Saturday, March 21, 2009

2004 Brunello di Montalcinos are on the way

This weekend I placed my presale order for some 2004 Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello di Montalcino, made from 100% Sangiovese hails from Italy's famed vineyards in the surrounds of the beautiful town of Montalcino in Tuscany. I have an attachment to these wines, not only due to the intense and complex flavors that are found in no other wine, but for sentimental reasons as well.

When Julie (pregnant with Sarah at the time) and I visted Tuscany in 2006 we took the opportunity to take the 1.5 hour picturesque drive from the villa at which we were staying down to Montalcino along with Big D, Jeremy and Jill. It was a fantastic day with some very memorable experiences - most notably the grounds and expansive views from Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona (image above), the amazing hospitality of Ettore Spina, owner of Sesta di Sopra, and tasting through several years of Brunello in barrels with Andrea Cortonesi, owner of Uccelliera.

At Uccelliera, we were treated to a taste of the 2004 which was still in the barrel at the time (a gigantic Slovenian oak cask) - it was an amazing wine which certainly piqued my interest in 2004, a vintage for whose release I would have to wait another 3 years. By law, Brunello cannot be released until 5 years after the harvest year, so the 2004's are just now becoming available for pre-sale purchase.

After browsing through several websites, the wines that I finally settled on purchasing (from K&L wines in Hollywood) were:

Argiano - I was originally introduced to this winery by my parents and Uncle who visited it on a trip to Italy a while back. They brought me back a bottle of the 1998. I've tried the 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001 thanks to my parents and my Uncle Larry. I like the style of this house - it is fairly easy to like with lots of the classic Brunello cherry/berry and cola character. The tasting at Argiano is rather sterile, with a fairly uninterested staff, but the wines are of excellent quality and the grounds are beautiful. The 2004 received a 94 in the Wine Spectator. 10,300 cases made.

Sesta di Sopra - We didn't originally intend to visit this particular winery, but we were in the area and the 2001 was highly regarded so we decided to stop by. There was no one around so we knocked on a door and were greeted by a kind gentleman who invited us in. We sat down around a large family table (this was in his house) and he got us some plates and poured some of the winery's olive oil and provided some bread for dipping. He asked if we'd like to try some wine (of course!) and poured the 2004 Rosso di Montalcino, which was very good (excellent for a Rosso) and the 2001 Brunello di Montalcino which was excellent. He drank all of the wines with us and insisted on new glasses for each wine which he rinsed meticulously with a small amount of sacrificial wine. He showed us his cellar and the grounds and told us "next time" we should call him in advance and he would make lunch for us. We were the only customers that visited during that time and he gave us the remainder of the bottle of Brunello to take with us (this bottle was around Euro 35). The 2004 received a 94 in the Wine Spectator. A mere 330 cases made.

Uccelliera - This was our last winery of the day and we were treated to a tour of the grounds and the facility by Andrea Cortonesi, the owner, who spoke very little English, but had a helper who could help with some of the translations (although she knew nothing of wine, so it was somewhat difficult for her to translate). I can't remember all of the vintages we tasted, but I'm thinking it must have been the 2002, 2003 and 2004. He only let us taste out of the barrels and did not open any bottles of the current vintage. It was very interesting to taste the wine through the various stages of the aging process even though those particular vintages were of variable quality. The only Brunello available for purchase at the time was the 2001 which turned out, on later tasting, to be a savage wine, very powerful and earthy with grilled meat types of flavors. I remember the power of the 2004 in barrel and made a mental note to be on the lookout for this wine in the future. The 2004 received a 97 in the Wine Spectator and is the highest rated Brunello of all the wines tasted so far in this vintage. 1,890 cases made.

I'm really looking forward to receiving these wines (hopefully in the next few months) and giving them a try. I am hopeful that they will be outstanding in their own right, but also help me relive some fond memories until I get the chance to travel back to Montalcino.

No comments:

Post a Comment