Brunello 2012 was recently proclaimed a ‘Rockstar vintage’ by James Suckling, the spiritual successor to the already-legendary 2010s, whose prices have rocketed since release. Both 2010 and 2012 received the coveted 5* star rating from the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, an accolade awarded to just seven vintages since 1990. To my mind, the 2012s are not quite at the level of the 2010s, but excellent. While it is not a vintage to buy as broadly as 2010, it is one to purchase selectively, only the finest: we have Brunello’s finest today, Cerbaiona di Diego Molinari Brunello di Montalcino 2012 (Cerbaiona). This is a must in any vintage, a towering superstar in Brunello. In 2012 it has been awarded 95 points from Monica Larner, who says ‘What the wine does best is paint a portrait of the grape in its most pure and naked state.’ It does, for it is one of the finest expressions of Sangiovese anywhere in Italy. We are delighted to offer it today for £500 per case of six, 10% below the lowest market listing today.
Cerbaiona is one of Italy’s most collectible wines, today’s release continues its run of brilliant scores. However, it is rarer than hen’s teeth, certainly one of the rarest wines in Italy, this boutique Estate only make 350 cases of Cerbaiona each vintage. As such, it is hard to source with age and offers vintage premium. It is becoming considered the Rousseau, or Le Pin of Brunello and prices continue to rise. Over the last two years it has entered a new slip stream, with the average case price of the last 10 years rising 25%. The 2010, for example, received 100 points from Antonio Galloni and 98 points from Monica Larner and it has already more than tripled in price to £1,650 per case of six. The lower scoring 2003 trades at £750, the 96 scoring 2001 which has 96 points has already reached £1,100 per case of six, so buying early pays.
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Cerbaiona is a manor house, which dates back to the 17th century, a stunning location with a small private chapel and renaissance garden, sited on a high embankment. The small Estate, Cerbaiona, lies on the north-eastern shoulder of Montalcino commune, benefiting from a 400 metre elevation, incredible exposure and the magical galestro/alberese clay soils. The site is famous, as are the towering Maremma cypress tress, which remains a landmark in Montalcino. In fact, Cerbiona’s terroir has been well known for centuries, long before Brunello di Montalicino became a great appellation, the Estate defining this corner of the village.
The Estate entered a new era in 1977 when it was purchased by Diego Molinari, a former pilot. Diego focuses his attention relentlessly on the 3 hectares of vines, he does not use pesticides or fungicides. In many respects he is the garagiste of the Montalcino: in 1980 he produced only 70 cases, this figure has only increased fivefold since. All this goes a long way to explaining why this is truly special and hugely sought after. In 2015, Diego, aged 84 sold Cerbaiona to a group of investors led by Gary Rieschel, an American wine collector, and Matthew Fioretti, the Estate’s new manager who runs all aspects of Cerbaiona.
Cerbaiona is entering a new era of excellence and global renown, a wine of harmony, complexity, combined with intense power. It speaks of terroir, where its natural gifts shine through to winemaking, which once again, like most truly great wines is minimalistic. The tiny harvest is picked by hand, the grapes are moved to a vintage wood press, before fermentation in cement tanks. It then spends four years in cask and at least six month in bottle. Its majesty is due to the 3-ha vineyard, which is adorned with love and nature’s gifts. It is a giant in Brunello di Montalcino, yet with so little to go around, likely to follow its upward price trajectory.