~ Inside the Castle walls at Castello Banfi, Montalcino ~

Generally, I dislike cliché and hyperbole.  Using terms like “the greatest of all time”  “the best” or “the next great whatever” is limiting in both creative discourse and frankly, skill.  Plus, as a friend recently pointed out to me, it can leave the writer or taster with no room to grow.  This is why you’ll rarely see a 100 point wine from me (I think 6 wines have so moved me in my entire wine tasting career) and why I never give surveys 10 of 10 or 5 stars.  There is always room for improvement.  This is a sort of self imposed disclosure for lack of a better term so that you, the reader, can appreciate where I’m coming from with today’s review.

From the first time I tasted it some 25 years ago, I have loved Summus.  It was always unique and always displayed the ability to change it’s stripes as it aged.  Cabernet and Syrah dominating in youth; the wise and elegant gentleman Sangiovese appearing like Fred Astaire in top hats when the wine matured.  All these years later and the same holds true. The consistency is impressive and that’s part of what makes the wine remarkable.

~ Looking toward the Ombrone river from the ramparts of Castello Banfi ~

Recently, a reader of mine sent me a photo of a wine he was drinking on a random weeknight.  It was a bottle of 1999 Summus and it inspired me to get down to the cellar and pull out my own mid-week Summus.  If not now, when?   So down I went and returned with a bottle that cleared the bar with plenty of room to spare.

The 2006 Castello Banfi Summus is 40% Cabernet, 40% Sangiovese Grosso and 20% Syrah.   I double decanted the wine at home to remove a small amount of sediment and then took the wine to a local Trattoria.  I suppose it was opened about 30 minutes ahead of dinner.

In the glass, the wine is a deep, smokey purple color.  Immediately you are struck by the aromas from this wine.  At 11 years of age, they appear to be inching toward the “shift” from the international grapes to the Sangiovese, but are still prevalent with black fruits, smoked meat, pepper, tobacco leaf, powdered cocoa and cake spices.  It’s am amazing array of aromas.

On the palate, the wine is rich, expansive and expressive.  The power and finesse of the 2006 vintage is well portrayed and the flavors represent each grape in the blend.  Crushed black cherry, sweet pipe tobacco, mint and fennel are notable.  There’s a smokey essence from the Syrah and a long dusty “clay road” finish.  The tannins provide structure, the acidity provides freshness and “lift”and overall, the balance is impeccable.  I expected this wine to be excellent.  It was better than that. That’s a tall order and not praise I’d easily dispense.  And despite my opening paragraph,  I will resort to a modicum of cliché:  This is the best Summus I have ever tasted.   97 points.  About $60 upon release.  You can look for past and recent vintages of Summus here:  Wine Searcher

~ A miraculous example of this wine. Summus is 40% Cabernet, 40% Sangiovese Grosso and 20% Syrah ~

Want to learn more about Summus or read reviews of many past vintages?  See our “Summus Summit” which has become one of the top read articles on this site.


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