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Benvenuto Brunello 2023

There seems to be no stopping the rise of Brunello di Montalcino.

The numbers speak volumes as to the popularity of this denomination. In value terms BdM grew over 20% during 2022, sales increased by 6%. In fact, I cannot think of another wine area of a similar size anywhere in Italy that can compare with the phenomenal commercial success of Montalcino in Tuscany.

Just over 3,500 hectares of BdM vineyards covering 2100 hectares, plus 500 hectares devoted to Rosso di Montalcino producing on average a total of 9.5 million bottles annually, which return 250 million Euro in revenue. During the first 9 months of 2022, 7 million bottles were sold.

The latest release of this spectacular denomination is BdM 2018, which include Riserva 2017 and Rosso 2021.

Firstly, the weather pattern in 2018 was completely different from 2017.

In 2017 drought and way above average temperatures occurred. In 2018, practically the opposite took place: mid March light snow fall with temperatures of minus 10 C and a high of 15C. Bud break in April. Flowering started the final days of May, mainly due to high humidity collected in the soil. From May to the beginning of July, low temperatures, high humidity and practically non stop rain. Veraison (change of colour of grape berries) had a slow beginning around the second half of July. The work in the vineyards to refrain the possible onslaught of any number of woes must have been a constant concern.

At this stage the vintage was reminiscent of 2014 (the second worst vintage this millennium, the other being 2002). But then Mother Nature took pity on the vines and nearly all of July and August saw great weather patterns almost to the end of September. The single most important factor was the nightly temperatures drastically lower than the daily ones.

The net result was mid to high weight berries. The rains returned at the end of September and winemakers had to decide wether to harvest or wait it out: harvest early, and they could have not fully ripe fruit; harvest late and they risked the chance of over ripe fruit!