Finally Brunello 2021

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino is hosting Brunello week June 14-20. The theme is “Finally Brunello, The destiny of every bottle of Brunello di Montalcino is to wait for years”.

That refers to the fact that for Brunello’s according to the DOCG laws, the wines cannot be released for a minimum of 4 years for the regular bottling and 5 years for the Riserva. That means the wines from the outstanding 2016 vintage have recently been coming to the US market. And I suppose the “finally” was for the fact that they can begin having live tastings again.

For the Brunello week that means 40 restaurants and 2 clubs will be featuring special menus paired with wines from any of the 56 wineries that are participating in the Brunello week.

Prior to that week they hosted several webinars and events. On June 9th I was able to attend the Brunello Week Press Release Luncheon where we were served six wines from Montalcino paired with a three course lunch.

That lunch was held at Il Fiorista restaurant at 17 West 26th Street in Manhattan. This has to be one of the most unique restaurants in the City. Il Fiorista which means “The Florist” in English has a Florist theme with many plants and plant products that are on sale in the restaurant. They also use various locally sourced edible plants in their cooking. The lunch was excellent and went well with the wines that were served with them.

Four Rosso di Montalcino and two Brunello’s were served.

The Menu

Tagliatelli

Sun-gold tomatoes, tarragon, flowering arugula

Pork Belly

Cherry, farro, basil blosssoms

Sorbet

Blackberry, lap sang su chang (smoke-dried black tea)

The Wines

2016 Poggio Antica Brunello di Montalcino: Opaque dark red, closed nose at first then opened up with floral wood, petroleum and dark fruit notes, silky and juicy black leather fruit with bitter cherry on the finish.

2016 Cortenesi “La Mannella” Brunello di Montalcino: Opaque dark brick with floral green herbs and black leather on the nose, silky dark fruit and red licorice ending with silky tannins with excellent balance.

2019 Argiano Rosso di Montalcino: Dark purple with dusty, crushed red fruit on the nose, dusty tannins, black licorice and bitter cherry on the finish.

2019 Talenti Rosso di Montalcino: Opaque dark red, dusty crushed black fruit, green herbs on the nose, juicy red leather fruit, bitter cherry with a silky finish.

2019 Cortenesi “La Mannella” Rosso di Montalcino: Dark purple in color, tar, damp earth and floral violets on the nose with juicy red leather fruit and black licorice notes on the finish.

2019 Patrizia Cencioni Rosso di Montalcino: Clear medium red with tar and dried herbs on the nose, tight with crisp acids, a little unbalanced.

I.E.E.M. Chianti Classico Collection

On May 20 & 21st the I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management) held another of its series of tastings where they showcase a particular wine to wine professionals and look for importers/distributor for the wines. This time around it was the Chianti Classico Collection. They were wines from the Black Rooster (gallo nero) Chianti Classico DOCG in Tuscany.

There are seven subzones in the Chianti DOCG, Colli Arentini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colli Pisane, Rufina, Montespertoli and Montalano. Classico was a subzone but became its own DOCG in 1996.

This was a live tasting but modified for current conditions. You sat at a table and via smartphone would order 4 wines from their 200+ bottle list on hand and a Sommelier would come over and pour the wines.

It was a vertical tasting of the 2015-2019 vintages and all of the three quality tiers were represented including Gran Selezione, Riserva and the basic Classico. The formula for Chianti has changed in recent years and they are no longer required to use a small percentage of white grapes and they can now use foreign varietals such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In general, of the five vintages I would say that the 2016’s were showing well with the strongest concentration of fruit from the vintages. The 2019’s were for the most part still young and unbalanced, these are some of my highlights.

2015 Cantina Castelvecchi “Madonnino della Pieve” Gran Selezione: Opaque dark red, pretty perfume of sweet violets, tar and dried sage, silky fruit with firm tannins on the medium to long finish.

2015 Castello di Radda “Vigna il Corno”Gran Selezione: Clear medium brick, closed nose of toasted nuts with red cherry fruit and gritty, mouth coating tannins at the end.

2015 Piemaggio “Le Fioraie”: Riserva: Clear light red, red licorice, mint and violets on the nose, earth notes on the bright fruit, firm finish.

2015 Castello di Raddo Riserva: Light brick, closed nose of cooked vegetables, juicy black licorice fruit ending with a firm and balanced long finish.

2015 Istine “Levigne” Riserva: Clear light red, closed nose of dried herbs, bright red fruit with slate and toast notes, ending with firm tannins.

2016 Agricoltori del Chianti “Contessa di Radda” Riserva: Opaque dark red with a purple rim with crushed red fruit on the nose, juicy with toasty notes on the fruit.

2016 Castello di Verrazzano Riserva: Clear dark brick in color, sweet violets and dried herbs on the nose, dusty earth on the fruit with firm tannins.

2016 Canoica a Cerreto Riserva: Clear medium red with dried leaf on the nose, tight with mouth coating tannins.

2016 Agricoltori del Chianti “Montegiachi” Riserva: Clear dark red, perfume of violets and roasted meat, concentrate dark fruit with slate notes, nice balance with dried herbs on the long finish.

2016 Castello di Radda Riserva: Clear medium red, tar, roasted nuts and camphor on the nose, juicy fruit with silky tannins, nice balance.

2017 Banfi Riserva: Opaque medium brick, pretty sweet nose, starts out with juicy fruit that drops at the end with black licorice notes.

2017 Brancaia Riserva: Clear medium red with roasted nuts on the nose, firm red fruit and a balanced finish.

2018 Badia & Coltibuono Classico: Clear light brick, pencil shavings and forest floor on the nose, delicate and light bodied.

2018 Pasolini dall’Onda “Sicelle” Classico: Clear medium red with toasted notes on the nose with silky fruit and a nice a nice balance.

2018 Castello di Radda Classico: Clear medium red, pretty nose of violets, tar, graphite with moderate to light fruit and light tannins at the end.

2019 Marchese Antinori “Peppoli” Classico: Clear light red with dried herbs on the nose, bright fruit.

2019 Felsina “Beradenga” Chianti Classico: Clear light red, bacon fat and roasted nuts on the nose, bright fruit with silky tannins.

2017 Y. Rousseau Single Vineyard Tannat

This wine is not something you see coming out of California very often, a wine from the Tannat grape varietal. The grape is native to the French Basque region in the southwest part of the country and grown in Gascony in the Madiran AOC.

It’s been grown in California for over a hundred year used primarily as a blending grape to beef up wines. It’s gotten a foot hold in Paso Robles but this version is grown in the tiny Clarksburg AVA which is West of Napa Valley and about an hours drive North of Lodi.

Yannick Rousseau, a French native born in Gascony is the owner/winemaker.

2017 Y. Rousseau Tannat, Clarksburg, California

A blend of 90% Tannat and 10% Syrah. Opaque dark purple to black with crushed blueberries, menthol and sage on the nose, juicy black fruit finishing with dark citrus notes, mouth coating tannins and moderate acidity.

McCall Winery

McCall Wines 22600 Main Road, Cutchogue

McCall began producing wine in 2007. A couple of unique things about this winery are that they have 11 acres of Pinot Noir planted which is one of the biggest Pinot Noir vineyards on the East coast and that in addition to growing grapes, they also are a cattle ranch raising grass-fed Charolais cattle, which is an historic breed from France.

The tasting room is in a rustic former potato barn not too far from the huge wine turbine they have on property.

2016 Chardonnay “Reserve”

Dark gold in color with an aromatic nose of tropical fruits, big bodied with honey, melon, pineapple and mouth filling glycerin on the finish with some nice acidity at the end. Starting to show its age but still very drinkable in an old school California full bodied style.

2016 Cabernet Franc

Clear medium brick in color with an amber rim, black cherry and sweet spice on the nose with tar, leather and black fruit ending with some tart notes on the finish.

Brisket King 2021

On April 21st I attended the 9th edition of Brisket King NYC. It was another food event presented by Jimmy Carbone and Food Karma Project which are responsible for many fun foodie events including Pig Island, Pozole & Mezcal and CiderFeast.

The event was held at Pig Beach, a BBQ restaurant located at 480 Union Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn with an outdoor patio overlooking the beautiful Gowanus canal.

This BBQ event focused not surprisingly, on Brisket which is one of the least tender cuts of beef. That means low and slow is the way to go.

All the pitmasters had their own proprietary spice rub that they used on their Brisket. A couple of interesting outliers were a “Jewish Style” brisket stew and a brisket sandwich made with donuts instead of bread. Surprisingly it worked well since the sweetness of the donuts paired well with the rich fattiness of the brisket.

On this chilly Spring afternoon, storm clouds looked like they might pour down rain on the outdoor event but the BBQ gods smiled down upon us and the event went on rain free with plenty of people enjoying food, drink and good company.

Participants

Avellino Family BBQCentral City BBQ
Blue SmokeChef Jesse Concepts
Carlitos TacosFriends of Firefighters
Juicy Lucy BBQHill Country BBQ
PulkiesSmokehouse Tailgate Grill

Beer & Cider

Bronx BreweryIndian Ladder Farms
Austin EastcidersRomily

Spirits

Knob CreakJim Beam
LaphroaigOld Overholt
Bowmore

2018 Decoy Pinot Noir LTD Sonoma Coast

Decoy wines are part of the extensive Duckhorn Vineyards portfolio which includes the Paraduxx, Canvasback, Migration, Calera and Goldeneye brands.

This Pinot Noir was made with grapes from the Russian River Valley, Green Valley and Carneros AVA’s.

2018 Decoy Pinot Noir LTD

Clear, bright red in color, floral, tobacco and wood notes on the nose with bright red fruit, cherry, cola, some earth notes and firm acids on the finish. Nothing flawed about the wine but it’s a little one dimensional.

Clovis Point Winery

Clovis Point Winery 1935 Main Road, Jamesport

Clovis Point Winery is one of the 3rd tier wineries that were opened after the start of the new millennium with about 10 acres of vines planted

They’re an under the radar winery making some very nice wines and on a sunny weekday afternoon, I stopped in to their barn tasting room overlooking the vineyards and sampled of couple of those wines.

2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Medium gold with lime and melon on the nose, medium fruit with citrus, spice, grassy notes and nice acidity on the finish. Nicely balanced.

2016 Merlot: 85% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Syrah, 2% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot.

Opaque dark red with a purple rim, dusty plum, dark chocolate and black cherry on the nose, medium juicy fruit with dark chocolate notes on the finish, great balance with a long finish.

2016 Acacia Vineyards Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Now that the weather is warming up it’s almost Rosé season but in the meantime I’ll start with lighter bodied reds which often mean some Pinot Noir.

Acacia is a winery in the Carneros district of Sonoma county in California which bottle vineyard designated Pinot Noir.

2016 Acacia Pinot Noir Thornton Vineyard

Clear medium to light red in color, warm black plum, tree bark and red cherry on the nose, red leather, black cherry and cola notes on the silky red fruit with a nicely balanced, long spicy finish. Really nice, enjoyable glass of wine.

Maremma Toscana

 

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On March 15th the I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management), a Miami based agency that organizes, markets and manages events held a press release/seminar for wines from the Maremma region of Italy, “From the Mountains to the Sea…A Pristine Land: The Tuscan Maremma”. The event was for members of the restaurant trade and they held a sit-down tasting of eleven wines followed by a walk around tasting of about thirty more wines. The I.E.E.M. held  this type of event last October at the same venue, Il Gattopardo restaurant at 15 West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan. 

The Maremma district is in Tuscany, Italy along the coast, west of the more famous Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wine districts. In a country with vineyards planted for hundreds of years, the Maremma is a relatively new wine district since for most of its history the area was swampy. Those swamps were drained in the early 20th century.

Some famous Super Tuscans such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia are produced in the Maremma but this tasting was to showcase and focus on the smaller, lesser well know producers looking for exposure and importers and to showcase the local grape varieties such as Ciliegiolo and Alicante. 

 

These were the wines served at the sit-down tasting:

2019 Argentaia “Le Papese” Rosato: A Rosé from 100% Sangiovese. Clear light copper, cantaloupe on the nose, melony finish with mouth watering acids. 

2019 Sassotondo: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark purple, cedar and crushed red berries on the nose, dusty, metal shaving notes on the fruit with tight tannins and acids on the finish. 

2019 Sequerciani: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark purple, sweet nose of tar, fresh herbs and olives with juicy, dusty, tart cherry fruit. 

2018 Cantina “I Vini Di Maremma” Alberese: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark purple to black, closed nose of pixie stix and green herbs, moderate juicy fruit, nice balance with olives , herbs and silky tannins on the moderate to long finish. 

2018 I Cavallini: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark red, tar, leather and wet earth on the nose, moderate bright fruit with very tart cherry on the finish. 

2016 Cantina LaSelva: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark red with some garnet on the rim, tar and leather notes on the nose, juicy with mouth coating tannins and tart cherry. 

2015 Sassotondo “San Lorenzo”: 100% Ciliegiolo, Pitigliano single vineyard. Opaque black with a purple rim, black olives and red leather on the nose, slate notes on the fruit with mouth coating tannins. 

2016 I Cavallini: 100% Alicante. Dark garnet, green herbs and black olives on the nose, moderate fruit with silky, firm tannins and tart earth notes on the finish.

2016 Fattoria Mantellassi “Querciola”: 100% Alicante. Opaque black with sweet spice on the nose, medium juicy fruit followed by firm, gritty tannins and low acids.  

2017 Cantina “I Vini Di Maremma” Territorio: 100% Sangiovese. Opaque dark red with some earth notes on the nose, light fruit with cooked fruit notes on the finish with mouth filling tannins. 

2018 Le Sode Di Sant’Angelo “Sassi Dautore”: 85% Sangiovese, 15% Alicante. Opaque dark red to black, closed nose of crushed rocks. tight with slate notes on the fruit, firm acids. 

 

 

 

2016 Cordella Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany

 

 

Rosso di Montalcino is the “junior” version of Brunello di Montalcino. They both come from the same area in Tuscany, and are made with 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The big difference is that Rosso has a bit more leeway in where the grapes are planted and the aging that’s required before being released. Brunello has a minimum of 4 years aging (5 years for Riservas ) before being released while Rosso needs only to age for 1 year before release. This gives the winemakers an opportunity to have some cash come in while the Brunello’s are aging.  

 

2016 Cordella Rosso di Montalcino

Clear red with an amber rim with tar, black pepper and tobacco on the nose, chewy and firm red fruit with bitter cherry on the long finish. Was getting a metallic aftertaste on the finish.