TONY

WOOD

ITALIAN

WINE

Benvenuto Brunello 2021

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Brunello di Montalcino 2016 is undoubtedly an exceptional vintage as good, if not better, than any vintage in the past twenty years, with the possible exception of 2010.

Such a bold statement was easy to make, the reason being I have reviewed many of these incredible wines.


To explain this in taste terms, these wines aromatics are "off the charts”: balanced, fine fresh tannins and racy acidity, juicy, pure expression of fruit and clear cut nuances, coupled with the undeniable fact that nearly all wineries made a wine way above their average scoring. This is how one should measure a great vintage, rather than how many 100 point wines are on a list.

Additional explanation to underpin this fabulous vintage is the fact that most wines expressed the terroir of their region. Terroir is not just the soil, but the complete growing cycle and how various elements play significant roles in the development of the end product. Topography, microclimate, rootstock, vine maturity, planting habits and so on, all adding up to encompass a sense of place.


Last year I wrote about the 2015 vintage which was generally very good, overall not a great vintage, in my opinion. One of the reasons I suggested was the weather was just too good, too perfect, which did not encourage Sangiovese to give its best. These vines perform better when struggling a little.


The Montalcino weather in 2016 was not plain “sailing,” although it could quite literally have been, considering the vast amount of rain that fell!

Very heavy rainfall in January and February, bud break and cooler than average temperatures in mid March, rain again in April and May, average rainfall but cool temperatures in June, which slowed the growth in the vineyards, then more rain fall from July. Temperatures picked up in daytime but dropped below seasonal norm at night, giving the fruit the opportunity for even growth and maturation. Less green harvest also played a part.

Heavy storms in the middle of September made harvesting a tale of two parts: the warmer parts of the appellation were picked prior to these storms, the cooler parts of the appellation were picked after the storms, some as late as the third week of October.

A good and varied harvest was experienced by all.


With the introduction of many new Crus in 2015, the same labels generally did not perform as well in 2016. To keep quality levels stable for these single vineyard Crus, the Consorzio allowed a reduction of yields per hectare. I am sitting on the fence with regard to this issue, because my concern would be a reduction in the quality level of the straight Brunello. Only time will tell and a comparison with Chianti Classico Gran Selezione will no doubt pose a similar question to be answered in the future.


Another question that needs answering: is BdM 2015 a better vintage than BdM 2016? The answers would generally be no, BUT not in all cases (excuse non intentional pun!).

For instance Canalicchio di Sopra BdM La Casaccia and San Polo BdM Vignavecchia are outstanding in 2015 but fail to reach the same heights in 2016.

Whilst Casanova di Neri BdM Tenuta Nuova 2015 was good, the 2016 vintage is the best since 2001 and could even eclipse that iconic Brunello.

So, why the difference? Because one vineyard (or part vineyard) simply needs different 'terroir' to produce excellent results.


And just because we are talking about wine here, I will add another very important element into the mix...the winemaker!

That impossible vocation that requires making so many correct decisions during a growing season as to evoke exasperation, vexation, irritation and often disappointment.

But once in a while, the wine gods smile on such an individual (usually one who has excelled in his or hers chosen profession!). A couple of names come to mind:

Carlo Ferrini whose BdM Giodo 2015 and 2016 are near-perfect examples of Brunello; Alessandro Mori of Il Marroneto who produced BdM Madonna Delle Grazie, a wine of such sublime beauty both in 2015 and 2016 as to leave one almost bereft of speech.


In short, Brunello di Montalcino 2016 vintage gave the Montalcino winemakers the opportunity to produce some of the greatest terroir-led wines in existence. In one word…Extraordinary.


Finally, a word of caution, these wines need time to evolve, please be patient, 3/4 years of bottle time will repay the recipient “ten fold.”


Acknowledgement:

Due to C19 travel restrictions, my Review and Tasting notes of the 2021 Benvenuto Brunello latest releases could not have been published without the huge support offered by the Consorzio Del Vino Brunello di Montalcino and all the individual wineries in Montalcino who kindly arranged delivery of their wines to my office in Umbria.

The effort of Sofia Canapicci and Catherine Mittica under the direction of the Consorzio Director Michele Fontana has been invaluable and I hereby offer my gratitude.



Tasting Notes


Agostina Pieri BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Subtle floral aromatics blend with blackberries, blueberries, liquorice and damp earth. Mid palate shows great balance with integrated, fresh tannins and acidity. Shows finesse and poise.

Points 94 TW


Altesino BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour. Floral aromatics play with sweet red fruits. Damp forest floor. Balsamic notes, spice, cedar. Fine tannins with great acidic balance.

Points 95 TW


Altesino Montosoli BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Red cherry, blackberry, roast meat. Dusty tannins. Fresh acidity. Delicate floral aromas. White pepper, balsamic notes. Beautiful balance, graceful and subtle.

Points 97 TW

Altesino BdM Riserva 2015

Deep ruby red in colour. Fresh fruits at play. Notes of exotic wood. Orange peel. Soft curves. Ultra fine tannins. Long finish.

Points 94 TW


Argiano BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour. Red fruits vie with faint notes of liquorice, cigar box, mediterranean herbs and some citrus character. Tannins are dusty, youthful and compact. Needs time to show its true self.

Points 92-94+ TW


Argiano Vigna del Suolo BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Red cherry, wild strawberry, mint notes, tree bark, crushed stone. Zesty acidity. Layered but held tight in a structure. So much more to give in time.

Points 94-96 TW


Armilla BdM 2016

Deep garnet in colour. Raspberry, red cherry, blue florals, balsamic notes, sandalwood, sage, iron. Alluring soft curves on mid palate then tightens at the end. Very pleasing.

Points 95 TW

Beatesca BdM 2016

Dark ruby red in colour. Very ripe blueberries and blackberries. Heady aromas of blue flowers. Liquorice. Not in harmony or balance.

Points 88 TW


Bellaria BdM Rosso di Montalcino 2018

Ruby red in colour. Fresh black berries, liquorice, sage, faint citrus notes, white pepper. A puff of smoke descends on mid palate, holds firm to juicy finish.

Points 92 TW


Bellaria BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. A mixture of red and black fruits, pomegranate, faint Eastern spice. Earthy and savoury with a lightness that caresses the palate. Has a natural richness. Integrated tannins. Cool finish.

Points 93 TW


Bellaria BdM Assunto 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Black berries, blueberries, aromatics of exotic wood and sweet spice. Exuberant vivacity. Distinctive in its complex nature. A joy.

Point 97 TW


Bellaria BdM Assunto Riserva 2015

Deep ruby red in colour. Dazzling display of black fruit and floral aromas. Warm black cherries interplay with eastern spice, red rose and candied orange peel. Rich and creamy. Tannins melt into the wine. Elegant body.

Points 96 TW


Bonacchi BdM 2016

Pale ruby red in colour, red cherry, dried herbs, sandalwood, faint hint of liquorice, spicy on the back end. Restrained palate that will relax and release more nuances in time. Good showing.

Points 94 TW


Canalicchio di Sopra BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Blackberry, dark cherry , kirsch, cedar, wet leather and damp forest floor. Vivid acidity. Fine tannins. Graceful. Fresh clean with energy.

Points 95+ TW


Canalicchio di Sopra BdM La Casaccia 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Cherry, wild strawberry, grilled mediterranean herbs. Silky tannins. A new level of textural richness. Precise. Still keeping well within itself. Elegant.

Points 98+ TW


Canalicchio di Sopra BdM Riserva 2015

Ruby red in colour. Dark cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, black truffle, dried meat. Huge structure. Rises on the mid palate showing graceful power and layered intensity. Stays focused for a long finish.

Points 97 TW


Capanna BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour. Sweet red cherry, rose petal, sweet spice, balsamic notes, sandalwood, clove and fresh mushroom. Totally approachable as the rich, soft texture allows. Minerality comes as crushed stone and terracotta.

Points 93 TW


Capanna BdM Riserva 2015

Bright ruby red in colour. Ripe cherry, pomegranate and citrus notes. Savoury, grilled meat. Youthful tannins still have plenty to say. The structure is solid.The freshness is a joint venture between fruit quality and zesty acidity. Needs plenty of time.

Points 95 TW


Caparzo BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Red cherry, red berry and pleasing floral aromatics. Mushroom, Faint hint of tobacco smoke. Crushed stone minerality. Has freshness and energy. Succulent with considerable appeal.

Points 95 TW


Caparzo BdM Vigna La Casa 2016

Ruby red in colour. Red and black berries, black cherry. Plush tannins. Savoury and earthy. Dense. Striking character. Superb intensity reminds me of the 1999 La Casa. Will need long cellar time - If you can wait!

Points 97 TW


Caparzo BdM Riserva 2015

Ruby red in colour. Ripe fruits abound. Blood orange, black tea, faint spice notes. Restrained palate.

Points 93 TW


Carpineto BdM Riserva 2015

Ruby red in colour. Red berry and cherry, dried herbs, damp earth, leather, dried tobacco leaf. Savoury. Vibrant. Dense and layered. Great textural richness. Persistent to a long finish.

Points 94 TW


Casanova di Neri BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Fresh red cherry, red and black berries, Mediterranean dried herbs. Lifted by sweet dark spices and sea pebble minerality. Savoury, Textured and sumptuous. Youthful tannins need time to soften. Excellent balance. Attractive wine.

Points 95 TW

Casanova di Neri BdM Tenuta Nuova 2016

Ruby red in colour. Aromatics of exotic wood and blue flowers, black fruits and Marasca cherry. Earth and black tea. A hair’s breadth off full bodied. Close knit tannins. Refreshing acidity. Finely sculptured. Purity of Sangiovese. Best since 2001 vintage!

Points 99 TW (second tasting)


Casanova di Neri BdM Cerretalto Riserva 2015

Intense ruby red with faint purple hue. Mixture of blackberries and rich, warm red cherry. Liquorice, faint spice notes. Rose petal. White truffle, white smoke. Tannins disappear into the wine but the structure still remains. Complex. Intense. Full bodied. Huge finesse.

Points 99 TW (second tasting)


Casisano BdM 2016

Pale garnet in colour. Sour cherry mixed with sweet berries, roast meat. Pleasant progression with fine tannins. Clean and fresh. Finish with soft edges.

Points 93 TW


Casisano BdM Riserva 2015

Bright ruby red in colour. Sweet red cherry, berries, orange peel, dried mediterranean herbs. Savoury. Tannins still alive and fresh. Would benefit from a little more acidity, in time the fruit will assist.

Points 92 TW


Castello Romitorio BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour. Blackberries mix with soft warm red cherry. Sea pebble minerality introduces a fresh floral expression of mint, Mediterranean herbs and violet petal. Savoury notes interplay with fresh citrus acidity that all hang on a structure of ripe tannins. Great energy. Super depth and volume. Needs plenty of aeration.

Points 95 TW


Castello Romitorio BdM Riserva 2015

Deep ruby red in colour. Mixture of black and red berries start this flirtatious encounter. Sandalwood, violet, rose petal and sweet spice add to the silky texture that beckons the mid palate to broaden allowing a second wave of black berries, kirsch and herbal nuances. The experience envelopes the palate. Just as the opera comes to a finale seashell minerality gives way to a long finish.

Points 97 TW


Castello Tricerchi BdM 2016

Ruby Red in colour. Sour red cherry, pomegranate, orange peel. Briny notes. Faint aroma of blue flowers. Range of spice notes. One for the back of the cellar.

Points 92 TW


Castello Tricerchi BdM AD1441 2016

Deep ruby red in colour. Black fruits, dry leather, sage, mushroom, violet florals with black tea. Potential to improve.

Points 93 + TW

Castiglion del Bosco BdM 2016

Pale ruby red in colour with mauve undertones. Red cherry and blackberry fruit held up with sea shell minerality. Notes of orange peel. Bright and chaste on mid palate, yet structure shows restrained depth and power. Sophisticated. At its heart is a solid core of primary flavours.

Points 98 TW


Castiglion del Bosco BdM Campo del Drago 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Blackberries, blue florals, dried mushroom and pipe tobacco. Savoury and earthy. Dense with textural richness. Considerable appeal.

Points 98 TW


Castiglion del Bosco BdM Riserva 2015

Ruby red in colour. Sweet red cherry, pomegranate, blood orange peel, kirsch. Exceptional finesse. Creamy tannins. Balanced. Layered freshness and energy. Persistently intense finish.

Points 97 TW

Cava d’Onice BdM Senses 2016

Ruby red in colour. Mixture of blackberry and red fruit, fresh mushroom, sage. Clean fresh mouthfeel. Finely grained youthful tannins. Vibrant.

Points 94 TW


Cava d’Onice BdM Colombaio 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Wonderful expression of floral aromatics. Cedar, mint, white truffle, balsamic notes. Plush and silky. Chewy tannins wrestle with juicy acidity. Harmonious with good length.

Points 95 TW


Cava d’Onice BdM Riserva 2015

Deep ruby red in colour. Blackberries, sweet black plums, chocolate, candied orange peel and cinnamon underpinned with sea shore minerality. Breadth of flavours expand on mid palate. Tannins tip toe through the liquid. Juicy yet elegant.

Points 96 TW

Col d’Orcia Rosso di Montalcino 2019

Red ruby in colour with mauve undertones. Medium bodied. Red cherries, grilled herbs, rose floral aromatics. Clean, fresh and vivid.

Points 92 TW


Col d’Orcia BdM 2016

Bright ruby red in colour, intense berry fruit floats on a fragrant layer of flower petals. The mid palate brings graceful and subtle notes of ultra fine tannins and zesty acidity. Good balance. Focused.

Points 94 TW


Collina di Lecci BdM 2016

Pale ruby red in colour. Mixture of blackberries and redberries resting on a bed of liquorice and spice. It’s all there but needs time to come together.

Points 92 TW


Collina di Lecci BdM Riserva 2015

Ruby red in colour. Red cherry and raspberry, redcurrant. Tight, dense, savoury and earthy. Tannic bite, lean and does not carry through. Briny notes.

Points 88 TW


Corte Pavone BdM Fiore del Vento 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Red cherry, pomegranate, kirsch, wet leather, saturate the palate with stunning depth and volume. Back end showing further nuances of blackberries and mocha. Such lasting presence. Ample and generous.

Points 96 TW

Corte Pavone BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour with purple undertones. Fresh red cherry, plum, eucalyptus notes, warm earth. Precise, fresh tannins. Juicy second wave of red berries held up with crushed stone minerality. Linear and balanced.

Points 95 TW

Corte Pavone BdM Campo Marzio 2016

Deep ruby red in colour. Black fruits mixed with sour cherries, blue florals. Savoury and earthy, Creamy and voluptuous. Huge structure where fresh ripe tannins and broad acidity hang. Full of character. Tons of energy.

Points 96 TW


Corte Pavone BdM Anemone al Sole Riserva 2015

Intense ruby red in colour. Red cherry, raspberry, pomegranate, subtle spice, forest floor, all held up on a plateau with layered minerality. Considerable appeal. Has such clarity and precision. Still tight but so polished. The intensity of the fruit leads this wine.

Points 96+ TW


Elia Palazzesi BdM 2016

Pale ruby red in colour. Red berries, fruitcake spice. Vivid acidity assists in keeping a freshness throughout. Soft tannins. Comes across as a “hobbledehoy”.

Points 90 TW


Elia Palazzesi BdM Riserva 2015

Garnet in colour. A blend of sour cherry, wild strawberry, cinnamon and dried sage with black tea and clove notes. Fades quickly leaving the palate with a citrus, pipe tobacco after taste.