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January 23, 2015

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino and Poggio alle Mura 2010

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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 iconic 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. 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, beginning today with the exceptionally priced Banfi wines which scored 95 and 97 points. The wines are so balanced and ripe they can be enjoyed now, with incredible richness and depth on the palate. 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.’ To read our Brunello di Montalcino 2010 vintage report please click here.

Castello Banfi was founded in 1978 by brothers, John and Harry Mariani, the owners of the U.S. wine importer Banfi Vintners. Their goal was to combine the privileged micro climatic position of the vineyards surrounding the iconic Banfi castle, with state of the art technology and science. Together, the Mariani family and Ezio Rivella, one of Italy’s foremost oenologists, selected this site for the richness of the soils and its great capacity for development. The constellation of wonderfully positioned vineyards are found around the medieval castle, covering 2,380 hectares, one third of the estate. Upon purchasing the estate the family begun several research projects, the foremost of these was focused on clonal selection. In the 1980’s Banfi teamed up with the University of Milan to research 600 clones. This led to the production of a clonal blend, which utilises clones Janus 50, 10 and BF 30 to provide a wine with open and elegant fruit while retaining enormous ageing potential. The grape Sangiovese is the beating heart of Tuscan wine and the symbol Montalcino and through attentive clonal selection the Estate mastered its versatility in the historic Brunello denomination. Today six of the 45 registered clones of Sangiovese are from Castello Banfi and they focus on the aforementioned three clones which have been isolated and planted to take advantage of the variability of the soil in Montalcino.

Castello Banfi’s Brunello di Montalcino DOCG was first produced in in 1978. The grapes are grown in the 170 hectares of the Estate on the southern hill area of Montalcino, cited 220 metres above sea level. The viticulture here is meticulous, with the yields never exceeding 6 tons per hectare. This is followed by temperature controlled fermentation in Horizon hybrid stainless steel & wood tanks, with skin contact for 10-12 days. The wine ages for two years in French oak barrels of 350 hl, as well as in 60-120 hl Slovenian barrels; the wine is subsequently aged in bottle for an additional 8-12 months before release. The result is the most aristocratic combination of Montalcino tradition with winemaking modernity.

Suckling has awarded the stunning 2010 95 points, which at £125 a case of six bottles, gives a remarkable Price Over Points Ratio of 16. This represents unmissable value at £21 a bottle. Moreover, the 96 scoring 2007 already costs £380 per six bottles, so it ticks the boxes in terms of investment, although I doubt may will want to ever part with their Brunello 2010s!

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Castello Banfi’s Alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino DOCG grapes are grown on dedicated vineyards which slope down form the historic Poggio alle Mure Castle and is the crowning glory of the Estate. The hillside here rests at an altitude of 210-220 meters above sea level. The soil is special, combining sandy topsoil, abounded with calcareous matter and covered with rounded rocks, it also has elements of sea sediment originating from the Pliocene age. The viniculture closely matches that of their Brunello di Montalcino, except maceration is extended by five days and 90% of of the wine is aged two years in French oak. The vines were planted on this vineyard in 1992, after over a decade of research to isolate the optimal selection of clones to produce consistently outstanding Brunello di Montalcino. Poggio alle Mura’s first vintage was produced in 1997 as the result more than two decades of experimental research and is a superb example of the best synthesis of terroir, selection and technological innovation.

Suckling has awarded the Alle Mura Brunello 2010 97 points, it truly is the epitome of all their investment and dedication, which has truly come into fruition in 2010. However, while this vineyard has received immense investment Banfi are intent on keeping the price on release compelling and with a score of 19 and a bottle price of £27.50 it certainly is. Again, it pays to buy on release, not least because very little will return to the market. With the 94 scoring 2007 already changing hands at £210 and the 1999 £300 this is a one to buy and enjoy for decades.

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We cannot recommend these highly enough, this vintage cannot be missed!

Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2010 - 6×75 IB - £125 or £164.76 incl duty and VAT
95pts Suckling
Fabulous aromas of dried rose petal, orange peel, oyster shell and hints of dark fruits. Full body, very fine tannins with a mineral, berry and orange-peel and Tuscan-dust undertone. A structured, salty, savory finish.
Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura 2010 - 6×75 IB – £165 or £212.76 incl duty and VAT

Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura 2010 - 6×75 IB - £125 or £164.76 incl duty and VAT
97pts Suckling
A wine that sneaks up on you. It starts up slowly with dried-berry, chocolate and dried-lemon character. Full body, chewy tannins and a long, long finish. A wine that shows such layered, in-depth character. Tight and exciting. Give it three to four years more before drinking.

To visit our buy page please click here.