Best Brunello di Montalcino wines
A journey to discover the top labels in the world's most famous wine area in Tuscany
Montalcino is a charming village with a spectacular view over the Val d'Orcia. Legend has it that it was even founded by Emperor Charlemagne! There is the medieval fortress, the 13th-century Palazzo del Comune, the churches with their frescoes and wooden statues of the 14th-century Sienese school, and the belvederes that look out as far as the eye can see as the hills merge into one another in the most beautiful Tuscan countryside.
But what has made this village famous throughout the world is its wine, Brunello di Montalcino. It was even the protagonist of a detective story by Agatha Christie, where the culprit declares: "at the time of the crime I was tasting a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino from the nineteenth century with friends...". And the alibi fell through because that vintage of Brunello, like all those not considered up to scratch, had not been produced.
The inventor was Ferruccio Biondi Santi, who in his Tenuta il Greppo, was the first to decide to abandon other vines and concentrate on a specific clone of Sangiovese, the so-called Sangivese Grosso, then ageing the wine for many years in barrels. This is how Brunello wine was born at the end of the 19th century, almost certainly an invented name due to its characteristic colour. A strong, velvety wine that bore no resemblance to other, more famous red wines for ageing, and today is to all intents and purposes an authentic symbol of Made in Italy.
THE STARS OF BRUNELLO
This wine, together with its terroir, has attracted capital from other activities and stimulated new entrepreneurial challenges. In the last ten years or so, industrialists, professionals and artists have tried their hand at Brunello. Such as Sandro Chia, the internationally renowned painter, who has purchased a severe fortress, the Castello di Romitorio, in the municipality of Montalcino, near which he has built a modern winery that is already a work of art. Then there are Salvatore Ligresti, Francesco Illy, Massimo Ferragamo, the financier Gloder and Carlo Cignozzi, who at Paradiso di Frassina has installed loudspeakers among the vines to play music by Mozart and Vivaldi. Among the historic vine-dressers are the Marchesi Frescobaldi, the Marchesi Antinori and from Valdobbiadene, Enrico Martellozzo, the king of Prosecco, who has purchased the Azienda Belpoggio. Among the latest to surrender to the allure of Brunello is one of the most highly-regarded American managers, Richard Parsons, "number one" of the media giant Aol Time Warner, who has purchased the Il Palazzone estate, and Louis Camilleri, former Ferrari managing director, who with his wife, Natalie Oliveros, a former Porno Valley star, shares the experience of Tenuta La Fiorita.
The main characteristic of Brunello is the long refinement before release on the market, which determines its characteristic bright and transparent ruby red colour, tending towards garnet. The aromas are intense, persistent and complex, with hints of undergrowth, small red fruits, earth, as well as sweet and spicy aromas from the wood used for ageing. The taste tends to be elegant and harmonious, with a rich structure, well balanced by a remarkable acidic freshness.
Here are the best Brunello di Montalcino wines, not to be missed if you are in the area.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO VINTAGE 2016
“So gentle and virtuous she appears…”, paraphrasing Dante, I would like to comment on the 2016 harvest: wines that are generally rich, tasty, flavourful but mellow. A positive verification for the five stars obtained five years ago. On the olfactory front it is performing well, with the integrated wood acting as a sounding board for the aroma without conditioning it. Furthermore, the greater cleanliness in the aromas indicates excellent work in the cellar. Super sprightly, dynamic Brunello cannot always be found, but in the 2016 the perspective is different: contemplating the aesthetics of wine, enjoyment, drinkability is not seizing the moment but conscious reflection on the delights of the body and soul. (text Massimo Castellani).
SALVIONI LA CERBAIOLA
Solid garnet-red colored. The nose opens with aromas of cherry and plum followed by meaty hints and sweet spices. Lip-smacking and austere on the palate, with very elegant tannins and a good vertical structure, savory and tasty at the back. A very long orangey finish. An extraordinary Brunello!
BARBI VIGNA DEL FIORE
Delicate garnet-red colored. The nose opens with a roasted note (coffee)and then broadens to include cherry preserve and dried plum. Elegant and classy on the palate, easy-drinking and with dynamic acidity, and well-balanced. Lingering on the finish with a blood orange note.
CASTELLO DEL ROMITORIO FILO DI SETA
Solid garnet-red colored. Intensely fruity on the nose with aromas of sour black cherry, blackberry, vanilla and sweet spices. Lip-smacking and fruity again on the palate, excellently crafted tannins. Blackberry on the finish with a balsamic-minty and aromatic herb kick.
Intense garnet-red colored. It opens on the nose with aromas of ripe cherry, black pepper, sweet spices. Full and lip-smacking on the palate with good fruity freshness, graceful tannins but still assertive. Savory on the finish with a note of Seville orange.
POGGIO DI SOTTO
Garnet-red colored verging on orange. The nose is a crescendo from the subtle aroma of apricot and dried flowers to the full scent of sweet spices, tobacco, raspberry fruit gum. Elegant on the palate with freshness and graceful and well-integrated tannins, great drinkability and ample on the finish with a note of candied orange.
Delicate garnet-red colored. Intense on the nose with floral aromas of slightly macerated violet and rose which broaden to include notes of orange, meat and earthiness. Full-bodied and spirited on the palate with austere tannins showing dynamism and personality. Notes of orange, coffee and licorice on the finish.
VAL DI SUGA VIGNA SPUNTALI
Intense garnet-red colored. The nose opens with sweet fruity aromas, vanilla, cigar, cinnamon and floral potpourri. Mouth-filling, soft and warm on the palate with well-sized and integrated tannins. Pleasant and lip-smacking on the finish with a lingering aroma of citrus fruit.
CASANOVA DI NERI
Deep garnet-red colored. Sweet and intense on the nose with aromas of raspberry fruit gum, pomegranate syrup, sour black cherry, cherry fruit gum, which evolve into notes of black pepper and licorice. Soft and fruity attack on the palate, with well-integrated tannins. Great drinkability!
Lively ruby-red colored with garnet-red hints. The nose offers aromas of red and black fruit, orange, cinnamon, cloves and balsamic hints. Ample attack on the palate with dynamic acidity and progressive and elegant tannins. Mineral on the finish with aromas of Seville orange.
Ruby-red colored with garnet-red hints. Intense on the nose with aromas of apricot juice, rose, candied fruit, red fruit in syrup and golden-leaf tobacco. Lip-smacking on the palate with a good fresh-tannic grip, dynamic. Notes of licorice and black pepper on the finish.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO RISERVA 2015
Elected by some as the "Vintage of the Century", the 2015 harvest represents true excellence in Montalcino. Five stars are confirmed for the Riserva classification. On tasting it is discovered that time enhances the unique and perfect richness even more, making tasting an exponential, emotional experience. We just have to admire and give credit to this masterpiece (text Antonio Stelli).
Luminous, compact garnet colour, extraordinarily rich bouquet of cherries, cherries in alcohol, orange marmalade, with balsamic, resinous, cigar box, pipe tobacco and patchouli notes. Mouthfeel excites with its completeness, full flavour and perfection. Rich, lingering finish.
Clear garnet, intense aromas of dried violet and rose petals, pomegranate and marasca cherry, hints of blood, eucalyptus, cinchona, bay leaf, black pepper and goudron. Exciting and satisfying on the palate, a perfect balance between silky, ripe tannin, good alcohol content and a rich sapodoty.
Compact garnet red, impressive dynamic bouquet of pomegranate juice, citrus fruit, dried rose petals, notes of blood, humus, undergrowth, blond tobacco. Rich, excellent mouthfeel, powerful, with very fine, well-integrated tannins. Good acid-sapidity balance. Fruity, spicy finish.
Dense garnet colour. Aromas of dried citrus peel, pine needles, balsamic traces, very spicy, cinchona, cloves, liquorice, cardamom. Extremely pleasant and heady on the palate, well integrated ripe tannins, excellent softness, well balanced alcohol content. Spicy finish.
BANFI - POGGIO ALL’ORO
Deep garnet red. Bouquet emits a pot-pourri of flowers and notes of toasted coffee, wild berry jam and plum, before making way for cigar box scents. Expansive and elegant in the mouth, with well-dimensioned, vigorous tannins. Balsamic finish with citrus aftertaste.
CASTIGLION DEL BOSCO – MILLECENTO
Transparent, lively garnet. Variegated range of aromas, blood orange, citrus peel, marasca cherry in alcohol, integrated with spicy notes of black cardamom, cloves and liquorice. Powerful, harmonious and juicy in the mouth, ripe tannins, rich, impressive finish.
TERRE NERE – CAPRIOLO
Bright garnet. Delicate aromas of citrus peel, very fine potpourri of red rose petals, peony, carnation, and menthol, blond tobacco, dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes. Heady mouthfeel in continuous progression between perfect, ripe tannin and a pleasant alcohol content. Balsamic, spicy finish.
DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI
Clear garnet. Releases intense, varied aromas of blood orange, tamarind, floral tribute of dried violets and roses, cinchona, cigar tobacco, walnut husk and liquorice root. Energetic in the mouth with alcohol immediately balanced by sapidity and ripe tannin. Spicy finish.
IL PARADISO DI FRASSINA
Garnet with orangey highlights. Aromas of ripe black cherry, candied orange peel, dried violet, liquorice root, and minty After Eight notes. Elegant, savoury and dynamic in the mouth with well-structured silky tannins. Spicy, balsamic finish.
COL D’ ORCIA
Clear garnet. The bouquet encompasses aromas of dried fruit, cherries, plums, spicy scents of cinchona, liquorice, and tobacco and balsamic notes. Envelops the palate on the attack, immediately balanced by excellent tannin and good sapidity. Savoury finish with fruity aftertaste.