I took some heat last week for my less than glowing review of Brunello di Montalcino. While those wines were attractive, if you’re suggesting to people that they spend money on wines from Montalcino this year, my money is on the Rossos. I’m here to try and present the value proposition to readers. Sure values come in shapes and sizes, may they are not often as clear cut as the distinction between Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. I went into some detail in last week’s article, but suffice it to say that great vintage Rosso has, for my palate, so much going on that I prefer it to many vintages of Brunello.
The notes that followed were taken during the walk around tasting part of Benvenuto Brunello in NYC this past month. There are pros and cons to this sort of an event. Too many wines and not enough time to get a read in great detail on the wines chief among the cons. But one great pro does stick out. You can easily find the outliers in a tasting like this. This is where many people feel that the bigger is better style of winemaking had it origin. A bigger wine will stick out on a day like this, impressing with it’s power and richness. If you’re into that.
At the same time, a wine of uncommon finesse or complexity will also stick out, so I think one tends to see outliers of all stripes at a tasting like this. And you can get excited about those that ring out bell, and easily point people to other styles that have their own audience. So yes, you could say that an outlier of sorts ‘wins’ on a day like this, but ultimately that is what we all are looking for. The wines with more. Whether that is richness, elegance, complexity, or funky flavors and aromas is ultimately your personal decision. Tasting a heck of a lot wine just makes them easier to see.
So the standouts were obvious to me. Overwhelmingly from the very impressive 2012 vintage, they all captured the essence of both the time and the place With varying degrees of power, but mostly elegance and clarity that delivered rich fruit and subtle herbal, mineral and floral aromas with enough power and tension in the mouth to reward 3 to 5 years of ageing. A point that is often lost on drinkers of Rossos. Yes these are the easy going interpretations of the Brunello clone, but it’s a clone that imbues a certain richness and power into even light hearted expressions. That is why I love it, and in particular these wines. A vintage like 2012 makes me look forward to the Brunellos of 212, and while I wait i am more than happy to wait with these Rossos.
As far as pricing goes, these wines have generally settled in to the $20 to $30 range. Certainly not inexpensive, and pushing the limits of value in some cases, though the top wines here do offer compelling value, especially since most of my top wines are priced towards the lower end of the range. You can certainly find attractive wines for less, but if you want a glimpse into Montalcino, what makes the wines special and so attractive, there is no better place for value than with these Rossos.
As this was a trade tasting, and in keeping with the purpose of the day, many of these wines have yet to reach retail channels. In addition several producers are between importers, showing their wines in the hopes that someone might pick them p. As a result there are quite a few wines without prices here. I apologize for that but I would rather omit a price than post one that is misleading.
Bretty with aromas of leather, and gamy animal scents. It’s off-putting for some but complex and intense, with aromas of beet root and medicinal herbs. Big, powerful and packed with tannin this is a rich, deeply flavored and extracted Rosso with impressive complexity on the palate and impressive detail. Long, chewy and admittedly fabulous this needs some time in the cellar to reach its peak. Give it 2 to 4 years. lots of tannin, rich and deep with impressive complexity, lovely detail, big dry extract, powerful and long and fabulous. 92pts
Hard on the nose with tight aromas of something mineral and vaguely earthy with lovely medicinal herb and rusty soil tones over some cranberry fruit. This is gorgeous on entry, with rich flavors of rhubarb, raspberry, mineral and a hint of dried herb that all come together perfectly and remain well supported by soft tannins and finely integrated acids through the long, juicy sour cherry pie and mossy herb tinged finish. 91pts
Tight on the nose, and floral in an earthy way. Clear and fresh on the palate with an attractive purity to the with rich flavors of tart red fruits, all underpinned with bright acids and small raw tannins, so fresh and bright. There’s a nice mineral streak on the back end that drives through the long, tenacious finish. A bit small scaled and certainly lacking the richness of some of these wines this has amazing energy and vibrancy. 91pts
Lipstick, earthy and mineral aromas greet the nose followed by the faint sweetness of a range of fresh, herbal aromas. This is complex and perfumed with, rhubarb and beetroot laid over ripe berry fruit. Rich with fruit and great energy in the mouth, this shows off bright lingonberry, cherry, wild raspberry flavors that gain a fine mineral note on the back end, turning earthier and with hints of tobacco on the long finish. Everything is in place. This is just lovely with richness and balance. 91pts
Floral, absolute perfumy and tense with fine raspberry fruit,mineral tones and vaguely herbal aromas. All this detail and complexity comes through on the palate as well. Rich and tense, there’s a lovely core of lovely red fruit, cherries and spice, her with with great acids and fine, angular tannins that are rough but not dry. Classic tannins that really linger on the long finish. 91pts
Sweet and floral on the nose, with a blend of sweet and smoky newer wood and austere old wood tones. Fairly ripe on entry, this is smooth and polished with nice poise, lending finesse to the late arriving tart red fruits, mineral and herb flavors. Decidedly zesty and red fruited, this pulls of the neat trick of being modern and yet typical. 90pts
Taut, lean and minerally on the nose, turning very floral and feminine with just a bit of air. This is lovely in the mouth, elegant and fresh with lovely purity and clarity to the sweet tart red fruits. Featuring well judged tannins and supportive acids, this finishes with purity and good length in a cranberry fruited vein. Superbly drinkable. 90pts
Smoky, earthy and laced with sour cherry fruit on the nose with hints of rosemary and coriander. On entry this is nice and bright, juicy and transparent with gentle hints of spice and flowers framing the core of raspberry and almost watermelon fruit. Everything is underpinned with fine ripe tannins that add length to the impressive finish. 90pts
Deep and ripe and quite aromatic on the nose with wild cherry, tree bark, leather and beetroot all coming together with a hint of jamminess. With impressive energy and cut on the palate, this opens with really clear flavors of strawberry and cherry fruit that gain power on the palate but remain well defined. Nice ripe tannins and juicy acids bring everything together nicely. Perhaps a touch simple today but I can’t imagine this not improving. 90pts
Liquory and deep on the nose, though it lacks a little lift but what is here is lovely, very Sangiovese in a dark, earthy vein. Voluptuous and rich on entry, there are some charry overtones here and some cocoa accents from time in wood but there’s also a gently softened and rounded palate impression with nice depth of flavor and good length on the finish. This lacks a little bit of detail but is really quite attractive. 90pts
A bit stinky on the nose, earthy, with lots of macerated herb and Chinato like aromas. This is a big wine, rich with earthy fruit accented with attractive minerality and textural verve.It’s a bit chunky but offers up lovely big cherry raspberry fruit with good austerity and length on the finish. perhaps inelegant today but baby Brunello all the way. 89pts
Dark with earthy, floral and powerful black fruit aromas framed with a hint of pencil lead. This is intense, smooth, polished, and focused. It’s a mouth filling wine, jammy and rich with dark cherry fruit, nice herbal and floral accents, all wrapping up with a big fruity finish. A very generous and modern styled wine. 89pts
Lovely aromatics all floral and red fruit driven with sour accents and a light milk chocolate edge. Bright, sapid and focused in the mouth with mineral edged sour cherry and wild raspberry fruit supported by modest yet austere tannins and decent acids. This all comes together nicely on the modest finish, small scaled but beautifully done. 89pts
Funky on the nose, and stemmy, and savory in a barn kind of way with hint of black tea. Rich in the mouth and chewy with tannins. This is rustic but exuberantly so, with gorgeous earthy fruit, bright acids, and soft flannelly tannins blending richness and tension in the mouth and through the moderately long finish. 89pts
Deep macerated herb, wild berry, and mossy aromas slowly emerge on this gently perfumed nose. Smooth and rich in the mouth and packed with fine tannin and good acids, there’s lovely depth to the fresh and slightly austere fruit here. A bit rich, dark and earthy but with good energy in the mouth this finishes with sour cherry and fine earth notes. 89pts
A bit leafy on the nose floral with hints of oak, camphor, and something a little shiny. Bright fruit, blackberry and nice creamy cherry fills the mouth along with lots of herb and gentle mineral details. This has good acids and soft tannins in a rich and pretty powerful style that finishes on the short side. lovely fruit but the texture is a bit creamy at this stage of the game. Give it two years. 88pts
Leathery on the nose with complex aromas of camphor and fennel. Round, fruity yet taut on the palate with big fresh red fruit, wild cherry and earthy spice flavors. This has focus and depth with very attractive ripeness and a refreshing counterpoint of austerity on the moderately long finish. 88pts
Heady scents of incense and candle wax greet the nose followed by slightly floral, reticent aromas. This is a bit tough on entry, firm and nicely tannic in the mouth with incisive mineral accents to the sliced cherry and earthy fruit. Today it comes off as a bit foursquare but entirely agreeable with attractive minerality. Very well balanced and fairly perfumed on the finish, I’d look for this to improve. 88pts
Fruity and slightly exotic on the nose with hints of pomegranate and liquory black cherries. Smooth, rich and polished in the mouth with lots of blackberry and black cherry fruit streaked with herbal and astringent red fruit notes. This is pretty creamy, if powerful with an abundance of soft tannins that clip the finish.Creamy and powerful on the modest finish, 88pts
Lots of sweet cherry fruit greets the nose along with hints of leather and espresso. Quite rich with cherry fruit early on the palate this seems quite rich at first then strong acids kick in lending a mineral cast to the palate and driving the long, vibrant and modestly complex finish. 87pts
Macerated herbs greet the nose along with hints of dried pork sausage. Also very herb tinged in the moth, though with lots of tart austere red fruits along with a bit of licorice. There’s a creamy edge to the red cherry fruit, covering soft acids and tannins that are present and a little spiky with some spice on the backend leading to a short finish dominated by small red fruits. A bit chunky in texture. 87pts
Floral on the nose with a lovely array of red spices, crushed flowers and almost peppery spice notes over dried beef and leather tones. This is a touch soft on entry but with admirably pure flavor of wild berry fruits, a little watermelon rind, and a touch of white pepper adding some detail. Good acids drive the modest finish, but the tannins here leave this a bit too supple in the mouth and while the aromas and flavors are attractive the texture is a bit nondescript. 87pts
Very complex on the nose with just a hint of mushroom and forest floor accenting the core of wild cherry in alcohol fruit. On entry this shows a snap of cranberry, slightly jammy and high toned and slightly peppery. Fairly large scaled this is a bit chewy in the mouth with lots of fruit but after the nose it comes off as a bit simple. Friendly and approachable. 87pts
Veneer greets the nose. this smells shiny with some vanilla and wood spice framing a core of fresh, dark berry fruit. Smooth, rich, and fairly powerful in the mouth this is made in a chunky, ripe style that features soft tannins and modest acidity to keeps this rather plump. On the finish there’s a nice violet note but then this turns raw and a bit sticky. 87pts
Spicy and leathery on the nose with complex floral and wood accent notes. this is very floral in fact, and very austere on entry with an initial burst of tart red fruit settling into a slightly cocoa spiced, and round mid-palate groove that fades into a moderately long finish. The nose is really lovely here but in the mouth his lacks some intensity. 87pts
Tight on the nose. This is really reticent with light herbal base notes accenting a hint of cherry fruit. Surprisingly polished on entry with nice density in the mouth and modest mineral tinged flavors of jammy cranberry and orange rind leading to a fruity, modest finish with an attractive hint of blackberry. This might come together nicely. 87pts
Earthy with old wood richness complemented by mineral and savory complexity. Rather smooth and polished in the mouth, though with lovely transparency and a fine blend of savory and cherry fruit supported by soft acids, with nice slightly austere finish that shows a gentle hint of sweetness. 87pts
Perfumy and floral on the nose with a well defined base of rust and limestone supporting astringent red fruits. rusty, limestone. This lacks some detail up front, a little lumpy on entry before showing some nice rusty, cranberry fruit. there’s good length here, and a nice pop of fruit on the finish but this is definitely more about finesse than fruit. 87pts
Savory on the nose with smoky aromas of old wood, rhubarb and beet root. Very complex on entry, smooth and fairly rich, with some chewiness still here. There’s good detail to the slightly meaty and peppery herb framed fruit that wraps up in a short finish with a bit of wood tannin sticking out on the back end. 86pts
Leathery, earthy smoky, and deep on the nose with impressive complexity and lovely floral tones over dark berry fruit. Decidedly less interesting on the palate. In a ripe plump but simple with soft tannins and acids, and a modest, austere finish. Bonus points for the nose. 86pts
Smoky on the nose with aromas of stemmy herbs, minerals, and austere red fruits. Rather friendly in the mouth with a ripe, round texture and lingonberry fruit supported by polished tannins and juicy acids. there’s some savory accent notes here, along with a bit of a chunky mouthfeel as well. 86pts
Bright, floral and red fruited on the very pretty nose. In the mouth this is slightly round and easy in the with soft tannins and acidity. Nicely put together for immediate consumption, with nice red fruits and a modest finish that shows a hint of spice. 85pts
A little spicy with rusty red fruit, cranberries on nose. In the mouth this is a little jammy with a touch of wood ripe, and yet a little lean with mineral flavors and a touch of a creamy texture. This has an odd blend of textures, chunky and juicy. Sort of an under-ripe/over-ripe thing going on on the palate. 85pts
Reticent on the nose with suggestions of spice and tobacco. fairly soft in the mouth with modest intensity, thi is not making much of an impression. It’s fairly tannic for its size, showing some light, creamy cherry fruit on the palate in a simple and easy style. 83pts
Source: Snooth – Articles