“Which is the best Brunello di Montalcino?” Is a reoccurring question posed to me.
Of course there is no answer to that question.
On the other hand, if I was asked “which is the most consistent Brunello di Montalcino in terms of quality?” That would limit the answer to a handful of responses.
Brunello di Montalcino comes in many styles. International and traditional being the two foremost choices.
Generally speaking, the international style BdM is aged in barriques of 225 Lt and tonneaux 500-1000 Lt, which promote stronger aromatics and wood nuances, whilst adding structure. This style exudes black fruits, cherry and berries, vanilla and oak notes, a more rounder, friendly wine showing appeal, balance, agility and freshness.
The traditional version BdM is aged in much larger wooden “Botti” over 1000 Lt, where the contact with wood is less, allowing more emphasis on the fruit notes to develop.
In this approach we are likely to find: blue florals such as violet, lavender and hyacinth, balsam nuances such as menthol, liquorice and eucalyptus, harsher tannins and acidity, built for long cellar life.
It is very important to understand the complexities in making great wine the degree of alterations and attention in the cellar are paramount, so please consider the general descriptions given for the two obvious styles are not "cast in stone."
Wineries are constantly experimenting: some use barrels made from oak from different parts of the globe; many use concrete vats, some adopt stainless steel vats, others use clay amphoras of various shapes and sizes. Some even try glass containers for the fermentation process.
For the purpose of this article, I am less interested in how we arrived and more to what we have on arrival. My objective is to appraise the wine in the glass impartially, irrespective of method choices or my own personal preference.
Here are four Brunello di Montalcino wineries which in my opinion, are the most consistent in quality, style and pure drinking joy to be found among the many extraordinary Brunello di Montalcino wines produced today…
Biondi Santi BdM 2017
Bright ruby red in colour. Complex aromatics of red and black berries, spice, and florals of pale blue tones and dried rose petal. Warm entry, massive tannin structure that conveys textural depth, harmony and longevity. Already in step with its acidic counter balance. Mineral salts contribute to the rich organoleptic framework, working closely with vivid fresh acidity, bringing an inner energy to the wine. Still in its infancy, needs 3/5 years, then will commence its long journey lasting decades. The close brings together its finer attributes, namely power, finesse and elegance.
Points 97 TW
Biondi Santi BdM Riserva 2016
Intense ruby red in colour. I tasted this wine on three separate occasions over a twenty four hour time span. Apart from a lifted aromatic profile of red fruits and dried florals of rose petal and distant violet, which were present in decreasing degrees throughout the multiple tastings, I could have written three differing tasting notes about this wine.
Agile, playful, elusive, persistent, compelling, elegant, poised, bright, translucent were a mere sample of descriptions that came to mind.
Finally I decided on; deep textural presence, youthful with tense tannins, plump and juicy, generous, superb intensity, showing clarity and precision. Slightly savoury with an earthy undertone. With the energy of a Formula One engine!
If this wine were an actor…hand over the Oscar! So many faces, so many characters.
The close? Hauntingly long and broad.
Points 98/100 TW
Canalicchio di Sopra
Canalicchio di Sopra BdM 2018
Medium ruby red in colour. White cherry, wild strawberry, goji berries, dry floral underbrush, a dusting of exotic spice, salty liquorice and a hint of cedar balm. Focused. Balanced. Precise. Finely etched minerality. Very persistent intense finish.
Points 95 TW
Canalicchio di Sopra Vigna Montosoli BdM 2018
Medium ruby red in colour. A mixture of dark blue florals and spicy herbs invites the imbiber to this new and futuristic voyage of discovery, this being the first vintage of this new Cru. Bing cherry, dewberry, spiced orange peel. Caressing tannins interplay with citrus infused acidity. A charming and pretty wine. Full of youthful intensity and promise. Balanced like a ballerina. An abyss of textural depth. Winemaking at its zenith.
Points 98 TW
Canalicchio di Sopra Vigna La Casaccia BdM 2018
Ruby red in colour. Wild meadow florals and violet awaken the senses. Wild black berries, boysenberry, dark plum and blackberry assisted by refreshing acidity and rounded tannins lift the palate to experience the layered intensity and textural resonance. The sheer appeal of this wine is mind blowing. Balance and energy are a given…
Points 97 TW
Casanova di Neri
Casanova di Neri BdM 40th Anniversary 2018 (White Label)
Bright ruby red in colour. Aromas of violet and hyacinth florals. Red cherry, dewberry, plum, blonde tobacco, balsam notes, slight citrusy character. Approachable, expansive and balanced. Medium length at close.
Points 94 TW
Casanova di Neri BdM Tenuta Nuova 2018
Intense ruby red in colour. Dazzles from the start. A mixture of black berries, plum, orange peel and pomegranate notes. Fine and compact tannins vie with refreshing acidity. This silky red delivers beautifully. Delicate and yet showing energy. Primary flavours abound. Articulated close.
Points 96 TW
Casanova di Neri BdM Giovanni Neri 2018
Ruby red in colour. Bing cherry, loganberry, dark plum, blueberry, dried orange peel. Ultra fine tannins, vivid acidity, elegant body, showing freshness and energy. A wine of impact. Gives layers of pleasure. Agile and juicy. Very persistent finish with intensity.
Points 95/97 TW
Il Marroneto BdM 2018
Medium ruby red in colour. Old English red rose petal and gardenia perform the aromatic introduction. Fresh, ripe black berries vie with other dark fruit, underbrush, orange peel and cedar notes. Purity of flavours is compelling. Vibrancy is tangible. Layered acidity carries the mid palate allowing observation of structure and energy. Broad intensity to the close.
Points 96 TW
Il Marroneto Madonna delle Grazie BdM 2018
Intense bright ruby red in colour. Lifted floral aromas of rose petal, violet and bluebell.
Black cherry, dewberry, pomegranate, plum, redcurrant, grilled rosemary, marjoram and oregano play their part. Nuances of fruit loiter on the palate. Silky textures endure from start to finish weaving in and out of spectacular fresh vivid acidity. Perfect symmetry. A liquid pleasure bomb!
Points 98 TW
My sincere thanks to the above wineries for sending me their wines to review.
© Tony Wood Italian Wine 2023