Saturday 23 March 2013

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

This was an opportunity to taste through a few of the older bottles of Brunello I have bought in the last months for this project.
The reason that I wound up with these two properties are two - the 1975 Castello Poggio Alle Mura was one of the few Brunello´s that I had tasted earlier - 20 years ago and I thought at that time that is was spectacular. Now we were going to taste that vintage again, and three more from this estate that is no more. The Banfi brothers bought it in 1984.

The reason to taste some of the older vintages of Col d´Orcia is that Antonio Galloni made a big vertical tasting of their Riserva, Poggio al Vento and spoke highly of some of the older Riserva´s. Before the first vintage of Poggio al Vento in 1982, the Riserva´s were made almost exclusively from grapes from that vineyard. And we had three of them before us.

Flight I
1970 Brunello di Montalchino, Tenuta Poggio Alle Mura
This is a bit old on the nose, with lots of decaying leaves, canned mushrooms, tea leaves and moist earth. From time to time it smells like an old Barolo. After some time in the glass there is a whiff of wet dog fur. This is too old.
The taste is a bit fresher with notes of dried lingonberries, licorice, autumn leaves and cigarette ashes. Cooked root vegetables. The finish is medium long and ends very, very dry. Good with food but the fat is mostly stripped from the body on this one.
74p   (tasted 2013/03)

1971 Brunello di Montalcino, Tenuta Poggio Alle Mura
A deep, sweet, fairly elegant nose with notes of dried cherries, mushrooms, tobacco and cold sugared coffee. A fine warmth. Very good.
The taste is tight, mature, round and medium bodied with ripe cherries dusted with muscovado sugar and additional notes of licorice, violets, dried flowers and autumn leaves. The finish is a tad short. A good, but not great wine.
83p   (tasted 2013/03)

1974 Brunello di Montalcino, Tenuta Poggio Alle Mura
A very ripe, deep, mature nose with fine notes of dried cherries, rasberries, fudge, violets and some fine pipe tobacco. A very fine mature sweetness. There is a whiff of VA that comes and goes but that just adds to the complexity. Very, very good.
The taste is tight, mature and fine with notes of lingonberries, warm gravel, cigarett ashes and autumn leaves. The acidity is fine and perky. The finish is medium long and it ends dry and sandy. This is perfectly mature and will just go downfill from here.
90p   (tasted 2013/03)

1975 Brunello di Montalcino, Castello Poggio Alle Mura
Here it is, the reason I got this tasting together - is it as good as 20 years ago? Well, its not, but it has really hold its own all this years. The nose is deep and intense with notes of sweet red cherries, gravel, freshly grounded coffee and a very fine salty minerality. Very deep. But there is a monolithic feeling about the nose.
The taste is tight, seedy and big with still upfront tannins and a fine red fruit. Notes of lingonberries, violets, dried flowers, hard fudge and gravel flows over the palate. Very big still. The only one in the first flight that could be cellered longer, but I´m not sure it will get better.
88p   (tasted 2013/03)

Flight II
1975 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Tenuta Col d´Orcia
Continuing with the 1975 vintage, you can really get a sense of why the Consorzio awards this vintage with a 5 star rating. There is a depth and intensity here that defies age, with fine notes of plums, cherries, tapenade and a sweet flowery note. Very, very good.
The taste is firm, steady and concentrated with notes of licorice spiced cherries, bay leaves, tobacco and warm undergrowth. The finish is long and warm. With air the taste gravitates toward the lovely sour/sweet cherry taste. Mature of course, but I would say that this could evolve some more. A lovely wine.
92p   (tasted 2013/03)

1977 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Tenuta Col d´Orcia
Even though 1977 "only" gets a 4 star rating, this wine transcendes vintage charts. It is pure magic in a glass, with gorgeous notes of menthol spiked black cherries, hard dark fudge, violets, pipe tobacco and hard cherry candy. Very, very deep. It has a lightness to it that is wonderful. Great!
The taste is all about focus, concentration and sweet, decadent fruit. Notes of red cherries, lingonberries and plums, all dusted with a touch of menthol. There are also aromas of mature red apples, tobacco and that Tuscan summer gravel road. A very long, fresh and dry finish. A gorgeous wine, that still could be kept for 5+ years. I saved 10 cl in a small bottle and three days later it was fresh as a daisy.
95p   (tasted 2013/03)

1980 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Tenuta Col d´Orcia
A deep, finely matured nose with notes of black cherries and currants, cranberries, leather, tobacco and warm gravel. A touch foursquare, although there is a fine quality to the fruit. Deep.
The taste is tight, fresh and grapey with notes of red cherries, lingonberries, dry tobacco, rosehips, dried flowers and leather. A very long, although somewhat narrow finish.Very good but not in the league of the others. Interestingly enough, the 10 cl I saved, just like the 77 above, was better - sweeter, more open and rounded. Go figure, maybe it needs some more cellar time?
87p   (tasted 2013/03)

1985 Brunello di Montalcino, Tenuta Col d´Orcia
The only non riserva in the Col d´Orcia lineup, but it performed very well in the company. The nose is deep, open and mature with notes of cherries, mulberries, dark chocolate, violets and moist autumn leaves. Very fine. With some air that fine note of a warm Tuscan gravel road emerges. This feels fully mature on the nose.
The taste is warm, seedy and fresh with notes of sweet cherries, red currants, dark chocolate, bay leaves and licorice. A very fine warmth. The tannins takes a firm grip of my tongue in the finish, leading me to the conclusion that this still needs some time in a cold cellar, say 3-5 years. Very, very good and it has room for improvement.
91p   (tasted 2013/03)

A very interesting comparison, both between the two producers but also vintage wise. The wines from Poggio Alle Mura were all fully mature, and in case of the 70 and 71 maybe a bit much so. The Col d´Orcia´s on the other hand felt fresher and with more stuffing to them, and those could go on for many years.

And it was also interesting to taste these older bottles, given the fact that in 1970 only 78,84 hectares were producing Brunello wines, and up to 1975 there were only 30 producers who collectively made about 800.000 bottles of Brunello.
Now there are 250 growers and 200 producers making about 8 million bottles a year from 2.100 hectares...


  1. Well ...again lucky you !

    I think Poggio alle Mura was ready for sale to the Banfi empire at that time.....

    I am a big fan of Col d'Orcia Poggio al Vento.....probably one of the top 5 best and most consistent Brunello in the market ...!
    I will have to ask Franceso if can sell me some ...

    1. Thanks! Haven´t had any Poggio al Vento yet, aka with that name on the label - bu I have a 2004 lying in the cellar...:-)

  2. 2004 Poggio al Vento........long way to go.....close to 2034

    1. I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to wait that long - how about this weekend...? :-)

  3. Sure.....I will be there with 2 Fiorentina di Cinta Senese ....the best T-bone steak in the all World...!!

  4. Hi there! Anyone can help me? I have 3 bottles of brunello poggio alle mura 1975 and 1 bottle of fattoria dei barbi proprietà Colombini 1968 I want just sell them anyone can suggest me any good buyer or where can I sell them? I'm italian living in Rome.. thanks in advance :)