~ Poggio Alle Mura ~

It’s hard to imagine an estate and winemaker on a bigger roll right now than Castello Banfi and Rudy Buratti.  Over the last few years,  I’ve tasted all of Castello Banfi’s releases and several wines that were presented from the Castello cellar itself and the quality has been impeccable.  Buratti and his team are at the forefront; whether it’s in the cellar, during vinification, blending, in the vineyard or managing the vagaries of the weather,  they are getting it right.   A look back at this tasting is proof positive:  Castello Banfi Winemaker Dinner. 

Today we’re profiling one of the best Tuscan Merlot you’ve likely never heard of.  Yes, I’m serious.  Alright, well, it’s 60% Merlot,  but the profile is singular except that it appears more structured than other pure Merlot;  and that is beneficial. 

The 2011 Castello Banfi Excelsus, Latin for “Highest Honors”,  is 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.   The wine is vinified in Castello Banfi’s patented hybrid fermentors and then aged in a combination of new and used French oak.  I loved the 2010 version of this wine,  but the 2011 is the best Excelsus I’ve ever tasted.

Deep dark purple in the glass with only a slight violet fade at the opaque rim.  The aromas of the wine are like a great Pomerol.  Crushed black fruit, mint, vanilla, savory herbs and cedar are prominent, noticeable, and intense.  On the palate,  the wine exudes aristocracy – although it has this young immature child named “merlot” thumbing it’s nose at the lineage and saying “I just want to have fun and taste good!”  And oh it does.  Seductive, rich flavors of black plum, coffee, mint, cedar and toasty oak are balanced and integrated.  Tannins are silky and woven seamlessly and it’s all tied together with laser fresh acidity.  There’s no hyperbole here.  And while this wine isn’t inexpensive, compared to similar products, it’s an absolute steal.   96 points, about $60.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.
~ 2011 Excelsus – We started with a block of Aged Pecorino from Pienza – a masterful combination and then moved on to Porterhouse Steak with the balance of the wine ~ 


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