I’m going to ignore, if just for a little while, the reality this is just outside of my door here in Chianti Classico area, and write something about wine. Why? Because plenty of people love wine, and some love in particular, the Brunello wine of Montalcino area.
This year’s Benvenuto Brunello event was held in its regular location within the historic city’s center. It was about a week after I’d arrived in Italia, and there was only a murmuring of discussion about the virus; discussions of fatalities, and economic woes followed shortly after.
The event is divided into several days: (1) Friday is a day for the world’s press. We’re seated in a room, with service provided by professional sommeliers, each whom pours the six different bottles we request in each flight. No one has time to taste all of the wines this day, but many try. I see journalists, freelancers, bloggers, ‘pros’, etc., taking about 30 seconds with a wine before jotting some note/score. And while some wines don’t require much thought to figure out, some of the wine at this event deserved more proper attention. In my opinion, anyway. (2) Saturday, a mix of Italian tradespeople, some foreigners/bloggers, etc. (3Su)(4Mo)(5Tu) open to the public; far too chaotic for me anymore.
Maybe because I live here, in Italia, six months a year, and nearly every one of those moments are in vineyards, cellars, offices, homes, etc. It’s in these places that I’ve learned just how much work goes into winegrowing,. After hundreds of these visits, one has a genuine respect for this work, and the 30 seconds of evaluating thing with a number pulled from thin air just doesn’t work for me; in fact, it disrespects. Again, my opinion. People do the best they can, and sometimes they do all that they know. Let’s move on.
It’s a long report, and it’s not in any easy format (i.e. no scores, or numbers pulled out of thin air, as if they’re real. Sorry.).
If you’re a serious collector, the wines in the highly recommended category deserve your attention. If you’re a casual wine drinker, whose budget is more a concern than absolute quality/longevity, the wines in the recommended category are largely good values; consider these safe bets.
I’ll be posting my reviews of the newly released 2018 Rosso di Montalcino wines soon.
For ease of use, I’ve broken the wines into several categories, from my most preferred descending to my least preferred; they’re in no particular order within those categories. However, please do note that these are simply my opinion, just as anyone else’s score/review is their opinion; the only fact is what you, the taster observes, how much pleasure you derive. Here’s what I found among the wines I was able to taste.
- If they’re in the highly recommended category, these belong on your BUY LIST
- remember, if there’s a “+” following, it’s an exceptional value in its category
Very Highly Recommended
2015 Cerbaiola (Salvioni) Brunello di Montalcino – ** among my very top ** Absolutely incredible nose, combining place, vintage, and grapes in a very special way. The excellence continues on the medium-bodied, highly elegant, red-fruited palate. The finish is superb, long, and builds in intensity. This a home run. Brilliant. Drink 2024-2048. very highly recommended
2015 La Rasina Brunello di Montalcino Persante – Very good. This is a new label for La Rasina, a Cru wine that comes from vines just a hundred meters east of the winery. This vineyard was his (winemaker Marco Mantengoli) father Vasco’s first planting that has now been replanted; these replanted vines are now in their tenth year. I have to say, this took me straight back to Marco’s very first wine, the 1997 – now, an elegant wine that is a case study in place and grape. With the Brunello (i.e. normale) wine, just after release, I usually find the oak a bit too obtrusive. What we have here, however, is a lovely wine with a medium/medium+ body, sweet tannins, AND plenty of fresh acidity, rendering a rather elegant, and deeply flavorful, and well-balanced example; will improve from here, too. I was not expecting such a nice surprise, bravo, Marco! This is a great success for this estate. The 14,5% abv., is already nicely resolved; drink 2021-2039. This probably won’t be so easy to find, it’s a very limited production; worth seeking out. highly recommended
2015 Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino – Earth, mushrooms. sous bois, leather, dried herbs, just lovely on the nose. The color is brick red>garnet, it’s bright, and clear. Stunning medium body, so elegant. Acids kick in and propel this to a long, deep finish. Medium body, red fruited, traditional, and simply gorgeous. Drink 2023-2039. highly recommended
2015 Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino – Lovely red fruits, floral perfume, citrus, pomegranate, Tuscan dust. A traditional palate that’s med/med+, shows lots of fresh acidity, good+ balance, and an avg finish. This will likely improve, and its apogee may well be in 6-8 years. Very fine effort modernists won’t like it. highly recommended
2015 Podere Scopetone Brunello di Montalcino – Pretty, soil and red fruit-driven nose. Traditional, elegant palate, with very fine tannins, and impressive focus and balance. Very nice, and something I would seek out. Drink 2024-2040. highly recommended
2015 E. Fuligni (Cottimelli) Brunello di Montalcino – Bright cherry, loads of soil notes, leather, Tuscan dust, and a bit of citrus on the nose. Traditional, med/med+ palate with gushing, fresh acidity. The final is medium just now – this will begin to blossom in another 3-4 years, and live for 15-20. Red fruited, very fine tannins, avg+ complexity already. highly recommended
2015 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino – A good sense of place on the nose, with much more acid/balance/terroir than I was expecting on the palate. Good, more traditional than modern, to be sure. A bit of warmth in the center that I think will resolve in a few years. Very fine tannins, good+ purity. It’s not ideal for my palate, but I think time may correct this, bringing the wine more into balance; drink 2025-2040+. highly recommended,
2015 Caprili Brunello di Montalcino – Loads of soil, leather, dried herbs, bright cherry, and baking spice on the nose. The palate is traditional, quite well lifted, and with time, will become even more elegant than it is now. I really like this, and I’d love to see it in 5-8 years, and beyond. Drink 2024-2042. highly recommended
2015 Sesti (Castello di Argiano) Brunello di Montalcino – ** among my very top ** Gorgeous nose full of ripe red fruit, cherry, and soil notes. The palate is traditional, med+, with great tension/balance, and focus. This is an excellent effort, and the finish is long, and builds to nearly a minute. Quite impressive, and worth seeking out. Drink 2024-2043. highly recommended
2015 Fattoria Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino – ** among my very top ** Good soil, bright red cherry, some eucalyptus, citrus, and fresh leather. The palate is that power-meets-weightless genre, with significant focus, flavor, and elegance. This is a home run, and I can only imagine it in a few more years. Red-fruited, vivid perfumes, elegant mouthfeel, and a long, deep finish. Wow. highly recommended, drink 2023-2041.
2015 MastroJanni Brunello di Montalcino – Ripe red berries, some cherry, red currant, a touch of soil. The palate is decidedly full, seems more oaky/creamy/modern than I prefer, but I know I’m in the minority. Good++ length, and enough acidity to ultimately keep this balanced. A fine effort, and a delicious wine. Drink 2022-2043. highly recommended
2015 Enzo Tiezzi Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Soccorso – Excellent. Great nose, emphasizing the sense of place, and offering the freshness of the grape and vintage. The palate is traditional, juicy, focused, and understated. Great effort, and one I’m sure to be loading up on before leaving Montalcino. Drink 2024-2041.
2015 Albatreti Brunello di Montalcino – Absolutely stunning nose. Spice, earth, gilded red fruits. I’m in love. The palate is most certainly young, but this clearly (and already) has elegance and structure to spare. Perhaps more importantly, there’s quite depth of flavor already, too. Drink 2024-2040. Very nice. highly recommended
2015 Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino – ** among my very top ** Fantastic nose; complex, perfect ripeness, highly complex already. My second time with this in the past 2 weeks, and I’m really loving it. Med+ body, loads of fresh acids, depth of flavor and a long, rewarding and resonating finish. Excellent. Brava, Francesca! Drink 2023-2042. highly recommended+
2015 Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino – Soil, lovely soil, with some reduced notes at first. High acidity, fine, quite firm tannins – this is one for the cellar. Red fruited, a bit crunchy, with flavors and complexity that need more time to better develop. Drink 2026-2040+. highly recommended
2015 Máté – Podere il Falconaio Brunello di Montalcino – Bright cherry, citrus, pomegranate, some soil. Really elegant entry, med/med+ body, lots of fresh acidity – this is just lovely. Already offering a long finish, with very fine, sweet tannins. Excellent. Drink 2023-2040+.highly recommended
2015 Il Poggione (Proprietá Franceschi) Brunello di Montalcino – Every year I taste these on release, and every year these are closed off. This is the nature of this producer’s Brunello – it needs time. In my 20+ years with this wine, depending on the vintage, it can be from 8-13 years after release that this is revealing its true message. To say a lot about it before then seems a bit futile, but here goes: Initial aromas are modern/creamy oak, ripe red berries, cream, red currant. Lovely mouthfeel – before the searing acids and brutal, but finely grained tannins take hold, that is. I really like the medium body, the balance, and the understated nature of it all. I think this will blossom beautifully. Drink 2027-2045. highly recommended
2015 Cupano Brunello di Montalcino – Lovely nose that offers a great sense of grape, and a good sense of place. In the next few years this is going to reveal much more of the elegance that I’ve come to love in this wine. Medium bodied, near perfect balance, with the oak so well judged and quite well resolved already. Sweet tannins on the long, winding finish. Lovely. Drink 2022-2038. highly recommended
2015 La Magia Brunello di Montalcino – ** among my very top ** Floral, beautiful perfumes, with good soil, cherry, and new leather aromas on the nose. The palate is cheeky – it enters med(-) body, and quickly moves to med(+), with substantial length, and great balance. Regal. Drink 2024-2045. highly recommended
2015 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino – Quite nice, traditional palate offering good+ acidity, fine tannins, and a finish that while today is only avg, I’ve no doubt will improve from here. For the traditionalist, not the modernist, with its bright, fresh red fruit, sage, and leather notes in a well-balanced package. Drink 2024-3039. ]recommended+
2015 Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino – Bright brick red>garnet, clear. Sous bois, purple floral, nice baking spices, and red berry perfumes. The palate is well balanced, juicy, and lifted, and the final is solid, though this will demand some time for the tannins to resolve. Nice, on the lighter, more elegant side of the equation, drink 2023-2037. recommended
2015 Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino – Earthy, floral and red fruit-driven nose. Nice, fresh and abundant acidity, with well judged oak, and overall balance leading to a good+ finish. Quite nice, if not overly complex just now. Drink 2022-2034. recommended
2015 Lazzeretti Brunello di Montalcino – Very full, ripe, deep, some EtOH. This is almost plush on the palate, though it manages enough acidity to keep fair balance. A big, deep wine, that’s likely to need 10-15 years for my palate, which is to say most will enjoy the heck out if it very soon. Drink 2022-2039. recommended
2015 Vasco Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino – Pretty nose, full of baking spice, creamy oak, earth, and fresh leather. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, leans modern with its creamy berry and oak mid-palate. Tannins clamp down a bit on the end, so give this a few years at least. Ultimately missing the freshness, and lift to go to the next level, but good nonetheless. Drink 2022-2031. recommended
2015 La Rasina Brunello di Montalcino – Nice, more or less ready for most palates. Med/med+ body, with the oak showing a deft, fine touch. Good acidity/freshness, and good++ length. Give it a few short years, and enjoy thru 2038. Quite elegant, with depth and breadth that will come with some more bottle rest. recommended
2015 Villa I Cipressi Brunello di Montalcino – Lovely, highly perfumed nose. Red fruited, with a layered, somewhat plush and certainly modern-leaning palate. Not in my preferred style, per se, but a lot to admire here. Drink 2022-2037. Quite good. recommended
2015 Podere Le Ripi Rosso di Montalcino Amore e Magia – Red fruits, creamy oak, no real sense of place on the nose. The palate follows, with medium body, creamy, a bit anonymous. It’s warm in the center, and glossy on the finish, so no doubt many will love this. Drink 2021-2029. For the style, recommended.
2015 Fattoria La Lecciaia (Pacini) Brunello di Montalcino – Ripe red berries, some soil, a touch of vanilla, with most following to the creamy med+ bodied palate. Finish is med/med+. Good, for the style; lacks freshness, lift. Drink 2021-2032. recommended.
2015 Fattoria La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino – Good typicity of aromas and flavors, and a lighter garnet color, with plenty of fresh acidity. This is in a traditional vein, with higher acids, fine tannins, and an avg finish. Nice. Drink 2023-2033. recommended
2015 Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino – Dust, ripe cherry, some forest floor. The palate is traditional-leaning, with good but not great acidity. The finish is medium, the flavor depth is medium. Good, not great. Drink 2021-2031. recommended
2015 Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino – Earthy, truffle, anise and cherry nose. Warm cherry driven medium body that leans modern. Finish and acidity are average. It’s ok. Drink 2021-2029. For the style, it’s recommended
2015 Piancornello Brunello di Montalcino – Ripe, cherry liqueur, some soil, a touch of anise and vanilla. The palate is medium, the finish is medium, and the freshness is medium. It’s good, but falls short of anything more on this date. Drink 2023-2037. recommended
2015 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino – Oak is dominating the nose and palate just now. That said, the medium body offers avg freshness, complexity, and length. Good, short of anything more. Drink 2022-2033. recommended
2015 Fattoria dei Barbi (Colombini) Brunello di Montalcino – Highly complex, red-fruited nose. The palate is traditional, acids are good+. That said, this will need some time to add a bit of weight to the middle, and finish. Good, likely to improve, just give it the time it needs. Drink 2023-2033. recommended+
2015 Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino – Ripe red fruits on the nose, some soil. Traditional, well-lifted medium bodied palate, with good+ length, and complexity already. Should age well, just be sure to give it some needed bottle rest. HOLD. Drink 2024-2037. recommended
2015 Capanna Brunello di Montalcino – Ripe red fruits, trace soil, and leather. Medium, juicy body, with avg complexity and length. It’s ok, it’s simple, but it’s likely a good companion to food, too. recommended
2015 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino – Pretty nose, with a good sense of place and grape. The palate is slightly more traditional than modern, with a good well of fresh acids, avg+ balance, and a full, rewarding mid-palate and finish. Good+. Drink 2023-2035. recommended
2015 Palazzina Le Macioche Brunello di Montalcino Le Macioche – Red berries, cream, some vanilla, a touch of soil on the nose. The body is med/med+, the tannins are sweet, and fine. Good+ length, and balance, though this will take a decade to evolve into a style I’d better appreciate. Drink 2022-2036. Somewhat foursquare today. recommended
2015 Tenuta Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino – Good typicity on the nose, less so on the palate, where it’s more style than grape. That said, it’s well made, shows good flavors, some depth, and an avg+ finish. It’s a bit modern, but it’s the style; drink 2021-2032. recommended,
2015 Agostina Pieri Brunello di Montalcino – Lots of Fr oak on the nose, with little sense of place just now. Ripe red currant, some basil, truffle cream. The palate is med+ bodied, shows something of a tiny hole mid-palate, and the finish now is avg. Good, not great. Needs time to shine. Drink 2024-2034. recommended
2015 Ridolfi Brunello di Montalcino – Lovely, earthy nose, with reflections of ripe cherry, herbs. The palate is medium bodied, leans modern, with good acidity, and a creamy finish. Not in my style, but many will love this effort. The finish builds. Nice for the style. Drink 2021-2032. recommended
2015 Fanti (Tenuta San Filippo) Brunello di Montalcino – Herbal, woodsy nose, with leather, mushroom, and soil notes. The palate is decidedly traditional; medium body, high-ish acidity, avg length that will develop with time. A joy that will begin to blossom, and add some weight, in 3-4 more years. Lovely, understated. Drink 2023-2037. recommended+
2015 Cortonesi Brunello di Montalcino La Mannella – Good sense of place, it’s a touch reduced just now, but with some more swirling, this quite nice. Red and purple flowers on the nose, with some leather, a touch of vanilla, and ripe cherries. Most follow to the med+ palate that’s good, but is missing the freshness acidity to carry this to the next level. Drink 2022-2033. recommended
2015 Podere San Lorenzo Brunello di Montalcino – Brilliant, nicely perfumed nose offering good typicity of place and grape; interesting in a good way. The palate enters a touch bitter, with the acids coming on a bit too strong just now. This needs a few years of rest, and may well improve from here. I’d drink a glass, if offered. Probably more than one. Drink 2023-2033. recommended
2015 Belpoggio Brunello di Montalcino – Warm, cherry liqueur nose, with trace earth. Modern leaning on the palate, with some EtOH dominating the mid-palate. Avg freshness and length. Should drink well in its youth. OK. For the style, recommended
2015 Podere Canneta Brunello di Montalcino – Woods/forest, herbal, soil-driven. Lightly red-fruited, high-er acids, fine, gripping tannins. Shows traditional, with modest fruit depth. Nice, if a bit simple just now. recommended
2015 Casanuova delle Cerbaie Brunello di Montalcino – Oak, light spice, and red flowers dominate the nose today. The palate is decidedly traditional, higher acids, medium body. In my wheelhouse, but unless this develops more length, and complexity, I’m not a buyer. To revisit. Drink 2024-2038. recommended
2015 Cerbaia Brunello di Montalcino – Herbal, woodsy, and leathery nose. Red-fruited, leans traditional, with a medium body, and medium complexity. This appears rather understated, and backward just now. May well improve from here, but needs lots of bottle rest. Drink 2024-2034. recommended
2015 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino – My second time with this, and this bottle is slightly more fresh. Medium bodied, with avg freshness, finish. I’m just not feeling it in this vintage, and this producer represents a good percentage of my cellar. Maybe revisit in 2-4 years. Good. recommended
2015 Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino – Ripe red fruits, a touch of smoke, barnyard, old leather. The palate is fresh, the acids just a bit loose right now; needs to add some tension, or else the wood/tannins will outlive the fruit. Good. Drink 2024-2039. recommended
2015 Verbena Brunello di Montalcino – Reduced at first, then it burst with spicy red fruit/cherry, baking spice, and mushrooms. Good palate that’s still in a formative stage, i.e. it’s holding back just now. Juicy in the middle, I’m hoping these acids firm up; there’s good depth to the flavor, and the complexity is already good+. Nice, and may well improve. Drink 2023-2033. recommended
2015 Fattoria del Pino Brunello di Montalcino– Aromas of oak, vitamin K, dust, with some swirling, super bright cherry. The palate is med/med+, it’s deep, long, and promises a good, if not top-tier performance. This may drink on the earlier side of the equation, but that’s not to say it won’t be drinking well in 2040, too. Given the structure, and balance, drink 2026-2040+. recommended+
2015 Le Gode Brunello di Montalcino – Some iron. leather, cherry, sage, marjoram on the nose. The palate is medium bodied, with a fine, glossy veneer. The fruits are red, the finish is med+. Some EtOH detracts, and I think these acids need another year in the bottle to better resolve. Good, 2023-2036. recommended
2015 Piombaia Brunello di Montalcino – Blood orange, cherry, soil, some leather. The palate is med/med+, good+ acids, the fruits are red, and the finish is long. There’s an understated elegance here that bodes well. Not so much a sense of place today, but I think it will show quite differently in 5-6 more years, revealing more of its ultimate character. A touch of heat in the middle. recommended+, with upside noted
2015 Corte dei Venti Brunello di Montalcino – Dried herbs, cherry, dust, some leather. The palate is warm, full, juicy but not blowsy. This is well made/grown, and will no doubt offer added complexity in 3-4 more years, drinking until 2037+. Quite nice even if today there is a touch of EtOH in the middle that distracts. recommended
2015 Tenimenti Ricci Brunello di Montalcino– Complex, spicy, and somewhat high-toned red fruits on the nose. The palate leans traditional, with avg acidity and length. It’s falling short of its nose just now, but some bottle rest could help to improve that. Drink 2023-2033. recommended+
2015 Sesta di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino – Some kirsch, dark cherry, dust, dried herbs, and old leather. Leans modern on the palate, and shows fine, slightly sweet tannins. Really good tension, and overall, well judged. A fine effort. Best 2024-2035. Easily recommended, and is likely to improve from here
2015 Renieri Brunello di Montalcino – Candied cherries, EtOH, plums, chocolate. Medium-bodied, good acids that are not in full balance just now, leaving something of a hole in the mid-palate. Avg/avg+ finish. Good for the style; not my preferred one. Steakhouse Brunello wine. Drink 2023-2035. recommended
2015 La Palazzetta (Flavio Fanti) Brunello di Montalcino – Cherry, soil, dust, some sage and thyme. Palate is juicy, balanced, lifted, and traditional in style. The medium body offers a med+ finish, very fine tannins, and lovely freshness. Very much to my palate; give it some time to rest. Drink 2023-2039; will improve from here. recommended+
2015 Baricci Brunello di Montalcino – Simple nose, with some earth and fresh cherry. Traditional, medium-bodied palate with firm, sweet tannins. Good structure. This is more about potential than anything else just now. Drink 2024-2034. recommended
2015 Querce Bettina Brunello di Montalcino – Soil, forest floor, red fruits, some EtOH on the nose. The palate is med-full, there’s substantial weight/girth in the middle. It’s more modern than traditional, but it’s also a pretty delicious wine. Bravo! Drink 2022-2034. recommended
2015 Carpineto Brunello di Montalcino – High-toned red fruits on the nose, some warmth. The palate leans modern, with a somewhat plush medium body. Decent acids, avg+ depth and length thanks to all the oak. Good for the style. Drink 2022-2032.
2015 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino – Good typicity, med body, red fruited. long, with nice elegant lines. Should age well, though it’ll need some time to rest, drink 2023-2039. Probably improving a good amount from here. Revisit. recommended
2015 Canalicchio Brunello di Montalcino – Some new oak, herbs, and plenty of soil tones to the nose. The palate is medium-bodied, this is juicy, and leans a bit modern, but is well-judged and in no way out of balance or OTT. Nice finish that will likely improve with time. A solid effort, with a good flavor profile. Drink 2023-2035.
recommended, with upside noted
2015 Voliero Brunello di Montalcino – Spicy, earthy nose, with cherry, some white and red flowers. The palate is a bit loose knit, the acids are more juicy than lifting. This will drink well in its youth. Medium/med+ body, avg/avg+ finish. Red fruited, sweet tannins. Good. recommended, and likely to improve a bit from here
2015 La Fornace Brunello di Montalcino – Ripe red cherries, some red currant, lots of oak on the nose, and palate. Missing the freshness, lift, and ultimately balance that I prefer. This is likely to drink early; not something I would purchased. For the style, it’s
Not rated/just not interesting
2015 Val di Suga (Angelini) Brunello di Montalcino
2015 Tenuta Buon Tempo Brunello di Montalcino
2015 Fattoi Brunello di Montalcino
2015 Fornacina Brunello di Montalcino
2015 Poggio San Polo Brunello di Montalcino
2015 Winecircus (Roberto Cipresso) Brunello di Montalcino Poggio al Sole
2015 Tenuta Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino
2015 Mocali Brunello di Montalcino
2015 Pian delle Querci Brunello di Montalcino – Sous bois, reduced notes, dark cherry. Not so clean on the nose or palate. A bit grainy, muddled. Maybe this needs time, but I’m just not feeling the freshness.