Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Was It Worth All The Hype? 2013 Barolo

For the last two weeks NYC has been honored to host the who’s who of Piedmont for Antonio Galloni’s La Festa del Barolo, and with many of these producers came my first taste of 2013 Barolo from bottle. Let me just say that the hype is officially warranted.

Over the last two years we’ve been hearing hints about the possibility that 2013 could be the next great vintage. Producers would wax poetic over their expectations, and as friends returned from the region having tasted from barrel, each one would go on and on about the vintage.

The first clues we had to the potential of 2013 came from Antonio Galloni of Vinous, who is constantly on the ground in Piedmont and tasting across a wide range of both young and mature wines. I still think back to his 2012 Barolo article “Grace Under Pressure”, where he tipped his hat in saying “The 2013 Barolos I have tasted from cask are aromatically compelling, rich and structured; in other words super-classic. At their best, the 2013s come across as slightly richer versions of the 2010s.” The comparison to 2010 and the thought of an added level of richness set my imagination on fire.

However, there was another thing to consider, and that’s the escalation of Barolo prices and how important it is to get in as early as possible, especially when you consider the mad dash that collectors made for the 2010’s. All of this has cumulated into one of the most highly anticipated vintages that I have ever witnessed.

And so, as the list of Barolo producers who would be in town for La Festa grew, my message to everyone I knew was to please, please, please let me taste some 2013 Barolo--and my wish was granted.

Chiara Boschis, Elisa Scavino, Fabio Alessandria, and Giuseppe Vajra all took the time to taste and talk with me about the vintage, and what I found was nothing short of spectacular. The 2013 vintage was defined by wet and humid conditions in the spring, yet balanced out into a long and warm growing season, followed by the perfect yin and yang of warm days and cool nights in the fall. The result was a perfect crop for any producer who tended their vineyards with care. Giuseppe Vajra, of G.D. Vajra, told me that he “...feels like the 2013 vintage is closest to the 2008s,” which happens to be one of his all time favorites.

For me, I find the structure of 2010, the aromatics of 2012 and the vibrancy of 2008, but we can talk in these terms for days. In the end, these are some of the most enjoyable young Barolos I’ve ever tasted. They posses stunningly layered aromatics, which continue to open in the glass over time, coupled with beautifully refined tannin, depths of fruit and enveloping textures. Frankly, it was difficult to pick favorites in nearly every tasting. I also couldn’t help but notice how enjoyable the Barolos made from a blend of vineyards were as well. The Paolo Scavino Barolo and Carobric, the Chiara Boschis Via Nuova, and the Vajra Albe were all amazing wines that will be thrilling us for decades to come.

I’m happy to say that 2013 Barolo will be arriving on our shores very soon, and I will certainly be a buyer. Let the hunt begin.

On to The Tasting Notes:



2013 G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole - The nose showed incredible depth with exotic floral tones, saline minerals, a bit of marine flora, plum, dusty spice and rosy florals. On the palate, I found mineral-laden cherry, cranberry, inner floral tones, exotic spice, and exquisitely fine tannin. The finish was long, long, long with masses of inner floral tones and dried berries. This wine has a long life ahead of it, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going. (97 points)

2013 Vietti Barolo Rocche di Castiglione - The nose was gorgeous and lifted with bright rosy floral tones, brilliantly pure red fruits, dusty earth, soaring minerality, wet stone, and exotic spices. On the palate, I found feminine textures with tart red cherry, herbs, inner florals and gorgeous, balancing acidity. It finish long and fresh on sweet herbs, minerals and fresh cherries. This is classic Rocche. (97 points)

2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc - The nose showed intense mineral-infused red berry, cherry, cranberry and hints of plum with a savory edge, then evolving into mint, licorice, undergrowth and hints of herbs. On the palate, silky yet massive textures gave way to a dark mix of both ripe black and tart red fruits, with notes of dark earth, minerals and a twang of bitter herbs. Tannins saturated the senses, yet they weren’t drying or tiring, as a coating a dark red fruits soothed the palate. This was a remarkably balanced Bric del Fiasc that is deceptive in its early appeal. (97 points)

2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Vigneto Cannubi - The nose showed masses of dark red fruits, crushed berries, wild herbs, pretty floral tones, and dusty spices, yet through the entire experience remained floral and finessed. On the palate, I found, dense, silky textures which coated the senses with notes of crushed berry and strawberry, before transitioning to inner florals and leather tones. It was much more lifted and refined than expected, with a long finish, displaying fresh red fruits and inner floral tones. (96 points)

2013 Vietti Barolo Ravera - The nose is incredibly deep, rooted in minerals, earth and spice, with dark floral tones, black cherry, plum, blackberry and mint. With time it opened even more to to reveal ethereal florals and herbs. On the palate, I found elegant, velvety textures, with sweet tannins and brisk mineral-laced acidity, giving way to dark fruits, minerals, plum, dried citrus, and hints of lavender. The finish was incredibly long with saturating dark fruits, yet youthfully tannic and closed in on itself. (96 points)

2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Carobric - The nose on the ‘13 Carobric was stunning. Here I found a layered, lifted and classic mix of crushed cherry, rosey florals, minerals and undergrowth, which turned savory over time, adding hints of dark spices and tobacco. On the palate, I found a vibrant yet silky expression with depths of red cherry playing a sweet-and-sour act on the senses, along with savory herbs and zesty acidity. It finished fresh yet structured on cherries and spice. (96 points)

2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero - This is unmistakably Monvigliero. The nose displayed black olive, savory herbs, exotic florals, crushed strawberry, and Indian spice. On the palate, I found soft textures with pure red berry fruit, inner florals and a balanced mix of fine-grained tannins and brisk acidity. It was lifted, pure and classically structured throughout. The finish was long of dried cherry, strawberry and floral tones. (96 points)

2013 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito - Here I found a dark and brooding bouquet of black and red fruits, moist earth, minerals, fresh mint, and hints of exotic spices. On the palate, I found silky, enveloping textures laced with fine tannin, giving way to saturating dark red fruits, hints of spice and bitter herbs. The finish went on and on--and on--with minerals, mint and a bitter twang of herbs. This an amazing vintage for Lazzarito. (96 points)

2013 E. Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Cannubi - This is a chameleon of a wine, with a bouquet that showed medicinal herb, raspberry, at times almost dark syrupy, then turning to black cherry, balsamic tones, giving way to minerals, dusty exotic spices and earth. On the palate, I found silky textures (very textural and dark - almost imposing at times) and dark red fruits which coated the wine’s fine tannin and saturated the senses over time. It was imposing and intense on the long finish, as fine grain tannin coated the senses, yet it’s wonderfully balanced. This should have some future in store. (96 points)

2013 E. Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Via Nuova - The nose was remarkably pretty with dark red fruits, roses, minerals, and exotic spices. It was brooding and at times reticent, until a note of minerals and crushed stone joined the fray. On the palate, I found lean, dense textures with dark red berry fruit laced with minerals and a web of fine tannin that saturated the senses. It was amazingly long on saturating dark red fruits and tannin. So classic. (95 points)

2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi - The ‘13 Cannubi was a dark and imposing wine of massive depth. Here I found notes of black cherry, sweet herbs, dark chocolate, dusty spice, and crushed stone. On the palate, a massive wave of velvety textures flooded the senses, and red and black fruits gave way to fine tannin. It was quite monolithic yet not over the top, and it tempted me with what was yet to come. The finish displayed intense tart black and red fruits with lasting minerality, seeming to create a black hole on the palate. I can’t even imagine what this wine will reveal in the decades to come, but I’m sure it will be something very special. (95 points)

2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bricco Ambrogio - This showed a stunning array of aromatics, as eucalyptus and mint opened up to become tart cherry, roses, minerals and hints of undergrowth. On the palate, I found weighty textures of sheer silk, yet lively and balanced, as notes of plum and black cherry gave way to savory tones of salinity and herbs. It finished long on black cherry, spices and fine-grain tannin. (95 points)

2013 Luigi Baudana Barolo Baudana - The nose was dark and rich with brown spices, crushed blackberry, a dusty mix of minerals and spice with a hint of animal musk. On the palate, I found remarkably soft, velvety textures with zesty black fruits, ripe plum and a bitter hint of herbal spice. It was at once youthfully tannic, yet fresh with a dark and imposing persona, finishing long with dark red fruits, saturating spice and a coating of fine tannin. (95 points)

2013 Luigi Baudana Barolo Cerretta - The nose was spicy, with sweet florals and minerals, tart cherry, wild berry, and brown spices. Over time it became more polished and dark fruited, yet never losing it’s mineral thrust. On the palate, it was dark yet lifted and fresh with notes of wild herbs, blackberry and gruff tannin. Drying over time with youthful tannin, the finish was long and structured, only hinting at fruit. The cerretta will require many years in the cellar to show its best. (94 points)

2013 E. Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Mosconi - The nose was polished yet earthy, showing dark red fruits with dusty spices, crushed stone minerality, dark earth and floral tones. On the palate, I found pure, silky textures offset by vibrant acidity with tart red fruits, fine tannin and with a zesty acidity that created a bright expression with inner rosy florals. It finished long with tart berries and clenching young tannin. (94 points)

2013 Vietti Barolo Brunate - The nose was dark and rich, showing mineral-laced floral tones, iron, hints of sweet dark spices, and balsamic tones. On the palate, I found savory, silky textures, with dark red berries, plum, and hints of balsamic. It finished incredibly long and brooding with penetrating notes of dark red berries and dried spices. (94 points)

2013 G.D. Vajra Barolo Ravera - What an incredible bouquet on the 2013 Ravera. Here I found sweet dark florals, and brown spices in an exotic and hauntingly beautiful mix, than minerals, earth and undergrowth come forward. On the palate, I found soft textures with ripe dark red fruits, minerals and slow mounting tannin. It finished refined with saturating, brooding tannin and caking minerality. (94 points)

2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo - This displayed a remarkably layered and engaging bouquet for an entry-level offering. Here I found woodsy earth tones with hints of mint, opening to mineral-infused cherry and tobacco. On the palate, I found lifted textures with a fine web of crystalline tannin that gently caressed the senses, as notes of tart cherry were smoothed out by zesty acidity. It finished long and structured on tart cherry and herbs. This was a fantastic showing. (94 points)

2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Acclivi - What an exotic and floral bouquet, showing wild herbs, strawberry and hints of rose. On the palate, I found soft textures offset by tart red berry, inner floral tones and dusty spices. It finished dry with a coating of fine tannin and masses of dry extract. (93 points)

2013 Vietti Barolo Castiglione - The nose opened with hints of cedar dust, dried cherries, and crushed fall leaves. On the palate, I found refined and silky textures, with pure red fruits, spice, intense minerals and savory depth. The finish was long with hauntingly dark floral tones and hints of bitter herbs. (93 points)

2013 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe - The bouquet displayed intense bright cherry, mint, pine, hints of cedar, roses and spice. On the palate, I found silky textures with a cherry and plum mix, lifted by wonderfully balanced acidity and a hint of youthful tannin. The finish was long with a coating of tart cherry, blackberry, medicinal herbs and hints of spice. (93 points)

2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo - The nose was gorgeous, showing crushed raspberry, hints of herbs, and dusty spice. On the palate, I found soft textures, lifted by pure red fruits, inner floral tones and light tannin. It was remarkably pure, leading in a long finish with hints of tannin and inner floral tones. (92 points)

2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Monvigliero - The nose displayed sweet herbs, undergrowth and cherry liquor. On the palate, silky textures were offset by a bitter twang of tart red fruits and herbs, as the Monvigliero maintained its freshness through zesty acidity. The finish was long with saturating dark red fruits, spice and mint. I enjoyed this quite a bit, yet it lacks the textural heft that brings balance throughout the rest of the lineup. (92 points)

Article, Tasting Notes and Photos by: Eric Guido

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Season of Change: 2013 Brunello di Montalcino

The timing of the annual Benvenuto Brunello tasting is as dependable as the changing of the seasons.  Each year, the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino brings producers together for a tour through Chicago and New York to show the new vintage and their new wines.  It has become the most reliable event for retailers and the press to get their first taste of Brunello in bottle, as well as a sneak peak of what’s ahead by sampling the current Rosso di Montalcino that’s presented.  This year was particularly exciting, as the producers showed off the highly-anticipated 2013 vintage, as we have all been waiting with bated breath.

Why?


The 2013 vintage represents the first opportunity, in the last two years, to add classically-styled Brunello to our cellars.  The warm vintage 2011s were rich, racy and ripe, but far from what the average Brunello lover is looking for, and 2012 fell flat, with stunning aromatics but little thrust or depth on the palate.  What’s more, the majority of producers did not produce any 2014 Brunello (a tremendously wet and disastrous vintage), and 2015 is being referred to as another hot vintage.  What this means to the buyer of Brunello di Montalcino is that, with the exception of paying top dollar in the secondary market for the highly-acclaimed 2010s, 2013 is our best bet to secure wine that will age, and we will easily enjoy over a decade or more.


Then came the mixed messages.


Bottle aging room at Biondi Santi
I find it odd in today’s world of social media and the sharing of information that so many mixed messages would exist around a vintage that has been aged and bottled for over a year now, but that’s exactly what we’ve seen.  Much of this is the result of the world’s leading critics wanting to wait for the release of their own reports to spread their opinions on a vintage (you can’t blame them for this, as it is their livelihood). Yet what has been said, from a report from James Suckling, is that the vintage is variable--and he’s right to a certain degree.  But it’s important to understand why.


The initial fears came as word was spread that there was rain during harvest.  However, the reality is that most producers picked their fruit prior to these rains--which led to the fear that producers didn’t obtain ideal ripeness.  This is absolutely not true, as I can attest to, having now tasted the wines for myself.  And then there is the fact that the Consorzio only rated the vintage four stars--all I can say to that is that the Consorzio rated the 2012 vintage with five stars (a vintage that fell flat on its face).


So why is there variability in 2013 Brunello?


One of the best aspects of Benvenuto Brunello is not only being able to taste the wines, but also to be able to talk to the producers and attend the focus tastings that are held before and during the event.  At this year’s focus tasting, we tasted and talked with Jeff Porter, the Beverage Operations Director at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, and an all-around cool guy with an amazing depth of knowledge regarding Italian wine. He also happened to have been in Montalcino during the 2013 vintage.  In his opinion, the variability of 2013 lies in the conditions throughout the season and the willingness or ability of producers to put in the necessary work in to yield an ideal harvest.


What were the vintage conditions?


The 2013 vintage was the result of a cool and wet spring that led to uneven temperatures through the beginning of the summer.  From cool conditions, to warm and back to cool again, with rain scattered throughout, 2013 was like a vintage from the ‘60s or ‘70s.  What it didn’t have, which helped to maintain its classic character, were heat spikes.  As the summer ended, temperatures regulated and so did the precipitation, leading to ideal conditions through September.  The threat of rain in October (which scared many consumers) was avoided by most producers, as they picked early (a benefit of today’s weather tracking technology).  Some producers tried to wait out the rains, and they paid the price.



From Le Chiuse looking south to Montalcino
The problem with this vintage, that’s been considered cool, rainy, and like a throwback to another era, is that many producers didn’t understand how to cope with the conditions.  In a region like Montalcino, which is driven more by tourist dollars and could be considered the equivalent to a Napa Valley destination in Italy, the producers simply weren’t ready for a year like 2013--a season of constant change.


The good news: 2013 is a Classic vintage.  


Many of the top critics have hinted at 2013 being the next big vintage for Brunello di Montalcino. Often you need to read between the lines in their reports on Rosso di Montalcino, scour through their message boards, or stalk their social media, but in the end the message becomes clear.  It also became very clear to me while tasting at Benvenuto--and other Brunello events this past week.


The producers who put in the work succeeded in creating a selection of beautiful wines. In recent vintages, talk of location was very important, as the north and higher elevations did better through the warmer years, yet in 2013 this was not the case, as the vintage conditions remained relatively the same throughout.


You can expect medium-bodied wines with amazing finesse, vibrant acidity, a core of stimulating minerality and the structure to age.  In some cases, producers did pick too late, losing the necessary acidity or resulting in overripe fruit, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is the exception--not the rule.  I believe that lovers of old-styled, classic vintages will find a lot to like in 2013.  It’s not the knockout, bury-them-for-20-years that the 2010s were, but I find them to be an extremely enjoyable mix of the intensity of 2006, with the mineral-acid core of 2008, which is a pretty amazing combination.


Brunello lovers rejoice, because we finally have a vintage to love again.


On to the tasting notes


Tasting notes were developed through a combination of tasting at Benvenuto Brunello, as well as seated tastings both with and without producers in attendance.  Many wines were tasted more than once in different settings and from different bottles. Any wines that have been tasted since, excluding those following my joining Vinous, have been added and noted as such at the end of the note.


Voliero Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is deeply alluring with violette floral tones, black cherry, dusty spices, leather and hints of savory herbs. On the palate, I’m finding silky textures balanced by zesty acids with texturally-rich cherry and strawberry, sweet spices and minerals which all combine to form a beautifully balanced expression.  It finishes long with saturating dark berry fruits, spice, and fine tannin, yet remains energized by lingering acidity.  I’ve liked this wine in the past, but in 2013 it reached a whole new level. (96 points)


Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino Filo di Seta 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Filo di Seta is intense with a seductive and earthy mix of tart cherry, saline-minerals, dusty soil and mountainous herbs.  It’s silky-soft and textural, yet with zesty acidity providing balance, as dark red berry, spice, leather and mineral tones saturate the senses. The finish is incredibly long, resonating on a core of minerals with hints of fine tannin and persistent red berry fruits lingering long on the senses. (96 points)


Pian dell'Orino Brunello di Montalcino Vigneti del Versante 2013 - Here I’m finding an inviting display of ripe strawberry and cherry giving way to sweet minerals, savory herbal tones and hints of animal musk. On the palate, this boasts refined and silky textures, offset by an intense wave of spiced cherry, strawberry, saline minerals and sweet tannin. It’s youthfully linear yet perfectly focused and balanced with a sweet-and-sour play on the senses. Fine tannins firm up the finish, with lingering acidity allowing hints of dried red fruits, cedar and spice to shine through. This is a wine for the cellar, which I can’t wait to add to my own. (Retasted and updated 3/13/2018) (96 points)


Il Palazzone Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The bouquet on the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino opens with a display of earth, undergrowth and animal musk, as notes of sweet and sour cherry, crushed flowers and fall leaves develop over time. This is a soft expression on the palate, as silky textures are contrasted by saline minerality, before notes of sweet spice and ripe strawberry join the mix. The finish is long and balanced, displaying fine tannin, tart cherry and a twang of savory herbs. This is an excellent vintage for Il Palazzone. (95 points)


Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is rich, savory and quite dark on the nose, displaying black fruit and cherry with minerals and herbs filling in the details. With time in the glass, it develops to show crushed cherry and raspberry with hints of bell pepper. This is a refined and silky expression, as its textures caress the senses with dark red fruits, chalky extract, soft tannins and inner floral tones. The long, dark fruit finish seems to go on and on with hints of savory herbs and minerals.  I was fortunate enough to taste this twice and both times it was stunning. Simply gorgeous. (95 points)


Cerbaiola (Salvioni) Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is earthy and dark, with crushed stone minerality up front, giving way to woodland berries, strawberry, dark moist earth, and undergrowth. On the palate, I'm finding silky textures, with a twang of brisk acids, sweet-and-sour red fruits, spices, dried orange and minerals. It finishes fresh with lingering tannic heft, tart berries and mineral tones. This is a wine for the ages, earthy in the best possible way, while balanced by gorgeous fruit and regal structure. (Retasted and updated 10-18-2018) (95 points)


Capanna Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is wonderfully fresh yet intense, showing crushed strawberry and raspberry with dusty dry soil tones, fall leaves and hints of spice. On the palate, I found velvety textures which were perfectly balanced by a wave of fresh acidity, as dark red fruits and spice nearly enveloped the wine’s fine tannic structure--nearly. The long finish showcased classic tannin with notes of dried cherry, plum, sweet spice and earth tones. (95 points)


Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is remarkably fresh and perfumed, displaying sweet, dried rosy florals, with animal-muskiness giving way to crushed bright cherry, stone dust and hints of cinnamon. This is silky yet lifted on the palate, showing amazing purity, as notes of floral-infused fresh cherry splash across the senses leaving a mix of brisk acidity and crunchy tannin. Pretty inner florals and spice mount throughout the finale, leading to a long and structured finish, yet still lively and fresh, showing earthy florals and lingering minerals. There was so much going on here, yet it’s also wonderfully refined. (Retasted and updated 1-29-2019) (94 points)


Mocali Brunello di Montalcino Vigna delle Raunate 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Raunate is dark, rich and spicy with dried orange, black tea, and crushed black cherry. On the palate, I found cool-toned, lifted textures with bright strawberry, dried florals and leather.  This was juicy to the core through vibrant acidity, as hints of fine tannin slowly set in. The finish was long with palate-satuarting red berry fruits and spice. (94 points)


Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark-fruited yet lifted with hints of sweet dusty spice, minerals, strawberry, plum and dried flowers.  On the palate, I found soft, fleshy textures with dark strawberry, hints of mint and fine tannin, yet almost creamy with balanced acidity.  The finish was medium-long with wild berry, inner florals and hints of bitter cherry. (94 points)


Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The nose on the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is gorgeous and spirited with its sweet, spicy personality, as dusty ripe cherry and wild herbs wafted up from the glass, and earth tones evolved over time.  On the palate, I found a silky, textural experience with lifting minerality, savory herbs and zesty acidity adding depth to its ripe cherry fruit.  The finish was long and classically structured, showing a lot of promise for the future. (94 points)


MastroJanni 2013 Brunello di Montalcino - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino lifts up with an intense woodsey display with dried flowers, dusty soil, tuscan spice and dried black cherry. On the palate, soft textures are offset by savory spices, with saline-minerals, ripe cherry, earthy sous-bois and balanced acidity, providing a pleasurable experience in contrast to the 2013s youthful tannins. The finish is long and spicy as zesty acids linger along with notes of mushroom and red berries. This is already so enjoyable on its energy and earth tones, yet there's so much more in store for the patient collector. (Retasted and updated 3/2/2018) (94 points)


Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The nose on the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark, showing licorice and lavender up front, with notes of undergrowth, moist earth, dusty spices and black cherry evolving with time in the glass.  On the palate, I found velvety textures balanced by zesty acidity with purple inner-floral tones, ripe strawberry, minerals and spice.  It finished long on fine saturating tannin, dried strawberry, and lively acidity that provided grip.  This was a beautifully balanced and enjoyable Brunello. (94 points)


Tiezzi Enzo Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Soccorso 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Soccorso is dark with dried strawberries, blackberry, brown spices, crushed stone minerality and undergrowth.  On the palate, I found angular dense textures yet still enveloping the acid-and-tannin mix, as tart cherry and wild berry fruits combined with zesty citrus-infused acidity.  The finish was long with cheek-puckering red berry fruit, leather tones and fine-grained tannin.  This has a long way to go in the cellar before showing it’s best, but is enjoyable today on its potential alone. (94 points


Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - One of the standouts of my recent tastings, the Fattoria dei Barbi 2013 Brunello di Montalcino hits a perfect balance of earth, spice and minerality, that starts in the bouquet and follows through to the finish.  The nose shows dusty spiced strawberry and tart cherry backed by saline-minerals and hints of animal musk.  This is a soft yet zesty expression, showcasing ripe strawberry fruit with inner floral tones and a savory salty characteristic.  The finish is long with floral-laced tart red berries and hints of fine tannin.  The 2013 is already enjoyable today, yet it has a bright future ahead of it. (94 points)


Caprili 2013 Brunello di Montalcino - The bouquet of the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is thrilling for a lover of traditional Brunello. Here I’m finding an earthy display, showing masses of crushed strawberry mixed with smoke, stone dust, dried florals, sweet sous-bois, and undergrowth. On the palate, soft textures are contrasted by brisk acidity as notes of ripe strawberry and cherry wash across the senses, followed by saline-minerality, spice and leathery notes. It’s fine tannins show through the long finish, along with salty, savory minerals and tart cherries. This is already beautiful but sure to improve over the next five to ten years. (Retasted and updated 3-29-2018) (93 points)


Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is layered, dark and floral with crushed black cherry, plum, rich brown spices, wild herbs, hints of animal musk and undergrowth.  This boasts unbelievably silky textures with a dense mix of sour cherry, balsamic spice and saline-minerality, which creates a sweet-and-sour mix, as fine tannin mounts with each sip. The finish is long with saturating tart red fruits, minerals and grippy young tannins. (93 points


Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is remarkably fresh and refined, displaying pure strawberry and cherry fruit, with dusty sweet floral tones and minerals. This has youthfully-lean textures with zesty acidity giving life to notes of tart cherry, spice and earth tones. It finishes long and structured with lasting dried berry fruit and hints of leather. (93 points)


Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino 2013 -  The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is wonderfully layered and deep, morphing between crushed cherry, strawberry and blueberry before gaining lift through mineral tones and floral undergrowth, along with hints of leather.  On the palate, this is a soft expression which is quickly contrasted by a wave of zesty acidity, as wild berry and orange-citrus-tinged spices saturate the senses. The finish is long with a mix of fresh fruits before light tannin takes control and saturates the senses. Wow, talk about a wine that’s easy to like, and it would probably have scored a bit higher in my book if it wasn’t already so drinkable. (93 points)


Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The2013 Brunello di Montalcino is deep and layered with sweet herbs, undergrowth, crushed strawberry, minerals, undergrowth and dusty spices.  Here I’m finding soft, silk textures with fleshy cherry, spices and zesty minerality.  This is juicy, spicy and fresh with fine tannins setting in through the finale, as zesty bright acidity gives life to dried strawberry and mineral tones. (93 points)


Mocali Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark, showing masses of crushed stone minerality, undergrowth, and black earth upfront, as notes of crushed strawberry and spice develop over time.  On the palate, this boasts soft textures offset by wild berries, spice, inner florals, and hints of animal musk that translate directly from the bouquet. The finish is long with chewy tannins, dried strawberry and hints of spice. (93 points)


San Filippo 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucere - It took a good hour for the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucere to open up. With time in the glass this shows a beautiful bouquet of ripe, dark red fruit with sweet tobacco, herbs, and brown spices. Its velvety textures usher in ripe black cherry and strawberry, yet with a balancing wave of tannin and acid adding vibrancy, while minerals and spice tones saturated the senses. The finish is long, as the 2013’s structure starts to show, as each passing sip builds on the layer of tannin before it. This is a big wine, yet it achieves remarkable balance. (Retasted and updated 10-18-2018) (93 points)


Valdicava 2013 Brunello di Montalcino - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino shows spicy cherry, with sweet, sweet florals, hints of crushed stone and cedar with a twang of alpine herbs. On the palate, this boasts soft textures offset by zesty acids and spice as tart red fruits amass, along with minerals and red inner florals. The finish is long, with young tannins settling on the senses, as red berries, spices and saline minerals slowly faded. (Retasted and updated 10-22-2019) (93 points


Tiezzi Enzo Brunello di Montalcino Poggio Cerrino 2013 - The nose really pulls you in, as the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio Cerrino shows underbrush with crushed strawberry, cherries, brown spices, and dried flowers. This is wonderfully soft and soothing, with fleshy textures ushering in violet-inflected inner florals, darker-toned strawberry fruits and leather. Its acidity is balanced and lively, adding energy and verve, as the 2013 tapers off zesty and fresh lingering on tart berries and hints of spice. (92 points)


Scopetone Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark and intense with masses of crushed strawberry, blackberry, dusty sweet spice and leather.  This is cool-toned in style with silky textures giving way to a vivid mix of cherry and red berry fruits.  Juicy acidity adds vibrancy, as the 2013 finishes medium-long with tart currant and hints of spice.  What the 2013 Scopetone lacks in depth, it makes up for in sheer drinkability. (92 points)


Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is pretty, showing dried floral tones with spiced black cherry.  On the palate, I found a zesty expression with black cherry, sweet spices, and minerals.  The finish was medium-long with an acid twang, dried black cherry and a hint of bitter herbs. (92 points)


Fanti Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is airy and fresh with sweet cherry and dusty floral tones. This provides a soft textural experience, as ripe berries and sweet spice combine with brisk acidity to create a very forward and “easy-to-like” expression.  The finish is medium-long and energetic, with ripe berry and spice tones lasting throughout.  I can’t imagine this wine maturing over the course of decades, but I’m not sure that matters with how enjoyable it is already. (92 points)


Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino La Casa 2013 - At first, the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino La Casa is withdrawn, yet it comes to life with time in the glass, showing dusty red berry fruits and dried flowers. On the palate, this is an angular expression with brisk acidity adding much needed energy, as spiced red berries and minerals flood the senses, then proceed to reveal saturating tannin with notions of salty minerals and crushed stone on the finish. I have to wonder just how this wine will evolve, as my impression leaves me thinking that the fruit may not outlive the structure. (92 points)


Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is rich and very dark, as blackberry and notes of sweetened cream wafted up from the glass. With time, savory spices, undergrowth and leather emerge.  This is silky and dense on the palate, with caressing textures, dark red fruits, savory herbs and saline-minerality. The finish is long, showing the first signs of youthful tannin, as notes of dried cherry and minerals linger on and on. Being told that it’s a wine that’s made in a traditional manner, I was confused by its richness and textures--yet the proof of it’s quality is easily recognizable. (92 points)


La Magia Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is remarkably pretty and understated, showing cranberry, perfumed floral tones and a sweet dusting of spice. It’s wonderfully textural and dense on the palate, yet balanced through brisk acidity with a mix of rosy cherry, inner florals, dusty spices and hints of cedar. The finish is long and structured, resonating on sour cherry and cheek-puckering dry tannins. (92 points)


Poggio il Castellare Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is withdrawn at first, needing time in the glass to evolve and display pure red berry fruits, dusty earth and dried floral tones. Here I’m finding soft, velvety textures with dark red fruits, a cut of balancing acidity and saline minerality. The finish is youthfully dry with tart red berries, hints of leather and a lasting salty flourish. (91 points)


La Poderina 2013 Brunello di Montalcino - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark and rich, showing crushed black cherry, sweet herbs, smoky minerality, balsamic spices and a hint of fresh coffee bean. On the palate, I’m finding soft textures with tart red and black fruits, zesty acids, spice, leather, and inner floral tones. It finishes long and spicy, with saturating red fruits, resonating red florals and balsamic spice. (91 points)


La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The bouquet of the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is layered and deep with earth and underbrush up front, giving way to ripe black cherry, strawberry, and evolving to include crushed stone and moist soil. It’s silky textures give way to tart cherry and sweet spice, yet it lacks follow-through. The finish is medium-long and energetic through late-arriving acidity. (91 points)


Podere Brizio Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino shows crushed cherry, spice, dried flowers, and minerals, yet it’s also a bit dried out. On the palate, this displays soft textures with cherry, licorice and inner florals, in an airy and fresh expression.  The finish is long with spicy cherry saturating deeply, along with a coating of fine tannin. (92 points)


La Colombina Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The nose of the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark with notes of crushed blackberry, dusty spice, lavender and cedar.  On the palate, I’m finding soft, silky textures with ripe cherry, sweet spice, licorice and sweet fine tannin. This is driven and intense yet balanced with lively acidity.  The finish is long and spicy, with fine tannin gripping the senses.  The 2013 is already enjoyable and growing on me more and more as I taste it. (92 points)


Altesino Brunello di Montalcino - The 2013 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is pretty with a mix of red berries, spice and violet floral tones. On the palate, silky textures offset bright strawberry, and spices with brisk acidity and slightly chewy tannins. The finish is long, resonating with dried cherries, lingering acids and earth tones. (91 points)


Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark, showing black cherry, floral undergrowth, rich spices and moist earth.  On the palate, silky textures with dark red berry fruit and inner floral tones flesh out, as the experience turns more angular, with tannin mounting with each sip. The finish is medium in length with dark florals and black cherry.  It’s far from a bad wine, yet much of its appeal is only surface-deep. (90 points)


Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino shows deep wild berries with earthy minerals and animal musk. On the palate, I’m finding a vibrant expression, as a mix of cherry and strawberry combined with notes of underbrush.  The finish iss shorter than I’d hoped, with hints of leather, spice and drying tannin. (90 points)


Col di Lamo Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is withdrawn at first, requiring quite a bit of coaxing before a bouquet of bright cherry and dusty florals emerge. On the palate, I’m finding a soft-plush expression with fleshy sweet cherry and hints of spice. The finish is energetic and medium-long, displaying a mix of zesty acidity together with saline-minerality. (89 points)


Poggio Nardone Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is dark and quite ripe, showing crushed black cherry, strawberry, sweet herbs, and undergrowth.  On the palate, this is a juicy expression with ripe blackberry, strawberry and sweet spices. Fine tannins settle in through the finale, along with hints of undergrowth and violet florals  This lack a bit of depth, leaning more on ripeness of fruit. (89 points)


Capanne Ricci Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino shows bright cherry and spice with hints of tobacco and dried flowers. Here I’m finding silky textures with persistent red berry fruit and sweet spice, yet it lacks the thrust of the best wines. The finish is medium in length, as a bump of acidity adds a lively tang to the finale. (88 points)


Casicano Tommasi Family Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino shows floral undergrowth with black cherry, marine-inspired minerality and savory herbs. This gives way to a silky expression on the palate with plum and sweet spice, yet it lacks depth and the necessary acidity to add energy and tension. The finish is medium-long with light tannin and hints of dried red fruits. (88 points)


Piancornello e Podere del Visciolo Brunello di Montalcino 2013 - The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino shows dusty spices up front with ripe red fruits and dusty florals.  This is a soft expression with flesh cherry and clove, but little else. The finish is saturating to the senses, as a mix of dry tannin and red and blue fruits hold firm. (87 points)