Text Size:-+
01.25.2006

The Best of Brunello: Thoughts on The 2001 Vintage

Like many people, I suppose, I fell in love with Tuscany the first time I visited several years ago. Ruth and I managed to hit it perfectly at the peak of Spring -- the hills were green, the poppies in full bloom, little puffy clouds in the sky, 80 degrees, oh. Makes me misty-eyed just thinking about it. It's definitely a magical place. While we were there, we spent an awful lot of time driving around the roads near Siena, Montepulciano, and Montalcino, and an awful lot of time tasting the Sangiovese-based wines of the region.

The most famous of these wines, of course, is Brunello di Montalcino, a wine made from 100% Sangiovese in and around the picturesque little hill town of Montalcino. Ruth became so enamored of these wines while we were there, that she pretty much compares every big red wine to them, and often finds them lacking. "Nope, not as good as a Brunello," she often says, as we're tasting some big dark red. We've decided that we're going to name our first dog Brunello -- we just have to get to a place where we aren't so busy that we'd neglect the poor thing.

In any case, as you can imagine, I was very pleased to hear that Brunello was coming to San Francisco. That is, the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, the trade group representing the appellation, held the first ever "Benvenuto Brunello" tasting in the United States on Monday, and I was there to welcome them. Along with benvenuto.jpgseveral hundred other journalists, wine buyers, restaurateurs, and distributors. We gathered in the old Federal Reserve Banking hall, and spent four hours tasting through the just-released 2001 vintage.

For those who are perhaps less familiar with the wines of this appellation, here's a 30 second primer. Wines can only be labeled Brunello di Montalcino if they are made from grapes grown in and around the town of Montalcino, and if they are 100% Sangiovese, and if they are aged for no less than two years in oak, and one year in bottle, and are not released before 5 years after harvest. Because that's a long time to keep a wine around without being able to sell it, winemakers may also produce a Rosso di Montalcino which also must be 100% Sangiovese, but can be sold after just one year of oak aging. Finally, and this was news to me as it didn't even exist while I was in Tuscany, there is a new appellation called Sant'Antimo which covers roughly the same geographic region as Montalcino but whose designation allows winemakers to pretty much make any sort of wine they like with whatever sort of red grapes they want. This designation was created to allow them a little more freedom to experiment while still giving them an appellation specific wine.

There are about 170 producers of Brunello di Montalcino in the region, and so this tasting was most certainly the best opportunity to experience the current vintage of Brunello without leaving the US.

So how was it? Well, I should start by explaining my own bias. I really, really, like Brunello, but I think that most of it is not so great. Put another way, there are a lot of people who make pretty average wine in Montalcino, and only a few who make really good wine, and fewer still who make exceptional wine. Despite this, prices for Brunello are pretty high across the board, regardless of quality, so it's very important to ferret out the good ones (the ones you like). As for the vintage, at least with the impression I was able to form at this tasting, 2001 is certainly better than 2000, and heads and shoulders above 1998, but perhaps not as good as 1999. In general, for most producers, their 2001 wines were significantly better than the 2000's -- as you can see from the tasting notes below, many brought their 2000s as well as some 1999's so it made for excellent comparisons.

On the whole, I'm pretty excited about the 2001 vintage, and will be buying some to throw in the cellar for the 6 to 10 years that are really required to let this wine become what it should be.

Here are my notes from the tasting.

BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO

2001 Tornesi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9.5. Cost: $44.
1999 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9.5. Cost: $90.

1999 Capanna Rosso Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $80.
1999 Col D'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $45.
1999 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $70.
2000 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $58.
2001 La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $40.
2001 La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $45.
1999 La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $55.
2000 Poggio San Polo Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $50.
2000 Tenuta Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $70.
2000 Tenuta Caparzo " La casa" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $130.
2001 Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $80.
2001 Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $60.

1999 Valdicava "Madonna del Piano" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $105.
2001 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $90.
2000 Capanna Rosso Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 9. Cost: $80.
2000 Casanova di Neri "Cerre Talto" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $125.
2001 Casanova di Neri "Tenuta Nuova" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $57.
1998 Col D'Orcia "Poggio al Vento" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $85.
2001 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $58.
2000 La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $45.
1999 La Togata Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost:$90.
2001 La Velona Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $65.
2001 La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $35.
2001 La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino Riserva(barrel sample). Score: 9. Cost: $55.
2000 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 9. Cost: $60.
2001 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $40.
2000 Solaria Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $41.
2000 Lisini "UgoLaia" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $100.
2001 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $60.
2001 Tenuta Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $70.
2001 Tenute Silvio Nardi "Manachiara" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $90.

2001 Solaria Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $45.
2000 Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $N/A.
2000 Terralsole Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $59.
2001 Terralsole Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $70.
2001 Tiezzi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $52.
2000 Tornesi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $44.
2001 Lazzeretti Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: 40 Euros
2000 Casanova di Neri "Tenuta Nuova" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $54.
2000 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $50.
1999 Capanna Rosso Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $50.
2000 Casanuova delle Cerbaie Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $60.
2000 Col D'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $45.
2001 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $65.
1999 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $48.
2000 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $36.
2000 La Lecciaia "Mana Petra" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $40.
2001 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $59.
2001 Marchesato degli Aleramici Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $54.
2001 Poggio Antico "Altero" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $40.
2001 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $??.

2001 Donatella Cinelli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2001 Fanti Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $90.
2000 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $49.
2001 Costanti Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $65.
2001 Donatella Cinelli Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $60.
1999 Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Score: 8.5. Cost: $50.
2000 Fornacina Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2001 Fornacina Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
1999 La Colombina Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $60.
2001 La Mannella "Il Poggiarelle" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $65.
1999 La Pescaia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $N/A.
2001 La Pescaia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $N/A.
2001 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $36.
2000 Pian dell'Orino Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2000 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $50.
2000 La Togata Brunello di Montalcino "Especial". Score: 8.5. Cost: $84.
2001 Castello del Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2000 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
1999 S. Lucia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $N/A.
2000 S. Lucia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $N/A.

2001 Pian dell'Orino Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $??.
2000 Capanna Rosso Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5>. Cost: $50.
2001 Capanna Rosso Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $50.
2001 Col D'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $45.
2000 Costanti Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $65.
2000 Fattoi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $58.
2000 La Togata Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $48.
2000 La Velona Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost:$65.
2001 Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $N/A.

2001 Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $50.
2000 Donatella Cinelli "Prime Donne" Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $ .
2001 Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $51.
2001 Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $ .
2001 Fattoi Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $58.

2001 Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 7.5/8. Cost: $??.
2001 La Colombina Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 7.5/8. Cost: $48.
2001 Le Machioche Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 7.5/8. Cost: $ .

2000 Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 7.5. Cost: $45.
2001 Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino. Score: 7.5. Cost: $??.

ROSSO DI MONTALCINO

2003 La Velona Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $30.
2003 Tornesi Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $18.
2004 Tenute Silvio Nardi Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $25.

2003 Valdicava Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $30.
2003 La Lecciaia Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $ 16.
2004 Casanuova delle Cerbaie Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 9. Cost: $25.

2004 La Mannella Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $17.
2003 Lazzeretti Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: 6 Euros
2004 Pian dell'Orino Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $??.
2003 Col D'Orcia "Banditella" Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $28.
2004 Poggio Antico Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $20.
2004 Tenuta Montluc Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $40.
2003 Terralsole Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $23.
2003 La Gerla Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5/9. Cost: $18.

2003 Marchesato degli Aleramici Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $23.
2004 Collosorbo Rosso di Montalcino (barrel sample). Score: 8.5. Cost: $17.
2004 Costanti Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $30.
2004 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $26.
2004 La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $18.
2003 Siro Pacenti Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $30.
2004 Lisini Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $29.
2003 Solaria Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $26
2004 Tassi Rosso di Montalcino (inaugural vintage). Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2003 Poggio San Polo Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $25.
2004 La Poderina Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.
2004 Tornesi Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8.5. Cost: $18.

2003 Fattoria dei Barbi Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $20.
2004 Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $??.
2003 Col D'Orcia Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $19.
2003 Fanti Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $30.
2004 Fattoi Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $25.
2003 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $26.
2003 Innocenti Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $??.
2003 La Pescaia Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $N/A.
2003 La Togata Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $24.
2003 Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $24.
2003 S. Lucia Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $N/A.
2002 Solaria Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $26.
2003 Ridolfi Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8/8.5. Cost: $??.

2004 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $25.
2003 Fornacina Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $?
2004 La Colombina Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $28.
2002 Le Machioche Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $
2003 Castello del Romitorio Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 8. Cost: $??.

2004 Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 7.5/8. Cost: $18.
2003 Tiezzi Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 7.5/8. Cost: $23.

2004 Camigliano Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 7.5. Cost: $20.
2003 Capanna Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 7.5. Cost: $25.
2003 Palazzo Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 7.5. Cost: $??.

2004 Le Chiuse Rosso di Montalcino. Score: 6.5. Cost: $??.

SANT'ANTIMO BLENDS

2003 Casanova di Neri Petra Donice (94% Cabernet, 6% Sangiovese). Score: 9/9.5. Cost: $89.

2004 Casanuova delle Cerbaie Sant'Antimo Blend (70% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot). Score: 8.5. Cost: $60.
2003 Capanna Sant'Antimo Blend (Merlot/Sangiovese). Score: 8.5. Cost: $N/A.
2004 Casanuova delle Cerbaie Sant'Antimo Blend (70% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot). Score: 8.5. Cost: $60.
2003 Fanti Sant'Antimo Red Blend. Score: 8.5. Cost: $N/A.
2002 La Velona Mefysto Red Blend (Sangiovese. Merlot). Score: 8.5. Cost: $46.
2001 Castello del Romitorio Sant'Antimo Red Blend (80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet). Score: 8.5. Cost: $??.

2003 Camigliano AGT Cabernet. Score: 8. Cost: $ N/A.
2003 La Fortuna Sant'Antimo Red Blend (Sangiovese/Cabernet). Score: 8. Cost: $27.

2004 Collosorbo Sant'Antimo Red blend (Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet, Sangiovese). Score: 7. Cost: $38.

Comments (15)

Hector Hill wrote:
01.26.06 at 8:55 AM

...Brunello would be a great wine to celebrate winning the Food Blogging award...the 1999 Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo has been my birthday wine for the last two years...just make sure to decant...

Francesca wrote:
01.26.06 at 11:47 AM

I also attended the Brunello tasting and am very impressed (as usual) with your prolific tasting notes/scores. How long does it take you to taste/score all these wines? Also, do you have any strategies for "palate endurance" through wines with such tannin/acidity?
Thanks!

Alder wrote:
01.26.06 at 11:56 AM

Francesca,

Thanks for the comments. It took me about three and a half hours to taste these wines at the event, and then about two and a half hours to write them up at home.

The best thing I know of for palate fatigue is food and water every 20 to 40 wines, and taking little breaks to talk with folks.

Other than that, it's just practice, and you have to accept some fatigue no matter how good you are -- it's just a physical reality.

Antonio wrote:
01.26.06 at 3:35 PM

Alder: Brunello is also one of my favorite wines. I was at the tasting as well and actually found myself liking some of the Rossos as much as some of the Brunellos. I think 2001 Brunellos will drinking really well starting in 2008.

Alder wrote:
01.26.06 at 7:25 PM

Thanks Tony,

I really like a lot of the Rossos, both in Montalcino and Montepulciano. I carried almost a full case of them home with me.

Nick Breeze wrote:
01.27.06 at 4:22 AM

At the wine show last year in London, Brunello Di Montalcino was the only wine at the show that one had to pay for. £5 ($8) a glass. All the other thousands of wine were free. I actually paid the fiver to taste it but many people brushed passed and they lost thousands of potential converts to this great wine. Italian makers sometimes have a peculiar way of selling themselves.

Gia wrote:
02.13.06 at 12:20 PM

Brunello is one of my favorite wines also. In Seattle they were pricey and I expected the price to drop quite a bit when I moved to Italy but it has not. I have been drinking the '97's and really like them a lot and have not tried the newer years.

Living on Piemonte we are surrounded by Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco but Brunello is very close to my heart.

Palazzo wrote:
02.18.06 at 8:42 AM

Dear Sirs, Could we have your comments on our wine after seeing the scores you's have gave to our wines.

Kindly thanking and hoping on your kindly reply
Az. Agr. Palazzo
Elia Loia

Alder wrote:
02.19.06 at 1:14 PM

Dear Sirs,

I do not have specific notes on your wine other than the score which appears in my review. At these large tastings I do not make tasting notes because taking the time to do so would prevent me from tasting a majority of the wines.

I did not make any specific notes in my notebook other than the scores you see here. I am sorry to not be able to provide you with more information.

dt tran wrote:
09.09.06 at 10:38 AM

Hi Alder,
Would you recommend a handful of wineries to visit? We'll spending a week in Tuscany during this harvest season.

Alder wrote:
09.10.06 at 8:45 PM

DT,

Tuscany is roughly the size of Connecticut. It's a big place. My recommendation is to buy the book "A Food and Wine Lover's guide to Tuscany" by Carla Capalba. Should be available at Amazon. Then just figure out where you're going and look up in the book to see what’s nearby. That's how I saw Tuscany for the first time and it worked out very well.

Be aware that most wineries are by appointment only and if you are there literally during harvest most small wineries will have little time for visitors. The biggest ones will likely have a hospitality person who can show you around but you're likely to be rebuffed by many.

Katrina Rank wrote:
01.03.07 at 11:35 AM

I absolutely adore Castello Romitorio Brunello.

victoria wrote:
01.05.07 at 12:34 PM

Hi,
I have just open a buttle of Brunello di montalcino from 1972!!
Have no idea what it will taste like. I will let it breath for a while before tasting it. I´m exated. A friend of mine hade a bottle of the same wine from 1971 that was bad.

05.05.07 at 8:02 AM

For me the 2001 Poggio antico Riserva is the best i have ever drunk.

kenny kahn wrote:
03.06.11 at 5:49 PM

having the 2001 Camigliano Brunello tonight. beautiful aromas but dry and fading.

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)
Yes
 

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 5, 2014 Another Idiotic California Law Screws Wineries Vinography Images: Vineyard Reflections The Fake Tongue Illusion and Wine Tasting 2014 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 21, San Francisco Cool Beauty: Tasting the Wines of the Western Sonoma Coast Vinography Images: Shaggy Companions 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting: October 26, Healdsburg Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 21, 2014 The Essence of Wine is Ready to Buy!

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.