Life Before and After Brunello


Montalcino, a Tuscan town in Central Italy, is known for its superior wines. It is home to the highly extolled Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino, two Sangiovese grape-based wines of great renown. Both classifications (Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino) are produced in accordance with strict Italian winemaking laws that ensure quality product. Brunello di Montalcino received its classification in 1966. Rosso di Montalcino followed in 1984. We’ve discussed these wines at length over the years.
But something else happened in Montalcino in 1984 – another DOC was granted, one that is often overshadowed by its bigger and bolder brothers. Here I am referring to DOC Moscadello di Montalcino. The wines must be made with 100 percent White Muscat. In addition to late harvest wines, some still and sparkling versions are produced. These wines are Easter eggs on the US market. They are hard to find, but well worth the pursuit. As wine drinkers start to consider, more and more, a place for late harvest wines in their oeuvre, we turn out attention to Moscadello di Montalcino.
Late Harvest Moscadello di Montalcino dates back to the 17th century. It is referenced in Franceso Redi's circa 1685 poem "Bacco in Toscana". As the popularity of Brunello grew, many producers replaced their White Muscat vines with Sangiovese. People drink more red wine than late harvest wine, and that's a fact. The decision to replace the vines was a matter of economics -- not poor quality. Gratefully, there are a handful of producers who uphold the tradition of these wines. Production is small. If you can’t find one of these at your local retailer, be sure to visit one of these wineries during your next visit to the region.

Mastro Janni Botrys Moscadello di Montalcino 2007

Candied orange peel and peach notes with the creamy nutty aromas of age showing here on the nose. Thick molasses and orange marmalade flavors on the palate with rose petal floral notes and dried apricot fruit. This is showing its age at this point but still has a lot of flavor. Syrupy sweet and decadent.
Caprili Moscadello di Montalcino 2015

Fragrant aromas of lychee fruit and honeyed ripe pears on the nose are very inviting and quite floral. Off dry in the mouth and very juicy, this has just enough acidity to balance the sweetness and liven the full, robust palate of honey, honey crisp apple, light lemon and creme brûlée cream.
Capanna Moscadello di Montalcino 2015

Highly floral gardenia and white peach aromas with a bit of salinity. Off dry on the palate and while this does show good fruit flavors of apple and melon, somehow the sweetness overshadows the other notes, leading to a mostly floral rose garden finish.
Capanna Moscadello di Montalcino 2011

Today this shows some developing notes of caramel, candied orange peel and butterscotch with a lemon creme note on the nose. A bit of oxidization has led to a caramel color and like flavors on the palate, this could almost be a dessert wine due to the full sweetness and the rich texture that comes with age. It's soft now, and I'm not sure how many years might be left here but right now it's quite lovely.
Castello Banfi Florus Late Harvest Moscadello di Montalcino 2012

Savory orange marmalade and candied lemon peel aromas with fresh flowers on the nose. Fresh, nectarine and tangerine flavors on the palate, medium full bodied and sweet without being viscous, a touch of brown sugar, lemon Crema and melted butter through to the finish. Decadent and fruity with a spicy edge throughout.
La Poderina Moscadello di Montalcino 2014

Honeyed and floral tangerine notes with a bit of a flour and yeast note and preserved lemon peel. Medium-full bodied and off dry on the palate, this is deceptively sweet, presenting orange peel and orange liqueur notes with juicy acidity and a finish that's somewhat lighter, quite floral and with good length.
Mocali Moscadello di Montalcino 2013

Earthy, dry and herbal aromas of savory butter, clay, with orange and apple fruit taking a back seat. Much fruitier in the mouth with orange marmalade and white blossom notes, this has driving oak through the mid palate, a creamy texture and a continued hint of something savory and barnyard like, quite pleasant and intriguing. More orange and grape flavors on the lengthy finish.

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