Gianni Brunelli 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
I have not bought the wines of Gianni Brunelli for many years. When I tasted the 2016s, I was absoutely blown away. The concentration is incredible, but not just that, the wines are so complex and refined. This is essence of Brunello.
This Month's Mixed Cases
Tuscany is the region of Italy that most fine wine drinkers gravitate towards. It occupies much of Central Italy with a Tyrrhenian coast to the west and the Apennines to the east; it has both Mediterranean and continental climates.
The story of Tuscany begins with its significant black variety, Sangiovese, one of the most planted varieties in Italy, but here is its ancestral and spiritual home. Sangiovese makes up most of the blend of Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, other DOC/Gs, and 100% of Brunello & Rosso di Montalcino.
Chianti Classico is the region between Florence and Siena and has been systematically polluted with foreign varieties such as Cabernet, Syrah and, God forbid, Merlot.
Now, we are seeing a return to more traditional blends as producers gradually move away from the Super Tuscan movement of the 1980s and 1990s.
In Montalcino, where only Sangiovese is permitted, producers have also shunned the illicit use of foreign varieties, and the wines have never been better. It was helped out by a good run of vintages, as well.
Elsewhere, there are still gems to discover. San Gimignano is home to the only major DOCG for white wines. Yet, the planting of its traditional variety, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, is on the wane, but not at the best producers who still champion this variety.
The Tuscan Coast is still the hotbed for innovation; unlike other bits of Tuscany, the international varieties thrive and make the best wines, with the occasional exception.
Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino vies with Barolo and Barbaresco as Italy’s greatest wine producing zone. Montalcino is a viticultural zone which surrounds the mediaeval hilltop town of Montalcino itself. There are a few styles of wine produced here, but it is for the Brunello that fine wine drinkers all over the world beat a path to. Rosso di Montalcino is its sibling which is also made from 100% Sangiovese (locally known as Brunello), but released a little earlier than the mandatory 5 years following harvest date for Brunello itself.