Readers of these pages will know that I have not been the biggest supporter of Brunello di Montalcino. I had some harsh words for the wines as a whole in the pre-Brunellogate era, and have often been left wanting by many of the wines. Unfortunately I am here today to report a bit of the same. Granted I am going to be discussing the 2009 vintage, one that is being promoted for it’s precociousness and fragrance. These are attributes that in an earlier era might have been referred to as elegance.
Elegant wines. She has a great personality. Really.
So what is my beef with Brunello di Montalcino? It is rarely special. And I know I just made some enemies so let me explain myself. The problem, as it were, does not lie solely with Brunello. One of the issues I have with Brunello is that the so-called second wine of Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, offers far better value at times. Consider today. I am comparing the 2009 Brunellos with Rossos from 2010-2012. Both 2010 and 2012 are superior to 2009, and while 2011 may be comparable to 2009 in quality , the Rossos of one are far different from the Brunellos of the other.
Don’t get me wrong. Brunello can be a fabulous wine, certainly among the world’s finest, but it happens more rarely than we might want to admit. To a large degree the quality of the wines relies on weather, though Brunello does have a varied enough meso-climates to produces qualitative outliers in most vintages. Vintages such as 2006, 2004, 1995, and 1988 produced a bevy of beautiful wines. What about all the remaining vintages? Well, for starters there were and are the Rossos from the greatest vintages still to drink. Wines that can challenge the quality of many a basic Brunello for significantly less money. Then there are the Rossos from the greatest producers which might be priced like a basic Brunello, yet deliver more depth, complexity and nuance bang for the buck. Here's a short list of some of the Rossos that I look forward to trying: