Two years ago we reported on the 2011 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino sponsored by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. This year, we attended the same event at New York City’s Gotham Hall, where we sampled a number of the new 2013 Brunello vintage release wine along with a few from 2012.
As we discussed before, all Brunello di Montalcino labeled wines are produced in a small hilly region located in Southern Tuscany.
The wines must be produced from 100 percent Sangiovese grapes grown in the region and must be aged a minimum of 2 years in oak and 4 months in bottles. This means that vintage releases generally come out 4 years after their vintage date, so the 2013 wines were released this year.
First, A Few Comments:
First a few notes about Brunello di Montalcino in general.
Since these are wines made exclusively from the Sangiovese grape varietal, the wines generally have a high level of acidity and tannin content that makes them both suitable for aging and that make them really require some age.
The wines are dark red in color and tend to have a light nose featuring red fruit notes, herbs, coffee and some florals. On the palate expect to find cherry as the dominant note with a finish of Italian herbs and tobacco/leather.
When sampled young the wines can be tight because they have a high tannin content, but over time they become much juicier with dominant cherry notes.
As we always say, pair wines with the foods produced in their region. That means that these are excellent wines to pair with rich and powerful foods like red meats, tomato-based dishes and stronger flavored vegetables. This gives the wine a lot of flexibility across the Italian food spectrum, it is as good with grilled pork, lamb and stews as it is with red sauce Italian dishes.
Since the Montalcino region is small, the climate of a given year is very important to the wine. In other words, Brunello di Montalcino is a vintage dependent wine.
The last few years have been good with 2010 being an excellent vintage and 2011 and 2012 being very good.
According to the winemakers at the event, 2013 was a cooler year and yields were somewhat lower, but overall most felt that the vintage would be on par with the last two years. The wines that we sampled suggested that this was true.
Sampling Brunello Wine:
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (2013: $45): The wine was deep cherry red in color the wine had a woody, somewhat leathery nose.
On the palate there was a lot of cherry up front, finishing with a sweeter maraschino type note on the finish. This is a wine to drink now –excellent wine to have with Italian meats and pasta.
This had stronger tannins than some of the other 2013 wines. On the palate, there were a lot of cherry notes with some peppery flavors as well.
This wine could benefit from some aging. I’d suggest holding it at least three years before the fruit really starts to mature.
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (2013: $41): It’s a beautiful red color with hints of brown.
The wine had a light nose with cherry and hints of violet. On the palate, the wine had a lot of bright red fruits with dominant cherry notes.
This wine was actually very good to drink now but should age well over the next couple of years for a more complex finish.
You will smell cherry blossoms on the nose. On the palate, the wine had bright tannins with a lot of bright cherry notes and some Italian spices on the finish.
This is an excellent wine that will show very well in about 4 years.
While they are priced somewhat higher than their Chianti or Chianti Classico cousins, the large number of unique micro-climates and myriad small producers in Montalcino create some excellent and distinctive wines. Since all Brunellos are 100 percent varietals, the only challenge is finding a producer that meets your specific taste profile.
For further information on Brunello or Montalcino visit www.consorziobrunellodimontalcino.it
It tracks all Brunello wines from production to sale to help preserve quality and ensure that only wines produced in the region are labeled as such.
The Consortium also promotes Brunello around the world and assists producers in ensuring that all Brunello di Montalcino wines meet the high standards required by the DOC and DOCG.
this report is thanks to John Dunham, our wine & spirits columnist