excellent wine. It’s got plenty of life in it, but I don’t think it has plenty of life to give. It’s at peak unless you’re after the really reductive side of Sangiovese. Drink now. 95 points. Find this wine.
While current vintages of this wine have been priced into the stratosphere, I was lucky enough to get this for a very reasonable $165. Unless you have deep pockets, don’t buy this in the US.