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.

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.

Maremma Toscana

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.  

 

 

2017 Ridge Vineyards Petite Sirah Lytton Springs

 

 

Petite Sirah is the new world name for the Durif grape which was developed in France in the mid 1800’s. It’s a cross pollination of the Syrah and Peloursin grape varietals. 

It’s relatively rare varietal with less than 10,000 planted acres in the world with the majority in California. 

It was brought into California in the early 20th century and became a workhorse grape with winemakers adding it to a blend to beef up the wine. 

Ridge Vineyards is know for their Zinfandel (and a good Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon as well) which are often blended with Rhone varietals . This wine is from their Lytton Springs vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County.  The oldest vines in the vineyard date back to 1901.

 

2017 Lytton Springs Petite Sirah

Opaque dark purple with a purple rim, dill pickle, bacon fat and slate notes on the nose, concentrated meaty black fruit, chalky tannins on the peppery, balanced finish. Very enjoyable glass of wine.  

 

 

 

2016 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley

 

 

Beringer Vineyards is an iconic winery in Napa Valley with a 144 year history.

They produce a wide range of wines from basic bottlings to high-end single vineyard and reserve wines.

This one comes from the Knights Valley appellation which is located in North-East Sonoma County.

 

2016 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petite Verdot. 

Opaque dark red with a purple rim, with roast meat, metal shavings, tobacco and red licorice on the nose, thick with black silky fruit with mint notes on the nicely balanced finish. 

 

 

2017 Peachy Canyon Zinfandel Westside Paso Robles

 

 

I’ve been to the Paso Robles wine region and I had visited this winery when I was there. This is their flagship wine and the fruit was sourced from multiple vineyards on the West side of Paso Robles. Highway 46 bisects the wine region with the hilly Westside of the highway and the flat as a pancake Eastside of the highway.

The Paso Robles wine region is about the same drive time time (4 hours) either going North from Los Angeles or South from San Francisco.  This is a laid back wine region with many interesting wineries pouring some nice juice. It is a hot wine region, when I visited in October the temperature got up to 100°!  

 

2017 Zinfandel “Westside”

A blend of 77% Zinfandel, 8% Primativo, 8% Alicante Bouchet and 7% Petite Sirah. Clear medium red, nose of ripe plums, red cherry and black  pepper, jammy red fruit with bitter cherry and dark chocolate on the long finish with just enough acidity to make it interesting. 

 

 

2018 Belles Grives Beaujolais Morgon

 

 

Beaujolais is the southernmost district in Burgundy. While Pinot Noir is king in most of Burgundy, here the Gamay grape is the primary red varietal. In the hierarchy of Beaujolais the Crus are at the top of the quality pyramid. There are ten: Julienas, Chenas, Moulin-A-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Cote de Brouilly and Brouilly. I think that the Cru Beaujolais are underated wines with a good price to quality ratio.

 

2018 Belles Grives Beaujolais “Morgon

Clear medium red, dusty red fruit and cherry candy on the nose, juicy with green herb notes on the fruit, tightens at the end with silky tannins. Feeling some heat at 14.5%.

 

 

2016 Felsina Winery Chianti Classico Riserva “Berardenga” Tuscany

 

 

Felsina is a thousand year old estate in the hills of Tuscany. The estate was bought in 1966 and turned into the present winery.

As a Riserva, the DOCG rules mandates that it must be aged a minimum of two years in barrel and three months in bottle before release.  

The Berardenga is one of several Chianti this estate produces from the Classico district. In addition to Classico, there are also seven sub-districts in Chianti; Arentini, Fiorentini, Senesi, Pisane, Montalbano, Montespertoli and Rufina. 

 

2016 Chianti Classico Riserva Berardenga

100% Sangiovese. Clear, medium red in color, classic nose of sweet violets, graphite, tar and leather, silky, tight tannins with some wood notes, firm acidity. Still hard edged at this point, needs some more time in the bottle.