Some of our friends were just coming back from Italy so we chose a Brunello di Montalcino theme for our January meeting. We tasted blind 6 different wines of this appellation from the 1996, 1997 and 1999 vintages.
Characteristics of the appellation
Brunello di Montalcino is made only from Brunello, a local name for a clone of the Sangiovese grape, also known as Sangiovese Grosso.
Sangiovese is the red varietal the most planted in Italy. It is an ancient varietal as the latin origin of its name ("blood of Jove") suggests, probably already known by the Etruscans. It is a slow and late ripering varietal that can be acidic and high in tannins in cool years.
Montalcino is a beautiful small town about twenty five miles from Siena, situated on a hill covered with olive trees and vineyards. The area enjoys a warm and dry climate and this combined with rocky and poor soils, results in a usually more concentrated and riper version of Sangiovese than in the rest of Toscany.
The blind tasting
Overall, we found these wines to be very similar with delicate noses, medium-bodied palate and firm acidity and tannins, especially for the younger ones. They should not be drunk with spicy food but with typical Italian fare like polenta or risotto. There was not a clear winner of the tasting and the clear loser was actually corked.
Our first wine, the 1997 Brunello di Montalcino Fattoi was ranked #3 in the tasting. It had a medium intensity color. The nose was discreet showing some floral tones and red fruits. On the palate, it had a fair intensity with a good balance but was somewhat light on the finish.