Wednesday 3 April 2013

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

My friend Sverker and I had to find out if Montalcino faired as well as the Super Tuscans did in 1997 - this much talked about vintage. We then tasted 31 bottles of Super Tuscans (and 2 dark horses - see links to the tasting notes below). This time we "only" had 14 Brunello´s on the table. Poor us...:-)

But the result was the same - this vintage with its alleged problems of heat and too much oak seems to have matured quietly into very fine specimen of mature Sangiovese. Non of the bottles below showed any heat or any excess oak treatment. Except two corked wines this was a strong showing of mature Brunello´s.

1997 Brunello di Montalcino, Maurizio Lambardi
A wide open. kind hearted nose with lots of morello cherries, licorice, autumn leaves and a fine floral note. After some time in the glass there is a fine mushroomy note. Fully mature, sweet and nice.
The taste is mature, round and ready for prime time drinking with notes of muscovado sugar sprinkled cherries, licorice, balsa wood and dried flowers. Ever so slighty dry in the finish. From an unknown producer this has survived well but should be drunk sooner than later.
85p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio Alle Mura, Castello Banfi
A deep, warm, mature nose with sweet dark fruit in the shape of black currants and blueberries with a touch of menthol. A meaty nose with notes of coffee, leather and violets. A good warmth.
The taste is big and broad with lots of sweet black cherries, dark chocolate, autumn leaves, licorice and warm herbs. The initial sip gravitated more towards Bordeaux but with air more Sangiovese fruit emerged. Good length. There is no secret that Banfi used a lot of oak back then and in the present company it sticks out a bit, but it is still a very good wine.
88p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio Banale, La Poderina
A cool, elegant, fine nose with lovely notes of dried flowers, chocolate covered cherries, licorice and warm tiles. This is as far from a blockbuster you could come in its restrained, elegant style. Very, very good.
The taste is tight, focused and old fashioned with lots of firm tannins and fine red fruit, like lingonberries and red currants. The finish is long and dry with notes of violets, earth and some bonfire. Firm and fine, this could easily go another 6-8 years.
91p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Vigneto Manachiara, Silvio Nardi
A deep, tight and intense nose with notes of pine infused cherry fruit, summer flowers, a gorgeous perfumed note and some Valrhona chocolate. Very deep and fine. This still has some maturing to do. Excellent focus.
The taste is tight, concentrated and ripe with delicious notes of red cherries, lingonberries, violet pastills, rosemary and tiles. A long, intense, warm finish with still firm tannins at the end. This is really, really fine, and could be even better in 3-5 years time. Great wine!
93p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino, Fattoria Dei Barbi
Sadly - corked #%&¤/&%¤"#!

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Fattoria Dei Barbi
A cool, laid back, mature nose with notes of lingonberries, roesehips, dried mushrooms and sage. Very deep and fine. Very traditional. Lots of warm gravel after a while. This is really fine.
The taste is focused, mature and dry with fine red currants and lingonberry fruit alongside notes of licorice, mushrooms, warm tiles and dried flowers. Cool and fine. Elegant. This is fully mature but will keep on this level of excellence for 6-8 years more.
92p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino CastelGiocondo, Frescobaldi
A good, deep, structured nose with notes of red currants, hard cherry candy, veal meat, vegetable stock and warm undergrowth. This has depth, concentration and a very fine character. A high nose. Some smoky notes emerges with air. This is stunning!
The taste is warm, broad and deep with lots of stuffing - red and black cherries, road dust, dark chocolate, herbs and a touch of bonfire. A friendly gigant. A magnificent combination of hedonism and backbone. Great!
95p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Spuntali, Angelini
A big, round, mature nose with notes of coffee marinated cherries, licorice, cherry chutney, mushrooms forest and old leather. A lot of warmth. Maybe a tad overmature.
The taste is warm, tight and dry with notes of balsamsic vinegar cooked cherries, licorice, undergrowth and leather. The long finish ends with a spirity touch. Good but a bit over the top.
85p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Pian delle Vigne, Antinori
A fine, elegant, delicate nose with notes of ripe red cherries, pine nuts, licorice, herbs and some bonfire scents. A very fine sweetness to the fruit. This is on the verge of maturity. A lovely nose.
The taste is elegant, focused and just beautiful with that lovely sweet/sour cherry fruit paired with notes of dried flowers, rosehips, warm tiles and a touch of dark chocolate. The finish is long and intense. A gorgeous wine! This could be enjoyed for another 8+ years.
94p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Rennina, Gaja
Bought only a month ago for this occasion, the label was a bit torned and you never know where it has been stored. Well, no worries, it kicked ass this night - second best 1997 Brunello on this night!
The nose oozes up from the glass with impressive notes of menthol spiced ripe cherries, pipe tobacco, a lovely floral scent, Tuscan road dust and dried mushrooms. Very deep and intoxicating. Gorgeous!
The taste is tight, pure and laser focused with sweet ripe cherry fruit and notes of violets, Cohiba cigarr, resin, menthol and a beautiful earthy aroma. The tannins are sweet, ripe and still firm. This has just started its way to maturity, give it another 4-6 years. But I would love to drink this every day up to then.
96p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino, Siro Pacenti
And in the next glass came the winner! The nose is bottomless deep and hauntingly beautiful with notes of ripe black cherries, licorice, rosemary bushes, warm tiles, violets and dried summer flowers. Very intense and focused. Just stunning!
The taste is tight, concentrated and very complex with notes of sweet cherries, rowanberries, warm herbs, dried flowers, pine nuts and rosehips. The finish goes on for over one minute and the tannins leaves a distinctive mark in the end. While this needs 3-5 years to reach full maturity it is absolutely magnificent on this night.
97p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli, Altesino
Second corked wine of the evening #"%/&%¤#"&#!

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Sassetti Livio, Pertimali
A fine, cool, aristocratic nose with notes of sweet/sour cherries, tobacco, rosehips, licorice and moist earth. It has a understated elegance about it. Very, very fine. The tobacco note is of the most luxurious kind. Lovely!
The taste is somewhat mature with gorgeous notes of sweet/sour cherries, lingonberries, licorice, rosheips and dried flowers. The finish is very long, focused and reveal the stunning sweetness of the fruit in the end. Not really fully mature, this is a delicious bottle of Brunello.
95p   (tasted 2013/03)

1997 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Poggio Antico
A deep, warm, complex nose with notes of dark cherries, dark chocolate cookies, dried flowers, violets and a touch of tar. Very, very fine. A lingering note of expensive perfume emerges with air. Sweet, broad and beautiful.
The taste is big, tight and warm with notes of sweet/sour cherries, licorice, chocolate and that same perfumed note as on the nose. The finish is long, warm and intense. Almost fully mature, this is drinking beautifully.
93p   (tasted 2013/03)

Tasting notes of 1997 Super Tuscans:
1997 Super Tuscans - Flight I
1997 Super Tuscans - Flight II
1997 Super Tuscans - Flight III
1997 Super Tuscans - Flight IV


  1. Joakim,

    A great tasting! Sorry for the corked wines. Did you cook that leg of lamb? It looks amazing.


    1. Thanks John! My friend Sverker did the lamb - it awas succulent and went really well with the Brunello´s. I made a mushroom risotto that we had as a starter.
      And yes, corked wines is always a bummer!