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January 23, 2015

Brunello di Montalcino 2010 Vintage Report

Tuscany (1)

Brunello di Montalcino 2010s is being heralded as the greatest Brunello vintage ever and demand has been feverish this month; James Suckling comments, ‘the market is apparently on fire. Wine lovers are rejoicing in the incredible high quality of the vintage, and rightly so. The 2010 vintage is a new benchmark for Tuscany’s icon wine, producing reds with wonderful intensity, structure, and energy. I find the depth of fruit, flavor and savory, almost mineral undertone of the wines spellbinding.  The 2010 Brunellos are reds that give fabulous enjoyment now, but will reward you for years in the future. The year 2010 for Brunello di Montalcino is the greatest modern vintage of Italy’s most famous red wine region. Never have the wines been so profound in quality, character, and quantity from the best hillside vineyards of Montalcino. They represent a new paradigm for Tuscany’s unique sangiovese-based red.’

“The wines have a unique style that make them incredibly attractive when young but also structured and beautiful for aging. They will be the new standard in quality to judge all Brunello.” 2010 has already been established a truly great vintage in Tuscany and Piedmont, as it was in Bordeaux and Burgundy. The weather in Montalcino in 2010 was as perfect as the region has ever seen. The growing seasons was exceptionally long. June was warm and beautiful carrying on into July, although a few storms passed through the region. August was cool and sunny, September was gorgeous. The grapes were picked at winemaker’s leisure and came into the wineries ripe, fresh and clean.  Giacomo Neri, the owner of Casanova di Neri, a legendary Brunello producer says of the vintage; ‘It’s the best vintage I have experience in my winemaking career and I started making wine in the early 1980s.’

The standard through the region is exceptional and over the coming weeks we will be focusing on our favourites. The wines are so balanced and ripe they can be enjoyed now, with incredible richness and depth on the palate. Suckling comments that ‘most have a fascinating savory, almost salty character that makes them succulent and incredibly satisfying to taste’. As such most of his tasting notes are marked ‘drink or hold’, as they will ‘age gracefully and improve for decades ahead’.

Traditionally the backbone of great Italian wine has been the wines of Piedmont (Barolo), Amarone and Brunello di Montalcino, the latter are still competitively priced relative to quality. Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is located south of Chianti, the region therefore is warmer and drier producing grapes that are riper, with higher alcohol. Montalcino is built around a large hill, with a higher altitude than Chianti and Bolgheri. This altitude produces smaller berries and therefore a reduced pulp to skin ratio, resulting in thicker grapes yielding higher concentration and tannins. Brunello di Montalcino has a different ageing requirement to Chianti DOCG, needing a minimum of four years, two of these in wood and four months in bottle. The leading producers of Montalcino are experiencing price increases.

Vintages like this come along once or twice a lifetime and collectors should focus on these superbly priced, critically acclaimed wines. As Suckling concludes, ‘The 2010 vintage made great wines. There is no doubt about it. This is why you have to buy some.’

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