Thursday 8 November 2012

In Search of Brunello di Montalcino´s Soul - Chapter V

In the last chapter I tasted two vintages from the second largest Brunello producer. Now it was time to take on the largest - Castello Banfi. They operate in a league of their own - their standard Brunello is made in 700.000 bottles annually - that volume stands for 10% of the whole Brunello production.
But what about quality then? Having tasted only one Banfi before, years ago, this was going to be interesting!
More info here.

1983 Brunello di Montalcino, Villa Banfi
The label on the 83 states Villa Banfi, not Castello Banfi, like the others. This 29 year old Brunello opens with a soft, warm, mature nose with notes of cherry jam, pipe tobacco, undergrowth, old leather and warm tiles. Fully mature and with a nice warmth without loads of complexity.
The taste is big, seedy and dry with more structure than filling. Notes of dried cherries, herbs, dried mushrooms and old leather. The finish is medium long and dry. On its own to dry but with food it worked well.
85p   (tasted 2012/10)

1985 Brunello di Montalcino, Castello Banfi
A deep, dark, powerful nose with notes of sweet black cherries, mushroom forest, dark resin and fudge. Dense and complex. This started out a bit mute, even after 1 hour in a decanter, but blossomed all night long, Still young!
The taste is tight, concentrated and warm with lots of sweet cherry fruit and notes of herbs, leather, rose petals, sage and a Tuscan dirt road. Long, warm and very fine. This is a very good wine with, still, plenty of aging potential.
92p   (tasted 2012/10)

1993 Brunello di Montalcino, Castello Banfi
A cool, mature, somewhat restrained nose with notes of not yet ripe cherries, lingonberries, hay, dry licorice and orange peel. A bit grumpy on the nose. Fully mature.
The taste is medium big, mature and dry with notes of red currants, cherries, dried mushrooms and autumn leaves. A pretty decent finish with fine acidity but it ends very dry. Good with food.
82p   (tasted 2012/10)

1998 Brunello di Montalcino, Castello Banfi
A finely tuned, complex, warm nose with notes of rosehips, red cherries marinated in balsamic vinegar, rose petals, herbs and some unripe rasberries. A very intriguing nose, that from time to time reminds me of a fine Pinot. Very, very good. Almost fully mature.
The taste is tight, cool and long with notes of sweet lingonberries, red cherries, rosehips, orange peel and warm tiles. A long, elegant finish. Very pure and fine. This is drinking really well.
92p   (tasted 2012/10)

1995 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio all´Oro, Castello Banfi
A very deep, concentrated, still young nose with lots of sweet fruit - black cherries, black currants and blackberries with additional notes of chocolate cookies, cold coffee and new leather. There is lot of oak notes on this one, and at first it is a tad too much, but with lots of air more Sangiovese fruit comes forward, and even notes of rosehips, rose bushes and violets. Needs plenty of time.
The taste is big, concentrated and a bit of a brute, with notes of sweet cherry fruit, mushrooms, chocolate cookies, balsa wood and violet pastilles. Still very young and upfront. The wood is more noticable on the nose. This could turn out great in 5-8 years time, but you have to have patience.
90p   (tasted 2012/10)

1999 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura, Castello Banfi
A deep, fine, perfumed nose with lovely notes of sage spiced cherries, pipe tobacco, leather, violets, warm tiles and lots of fresh mushrooms. A very intense, fresh nose with lots of character. This is good! After a while in the glass it has the scent of a perfect autumn walk in the forest. Gorgeous.
The taste is as fresh as the nose with delightful sweet cherry fruit and notes of dry tobacco, mushrooms, violets, autumn leaves and a hint of coffee. A piercing acidity that cleans the mouth perfectly. This is really fine. On the verge of maturity, this has many years to please the palate.
94p   (tasted 2012/10)

I have read som articles which pretty much dismissed Banfi, sometimes mearly on account of their volume. But I have to say after tasting these 6 samples, that I would gladly buy more of their wines. And the volume makes them easy to get hold of. Well worth to seek out.

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