The first day of the event is reserved solely for journalists. The second day is open to journalist and trade persons. The last two days are open to the public and make tasting something of a challenge as the space becomes very small, very quickly.
That said, I persevered, for you 😀
All of my notes are posted here, and it might be easier for some to view it this way: Four days of tasting notes, the new releases of Montalcino wines
I was able to get some pictures prior to opening. There’s some chatter, aromas of coffee lingering in the air as producers are rushed to begin setting up for the day, but are hanging on to the very last sip of peace, quiet and caffè . The space seems small with so few people here, but within minutes a few thousand have arrived.
This is part 2 of my tasting notes, broken up for no other reason than it takes a long time to enter the notes (and read the notes?), and so I take a break. There are some really exciting wines this year, many in fact; I hope you seen one you know, and one (or more) that you’ve not seen before, and become interested in trying.
18 February, 2018 – 2016 La Palazzetta (Flavio Fanti) Rosso di Montalcino, (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) “Gorgeous. Brick red>ruby. Powerfully perfumed, the nose is open and giving already. This is just beautiful, with a continuous cascade of red fruits, warm spice, soil and forest/mushrooms. The entry is bigger than expected, the middle is warm, generous, yet structured; this is one heck of a Rosso wine. So much potential, still, probably even better with just one more year of integration. A true baby Brunello if there is such a thing. Impressive length and depth. 14,5% abv., drink 2019 thru 2028.” highly recommended
18 February, 2018 – 2013 La Palazzetta (Flavio Fanti) Brunello di Montalcino, “(Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) An exciting nose filled with beautiful aromas of ripe red fruits, soil, toasted herbs, purple flowers. The palate is already quite open and available, it’s med>full bodied, though not fat or too round. It’s quite a surprise given this winery’s newly released wines that are generally very, very tight and unavailable. If this lives up to its potential, which I have to believe it can knowing how they farm (organic), it’s going to be a blockbuster. Tasted again toward the end of the day and allowed to more fully open in the glass, some pretty iron, cardamom, soil and clay notes appeared, adding yet an extra dimension. Wow. Drink now thru 2038+.” highly recommended+
18 February, 2018 – 2016 La Poderina Rosso di Montalcino “(Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) On par with some of the best Rosso wines ever from this address, but not able to break into the top quartile of competitors this year. Medium>medium+ body, red/dark red fruits. Lacks that extra level of energy and freshness that could help to better define the fruits, perhaps adding some sustained length, as well. Good, well short of very good, though. Drink now and for the next 7-8 or so years.”
18 February, 2018 – 2013 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino “(Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) A good success, but this needs time as it’s still a bit tight and coarse at this stage. Medium-bodied, clean and pure, with good length already; developing complexity and very good acidity. Notwithstanding the ~ 60K bottles produced, this manages a good identity; probably begins peak in 5-6 years; solid value wine. HOLD. recommended+“
18 February, 2018 – 2013 La Rasina Brunello di Montalcino “(Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Something of a departure from many/most of the new releases, this emphasizes style over origin. I’ve had Marco’s wines back to his first vintage (1997, still have two left) – I also have about 5 different vintages of the normale, and the Riserva. That said, I find these need a number of years to shed the coat of creamy, toasty oak before the red fruits, soil and flowers truly emerge. Still, I’m probably in the minority, and most would find this nothing short of perfectly delicious (and approachable) straightaway. I plan to taste again under more controlled circumstances (service temp) before I leave Montalcino zone in a week’s time. Drink now or in twenty years+. For the style, easily recommended”
17 February, 2018 – 2016 Le Chiuse Rosso di Montalcino “(Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) First tasted three weeks ago at Benvenuto Brunello NYC tasting, and I liked it, giving it a recommended+ rating. Today’s tasting, for whatever reason was even better. It’s nice to see that at least my notes were similar between the two events, if the rating was not the same; this is (but one of) the reason(s) that points don’t work, but I digress. On to the note: luminous garnet, bright, and very pretty. Superb, exciting, and very bright nose offering excellent typicity(+), big, sweet tannins, and plenty of depth of flavor/aromas. This is just stunning on the palate (my note says WOW!); medium-bodied, red-fruited, LONG finish, structured and balanced. It’s all here, and it’s only getting better going forward. And this is a Rosso? Again, wow. 14,0% abv., drink 2018-2028. highly recommended
17 February, 2018 – 2013 Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino “(Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) First tasted 3 weeks ago at the Benvenuto Brunello event in NYC, and then again today in Montalcino; consistent notes/rating. I’ve only a brief, unedited note, but I think this sums it up: Has it all! Exciting. Still not fully revealed; excellent balance and structure, super LONG. Tremendous potential. 14,0% abv., drink 2020-2039. highly recommended
17 February, 2018 – 2012 Palazzina Le Macioche Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Le Macioche (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Perfect brick red color, bright and distinctive. Lean, tight, fit, balanced, and well-structured, this is going to be one of the longer-lived 2012 Riserva wines from this zone. Some might be inclined to say “austere”, I’m inclined to say “needs time”. Great potential and (already) very good length. An exciting wine. 30hl Slavonian casks for 48 months, with ~ 20 days on skins during maceration. Very impressive. 14,5% abv., drink 2022-2046. highly recommended
17 February, 2018 – 2015 Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie Rosso di Montalcino (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) While many are pouring their 2016 Rosso wines at today’s event, Riccardo is pouring the 2015, as the 2016 will not be bottled until late next week; i.e. not ready yet. Traditional, pale>brick red color, clear and bright. The medium body is tight, pure, precisely focused; the length is already very good. In the top 10% of 2015 Rosso wines I’ve tasted for balance and structure – this still needs 2 more years to integrate, and should drink well for at least a decade after that. Impressive. recommended+
17 February, 2018 – 2013 Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino Ragnaie V.V. (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Full of promise, striking, and exciting. Pale brick red color, bright and clear. Fantastic tension, with super-fine tannins, racy acidity and (already) very good length. The precision here, coupled with the raw power+weightlessness just boggles the mind. This is the first year I can recall liking the V.V. over the Fornace (and that may change in 10 years, who knows) on release, but there it is, this is a stunner. My closing note says “LONG!” 13,5% abv., drink 2021-2041+ highly recommended+
17 February, 2018 – 2013 Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino Fornace (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Bright brick red color, clear. Med>Medium+ body, with aromas and flavors saturated with Tuscan soil, dust, unripe cherry, forest, and tobacco. This is tight today (not surprisingly), and I feel it’s better evaluated when it’s actually ready, which, in my opinion isn’t for another 5-10 years. Very classic build, elegant and detailed finish. 13,5% abv., drink 2023-2041. highly recommended
19 February, 2018 – 2016 Voliero Rosso di Montalcino (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Darker brick red color, clear and bright. The nose, like many 2016 Rosso wines, is already quite open. Granted, this bottle was 2nd day juice, so it had the benefit of a little extra air. That said, I really liked the aromas, skewing toward ripe>modern after a few puffs of soil – but then it whipsawed back to soil, and I was happy again. In the past (6 years ago, when the label was created), the fruit used to come from the northern part of the zone, now, the fruit comes from six different sites, virtually spanning the north to the south. I really liked the tea, and strawberry notes, but really I liked the aromas altogether. 14,0% abv., drink now thru 2027. recommended
19 February, 2018 – 2013 Voliero Brunello di Montalcino (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) This is going to sell very well, and very quickly, in the USA, I think (most likely everywhere else, too). If it doesn’t, it’ll be your gain, as prices may have a chance to remain fair. That said, this offers a WOW nose, with vg acids and tannins, and plenty of depth of fruit to back it all up. Some of the aromas skew international, and if you’re put off by that, then leave the rest for us, because it’s the taste that counts, and this tastes fabulous. No need for fancy descriptors, just buy as much as you can find. ~ 40 Euro at the cantina. Drink now thru 2039. highly recommended
19 February, 2018 – 2016 Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) I like it, but needs several years to integrate. This is a bit raw at the moment, with the tannins and acids a bit coarse, the fruit on the lighter side of medium-bodied. There’s some very fine material here, but for my palate, this won’t truly be in the zone for 4-5 more years. Great structure, just pretty unavailable/pleasurable just now. Still, the structure and acidity already begs for food, so if you’re a traditionalist, feel free to pop a cork. For the rest, sock some away, you’ll be glad you did. 14,0% abv., drink 2020-2030. recommended
19 February, 2018 – 2013 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Soil! iron, mushrooms, dried cherry and freshly picked strawberries. After a few minutes in the glass, dried herbs emerge; this is packing quite a lot, on the nose and palate. Acids are high, and consistent with the structure of many of the finer 2013 Brunello wines I’ve tasted this week. There’s a unique flavor running through the middle – words escaped me, I just chose to enjoy it -. The finish is long, the color a darker brick red, and the tannins are fine, and lightly sweet. Excellent. 2021-2037+ highly recommended
19 February, 2018 – 2012 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) I’ve tasted this three times now. At the event, at the cantina, and in NYC. I’ve loved it each time, and all for the same reason, it’s simply delicious. There are parts I like – all of the dusty soil that jumps out – , and there are parts that I shy away from (I’m oak averse). But at the end of the day, if I put away any notions of what’s good and what’s bad, and simply taste and enjoy the wine, I end up writing what I scribbled in my note pad “fantastic!” Generally speaking, I don’t use many exclamation points, so when I do, I know I can look back at the note and tell just how exciting the wine really was. A total of 42 months in oak, this exhibits a lovely serving of fresh strawberries and cherries, Tuscan dust, and soil herb notes that really speak to me. That Andrea can do this, and keep the grape in harmony – notwithstanding all of the oak treatment – is a testament to his understated genius. Bottled in Sept ’16, there are only 7,600 bottles for the world; get some. A first cousin to the 2006. highly recommended
17 February, 2018 – 2016 Lisini Rosso di Montalcino (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Perhaps the most exciting newly released Rosso from this address I’ve encountered. The darker brick red color gave me pause for just a second, then I smelled all the incredible perfumes, and in an instant, couldn’t remember anything else. This is already showing considerable depth and great length. My notepad scribble says “exciting”. The 14,5% abv. is already fully resolved. Will be impossible to cellar any, despite how many I purchase, this is so good. Drink now thru 2031. highly recommended
17 February, 2018 – 2013 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) More so than any other 2013 Brunello di Montalcino, this was closed off and I could not get a (fair) read on it. Most of the 2013s are pretty easy to read (notwithstanding their classical structures), this, nope, not happening. My notepad reads: “traditional brick red color, clear; hole in the middle might fill out(?); very reluctant nose; reserve judgment”. 14,0% abv., is fully resolved. **(I will re-taste at VinItaly, perhaps while at ProWein, too)**
17 February, 2018 – 2012 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino Ugolaia (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) Superb. A great blend of power and pleasure, this is already quite available and expressive. The elegance and length are (already) quite noteworthy. I can depend on Ugolaia to be a fair representative of the best of the vintage as a whole – even if some of them take many years to reveal same – and in this case, it does not disappoint. Many like to latch on to only the “best” vintages, which is a shame, because wines like this can be missed, and that’s a tragedy. Beautiful. Drink 2018-2040. highly recommended
17 February, 2018 – 2011 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (Benvenuto Brunello, 2018, Montalcino) I wasn’t sure there was going to be a Riserva in 2011, so this came as something of a surprise today. Yet here it is, so here’s what my note says: Dark brick red color, clear. Ripe perfumes of red/blue fruits, warm, deep and resinous on the palate. BIG tannins. Needs 2-3 years to fully integrate; at least. OK, not great. Of course that last part may well change as this wine continues to evolve in bottle. I’ll reserve any judgment for at least a few years; it’s just to precocious now. 14,5% abv. is already fully resolved.