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Brunello di Montalcino 2019: only a few stand out, while there are noticeable differences between areas and producers

WineNews: the best tastings. High quality vintage, though characteristic of hot weather harvest, due to climate change

Italian wine imports to the USA (ISTAT data, analyzed by WineNews) are decreasing, at least in value, that is, -8.1% over the first 8 months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022 (Italian wine, in general, on world markets is down, -0.7%). Further, according to data related to bottling, and assigning quality labels (source AVITO, Association of Tuscan Wines with PDO and PGI, or the “Consortium of Consortiums” of Tuscan winemaking), all of the areas producing the top Tuscan reds have registered a minus sign over the first 10 months of 2023, including Brunello di Montalcino (-6%). On the other hand, the 2018 vintage is almost sold out, and requests for 2019, which will be going on sale starting January 2024, are already quite high, according to the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium. Therefore, the 2019 vintage coming out now, and that many have been looking forward to, has a special meaning. However, taking a closer look, the meaning fades a little, at least judging by the results in the glass. Let’s be very clear, though, the 2019 vintage is solid, and guarantees widespread quality of Montalcino wines. But, when expectations are too high, often there are some questions that need to be answered.
The climatic trend registered in Montalcino (according to the Consortium’s report), in the decisive months for the harvest (June-September), was characterized by extreme phenomena (hail, frost, drought, excess rain, that unfortunately are more and more frequent), while the heat was compensated by winter water reserves; therefore, in our opinion, the vintage was probably closer to that of 2015 than 2016. The solar year was at times warm, rich and solid, but once again, unfortunately, we can see the signs of ongoing climate change, which in these latitudes, is perhaps leaving its most evident signs. In addition, there are critical issues - which also depend on this climatic evolution - of wine “forced” to stay in the cellar for five years, with all the advantages, but (and today more probably), all the disadvantages (more numerous). The result, then, is widespread good quality, and excellent wines. That is to say, those that make you fall in love with their impeccable execution or their total adherence to the territory, which continue, though, to not occupy a very large space. Considering, instead, the most immediate critical organoleptic issues, there is a noticeable alcoholic strength in the wines on the nose and mouth, alongside a certain “evolutionary style”, which in some cases could penalize the overall balance of the wines, making them over ready. Positive notes are found in managing the tannic grip, which are well centered in general, plus the expressiveness of the fruit is almost always pulpy and tasty. Finally, there is a general observation to be made on the stylistic character of the 2019 Brunellos. The difference between the various wines is becoming more and more accentuated. Furthermore, on the territorial side, since distance is getting more and more widespread, it has begun to show the differences between wines produced in the north or south of the denomination, while the differences in the company’s stylistic approach are also becoming more notable, creating, in some cases, surprises (good or bad).
Now, though, let’s get to the best tastings of the 2019 vintage by the WineNews staff (Brunello di Montalcino will also be tasted again in the monograph, “I Quaderni” by WineNews, in January 2024, ed.), at Benvenuto Brunello 2023, in which 118 wineries out of almost 200 producers are participating bottlers of Brunello di Montalcino (according to the Consortium list). Brunello di Montalcino 2019 by Giuseppe Gorelli is a wine that has great flavor and energy, which alternates precise tannins and acidic freshness in the classic, sweet-acid game of Montalcino wines, adding a broad and delicate aromatic profile and hints of flowers and flint. Brunello di Montalcino 2019 by Giodo, Carlo and Bianca Ferrini’s winery, which is not not the first time it has happened, embodies an impeccable stylistic approach, and has aromas and flavors that are basically Mediterranean, where a very well dosed wood gives almost Burgundian suggestions. Fuligni’s Brunello 2019 has a distinct class and elegance, floral and spicy aromatic traits that anticipate a deep and balanced taste progression. There is a nice finish between tannins and pulpy fruit in Gianni Brunelli’s Brunello di Montalcino 2019, together with clear aromas and great intensity. Brunello di Montalcino Rosildo 2019 by Franco Pacenti combines power with harmony and contrast with aromas of ripe red fruits, earth and undergrowth. There is great freshness and integrity in the floral timbre on the nose of Canalicchio di Sopra’s Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Montosoli 2019, in addition to graphite and slightly spicy hints, presenting a dynamic and contrasting taste. A classic evaluation for Albatreti’s Brunello 2019 that has a nose combining fresh and slightly withered flowers, a touch of undergrowth and ripe fruitiness. Fattoi’s Brunello 2019 also has some rustic traits, which enhance its character and personality, plus an aromatic combination of red fruit and earth as well as a savory, deep and continuous taste. Elia Palazzesi’s Brunello 2019 is well constructed, combining aromatic intensity of fruit and flavor in the taste. Collemattoni’s Brunello 2019 is also well made and has a floral aromatic touch merging spices and undergrowth, plus a precise and basically fragrant sip. The flavor progression of Brunello di Montalcino Pianrosso 2019 by Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is powerful as well as dynamic, with lush, ripe fruitiness and flashes of smoke and spices on the nose. Casanova di Neri’s Brunello di Montalcino 2019 is well made, presents sweet and spicy aromas and a sweet and lively mouth. Castello Romitorio’s Brunello Montalcino 2019 is very similarly constructed. Banfi’s Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Marrucheto 2019 is an impeccably crafted wine that has subtle, sweet aromas and an equally graceful and tapered taste. Solid and compact in developing flavor, Capanna’s Brunello 2019, has fruity and smoky aromas. Caparzo’s Brunello di Montalcino La Casa 2019, aromatically characterized by a woody touch and generous fruitiness, indulging a sweet and nuanced mouth. The aromas of flowers and spices of Brunello di Montalcino Campo del Drago 2019 by Castiglion del Bosco, which flow solid and compact in the mouth are well expressed. Patrizia Cencioni’s Brunello 2019 is on point, presenting airy aromas of ripe red fruit and undergrowth, anticipating a lively mouth that has a pleasant harshness. Perfumes are well focused on the small, red fruits and aromatic herbs of Pietroso’s Brunello di Montalcino 2019, plus a tasty and well-profiled mouth. The lush fruitiness and smoky hints characterize the nose of the Brunello Vigna i Poggi 2019 by Poggio Antico and a solid, warm drink as well as tasty tannins.

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