Wine Talk

Snooth User: Eric Guido

2007 Brunello di Montalcino

Posted by Eric Guido, Mar 18, 2012.

Somehow, it seems this piece has fallen on deaf ears, which confuses me, because it seems like everyone is talking about 2007 Brunello di Montalcino elsewhere.  

Is this not a topic of interest? If not, that's fine, but I'd like to give it another shot.

So I thought I'd put it here on the forum and see if maybe it somehow got missed. 

http://www.snooth.com/articles/2007...

Replies

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Mar 18, 2012.

I missed that article, just readed, i mostly agree with your opinion about 07 vintage, 5 star rating has been to high, a lot of italian critics now give it 3,5 maybe 4.

What i've understand reading a lot of review about this event is the rising interest around the little brother of Brunello, the "Rosso di Montalcino", just a couple of years ago rarely they rich the excellence and now there's a lot of wine with 85+, for a wine made with grapes not normally considered worthy to become Brunello that is a great achievement. A nice, fresh, early drinking wine from 100% sangiovese with a interesting price.

About Brunello the problem of this events is the constant lack of the greatest producers, Cerbaiona, Biondi Santi, Poggio di sotto and Soldera, etc. this lack is of course a disappoint for all the journalists present, in this way they miss the true benchmarks. Every wine must be tasted by itself of course but the general judgment is incomplete.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Mar 18, 2012.

 

I agree on both points.  Years back, each Rosso I tasted almost seemed like a waste of time and generally overpriced for what was in the bottle, which just tasted like Sangiovese from very young vines.  However, I have noticed a qualitive difference recently.  They are becoming much exciting.  That's a great point.

As for producers like Cerbaiona, Biondi Santi, Poggio di sotto and Soldera, I would love to have them at this event, but I'm honestly not surprised that they don't attend.  These are great wines, which usually don't need the extra press to sell.  However, the sad thing is that it is also reflected in the price.  One last point is I feel that it's hard to compare these producers to the average producers in Montalcino.  Having said that, it might make an argument that this tasting is better off without them, so you can get a good feel for the quality level with the majority of producers in each vintage.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 18, 2012.

What would Biondi Santi, et al., have to gain from participation in such competitions?? You'll see the same thing over in the Piedmont. Would Gaja, for example, gain from the same thing? 

Of the wines you write about, Eric, I've only had the 

I pretty much agree with your notes and valuations, though you tend to give most wines a point or two more than I would. But that's alright because Parker or Galloni give more than that beyond my valuations. Not that I would view mine all that relevant because conservative bastions (regarding my wine, anyway) in the midst of rampant score inflation just end up out of synch, I suppose.

Regarding early ratings of the vintage, I learned long ago that anyone who wanted to provide an early rating for a whole vintage of wine that is longlived is foolish, disingenuous, or both. My first experience was with the '70 and '75 Bordeaux ratings, when I was starting to drink seriously at the end of the '70s. Those ratings were high at first due to marketing hype, but then dropped. From the beginning I had my own impressions anyway that were, hallelujah, different from the marketing hype (and that was before the Parker and WS and other machinery had really engaged). Thus, from early on, I've tended to snort at ratings from en primeur or at bottle release for wines like Bordeauxs or Brunellos or Napa Cabs or....  Then there's the whole problem with how fashion has come to like the big, fruity, hot vintages. I've never liked the '97 Napas the way some have, and the 2007 Brunellos are obviously another case in point. And since I grew up on Brunellos with Biondi Santis back in the early '80s I've never wanted to drink Brunellos that young, anyway.

Good to see you back here, Eric. And thanks for the link between the Articles and the Forum, which is too rarely made....

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Reply by Eric Guido, Mar 18, 2012.

 

Dmcker, it's good to be here.  I'd hang around more but it's just difficult to balance all my work with pleasure.  It's funny because Sunday is my one free day, yet I find forums to be slowest on Sunday's, so I usually end up not participating much.

As for Brunello and scores, I agree 100%.  It's funny because a lot of readers have told me that my scores are too conservative, but a point isn't much of a variation.  In the end, I can't agree with you more about point inflation.  I just wish that the big magazines would listen to the public.  I remember when a 90-point wine was something special, and in my world of scoring, it still is.  The 2007's are very big and juicy, I will personally buy a mixed case for the sake of education in coming years, but 2006 is where I find the wines I truly love.

 

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Reply by zufrieden, Mar 18, 2012.

Another more general observation (moving aside from Brunello itself for a moment, anyway) is that most tastings are already potentially biased by the knowledge of the label - or at least, if blind to the label, not to the number and reputation of the entrants participating in a tasting.

Parker, for example, admits to knowing the bottle before he assesses its merits.  On the other hand, the results of true double-blind tastings - even those made by seasoned reviewers - can astonish aficionados.  Now, having said this, there are few Brunellos that I have had at maturity that disappoint.  But demand drives the price and there are much better values to be had than Brunello at very near the quality - even if  the taste experience cannot be exactly reproduced (I am talking here about quality rather than preference for a particular wine; after all, everyone has such preferences). 

I suppose what I am saying is: if reviewers did their jobs instead of glad-handing for a free case or two, the punters would save billions and experience less disappointment and cynicism as the mega-priced wine passes their lips...

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Reply by Eric Guido, Mar 18, 2012.

 

Lucky for me that I don't apply to any of these generalizations.  These weren't tasted blind however, but they also weren't tasted with any reason to prefer one producer to another.  No one was staring at me for a reassuring glance, in fact the tasting was set up so that you got your pour and then moved away from the table to taste.  When I taste, I do it for my own desire to know what I want to buy, as well as to gather information for articles like this.  If anything, I probably have find myself setting certain standards for the best producers that often fall short when I taste the wines.  I'm certainly not in the business of apologizing for winemakers.  And I have to answer to my recommendations regularly, because my first readers are also my clients and if the wine they buy on my recommendation sucks--all they have to do is pick up the phone and let me know about it.

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Reply by zufrieden, Mar 18, 2012.

I am quite sure those generalizations do not apply to you, Eric, from reading your posts over the years and looking at your own personal site.  My comments were intended more to address some of the concerns behind the other posts about value and what drives the wedge between quality and price.

Brunello is a gem and unfortunately it is more or less out of reach now for the average wine drinker.  I'm more interested in how this came about, because there are very, very fine wines out there that do not receive the hype of good Toscano or high-end Bordeaux - to take two easy examples.

 

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Reply by Eric Guido, Mar 18, 2012.

 

I agree, and I find myself buying and enjoying much more Sangiovese from outside the appellation.  But let's face it; it's almost impossible to go about this exploration blind.  When I was first starting out, think of how many bad wines I would have spent my money on if it weren’t for the major publications.  These days, I get to taste a lot but back then, I didn't have any idea where to go for advice.  The average consumer is still stuck in that rut.   I would be happy to taste blind if that's what I was able to do.  But what about Wine Spectator, don't they taste blind, yet you still here rumors about curuption.  Where does this leave us?  Frankly, it leaves me confused.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 18, 2012.

How do you do verticals and get truly informed about the detailed vagaries of weather and terroir (and winemaking tweaks) when you're doing all tastings blind?

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Mar 18, 2012.

@dmcker Gaja can't partecipate  Barolo tastings, his greatest bottles are classified as Langhe Nebbiolo and not Barolo. He use a little pecentage of Barbera in its wines and Barolo (same for Barbaresco) rules don't allow that. He produce just one Barbaresco.

@Zufrieden: Obviously there are wine regions with a much better value for money compared to the Brunello but, at least with Italy prices, its value is not so bad, there are great Brunello with affordable prices, Prime Donne  for example, a favorite of Eric, you can buy it around 30, the Fattoria dei Barbi Vigna Fiore around 40€, € 40 Canalicchio di Sopra Reserve. There's bottles with a good value for money, of course you need to know which are, and here is another problem regarding the region of Brunello. A so important region should have a classification of areas, more or less as it happens for Barolo and Barbaresco or in Burgundy. A classification like this really help the inexperienced consumer to choose better what to buy.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 18, 2012.

Giacomo I don't think that's the only reason why Gaja doesn't participate. ;-)

The don't need to, and only would have something to lose. Perhaps ditto for those Brunello producers mentioned above?

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Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Mar 18, 2012.

Of course dmcker... :-)

The reason why he doesn't partecipate to this events is the same because he produce Langhe Nebbiolo and not Barolo or Barbaresco. World famous class, he really doesn't need Barolo name to sell his bottles around 300€.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 19, 2012.

Eric, good to see you posting. I've come accross various notes and scores of yours over the last year or two and can attest the points you give out to be on the conservative (lower) side compared to the average as far as the 100 point scale is concerned. 

D, if your style is even more conservative, what do you think of the 10 and 20 point scale systems? I find them much more accurate in forcing a scorer to distinctly separate classes of wine.

2007 Brunello has snuck up on me a bit, I did buy a few 06's and haven't tried any of them yet, so i'd prefer to do the same and buy a few 07's and wait. Interesting this vintage is getting plenty of hype despite being more forward in style. I'd expect similar from the 08' and 09' vintages since there's been a run of success with tuscan wines it seems.

On the lines of Gaja and not participating, I never felt the need to go to conventions in New York because our rep did such a good job of hyping our products, actually showing up would most likely be a disappointment, so why spend all this time, money, and energy to deflate the balloon?

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 19, 2012.

Eric, I think you and I and GregT were tasting together at VinItaly in NYC in October.  Lots of Morellino, and just one wine from Etna is what I recall.  (And an Amarone that tasted like caramel, but not sweet.)

I read the article, really enjoyed it, didn't make any comments, but I made notes, and this weekend was carrying around a scrap of paper in hopes I could find the Tenuta Oliveto somewhere. 

Maybe I am alone in this--no, I'm not, because Rimmerman has written about it at Garagiste--but I am not finding myself priced out when it comes to Brunello.  If you pay list, it's expensive.  If you insist on one particular wine, and go looking for it, the list prices are high.  If you like certain styles and can get a chance to taste or have reliable merchants who know your preferences, you can get terrific '04s and '06s for $40 and even $30. (I got a batch of very nice '04s for $15 not long ago--distributors got stuck when the '06s got great reviews.)  These aren't necessarily the most prestigious bottlings, but they are on the style, ageworthy, and who needs to go a lot higher up the chain when competent, $66+ Brunello can be had for 1/2 price?

Giac, based on those prices, I think we might be getting better deals on Brunellos over here.  But only if you can wait out the distributors who have over-sold the vintage and the region to a public that won't ever buy sangio-based wine like they would cab or Bord blends.  Fine by me:  Good deals on Brunellos and Gran Reservas keep me happy.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Mar 19, 2012.

 

@Foxall, yes Greg and I did spend a good amount of time at Vinitaly.  God there was a lot of Morellino.  I think it gave me a fear of the stuff. : ) 

It is true that there is value to be found in Brunello.  I've yet to have $15 example but I've certainly seen good bottles in the $30-$35 range.  I also wouldn't say that my favorites are necessarily the most expensive either.

@GiacomoPevere, you make a very good point as well.  What's interesting to think is, possibly the rest of Italy is catching up to Brunello.  Or, the average reader here is willing to pay a little more.  But let's keep in mind that the majority of people that buy wine feel that $25 is a lot to spend on a bottle.

@JonDerry, I think you might have the right idea; the crowd at this tasting was massive.  Unfortunately, I’m not at the point that they bring the wine to me.  Well, not often at least.

As for the Gaja and Soldera talk, Soldera (talk about expensive), I feel like the average wine lover wouldn't even enjoy these wines.  They aren't easily understood and I feel like they would perform badly in a tasting format like this.  As for Gaja, I agree that they don’t need to show their wines at tasting for them to sell.  The collector market snatches them up.  I don’t think they need to fear bad performance; the small addition of Barbera does give them a little more flesh in their youth.


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