Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s most prized red wines & can trace its roots back to the 14th Century. The small medieval village of Montalcino is set at roughly 1850 feet elevation in the Siena province of Tuscany. The many sites vary in soils & includes limestone, clay, volcanic & marl, which all can result in very different wines. By law the sole grape variety permitted is Brunello (Sangiovese Grosso).
In 1888, Ferrucio Biondi Santi released the first modern version, after the wine spent 10 years in oak barrels. Since then, until very recently, the number of wineries grew slowly……in the 1960’s there was but 11 producers….1980–53…& in 2000–over 200.
In 1967, the Brunello di Montalcino consortium was founded by 17 producers, who were set on making standout wine. In 1998, the laws included at least 2 years in oak & 4 months in bottle prior to release.
In 1980, Brunello di Montalcino was designated as Italy’s first DOCG, a category created by the government as an attempt to regulate & ensure better quality wines. Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti & Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was soon to follow.
There are at least 2 distinct “sides” in Montalcino…the northern slopes, which is cooler (more acidity & aromatics) & the southern slopes which produces wines with much more power.
Tonight in VINO, we tasted THREE standout 2003 Brunello di Montalcino side by side.
2003 Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino
Pacenti is one of the vanguard producers of more modern styled Brunello. Giancarlo Pacenti noted he felt Brunello made using more traditional methods did not have enough color or structure. He therefore lower the yields & changed the farming of his 50 acres, rethought the winemaking, plus decided to use French barrique for aging. The resulting wines, however, still thankfully smell & taste Italian. Furthermore, this 2003 was VERY refined, classy, elegant, very intricate & finely detailed. Most impressive.
2003 Terralsole Brunello di Montalcino
The soil in this estate has much more marl to it…at 250 meters elevation. The wine is more masculine in style than the Pacenti…..with deeper, base notes…..but still very Italian & aristocratic. I was surprised to discover this 2003 spent 28 months in 600 liter French oak barrels, as it isn’t blatantly oaky….but after thinking about it, this totally makes sense because of the framing of the core & the rounder texture.
2003 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino
This estate has been around since the 1700’s, which is very old for Montalcino. Lisini was in fact one of the 17 wineries who founded the Brunello di Montalcino consortium in 1967. The property is 160 hectares in size of which only 49 acres in planted to vineyards at roughly 1000 feet elevation in tufaceous soils. Today star winemaking consultant Giulio Gambelli oversees the project. The 2003 spent 36 months in Slavonian oak (11 to 40 hectoliters in size). This was certainly the most showy/dramatic of the 3 Brunellos with a black shoe polish color. It was deeply flavored, very masculine with ripe, gorgeous fruit, a big, structured frame (with no apparent sharp edges, hardness or excessive alcohol evident) & a long finish. Nonetheless, nothing shy or demure here.