The 2009 Brunello Vintage
Officially rated at four stars, out of a possible five, 2009 was a season that provided challenges for producers, but seemed to have a relatively happy ending.
Here is the official description of the vintage from the Corsorzio Del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino:
"During the first phase, there were many rainy days which resulted in a large accumulation of water reserves in the land. This was in the Spring, at the beginning of the vegetative development of the vines. This mainly rainy phase lasted longer than normal, until the middle of July. During the second phase, the summer season, the weather was very dry and hot. The water reserves, accumulated during the first phase, proved very useful. The ripening speeded up from the second half of the month of August and followed a steady rhythm, as is clear also from the analytical data collected by the Consorzio. The potential alcohol contents of the grapes are quite high, but with excellent levels of total acidity and extracts. The amounts of polyphenols are both substantial and well balanced."
My General Impressions of the Wines Tasted
Lovely fruit was a frequent characteristic, with many showing especially rich spiced cherry that lends itself to early drinking. Many wines ended up with slightly higher alcohol levels as well. That said, there is still good balance and structure in many of the wines that I tasted, which bodes well for some aging potential. One pitfall of the vintage was the heat that lingered into late summer. Poor timing during harvest could result in poor balance, and weak structure. As always, these generalities are subject to the practices of individual producers. Sadly, some producers never quite meet the mark of this noble wine, for one reason or another, but there are many fine examples in the class of 2009.
Notes on several 2009's tasted, at Benvenuto Brunello and elsewhere.
Subtle smoke and incense overlay dusty dried red cherry skins on the nose, with a pleasant little note of smokey candle wax. Nicely structured and well balanced, the palate shows red cherry skins, dark Earth, and flinty stones, with dried herbs and a fine mouth coating finish that lingers. Elegant and solid at the same time. 92 Pts
Aromatic and rich with solid depth to the dark spice red cherry fruit.Notes of espresso beans are pronounced on the nose with delicate dried flowers on top. Soft textured, and elegant in weight in the mouth. More aromatic action energizes the red cherry fruit with dried herbs and dusty charred Earth. The finish has good length, more espresso, and a very fine grained texture. At over 600 meters elevation, the Le Ragnaie vineyard is the highest in the Montalcino zone, which seems to have helped in the high temperatures of the 2009 summer.. Only 2200 bottles produced. 92 Pts
Fragrant, dried black cherry, with Asian spice notes, flinty Earth, and a subtle dairy notes, comprise the nose on this welcoming wine. The palate shows fresh, red cherry, some anise, with mouth coating dusty tannins and long, mouthwatering finish. Well built, and really easy to drink. An excellent value. 91 Pts
Red cherry skins, and dried flowers lead the way on the nose with some clay Earth, mineral, and meatiness. The palate is nicely balanced, with finesse, showing more firm red cherry and floral notes, followed by a long, dusty finish. This is the full package, complete, satisfying, and likely to last in the cellar for a while. 91 Pts
The nose is dark and firm, with black cherry skins, mineral Earth, and serious floral notes on top and a suggestion of spearmint. The palate is finessed, with great strength underneath, showing elegant red cherry, and raspberry, with Asian spice, and fine texture. Notes of charred Earth accent the structure, which is complete and balanced, albeit a bit disjointed at this young age. The finish has good length and a fine grained grip. There is a depth to this wine that draws you in to focus your attention. No riserva was made in 2009, so all of the Brunello grape production went into this wine, and it shows. Luca told me that the challenge in 2009 was deciding when to harvest. The heat in the summer was substantial, and carried through into September, harvesting too early in September had to be avoided; Luca harvested late in the month. 91 Pts
Rich Earth and aromatic red cherry skins with underlying minerality and notes of dried herbs (thyme?). Later green tobacco and sandalwood appear on the nose. The palate is delicious being somehow rich and lean at the same time.Spiced red cherry leads the way with nice freshness and juicy acidity. The finish is long and finely textured. Satisfying, and complete. 91 Pts
Forward, warm and toasty, spiced cherry leads the way on the nose. Like a roasted cherry cobbler, with aromatic herbs, dried flowers, and forest floor. Very nice complexity. The palate has firm, fresh, black cherry,with solid tannins, some espresso notes (which also develop later on the nose) and a long clean finish. Quite a nice ride. A blend of grapes sourced from twenty different vineyards, with an average vine age of 20 years. 12 months in barrique (new & used) followed by 18 months in botti. 150,000 bottles produced. Yummy and serious at the same time. 91Pts
The nose first shows firm masculine black cherry and black berry fruit with aromatic wood and some incense. On the palate, solid black cherry, some sweet tobacco and Earthy underbrush lead into a long, mouthwatering finish that has fine grip, and lingering tobacco notes. 91Pts
Beautifully rustic on the nose with cedar, forest floor, warm Earth, dried herbs, and firm black cherry fruit and skins. The palate has firm black fruit, more forest floor, and acidity in good measure that melds into the firm, fine tannins. The finish is long and interesting with some funk, and fine, mouth-coating tannins. 90Pts
Here is a wine that is consistently solid, ready to drink, and well balanced. The 2009 is no exception. Starting with a core of dark, spiced, black cherry flesh and skins, the nose draws you in. The presence of mineral and bramble notes provides added complexity as dried flowers float over it all to punctuate things. The palate has nicely aromatic fruit, black cherry skins and a bit of strawberry, with some anise, and dried herbs. Well balanced, with plenty of acidity to carry things, and medium grained tannins framing it out. Complete and easy to drink now, and likely to improve in the short term. 90 Pts.
Fine, black cherry, and black berry fruit, with elegant dried floral notes are the focus on the nose, along with burnt orange, iron, and a subtle richness. The palate has a fine grain, and elegant weight, with flavors of black cherry skins, anise, and some dried herbs. A bit awkward at this young age, with plenty of upside. 90Pts
The first impression on the nose is of beautiful spiced, red cherry fruit, followed by tobacco, some forest floor notes, orange rind, molasses, and dried flowers. The palate has lean red cherry, with more spice, mineral, dried herbs, and a moderately long finish. Well balanced, with good structure. 37,000 bottles produced. 90 Pts
Quite Earthy on the nose, with roasted black cherry flesh and a grilled meats. The Earthy quality continues on the palate along with spiced black cherry, the acidity is a bit understated, being upstaged by the solid fruit and pronounced,but fine tannins. 89 Pts.
First out on the nose is warm, spiced, dark cherry with a bit of tangerine rind, clay earth, and pretty floral notes. The palate has an elegant weight, and is a bit subdued, showing subtle flavors of spiced red cherry, dried herbs, tobacco, and mineral Earth. Perhaps a bit shut down at this time, and likely to open and improve with time. 3 years in Slavonian oak and a year in bottle. An organic producer since 2013. 200,00 bottles produced. 88-90 Pts
Rich spiced red cherry is dominant on the nose. The palate shows bright acidity, lots of rich cherry, with a hint of sweetness, all supported by a subtle firmness. Easy drinking. 89 Pts
Fresh red cherry and red cherry skins, with smokiness, and Earth. On the palate, lean red cherry, some green herbs, and good structure. Straightforward and ready to drink now. 87 Pts
Iron, dried herbs, tobacco, red cherry skins, and some vanilla bean on the nose. The palate consists of tart red cherry fruit that is a bit lean, accented by sparse Asian spice. The brief finish is firm and rustic. 87 Pts
Sweet wood notes on the nose with cranberry, dried herbs, black pepper, and some cinnamon candy. The palate is fresh, and light in weight with clean red cherry, moderate acidity, and fine grained tannins. 87 Pts
The nose is understated, with Earthy notes and some fragrant wood and fine red cherry skins. The palate is much more pronounced with tart red cherry, and bright acidity with sandalwood and subtle dried herbs. Most enjoyable was a fine green tobacco aroma late on the nose and also in the long, finessed finish. Perhaps a bit closed, I think it needs to be revisited in a year or two to see how it settles out. 12 months in French oak, and 14 months in Slavonian. Only 24,000 bottles produced.