Rosso di Montalcino is in the midst of releasing it’s 2019 and 2020 vintages. These two vintages may restore some of Rosso’s somewhat tepid reputation.
Yes, I’ve been critical about Rosso di Montalcino in the past as this two part series evidences. But as producers begin releasing wines from these vintages, I’m not sure I remember a better overall crop of Rossos.
Aging, and therefore release times, varies for Rosso di Montalcino. Therefore, wines from both vintages are trickling to market. Earlier this year, I reviewed three releases of recently arrived Rossos. However, this is the largest, most comprehensive Rosso Report I’ve ever published.
I Vini – Rosso di Montalcino 2019 & 2020
We’ve all heard the famous Forrest Gump line “stupid is as stupid does.” Well, this first wine left me thinking, Simple is as Simple does. I adore Salvioni’s Brunello so it follows that their Rosso is dynamite. Simple as that.
202o Salvioni Rosso di Montalcino: A gorgeous medium violet color. A bit shy on the nose at first but with air time, crushed berry, vanilla and sandalwood notes emerge. Exuberantly fresh and bright on the palate with concentrated cherry flavors, sweet fennel and hints of spice. More than moderately tannic but with a fresh, juicy finish. I love this. Absolutely amazing wine. It’s one of the best Rossos I’ve ever tasted and as good as many Brunello. 95 points. Find this wine.
La Palazzetta is located on the South East side of Montalcino about 400 meters above sea level. With 20 hectares of vineyards and 2,500 olive trees, the estate lies within view of the Abbey of Sant’Antimo. Since 2018, the estate is certified organic. The wines of the estate bear the name of Milena, one of the proprietors.
2020 I Vini di Melena Rosso: Light violet color is almost translucent. Fragrant notes of cranberry are punctuated with dried herbs like tarragon and green olive. On the palate, the wine is light to medium bodied, with sapid tart cranberry flavors that hollow out in the mid-palate. This is an acceptable enough wine but there’s nothing here to get excited about. 84 points. Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of my 2017 Brunello Coverage, Castello Banfi is doing some new and exciting things. How does that play into this discussion? Well, many of Banfi’s premier vineyard sites are now coming of age; both literally and figuratively. The vineyards are growing older and producing more complex fruit. They are also reaching a certain level of maturity as a result of Banfi’s clonal research program. The benefits extend beyond Brunello and to Rosso di Montalcino as well.
2019 Castello Banfi Rosso: This is bright ruby with violet highlights. Really pretty and expressive nose of bright crushed berry, fresh herbs along with vanilla. Crushed red fruits mark the fresh and lively palate and are joined by dried herbs. Good structure, perhaps bigger than I would have expected for this wine. Give it a year in bottle, but this is really pretty. 90 points. Find this wine and Support Tuscan Vines.
The first time I met Francesco Buffi, he showed me this:
“TRADITION. HISTORY. EXPERIENCE. MONTALCINO. NELLO. MONTOSOLI. SANGIOVESE. FAMILY. FATIGUE. PASSION. BRUNELLO. EARTH. HANDS. WISDOM. CONSORTIUM. COURAGE. PATIENCE. GENERATIONS. CULTURE. PRECISION. RESPONSIBILITY. AWARENESS. RESPECT. LIFE.”
Nothing encapsulates the reverence Francesco feels for his Grandfather than that mission statement which is at the essence of every Baricci wine.
2020 Baricci Rosso: Medium ruby with a slight hue of amber. Bright berry, fresh flowers, baking spices and a touch of eucalyptus and menthol on the nose. Sweet ripe berry fruit on the palate is fresh and juicy. A muscular Rosso on the palate, but the fruit and tannins are integrated together very well. Wild berry and fresh tobacco form the core of flavors. A flash of dried herbs hints at the nature of the vintage. Overall, this is really a wonderful effort. 92 points. Find this wine.
Just south of Montalcino, near Castelnuovo dell’Abate, lies the 60 acre vineyard of La Poderina. After the purchase of the estate by the Saiagricola group, they retained Riccardo Cotarella as consulting winemaker. Cotarella’s style is generally more modern. But the following wine seems to go against that trend. It was more savory than I would have expected.
2019 La Poderina Rosso: In the glass this is a classic light to medium ruby. Very floral, with bright cherry notes and basil accent aromas. Fresh and bright on the palate with wild sour cherry notes. Backed by green herbs like tarragon, oregano and cured olive this is sapid and savory. Needs to be the dinner’s foil and not the star. And that’s just fine. 86 points. Find this wine.
The Il Marroneto Estate sits in the northern part of the Brunello zone not far from the walls of Montalcino. At elevations of 350 to 400 meters above sea level, Il Marroneto’s vineyards are some of the highest in the DOCG. As of 1979, there was just 2/3 of an acre under vine. Alessandro Mori expanded this by 2 more acres in 1984. Yeah, it’s small.
2019 Il Marroneto Rosso di Montalcino: This is a pretty ruby to violet color. Bright berry nose with vanilla, fresh violets and hints of camphor. Iron on the palate drives a mineral laser line through the juicy berry fruit. Primary, but fresh and balanced. Very nice. This is a new “Cru” rosso that began production in 2019. 89 points. Find this wine.
The next wine was so lovely, it got drained and recycled before I could get a bottle shot! Che disastro. Well, trust me. But it’s an identical label as their Brunello, except that it’s a maroon color.
2019 Pietroso Rosso di Montalcino: This is a gorgeous ruby color with a trace burnt sienna at the rim of the bowl. Crushed cherry, violets and tobacco on the nose and palate are delineated and pure. Juicy, fresh and lively – based on this wine, their Brunello will go into my cellar sight unseen. Great value. 91 points. Find this wine.
I have been down, way down, on the wines coming from this next property. I’m not sure what has been going on – but if you look at the last few Brunello Reports you will see the drop off. So I was ready. And I was happy to be proven wrong! Maybe things are turning around.
The Camigliano Estate was acquired by the current owners in 1957 who immediately set about creating a high quality Tuscan wine making estate. Today there are 220 acres under vine with about 125 of those dedicated to the production of Brunello and Rosso.
2020 Camigliano Rosso di Montalcino: In the glass, a pretty medium violet color. Really pretty nose. So fresh! Crushed berry, soft sandalwood, touch of vanilla and fresh flowers too. In the mouth, my first reaction was “wow”! Beautiful wild berry, touches of vanilla, raspberry and dusty mineral are just splendid. Fresh, ripe, with pretty sweetness and a juicy long finish. Amazing Rosso! Especially for a 2020 vis a vis some of the 2019s in this report. Great value. 94 points. Find this wine.
And there’s always a new producer….
If you Google Poggio La Croce, the first hit you get is Bookings.com Hmmm…..not generally a good thing. Poggio La Croce is located roughly between the Biondi-Santi Il Greppo and Fattoria dei Barbi estates. Hmmm…..not generally a bad thing!
La Croce’s history dates to 1950 when Paola Benocci, from an ancient Montalcinese family, inherited 35 hectares of arable land, woods and olive groves in Montalcino. There were 2 hectares of vineyards. Paola Benocci and her husband maintain the property and started making wine mostly for direct sale.
2019 Poggio La Croce Rosso: Deep violet color. The nose here is harmonic; an almost seamless melody of chocolate, red berries and toasted nuts. Black cherry on the palate is somewhat monolithic but it remains fresh and lively. Slight pepper on the finish. Just now seeing US importation. 89 points Find this wine.
Finally, the next Rosso di Montalcino was a bit of a Take 1, Take 2……
Though I will expand on our stop at Argiano during the Rustic Tuscany Tour 2022 in a later article, it bears some mentioning here. We had an early morning appointment for our Tour and Tasting at Argiano and one of the wines they served us was their 2020 Rosso di Montalcino. I was blown away at how good it was. So…when we sat down to lunch and that wine was on the menu, we started with a few bottles. Definitely not a mistake.
2020 Argiano Rosso di Montalcino: This is a medium ruby in the glass. The aromatics from the wine are incredibly floral. Lavender, violets and crushed cherry are very expressive. Just gorgeous on the palate. Fresh, juicy with black cherry, sweet fennel, tobacco and spices are wonderful. This is an amazing effort in Rosso. Concentrated and fresh. I think it was the best Rosso we tasted on the Tour. 95 points. Buy at least 6 bottles (or more) once it hits the US. The value is there. Find this wine.
That will bring the curtain down on Part 1 of this Report but there is more coming and quite a few more data points.