TONY

WOOD

ITALIAN

WINE

Benvenuto Brunello 2022

Brunello di Montalcino 2017 vintage has been released. It was a fascinating experience to taste these wines.

Usually, I know what to expect, because tasting from barrel samples can indicate a vintage’s direction. But the 2017 vintage was a difficult challenge to the winemakers of Montalcino, due to the weather. The variation in barrel samples was very noticeable.


During early spring 2017, severe frosts played havoc with bud break, coupled with such small amounts of rainfall through the summer months. Temperatures became stratospherically high in August: Montalcino’s official recorded temperatures in the first week oscillated from 102F (39C) to 107F (42C). Finally, in September the heavens opened and cooler evening temperatures prevailed, saving the vintage from disaster.

The biggest problem was drought, vines suffering from hydrocarbon stress, which blocks the vegetative cycle, introducing colour change, sugar progression and drops in yields. Most vineyards suffered a 15% to 50% loss in yield.

The difference between water deficit stress and drought stress, albeit seemingly the same thing: water deficiency is where the water potential and turgor (pressure exerted by fluid in a cell that presses the cell membrane against the cell wall) stops the plant from wilting, are reduced enough to meet with normal functions. Whilst drought stress happens when the demand of the vine exceeds the supply at any stage of the growing cycle.

On the face of the evidence, one would expect to find wines lacking balance, that are dense, flabby and jammy, bereft of freshness, others lean and tannic. And the vast majority for short term consumption.

As an amateur wine taster, I was surprised (and pleased) to taste some exceptional wines. Generally the vineyards in the north of Montalcino performed better than their southern counterparts. Of course, the skill of the winemaker, age of the vines, altitude and aspect of the vineyards, fruit selection, terroir and micro climate: all play a huge part in the success of the individual wines.

Another factor to take into consideration is that many of the wineries placed the grapes from the single Cru and Riserva in with the harvested fruit of the normal bottling. The reason for this being mostly the lack of yield and the lack of fruit quality in their own higher categories.

However, one must not judge too broadly, some of these wines may be harsh at first, but some will in time flesh out, others may never re-adjust and balance. A few will have a rightful place in our collections, to be enjoyed and teach the imbiber the character differences between one vintage and another from the same label. That is why I stated earlier ‘this was an intriguing vintage’.

Also on release, are the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016. On the whole I cannot see a vast improvement on the wines already released from the 2016 vintage.

Usually BDM Riserva wines come from special barrel samples, or a recognised plot in the vineyard, or older vines. The major problem I have with these wines is price, as only a few justify their ticket.

Remember the same production rules apply to all Brunello di Montalcino whether they be entry level, Cru or Riserva, the latter only spending an additional year in the cantina.

In general terms, most wineries did a very good job with the difficult 2017 vintage. Wineries that decided to put their single Cru and Riserva fruit into the normal bottling have given us unusual and interesting wines to enjoy.

Looking ahead to 2018 and 2019 vintages: I have tasted some barrel samples and even at this stage I can state the 2018 is doing very well, but the 2019 vintage is totally rocking, very similar to the magnificent 2016. Oh happy days!

Lastly I feel compelled to make comment on some individual wineries exceptional performance in 2017: Il Marroneto continues an upward trajectory; San Polino is strutting its Organic and Biodynamic wines in a most positive manner; Canalicchio di Sopra leads the field producing wines in 2017 that defy all known wine boundaries and as for their 2016 Riserva, would not surprise me if this became a ‘prefect wine’.

La Gerla is as solid as the Bank of Monte Carlo. Uccelliera can do no wrong lately.

Altesino receiving its just rewards for the monumental work undertaken in recent years…and never to be forgotten, Siro Pacenti is showing the usual master class in winemaking regardless of the vintage challenges.


Acknowledgement

My review and tasting notes of the 2022 Brunello di Montalcino 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. I wish to offer my profound gratitude to you all.


Tasting Notes


Agostino Pieri BdM 2017

Deep ruby red in colour. Black cherry, wild black berries, faint salty liquorice notes, underbrush. Juicy texture. Linear broad close. Captures you whilst you are not looking.

Points 93 TW

Agostino Pieri BdM Riserva 2016

Translucent red in colour. Cherry, raspberry, cranberry. Showing hints of vanilla, tobacco smoke and worn leather. Ultra fine tannins vie with tangy acidity. Great length and balance.

Points 95 TW

Altesino BdM 2017

Pale ruby red in colour. Seductive bouquet of wild red berries, red cherry, liquorice, clove, sea pebble minerality. Faint whiffs of wild mint.

Silky warm entry saturates the palate and at glacier speed opens up to reveal complex depth and textural richness. Finish is long and fully expressive.

Points 93+ TW

Altesino Montosoli BdM 2017

Medium ruby red in colour. Red cherry, raspberry, blueberry, wild strawberry. The florals remind you of entering a florist where the sun has concentrated its rays on the glass frontage…Utterly compelling! Primary flavours abound. Textural tannins and acidity all driving at the right speed. Secondary notes of warm liquorice, Sicilian blood orange and mint assist the progression to a linear close. Wow!

Points 96 TW

Altesino Riserva BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour. A potent mixture of black fruits, clove, menthol, orange peel and florals. So inward and intense. Hard to read, soft contours. Fine tannin structure, pinpoint acidity. Crushed shell minerality. Showing great energy and tension. Needs a quiet dark place to settle and flush out all those nuances.

Points 94-96+ TW

Antinori Pian Delle Vigne BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Black cherry, wild black berries, liquorice, balsam notes, dried Mediterranean herbs. Crunchy tannins and zesty acidity. Great energy: just keeps going… Remarkable for the vintage! Good balance and poise. Good showing.

Points 93 TW

Antinori Pian Delle Vigne Vignaferrovia BdM Riserva 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Absorbing display of red fruits, spice, plum, orange peel zest and golden tobacco. Finely etched minerality. Long and focused. Not a shy personality.

Points 94+ TW


Argiano BdM 2017

Pale ruby red in colour. Racy personality. Red cherry, tar, liquorice, orange peel, candied mint nuances. Linear. Concentrated. Layered and balanced. Juicy. Acidity assists in giving an overall sense of freshness.

Points 92TW


Armilla BdM 2017

Pale ruby red in colour. Black cherry, blueberry cassis, sweet spice, menthol, faint aromatics of tree bark. Unfortunately has very little body and fades away abruptly at the close.

Points 87 TW

Banfi Poggio all’Oro BdM Riserva 2016

Ruby red in colour. Great fruits flavours in bold print vie with notes of Mocha, sweet pipe tobacco together with a waft of eucalyptus. Full of nuances and character. Silky textures wrap around solid core fruit. A liquid pleasure bomb!

Points 96TW

Banfi Vigna Marrucheto BdM 2017

Bright ruby red in colour. Red summer fruits lead warm rose petal notes, soft liquorice and tar. Bright. Savoury. Delicate. Showing freshness and energy.

Points 93TW

Barbi BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour.Red cherry, plum, blackberry, tobacco, dried herbs, balsamic notes. Soft integrated tannins vie with zesty acidity. Tart nuances keep the palate slightly dry but fresh. Broadens a little on the close.

Points 90 TW

Barbi BdM Riserva 2016

Bright ruby red in colour. Ripe red fruit of cherry and berry interplay with rose floral aromatics. Liquorice and eastern spice play their part. A wine of impact: it saturates the palate. Has plenty of poise and polish.

Points 95 TW

Barbi Vigne del Fiore BdM 2017

Medium ruby red in colour. A delicate mix of red berries and blur florals, Sicilian blood orange peel, spice box notes. The mid palate shows secondary nuances of warm blackberries and menthol notes. Caressing tannins knitted with saline infused structure uplift the palate. A persistent linear refined finish.

Points 94 TW

Bellaria BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Red cherry, red berries, pomegranate, underbrush, cake spice.

Forward and rounded. Little warmth showing leaving mid palate. A bit tense. That said shows suppleness and an ethereal quality.

Points 90 TW

Bellaria Assunto BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Black cherry, blackberry, raspberry cassis, mint. House style still showing aromatics of exotic woods. Pleasing progression with fine tannins and good balance.

Points 92 TW

Bellaria Assunto BdM Riserva 2016

Deep ruby red in colour. Black fruit, red berries, spice, hints of tobacco and clove.

Very tight, almost closed. Showing grippy tannins and tangy acidity. Locked in energy will eventually bust through, bringing a more balanced open style. Needs 4/5 years in cellar. Patience is the key.

Points 93-95 TW

Biondi Santi BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour. Super abundance of fruit. Intense showing of red and black wild berries, cherry, raspberry, blond tobacco, orange peel. Difficult to drawback from pulsating bouquet. Secondary nuances of dried sage mixed with exotic spice. Structure is powerful but quiet as a Tesla motor car. Caressing tannins. Bright and translucent.

Points 96-98 TW

Biondi Santi BdM Riserva 2015

Bright ruby red in colour. Black cherry, sweet warm blackberries floating on a bed of cassis. Pipe tobacco. Forest floor. Faint pink rose petal aromas and cedar notes. Utterly compelling. Elegant. A black hole of textural depth. Energy of a nuclear power station.

So precise, with ultra fine integrated tannins. Finish goes on a marathon.

Points 98+ TW

Campogiovanni BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Red cherry, wild Black Forest berries, Mocha, pipe tobacco, orange peel, black tea. Powerful yet refined. Juicy close.

Points 90 TW

Campogiovanni Il Quercione BdM Riserva 2016

Intense ruby red in colour. Raspberry, plum, red cherry, warm earth, white smoke. Showing opulence. Concentrated.Linear. Youthful tannins and zesty acidity will eventually settle. Needs time.

Points 92-94 TW

Canalicchio di Sopra BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Sour berries vie with candid citrus fruits. Aromatics of sweet perfumed florals and spice have you rolling from side to side. Silky soft textures perform aerobatics on the mid palate. Contains the ‘Big Bang” of energy at its core. Brunello 2017 vintage…I can’t believe it!!!

Points 96+ TW

Canalicchio di Sopra La Casaccia BdM 2017

Absorbing display of black cherry, blackberries, violet florals and menthol. Quickly followed by fresh juicy textured nuances of red berries and balsamic notes, leave you almost gasping for breath. Sweet notes then savoury ones bombard the senses on this hedonistic experience. Phenomenal length and balance.

Points 97 TW

Canalicchio di Sopra BdM Riserva 2016

Ruby red in colour with pale mauve undertones.

Jet propelled rush to the senses. Rich black fruits introduce dusky floral notes dipped in exotic spices. Liquorice, clove and mint nuances loiter around solid core of juicy fruit that saturates the mid palate. Completely seduces the imbiber. A trophy winner of a wine.

Points 99 TW



Capanna BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Red cherry, raspberry, wild strawberry, blood orange, dark coloured florals, underbrush. Forward tannins and razor sharp acidity prevails, good chance these will relax and balance given bottle age.

Points 91 TW

Capanna BdM Riserva 2016

Intense ruby red in colour. Succulent red fruit, liquorice, spice box, sage, orange peel.

Striking character. Brings together all the qualities of this vintage. Needs time to age.

Points 95 TW



Caparzo BdM 2017

Pale ruby red in colour. Red cherry, orange peel, menthol, sage, liquorice.

Soft entry broadens on the palate showing juicy sour acidity, that keeps the mouthfeel fresh and tingling. Not as laden as previous vintages, a lighter style prevails here. Good effort for this vintage.

Points 90 TW

Caparzo Vigne La Casa BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Red and black fruits. Damp forest floor, Mediterranean herbs and black tea. Savoury. Firm tannic grip. Has a saline infused energy. A little subdued.

Points 91 TW

Caparzo BdM Riserva 2016

Medium ruby red in colour. Red cherry, plum, blueberry, decadent dark floral aromatics.

Followed by slate, pipe tobacco, faint clove puffs. All confined in a web of tangy acidity, powdered tannins and a silky translucent structure. The open knit texture shows finesse I have not observed here before.

Points 94 TW

Carpineto BdM 2017

Bright ruby red in colour. Black fruits, blood orange, mentholated floral herbs, balsamic notes, white pepper. Silky soft, juicy, great texture. Broadens on the mid palate, Exotic. Articulated finish.

Points 94 TW

Carpineto BdM Riserva 2016

Deep garnet in colour. Red cherry, baked plum, blond pipe tobacco, clove, dried orange peel, spice box. Seams to come and go on the palate, maybe a little tight, shows great promise. Hard to read. Tense structure but well balanced.

Points 92-94+ TW

Casanova di Neri BdM 2017

Pale ruby red in colour. Cherry, strawberry, raspberry and spice. Dusty tannins. Zesty acidity. Fruit quality benefits from inclusion of Riserva 2017. Juicy and linear.

Points 91 TW

Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova BdM 2017

Bright ruby red in colour. Showing its pedigree from the start, soft black plums, raspberry, smoke, sweet tobacco, blue florals. Shows ripeness, mild structure and soft texture. Undertones of lavender and bitter liquorice. A little tight, needs a year or two bottle age.

Points 93 TW

Casisano BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour. Red berries, blue florals, dried herbs and spice introduce this smooth offering. It glides through the palate leaving a very gentle reminder of its presence.

Points 90 TW

Castello Tricerchi BdM 2017

Pale ruby in colour. Dried cherry, camphor, cedar, faint liquorice, burnt orange peel and blue florals. Juicy with a translucent structure. Poised. Lingers on the close

Points 92 TW

Castello Tricerchi AD1441 BdM 2017

Pale ruby red in colour. Red cherry, wild strawberry, dried earth, rose petal.

Smooth and rounded with an elegant body. Plush and silky. Minty freshness. Well within itself.

Points 93+ TW

Cava D’ Onice Colombaio 2017

Bright ruby red in colour. Wild strawberry, red cherry, iodine, underbrush, roast meat, mint and sage. Juicy delicate structure. Sour cherry notes on the back end.

Points 90 TW

Cava D’Onice Sensis BdM 2017

Ruby red in colour with pink undertones. Black cherry , crushed raspberry, dried Mediterranean herbs, clove, liquorice and orange peel. Lightly textured. Juicy. Medium bodied. Fresh. Long finish.

Points 92 TW

Cava D’Onice BdM Riserva 2016

Ruby red in colour. Black fruits, plums, blood orange, clove and liquorice notes.

Balanced pleasant progression with ultra fine tannins. Freshness that gives suppleness.

Back end shows nuances of sweet tobacco and purple floral notes. Long expressive close.

Points 95 TW

Col d’ Orcia BdM Riserva 2015

Bright ruby red in colour. Fresh red fruits, orange peel, aromatics of cedar wood. Faint spice notes. Dried floral underbrush. White smoke. A charming, traditional wine.

Points 95 TW

Col d’Orcia Vigna Nastagio BdM 2016

Ruby red in colour.Black cherry, blackberries, plum, pipe tobacco, sage.

Plenty of verve. Absorbing display of textural depth and balance. Persistent long finish.

Points 94 TW


Corte Pavone BdM 2017

Intense ruby red in colour. Hard to pull away from heady bouquet of savoury spices, crushed violets, liquorice, sweet tobacco and citrus infused menthol. Doesn’t follow through, yet retains a juicy fresh finish.

Points 91 TW

Corte Pavone Anemone al Sole BdM Riserva 2016

Red cherry, plum, orange peel, dried earth. Fine tannins. Zesty acidity. Showing alcohol warmth, feels as if was pushed too hard.

Points 90-92 TW

Corte Pavone Vigne Poggio Molino al Vento BdM Riserva 2016

Deep ruby red in colour. Black cherry, blackberry, camphor, dried herbs, salty liquorice.

Complex layered minerality. Very tight and youthful. Alcohol warmth prevails at present, this should subside with bottle age, leaving a more harmonious feel.

Points 92-94 TW