Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Good Brunellos and other reds from Montalcino

Posted by dmcker, Dec 1, 2009.

Since Greg is starting an article series on his recent trip to Tuscany and Umbria, I thought it might be useful to begin a forum thread on the wines from the area. What are the best wines from Montalcino and environs that we can find in the market now, and what are the drinking experiences with them, alone or with food? This hopefully will get interesting since I've noticed a couple of industry professionals on this forum recently who live and work in that region.

Vis a vis Brunellos, I've just received recommendations for Sesti Castello di Argiano, Poggio di Sotto, Salvioni, Pod Santa Maria and Salicutti and Il Palazzone owned by Richard Parsons and San Carlo. Anyone care to comment on these wines, or recommend others?


Reply by dmcker, Dec 2, 2009.

Really, no one interested in Brunellos, at all?

Reply by GhostLemur, Dec 2, 2009.

I am interested just not knowledgable. While I've had a bit of Sangiovese based wines (various Chianti's, tuscans, etc), haven't had any Brunellos yet. Definitely on the list, so will be following this thread. Judging from his cellar thread GDP seems to have quite a collection so I'm sure he'll chip in his recommendations and thoughts.

Reply by gudwine4me, Dec 3, 2009.

Love Brunellos. Have been drinking them since the hype of 1997 (justified in my amateur opinion). I'm not sure I have ever just popped one open to drink, but they have always been enjoyable with meals. Looking at my notes, we tend to drink them with grilled meats, but also brought one to Chez Panisse and it was fabulous with the menu there.

Reply by amour, Dec 3, 2009.

TENUTA dell'ORNELLAIA ....Home to two great SUPER TUSCANS ORNELLAIA which is aged in French barriques and my favourite....MASSETO ...may be overpriced at around $240....VINTAGES 2001-2004.

FATTORIA di FELSINA has a fantastic RISERVA RANCIA...the best CHIANTI there is!
I had the FONTALLORO which ages very nicely. IT IS NOT OVERPRICED AT AROUND $50. affordable luxury, I dare say!

Reply by cigarman168, Dec 3, 2009.

Of couurse love to taste Brunellos as its is best wines from Montalcino. However, Brunellos like Barolo need time to age and not easy to get some good old vintage. And also expensive for old vintage. So, I choose to drink Ross Di Montalcino that you can enjoy for recent vintage.

Reply by Eric Guido, Dec 3, 2009.

Sorry to take so long to tone in...

You already hit one of my favorites, being Poggio di Sotto. I'm a much bigger fan of the ageable and grace forms of brunello. The more modern styles never fit the bill for me. As for food, God I feel like I can drink Sangiovese with just about anything but fish. I absolutely love it with meats in high acidic sauces and braises, just about any kind of pasta with sauce, pork and especially cold cuts.

Some of my favorites are Capanna, La Torre, Conti Costanti, Biondi-Santi, Gianni Brunelli, Riccardo Talenti and Tenuta La Fuga.

However, there are so many producers of brunello that I have yet to try.

Reply by Laurapal, Dec 4, 2009.

OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER.. I manage Il Palazzone.

But I have lived in Montalcino for 13 years and have spent most of them imbibing...
Dmucker's list is actually pretty much all my favorite producers.
And I am completely with Eric since the austere and elegant (3 + years in large wood) version of Brunello is also my personal preference.

Salvioni, Salicutti and Poggio di Sotto need no introdution.

Sante Marie (for those trying to locate it) has the owner's surname Colleoni on the label and a lion's head. The website is This is a wonderful property run by Marino Colleoni, an experimental winemaker with a 360° biodynamic philosophy. They have a hectare and a half of vineyards and a tiny spotless cellar that Bilbo Baggins would appreciate. Marino can be seen unleashing bug wars between different kinds of spiders in the vineyards and painstakingly applying ash from his home fireplace (to remedy potassium deficiency) to each vinestock.... The wines are great and are always very true to vintage.

Sesti is another great relatively small property with a long Montalcino history. The owner Giugi, an astrologer married to an Englishwoman, works with the phases of the moon. Their Phenomena label is outstanding.

San Carlo is part of the Montalcino del Sorriso - the young (in terms of date of birth) producer's movement. I have to admit that I don't know the wines.

A couple of estates I would add to the thread are:
San Giuseppe (Stella Viola di Campalto) and Pian dell'Orino.

I am afraid that I consider Rosso di Montalcino a halfway house and a difficult appellation since there is such a huge range of prices and quality within one D.O.C. which means that it can be disappointing.

Brunellos are in wood for a huge range of months (the DOCG started with 4 years in 1980 and has been whittled down to two obligatory years in wood. Brunellos are released on the 5th January after havest so there is a lot of space for different interpretations and use of wood ageing, not to mention barrel dimensions and oak provenance). This means that some Rossos are almost Brunellos (see Poggio di Sotto) and others are far distant relations and this makes it confusing for consumers though price point is often a good indicator.

Good Rosso di Montalcino's that I have recently tasted:
Talenti, Poggio di Sotto, Nostravita, San Giuseppe, Pietroso, Salvioni.

Also Cupano's Ombrone.
Sesti Grangiovese and Buonafede.

Dmucker : you asked specifically about good reds from Montalcino in the market now so I'll take the bait!

At Il Palazzone we decided to bypass Rosso di Montalcino, a wine we haven't made since vintage 2000. Every three years or so we declass what Rosso di Montalcino we have in the cellar (about 900 liters per vintage) and some Brunello and we make a non-vintage blend called Rosso del Palazzone. The first 1.200 bottles ever to go to the US actually arrived in New York TODAY! This is a great value for money wine since it is all Sangiovese, all from the estate and aged for 2/3 years in wood - a baby Brunello at relatively modest price (USD 25).

I was havering about whether or not to write that, but I've done it now!
I hope I won't be expelled from the Forum for blowing my own trumpet.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 4, 2009.

Great post, Laurapal. Thank you. And no probs about the self promotion. If I were in the States now, I'd try to chase down a bottle or three...

Reply by cigarman168, Dec 5, 2009.

@Laurapal will Rosso del Palazzone be DOC or DOCG?

Reply by GregT, Dec 5, 2009.

"Really, no one interested in Brunellos, at all?"


Reply by Laurapal, Dec 6, 2009.

@ cigarman168 - Rosso del Palazzone is a non vintage VDT (Vino da Tavola), so "lower" in terms of appellation than DOC.

Reply by cigarman168, Dec 7, 2009.

@Laurapal: Thx, teacher.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 8, 2009.

Great reccos Laura. i have to stop by next time i'm in the area.

Not much to add tot he mix here.

In general I usually go for Rosso di Montalcino before Brunello, though I have been known to knock back a few of the big boys. I have a few samples near my desk that will be dealt with soon, maybe Friday, and I'll report back asap!

Reply by amour, Dec 9, 2009.

As I understand it , Brunellos have been improving consistently mainly as a result of a tremendous evolution in vineyard technique and perhaps a new thrust in winemaking in ITALY. IT IS ARGUABLE WHETHER 2001 represents A NEW STYLE.
Everyone agrees that the ITALIANS are working at it harder than ever these days.
I remember speaking with James Suckling and he boasted that any 2001 BRUNELLO is excellent (1997 was celestial, and he admits it).
It is the quality of the tannins that is said to be the great attribute of
recent Brunello. FINER TANNINS. Of course, it is recommended that they be lay down for about three years for SECRETS TO BE REVEALED!

I did drink 2001 Banfi Brunello and it was excellent....fine, energizing tannins, orchestral harmony indeed. A very early frost had reduced yields and crop was a fragment of the usual quantity...with less fruit...there was great concentration.....quality over quantity.
When I drink my FRESCOBALDI I will report further.
Meanwhile I am following this thread as I try to break out a bit from my old school FRENCH GASTRONOMY MOLD!!!!! I do know that they are making bigger wines and better quality in MONTALCINO and are trying hard to compete with those muscular SUPER TUSCANS.

Reply by Vinoitalialover, Dec 17, 2009.

Ok, nobody has mentioned Valdicava. Really. Probably the best producer out of them all. Valdicava is owned by the Abruzesses and the prior Abruzesse (can't remember his name right now) was one of the original people to found the Consorzio di Brunello. They make Brunellos that are big expressions of Sangiovese and will last for decades. Their Rosso di Montalcino is better than many producers Brunello. Go try his. A few other recommendations: Casanova di Neri, Castello Romitorio, Donna Olga from Centolani, and Cannalicchio di Sopra, cant forget Biondi Santi-since they started it all.

Reply by Vinoitalialover, Dec 17, 2009.

Oh by the way Rosso di Montalcino is never a DOCG Cigarman it is only DOC. The G is reserved for wines that are of deep rooted tradition. I love them none the less for their value. You just need to search these out and don't drink Barbi!

Reply by cigarman168, Dec 17, 2009.

@Vinoitalialover, Pls advise what is Barli. Thx

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