Monday, March 16, 2009

The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino

I had high hopes for the 2004 Brunello, coming as it did on the heels of the two worst vintages in many, many years. And they were at least partially met, though the vintage isn't the sure-fire proposition that those who rate vintages thought it would be.

Some of the wines are excellent, displaying rich fruit, vibrant tannins and bracing acidity that have much to say now, will be superb with rich dishes, especially succulent meats, and will age well over a period of many years.

Others are also good, albeit in a style that I have more trouble understanding, with richer, much riper fruit and sweeter, softer tannins; a fellow taster said they reminded him of Central Californian reds, and while they will be nice by the glass if you like the style, I don't see them working as well with foods, nor do I think that they will age as well.

And then there are weaker wines, in both of these styles. In other words, the vintage is what Italians call a chiazze di leopardo, like a leopard's spots, i.e. uneven, and therefore requires a that one select the wines with care, keeping in mind both style and quality.

Truth be told, the situation isn't as negative as it sounds, because, as Gianfranco Soldera pointed out in the course of a dinner a few weeks ago, vintages that look perfect on paper (for example 1997 or 1982) rarely reach the heights that were expected of them at the time of the harvest. More difficult vintages (and a number of people did tell me that the 2004 was) require that the winemaker work more in vineyard and cellar, and as a result have facets and qualities the easier vintages simply lack, and develop more fully with time. Casting PC aside, one might consider the difference between a person whose beauty is natural, and one who obtained beauty with the aid of a surgeon -- the natural might not be perfect, and indeed the imperfections contribute, whereas what is surgical may be spectacular, but is ultimately less interesting and with less character.

And now for the elephant in the room.
What, you wonder, has become of the scandal that roared through the Brunello appellation last spring, with many wineries being accused of vineyard irregularities of one sort or another (overproduction or illegal varietals)? Nobody was talking about it, and since the accusations have not yet (and may never) become convictions, I didn't see much point in bringing it up. People said it was a sad and messy situation last year, and the opinion will not have changed. But I did notice a significant change in the color of the wines: there was much more garnet than there has been in years past.

What am I talking about? All wines change color as they age. Most reds start with deep purple hues, and Sangiovese, the grape that is used to make Brunello, is no exception. However, after 4-5 years, which is the time Brunello ages for, Sangiovese is usually a pleasing, not too dark almandine garnet, and may have garnet to orange in the rim. And this is what I found in just about every glass of Brunello I tasted this time. Not so in the past, however, when colors ranged from the garnet one expects of Sangiovese to considerably darker hues that did raise doubts.

Something has changed, and while I am certain that some of the suspiciously dark wines of yore got their color from the "taglio migliorativo" provision of the Brunello Disciplinare, which allows producers can add up to 15% of a different (usually younger and darker) vintage to perk up their Brunello if they find it wanting, the across the board nature of the color shift this year suggests that other forces may also have been at work.

It is quite possible that those who in the past bent the rules, adding other things to make their Brunello more appealing to the international markets before bottling it (while some people to blend wines made from several varietals at the outset, many prefer to keep the varietals separate until bottling, because doing so allows them more control over the wine) decided to forego the practice, and I cannot but view this development favorably, as I think that a well-made Sangiovese has no need of crutches. I also think it is sad that it took the concrete threat of criminal investigation to deter the practice, and can only hope that garnet will continue to be as prevalent in future vintages as it was in this one.

Winding down, Tom Hyland recently talked with Mirko Giorgini, who owns an Enoteca in Cerbaia, about Brunello and where it's headed. You can find the post here: http://thylandviews.blogspot.com/2009/03/fixing-brunello.html, and it's main thrust is, if we forget about doctored wines, where is Brunello headed? It's a good question, and Mirko thinks that one should at least worry about what the wines will be like 20 to 30 years from now, because a good Brunello should be like distance runner, and last. I agree, and fear that while many of the wines presented in the course of the Anteprima will pass the test of time, a significant percentage will not, primarily those in the style I have more trouble understanding.

Last thing: there were 146 wineries presenting their Brunello. This is almost everyone who makes Brunello, and is more than i can taste in two days. So I selected, picking some wines because I know the wineries, others because colleagues nodded about them, and still others because the names caught my eye.

And Now the Wines, in (roughly) the order I tasted them, February 20-21 2009

Il Poggione
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is rich, with rich cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity and by a fair amount of alcoholic warmth, with depth coming from deft slightly greenish bitter accents. Quite young, but also articulate and has quite a bit to say. Interesting things. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful bright tart berry fruit supported by ample tannins that still have a degree of anger to them, and flow into a clean sour cherry fruit finish with lasting warmth. It's very nice, but not really ready yet -- one could drink it if one had to with a thick steak, but it will show much better in 5 years, and even better in 15. Impressive, for the future.
2 stars

Il Marroneto
Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Black cherry ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by some greenish accents and deft spice. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's fairly rich, with clean slightly sour cherry fruit supported by sweet tannins that are already quite smooth, and by deft berry fruit acidity that flows into a clean fairly bright tannic finish. It's pleasant in a more delicate key, and will drink nicely with succulent meats from the oven or grill, and also with light stews. It's ready, though time will improve it, and it will age well for a decade or more.
2 stars

Col D'Orcia
Col D'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, and angrily young, with penetrating slightly greenish acidity laced with sour berry fruit and a fair amount of spice; it brings to mind a pretty girl in the midst of a bad hair day. On the palate it's ample, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are smoother than I might have expected, but also have a reserved feel to them, and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish with tannic underpinning. It's going to be quite nice, but needs a couple of years to begin getting its bearings, and will improve for many more thereafter.
2 stars

Banfi
Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is deft, with cherry prune fruit supported by carob, spice and hints of sandalwood greenness with some underlying bitterness. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich fruit supported by clean slightly mineral acidity and by tannins that are sweet, though they still have a slight peppery burr, and flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. It's pleasant and quite approachable, and ready to drink, though more time will give it greater depth and balance. A nice introduction to Brunello, and a number of fellow tasters who have frowned at Banfi in the past were smiling and nodding.
2 stars

Banfi Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with pungent cherry plum fruit supported by quite a bit of bitterness and greenish cedar; it's rather brooding. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich berry fruit that's supported more by almost dusky sweetness than acidity (though there is enough to keep it from flagging), and by tannins that leave a dusty trail over the tongue and flow into a fairly bitter tannic finish. It needs at least a year to get its bearings, and probably two, at which point it will be fairly elegant in a slightly overripe, softer key. If you like the style you will enjoy it, but if you prefer tighter wines with more acidity it won't work as well for you.
2 stars

Pacenti Franco Canalicchio
Pacenti Franco Canalicchio Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is quite ripe, with cherry plum fruit supported by green leather and hints of sweetness, also a fair amount of cedar. On the palate it's ample, and rather soft, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by clean soft tannins that flow into a fairly tart finish. It's quite drinkable, but somehow feels lacking -- I'd have expected more depth and excitement from a Brunello.
1 star

Pian Delle Querci
Pian Delle Querci Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cut flowers mingled with red berry fruit and some pungent notes, with underlying bitterness. It has a tired fell to it. On the palate it's ample, and fairly soft, with bright cherry fruit supported by moderately intense cherry acidity, and by tannins that are already quite smooth, and flow into a rather languid cherry finish. It's not settled, but spreads out, and I found myself wishing it were tighter and better defined, with more bracing acidity and tannins that had more backbone.
1 star

Pian Delle Vigne
Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by greenish cedary spice and a fair amount of warmth. On the palate it's deft, with fairly rich, fairly sweet cherry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and by moderately intense cherry acidity that flows into a clean rather bitter cherry finish. It's quite approachable, in a slightly lighter key than I expected, and I found myself wishing that there were more depth and richness of fruit to the wine; I would drink it sooner than later because as it ages it will become quite lacy and perhaps a little too ethereal. It does, in any case, mark a distinct departure with respect to Antinori's previous Pian Delle Vigne vintages, which were darker and more concentrated, and it's a departure I'm quite happy with.
2 stars

Siro Pacenti
Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is rich, with bright slightly jammy cherry fruit supported by deft slightly greenish acidity and by some dusky bitter cedar with vanilla that adds depth. Pleasant in a bright zesty key. On the palate it's ample, and rich, with powerful cherry fruit supported by clean bright berry fruit acidity, and by sweet tannins that will be quite smooth in a year or two, though they now display a youthful burr that flows into a clean bright cherry finish. Graceful, and is one of those wines that seems simpler than it is; there's considerable harmony in a rich fruit forward style, and it has quite a bit to say. But do give it at least a year (two would be better) to get its bearings about it, because it needs the time, and will age well for many years thereafter. Worth seeking out if you like the style.
88-90

Poggio Antico
Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is elegant, with deft cherry fruit supported by green leather and warm slightly balsamic spice; there's a cheeky tartness to it and it has quite a bit of depth. Interesting. On the palate it's full, with bright rich cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are fairly smooth -- they're still young -- and flow into a clean rich berry fruit finish. Quite nice, in a vibrantly young key, and though one could drink it now with a steak or roast, it will richly reward those blessed with the patience to give it 5, or better yet 10 years. Worth seeking out
2 stars

Poggio Antico Altero Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with berry fruit laced with sweetish vanilla and a fair amount of bitter cedar that sends up nose-tingling spice as well. On the palate it's ample, and much softer than the Base, with rich rather sweet cherry fruit supported by moderately intense dusky acidity, and by tannins that are quite smooth, and have been well polished, flowing into a clean rather bitter berry fruit finish. It's much softer than the base, and to my mind less interesting because the oak has smoothed out the irregularities and knocked back much of the acidity, though some does emerge in the finish, keeping it alive. If you like the style, which is fairly international, it is very well made and you will enjoy it. But you have to like the style.
2 stars

Castelgiocondo
Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. Much lighter than last year's. The bouquet is rich, with cherry fruit that's candied at first swish, though the candy fades, supported by dusky bitterness and some sea salt that gains in intensity. On the palate it's full, and fairly bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by moderately intense clean cherry acidity, and by tannins that are quite young and display a greenish splintery burr as they flow into a clean tannic finish with tart berry fruit acidity. It's pleasant in a fairly direct key, and is very different from previous vintages I have tasted; my impression is that it's much more true to Sangiovese. In terms of accompaniments, it will be nice with grilled meats or roasts.
2 stars

Tenuta Greppone Mazzi
Tenuta Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with leathery greenish cherry fruit supported by a fair amount of spice; the overall impression is brooding. On the palate it's bright, however, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that have a slightly more languid feel than I'd have liked, flowing into a clean rather bitter finish. It's quite approachable, but needs another year at least for the tannins to fold in, at which point it will be pleasant in a fairly middle of the road key, and drink nicely with meats off the grill or out of the oven.
2 stars

Tenute Silvio Nardi
Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fairly pale almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is deft, in a more mature key than some, with cherry fruit laced with leaf tobacco, and mingling with some green leather, underlying savory accents, and a fair amount of alcohol; nice balance in a fairly traditional key and quite harmonious. On the palate it's full and rich, with bright cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are sweet and fairly smooth, though they still have a youthful splintery burr, flowing into a clean bright berry fruit finish that gains depth from bitter accents. Pleasant in a fairly traditional key, and though one could drink it now with a steak or roast, it will improve considerably if left alone for 5-10 years.
2 stars

Tenute Silvio Nardi Vigneto Manachiara Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry and forest berry fruit supported by greenish cedar and deft mineral acidity; it gives an impression of brooding fruit driven power. On the palate it's ample, with rich cherry forest berry fruit supported by fairly bright greenish tannins, and by moderate citric acidity that flows into a clean greenish tannic finish with lasting warmth. It's pleasant, though not really deft, and this may be youth at work. It needs a little more time, a year at least, to get its bearings and fall into place, at which point it will work nicely with rich roasts or stews, and has the wherewithal to age nicely for a number of years.
2 stars

Altesino
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling almost to onion skin. The bouquet is a bit rustic, with balsamic notes mingled with cherry fruit and a fair amount of alcohol, with underlying berry fruit acidity and some sea salt. On the palate it's fairly rich, with languid, leathery cherry fruit supported by warm balsamic acidity and by tannins that are fairly smooth, and flow into a warm rather balsamic cherry finish. It's distinctly old style (not traditional), and if you like the style you will enjoy it very much; it will drink well with flavorful grilled meats, and has the wherewithal to age nicely for quite some time, becoming lacy in a leathery sort of way. If you prefer more, and fresher (not necessarily sweeter or riper), fruit, it won't work for you.
2 stars

Altesino Montosoli Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with alcohol and balsam mingled with some greenish spice, and peppery accents; with more swishing ripe plum cherry fruit also emerges, but it's still working its way to the fore. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by delicate berry fruit acidity, and by ample smooth tannins that flow into a warm sour berry fruit finish. It's quite different from the base, in a richer, riper, softer key, and if you like that wine, which is rather rustic and old style, I'm not sure you will like this. In terms of accompaniments, because of its ample softness it will work well with drier meats, and it's worth considering if you like the style.
2 stars

Argiano
Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with brownish black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, with rich dusky cherry fruit supported by peppery cedar and hints of sticky dark brown sugar; there's also a fair amount of alcohol, and with swishing some leather emerges. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful fairly sweet cherry forest berry fruit supported by deft acidity that's not sharp but is quite enough to keep the wine on its toes, and by tannins that are smooth, and rather soft -- not tight -- and flow into a moderately intense tannic finish. It's approachable, in a rather big key, but doesn't have as much verve as some of the wines poured, and I found myself rather missing that. This said, it's not bad in a middle of the road key, and will drink nicely with stews or roasts in the short term, though I would give it a few years.
2 stars

Tenute Niccolai - Podere Bellarina
Tenute Niccolai - Podere Bellarina Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cherry fruit supported by some greenish cedar and something that provides a haunting quality, as well as underbrush deft spice. Nice balance in a middle of the road key. On the palate it's full, with rich fairly sweet cherry plum fruit supported moderate acidity, which is sufficient to keep it on its toes, and by tannins that are warm and will be smooth, though they now have a splintery burr, and flow into a plum cherry finish. It's pleasant in a slightly overripe key, if you like the smoother softer nature that comes with this it will drink nicely with roasts or stews.
2 stars

Corte Pavone
Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections; it's poured ink and much darker than most of the other wines poured. The bouquet is powerful, and smoky, with hardwood ash mingled with pungent bitterness and some sea salt; with more swishing some berry fruit emerges too, though it's masked under the wood. On the palate it's full, and richer than one might have expected, with bright cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are well polished, and flow into a clean smooth cherry fruit finish. It's extremely international in style, with the tannins deftly polished by small wood, and if you like the style you will enjoy it. If you are instead more of a traditional bent it won't work well for you, and I would in any case give it a year or two to allow the nose to develop.
2 stars

Ciacci Piccolomini D'Aragona
Ciacci Piccolomini D'Aragona Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with bright berry fruit supported by greenish cedary accents and some sandalwood, with hints of graphite shavings and alcoholic warmth as well. On the palate it's full, and rather languid, with bright cherry fruit supported by berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are well polished, though they do display a cedary youthful burr, and flow into a clean rather dry finish. It's a little drier than some vintages, but this is in part youth, and as the tannins fold in it will become elegant in a middle of the road key, and contribute nicely to a meal built around succulent meats from the grill or oven. I would also expect it to age nicely for 8-10 years at least.
2 stars

Canalicchio di Sopra
Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with considerable greenish cedar mingled with peppery nose tingling spice; there's not much fruit. On the palate it's full, with fairly generic red berry fruit supported by bitter acidity and by tannins that are quite powerful, and very smooth, and flow into a decidedly tongue-tying cedary tannic finish. It has swallowed a barrel salt, and is struggling with it. With time things may improve.
1 star

Citille di Sopra
Citille di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, and decidedly cedar laced with some greenish accents, but not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with brighter than expected berry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are sweet and fairly smooth, though they still need a year for their youthful burr to fold in, and the nose could also stand a while to develop. A babe, and it's a bit too soon to say much, really, though given the fruit on the palate it may do interesting things. Time will tell.

Donatella Cinelli Colombini
Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some pungent accents and spice, with underlying wet leather and alcoholic warmth. It's brooding. On the palate it's full, in a rather soft key, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity, and by very smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fruit laced finish with tart underpinning. It's a touch overripe, though not into plum, and as a result the tannins are a touch softer; if you like the style it will drink well with succulent red meats. If oyu prefer a tighter style, it won't work as well for you.
2 stars

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Casata Prime Donne Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections; it's darker than many of the wines poured. The bouquet is eye-opening, with cooked cherry fruit that has candied accents, and is supported by peppery spice and a fair amount of cedar, with hints of leather and graphite shavings, and alcoholic warmth. On the palate it's full, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by moderate berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are ample and very smooth, flowing into a clean plum fruit finish. It's frankly overripe, in a big, soft key, and if you like the style will drink nicely with drier meats. And indeed is a fine expression of the style, but you have to like it; if you prefer tighter better defined wines it won't work for you.
2 stars

Villa Poggio Salvi
Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively fairly pale almandine with black reflections and orange in the rim. The bouquet is bright, with greenish berry fruit supported by vegetal accents and tart acidity that provides nice balance; it gives an impression of being scrappy. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich tart cherry fruit supported by tart berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are warm and fairly aggressive, and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish. It's scrappy on the palate too, and needs at least a year to come together -- two would be better -- at which point it will be elegant in a bright fairly traditional fruit and acidity driven key, and work well with succulent meats in the sort term, while also having the potential to age nicely for at least a decade and perhaps more, becoming lacy with time. Worth seeking out if you're of traditional tastes.
2 stars

Le Chiuse
Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, and surprisingly young, with floral accents mingled with berry fruit and some spice; it gives an impression of being not quite a work in progress, but still developing. On the palate it's full, with rich red berry fruit supported by clean sour berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish with tannic underpinning flows into a clean tannic berry fruit finish. It needs another year at least to get its bearings, at which point it will drink nicely with red meats. To be honest I'm undecided on it; it has a delicate sweetness to it that's not something I associate with Brunello. Time will tell.

Lambardi
Lambardi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Pale almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with deft greenish berry fruit supported by clean spice from grape and a fair amount of alcohol; it's quite young too. On the palate it's full, with bright cherry fruit supported by deft cherry acidity and by tannins that still display a youthful burr, but promise to smooth quite nicely over the next couple of years. Pleasant in a traditional key, and if you like the style it will drink very well with grilled or roasted meats, though it will also richly reward those who have the patience to give it time.
2 stars

Lisini
Lisini Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some delicate spice and hints of fruit. It's still developing. On the palate it's bright, with lively red berry fruit supported by clean slightly sour cherry raspberry acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish. The nose is behind the palate at present, and it needs at least a year to get its bearings, though two would be better. When it's ready it will do a beautiful job of supporting a steak or roast, and it will also age well for a decade or more, assuming you have the patience. Worth seeking out if you prefer the more traditional style.
2 stars

Castello Tricerchi
Castello Tricerchi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish cedar-laced spice and considerable rather dusky alcohol; there's not much fruit. Pungency, however. On the palate it's full, with rather tart greenish berry fruit supported by moderately intense acidity and by deft tannins that flow into a warm tannic finish. I'd have liked greater depth and richness to the wine, which has a rather tired feel to it.
1 star

Campogiovanni
Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep leathery almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with leaf tobacco and underlying green leather mingled with some tart nose tingling balsamic acidity. It has a mature feel, and there's not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry fruit laced with balsamic acidity warmth, and supported by tannins that are still quite young, and lay a greenish veneer over the tongue. It's quite young on the palate and needs at least another year, if not two, to get its bearings together and figure out where it's going, though it would appear, thanks to the balsamic accents, to be headed in the direction of the nose. You have to like this mature rather rustic style to enjoy it; if you do it will drink quite well with succulent roasts. But you have to like the style.
2 stars

Barbi
Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rather staid, with moderate berry fruit supported by quite a bit of dusky, savory sea salt, and by some bitter accents. On the palate its' full and fairly sweet, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by brown sugar accents and some spice, which lead into a tannic finish. It has a tired feel to it, and though I would give it a year or two to get its bearings, I wouldn't keep it for that long.
1 star

Barbi Vigna del Fiore Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with spicy savory accents and alcoholic warmth supported by green leather and some nose-tingling spice. Not much in the way of fruit. On the palate it's fairly rich, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by moderate berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are dusty and a touch rough, and flow into a rather bitter finish. It doesn't have either the depth nor the elegance that I would hope, and to the contrary is both tired and a bit settled.
1 star

Le Gode
Le Gode Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with elegant slightly greenish red berry fruit supported by deft nose tingling acidity and cedar-laced spice. On the palate it's full, with bright cherry fruit supported by clean fresh cherry acidity and by sweet tannins that do have a slight youthful burr that will smooth with time, and flows into a dry savory tannic finish with considerable warmth. It's pleasant in a powerful middle of the road key, and will drink well with succulent grilled meats or hearty stews in the short term (3-5 years), and also has the legs to age well for a number of years, improving and becoming graceful with time..
2 stars

Mastrojanni
Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, with deft balsam laced berry fruit supported by some Moroccan leather and clean warm spice, with underlying dried flowers. Graceful, though a little more mature than one would expect from a newly released wine. On the palate it's ample, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by deft plum acidity, while added roundness comes from some brown sugar sweetness, while the tannins are ample and fairly soft, flowing into a clean rather warm sweet balsamic finish. It's quite ripe, and more mature than I had expected; if you like big soft wines and have a traditional bent you'll enjoy it, whereas if you prefer brighter, more tightly woven wines you will like it less. It will, in any case, age nicely for a number of years.
2 stars

Mastrojanni Vigna Schiena D'Asino Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Pale almandine with black reflections and almandine ruby rim; it looks older than it is. The bouquet is fairly intense, with prunes mingling with cedar, some vanilla, and Moroccan leather; the impression is one rather lax maturity, like a 40-something woman who has tanned a lot for many years and has lines on her face. On the palate it's ample and fairly soft, with fruit that's considerably brighter than I expected -- cherry with tart berry fruit overtones, supported by ample, quite soft, warm tannins that flow into a warm tart berry fruit finish. The palate is much more interesting than the nose, and though it's not a wine I would suggest to those who like smoother softer ripe fruit driven wines in the International Merlot cast, it will work if you prefer more traditional wines that have an aggressive bent to them. It takes no quarter; you will either like it or not, but I found it growing upon me. Worth seeking out if you like the style.
2 stars

La Gerla
La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Garnet with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some berry fruit supported by dried mushroom bitterness and by some rather milky acidity, with a fair amount of alcoholic warmth as well. More richness of fruit would have been nice. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity, and by dusky bitterness, while the tannins are smooth and sweet and flow into a clean plum finish that gains depth from some cola sweetness. It's ample, and a bit overripe, and needs another year at least for the nose to come around, at which point it will be something to think about if you like big, soft, fruit driven wines that boast lively acidity and aren't really into plum. I'd have liked a bit more tightness to the tannins, which are a bit soft, but if you like the style you'll enjoy it.
2 stars

La Gerla Vigna Gli Angeli Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with plum and prune fruit supported by dusty Moroccan leather and some bitter accents that add a dusky feel to it. On the palate it's ample, and frankly sweet, with fairly rich prune fruit supported by prune juice acidity and hints of dark brown sugar, while the tannins are smooth and warm with some greenish splintery accents. To be honest, were someone to set a glass of this in front of me and ask me what it is, I would probably venture a slightly less concentrated than usual Amarone Ammandorlato. It's not what I think of as Brunello, though does display a certain elegance, and will drink nicely by the glass if you like this style of wine.
1 star

La Fortuna
La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively black garnet with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is initially muted, but opens some to reveal bright red berry fruit supported by deft acidity and by clean spice from grapes; the effect is graceful, but the door never opens completely -- it's still very young and developing. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by deft cherry acidity and by tannins that are sweet but still have a warm youthful burr, and flow into a clean bright sour cherry finish with a bitter tannic underpinning. Graceful, in a rather vibrant key, and I would give it another year at least to get its bearings, and expect it to age well for a decade or more. Worth seeking out if you like this rather vibrant, fairly traditional style.
2 stars

La Magia
La Magia Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim tending to almandine. The bouquet is smoky, with red berry fruit supported by a fair amount of green bell pepper, which is a bit unusual in a Brunello, but works nicely here. On the palate it's ample and rather soft, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that are ample and rather flat, and flow into a warm greenish fairly flat finish. The palate is flatter than I might have liked, and also more settled. I'd have liked more life and verve.

Tenuta La Fuga
Tenuta la Fuga Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright, with moderately intense cherry fruit supported by alcoholic warmth, some peppery spice, and quite a bit of shaved graphite bitterness. On the palate it's ample, and fairly soft, with bright berry fruit supported by moderate berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are fairly rich, and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish that gains depth from bitter berry fruit undertones. It's ample in a fairly soft key, but has sufficient bright acidity to keep it light on its toes, and will drink well with simple stews or light meats. It also has the acidity necessary to age for a few years, though I don't think I would keep it all that long.
2 stars

Tenuta Oliveto
Tenuta Oliveto Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. One of the darker wines poured today. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry plum fruit that seems fairly sweet, and is supported by nose tingling acidity with some dusky bitter cedar and graphite shaving accents too. On the palate it's ample and quite sweet, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit that gains definition from bright berry fruit acidity, and is supported by fairly smooth tannins that have a cedary burr and flow into a clean rather dry -- on account of the tannins -- finish. It's unusual for a Brunello, and quite a bit sweeter than most everything else poured in the course of the tasting. If you like this sort of big sweet wine you'll enjoy it, but only if.
1 star

Caprili
Caprili Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with bright berry fruit supported by def berry fruit acidity and by a fair amount of warm alcohol as well; it's deft in a young key and has quite a bit to say. On the palate it's full, with bright ripe cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a tart fairly ripe berry fruit finish. Quite pleasant in a rich, fruit driven key, and though it does need another year for the tannins to smooth, it will drink nicely with succulent roasts or stews, and has the wherewithal to age nicely for a decade or more.
2 stars

Castello Romitorio
Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by greenish accents and a fair amount of alcohol, with moderate acidity as well. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich greenish berry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean tannic finish that gains depth from graphite shaving bitterness. It's quite young, but promises well, and will become fairly graceful in a rather traditional key. One could drink it now with succulent roasts or stews, but it will benefit from another year or two, and will hold well for a decade at least.
2 stars

Gianni Brunelli - Le Chiuse di Sotto
Gianni Brunelli - Le Chiuse di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some graphite shaving bitterness laced with alcohol and a fair amount of nose tingling spice. On the palate it's full, and fairly soft, with ample plum cherry fruit supported by fairly bright acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean cherry plum finish that gains life from deft rather bitter forest berry fruit. It's ample, and rather soft, and if you like the style it will drink well with succulent red meats, because it's not terrifically overripe.
1 star

La Palazzetta
La Palazzetta Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Black almandine with black reflections and black reflections leading to an almandine rim. The bouquet is eye opening, with a rush of diesel fuel at first swish, which parts to reveal hardwood ash and some mentholated spice, but not much in the way of fruit. Some plum, but that's about it. On the palate it's ample and soft with moderately rich cherry plum fruit supported by bright plum acidity that flows into a clean fresh cherry finish, while the tannins are quite smooth, and quite soft, and flow into a clean bright cherry fruit finish. Pleasant in an ample softer ripe but not overripe fruit driven key, and because of the brightness and tartness of the fruit will drink well with more succulent cuts, including rare roast beef or a porterhouse steak, than some soft fruit wines can handle. I wouldn't hold it for too long, but if you like the style it is pleasant.
2 stars

Tenuta Le Potazzine
Tenuta le Potazzine Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Delicate black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with red berry fruit supported by green leather and some nose tingling spice, with an underpinning of bitter graphite shavings. Pleasant in a traditional key. On the palate it's bright, with clean rich cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean tannic finish with bright berry fruit underpinning and lasting warmth. Refreshing and quite pleasant in a traditional key; it will drink very well with roasts or stews, though it will profit from another year at least, and also age well for a decade or more. If you like the traditional style, and even if you're more modern, it's Worth seeking out.
88-90

Collemattoni
Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine in the rim; it's dark for the wines poured this year. The bouquet is fairly intense, with considerable cedar and some nose tingling spice, and -- concentrating -- some cherry plum fruit. But it's mostly greenish cedar. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity, and to a greater degree by cedary bitterness associated with the tannins, which are ample, quite smooth, and have cedar overtones that flow into a warm rather green cedar laced finish. A great lot of oak, and frankly for me too much, especially in the finish, which is tongue drying.
1 star

Ferrero
Ferrero Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, in a rather rustic balsamic key with balsamic notes mingled with scalded milk and a fair amount of nose tingling spice; there's also some wet horse and some underbrush. On the palate it's ample, and fairly rich, with bright cherry fruit supported by moderate berry fruit acidity that has slight caramelized accents, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly dry cherry plum finish with some balsamic overtones. It is, as I said, a bit rustic, and you have to like the style to enjoy it. If you do, it will work well with simple grilled meats or light stews, but you do have to like the style. If you don't it won't work for you.
1 star

San Filippo
San Filippo Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with back reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, in an unusual (for a Brunello) way, with bright floral accents mingled with spice and some red berry fruit, with hints of vanilla and sweetness as well. A fellow taster would be muttering about pastries. On the palate it's bright, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by graphite-cedar bitterness and moderate acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into an ample rather soft fruit laced finish. It's got quite a bit of fruit, and this is a good thing, because it's also heavily oaked, and the fruit has managed to stand up to the oak, though the result is a fairly soft wine, and I would have preferred more tightness and better definition. If you like the style it will drink well with succulent, not too fatty roasts or stews, and I would drink it sooner than later, because I fear it will tire with time.
1 star

Fattoi
Fattoi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with slightly pungent red berry fruit supported by tart berry fruit acidity and a fair amount of alcohol, with underbrush and balsam as well as it opens. On the palate it's full, with fairly bright cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a warm fairly bitter tart finish. It's woefully young, and needs at least a couple of years to get its bearings and become more civil, at which point it will drink well with succulent red meats in the short term, and hold for a decade or more in the long term. Because of its tart aggressiveness you should only consider it if you like the more traditional style. If you do, you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Donna Olga
Donna Olga Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim. Darker than some. The bouquet is deft, with moderately intense rich cherry fruit supported by spice and floral accents, with some bitter vanilla as well that increases with swishing. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that display a fair degree of polish, and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish. It's pleasant in a middle of the road key, and will work quite nicely with succulent grilled meats or hearty stews -- venison comes to mind, and also with flavorful meats in unexpected places, for example ravioli stuffed with venison or pigeon breast. It also has the legs to age well for a decade or more.
2 stars

Innocenti
Innocenti Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling towards orange. The bouquet is moderately intense, with leaf tobacco and underbrush mingled with spice, and also some mineral acidity. It gives an idea of holding back. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich tart berry fruit supported by tannins that have a degree of leathery bitterness to them, and flow into a rather soft leathery finish with tannins that are green and rather splintery. It needs time to come together and for the tannins to smooth, at least a year, and I wouldn't drink it before then because the splintery greenness of the tannins imparts a rather tired feel to the wine. In a longer term, more than 5 years, it could do interesting things, however, becoming rather lacy. Something to consider if you like more traditional wines and are willing to give them time.
1 star

L'Aietta
L'Aietta Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fairly deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with pungent nose tingling acidity and a fair amount of alcohol with some spice as well. Not much fruit. On the palate it's fairly full, with bright cherry fruit supported by moderate berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are smooth and well polished, but lax with slight cedary bitterness, and flow into a clean tart finish. I'd have liked more definition and verve to the tannins, which are rather soft, but found the fruit, which is ripe but not overripe, pleasant; it will drink well with fairly rich, though not overly fatty roasts or grilled meats.
1 star

La Serena
La Serena Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish slightly balsamic plum-berry fruit supported by vanilla-laced cedar, quite a bit of alcohol, and penetrating spice that reaches up to tingle the nose and (at least for me) eclipses most everything else. On the palate it's ample and soft, with fairly rich plum fruit supported by moderately intense berry fruit acidity -- enough to keep it from settling -- and by smooth soft tannins that flow into a warm fairly alcoholic tannic finish. It's big, and rather soft, and lumbers along. If you like bigger softer wines, it will work well with fairly rich stews or roasts, but you have to like the style.
1 star

Santa Giulia
Santa Giulia Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep slightly brownish almandine ruby with leathery-black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up Moroccan leather and some tartness, laced with hints of vanilla. On the palate it's ample and soft, with moderately intense sour leathery berry fruit supported by tannins that are warm and splintery, and by moderate berry fruit acidity. It's a bit settled, more than one would expect of a young Brunello, and though the tannins will smooth some with time -- they're quite splintery now -- I'm not sure how much substance will be there for them when they have smoothed.
1 star

Uccelliera
Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. One of the darker wines poured this year. The bouquet is moderately intense, with quite a bit of nose tingling spice coupled with alcohol; there's not much fruit, though swishing brings up some berry fruit and slight cedar. It comes across as a work in progress that still needs fleshing out. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight butter cast, and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish with bitter tannic underpinning. Though the nose is somewhere else, on the palate it's pleasant in a powerful rather lusty key, and if the nose follows the palate it will be a nice wine to break out with hearty meats from the oven or grill, and also with rich stews. Bottom line: Give it a couple of years to come together, and expect it to age well for 10-15.
2 stars

La Fiorita
La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with rich red berry fruit with some prune accents supported by languid Moroccan leather and considerable warmth; nice balance and harmonious, though still very young. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich warm cherry fruit supported by deft sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that reveal a youthful cedary burr, and flow into a fairly long cedar-backed berry fruit finish that gains depth from savory accents. It's a toddler striking out on its first steps, but promises quite nicely, and will be worth waiting for; I'd give it a couple of years at least, and expect it to age well for 10-15 years. In terms of accompaniments, a thick porterhouse steak would be very nice, though one could make do with a hearty stew. Worth seeking out.
2 stras

La Togata
La Togata Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with rich cherry and plum fruit supported by slightly balsamic acidity and by clean cedar laced spice. Nice balance, and harmonious with quite a bit going on. On the palate it's full and rich, with deft plum cherry fruit supported by clean bright plum acidity -- not prune; it's not overripe -- and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish with tart tannic underpinning. Quite pleasant in a rather opulent fruit driven key, and if you like the style it will drink quite well even now with a hearty roast or stew, while it also has the legs to age well for a decade or more. Worth seeking out if you like the style, and even if you're more traditional you'll find things to think about.
2 stars

Vasco Sassetti
Vasco Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with dusky Moroccan leather supported by some hints of brown sugar and some cedar, while direction comes from moderate mineral acidity, while there are some hints of tamarind too. But not much. On the palate it's ample and smooth with moderate rather leathery red berry - prune fruit supported by moderate warm, slightly balsamic acidity, and by tannins that are full and still have a young greenish burr that flows into a clean warm balsamic finish with splintery tannic underpinning. It's very, very young, and the tannins need another couple of years to get out of their diapers, at which point it will be fairly traditional in style. I found it a little more tired than I might have liked, and fear that it could settle with time.
1 star

Piombaia
Piombaia Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is eye-openingly charged with candied blackberries; it's like sniffing a bubbling jam pot with the warmth and hints of hot metal that swirl amidst the fruit. On the palate it's full, and tarter than I had expected, with bright fairly sweet cherry fruit that does have some plum accents, and I supported by lively berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are fairly deft, and flow into a rather tart, greenish finish. The nose and body are going in different directions, though they're on the same rather opulent fruit forward plane, and to be frank I found the wine a bit odd, and as the nose opens the metallic accents increase.

Brunelli
Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with dusty Moroccan leather mingled with some leathery acidity and nose tingling spice; it's fairly harmonious, though there's not much fruit. On the palate it's full, in a fairly lax key, with warm cherry plum fruit supported by moderately intense berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that have a warm splintery burr and flow into a decidedly tannic finish. It's a bit settled, and I found myself wishing that the tannins had more verve than they do; the grapes seem to have surrendered the tannic task to wood, which does a much better job in a supporting than a primary role.
1 star

Cantina di Montalcino
Cantina di Montalcino Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fairly deep leathery black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with sweetish plum prune fruit supported by warm balsamic acidity and underlying spice, with hints of dried orange peel and some underbrush. On the palate it's ample, and soft, with moderately intense savory plum cherry fruit that is supported by fairly mineral acidity, and by smooth tannins that are well polished, and flow into a fairly tart berry fruit finish with tannic underpinning. While it's not settled, it doesn't have much verve either, and I found myself wishing both the fruit and the structure were tighter and brighter.
1 star

Capanna
Capanna Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with dusky hardwood ash mingled with mentholated accents and some spice; there's not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich tart berry fruit supported by warm slightly balsamic acidity, and by tannins that have a green cedar overlay, and flow into a greenish tannic finish with some savory accents and hints of hazelnut skins and sweetness from alcohol. It's quite young, and frankly disjointed, with the tannins, which are distinctly cedary, doing a very good job of dominating the fruit, and though they will fold in within a year or two, I doubt they will ever surrender as completely as I would like.
1 star

Sesta Di Sopra
Sesta di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim fading to orange. The bouquet is fairly intense, with a brooding greenish cast supported by a fair amount of spice and alcohol, but not much fruit. On the palate it's fairly full, with tart cherry and forest berry fruit supported by moderately intense berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are bright and flow into a fairly long slightly tart berry fruit finish with greenish cedar overlay. It's delicate, in a rather light (for a Brunello) lacy traditional key, and needs another year or two to come together, especially with regards to the nose, and has sufficient acidity to age well for many years more. In short, a work in progress, and if you like the fairly tart traditional style it's something to think about. But do give it time.
2 stars

Podere Canapaccia
Podere Canapaccia Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Dusky black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish cedar mingled with green leather and a fair amount of alcohol, while there's also some raw beef with further swishing. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich prune fruit supported by moderate, fairly sweet prune acidity that has some brown sugar overtones, and by tannins that are ample and rather green, with cedary accents and flow into a dry rather green bitter tannic finish. Though it is very young, and the tannins will round with time, the fruit is not quite as rich as I would have liked, and I fear that it will settle quickly.
1 star

La Campana
La Campana Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is brooding, with rather dusky berry and stone fruit -- yellow peaches, to be exact -- supported by warmth and a fair amount of alcohol, with nose tingling spice and greenish cedar as well. On the palate it's bright, with deft berry fruit supported by clean slightly sour cherry acidity, and by ample sweet tannins that flow into a dusky slightly greenish berry fruit finish. It's very young, but promises nicely in a middle of the road key; I would give it another year at least for the nose to develop and the tannins to smooth some, and expect it to age well for a decade or more, becoming rather lacy with time. It's a team player, and will do a fine job of accompanying rich foods along the lines of a succulent roast leg of lamb or a venison stew without trying to hog center stage.
2 stars

Caparzo
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Dusky almandine with some cherry reflections, and cherry rim. The bouquet is not quite musty, but rich in hardwood ash with some underlying bitterness and Moroccan leather acidity, but not much in the way of fruit. On the palate it's ample, with fairly soft cherry fruit supported by sweetish berry fruit acidity, and by moderately intense tannins that display a slight burr, and flow into a clean berry fruit finish. It's more interesting on the palate than the nose, in a rather gentle (for a Brunello), direct key, and is one of those wines that will do a better job of supporting foods (roasts, grilled meats, light stews) than demanding center stage. Whether this is what one wants of a Brunello or not is another question; I would in any case give it a year for the nose to come in line with the palate, and expect it to age well for about 10 years.
1 star

Caparzo Vigna La Casa Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with greenish leather mingled with some cedar and sweetish spice, but not much fruit. On the palate it's ample and fairly sweet, with moderately intense plum cherry fruit supported by smooth sweet acidity, and by smooth well polished tannins that flow into a clean plum laced finish. It's ample and rather soft, and to be honest I would have expected more depth of fruit than there is; while it is perfectly capable of working with drier meats, there's not the excitement that I hope for in a Brunello.

Palazzo
Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is fairly intense, in a rather rustic key, with balsamic acidity supported by green leather, warmth, and quite a bit of alcohol; it also comes across as quite young. On the palate it's full, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by sweet plum laced acidity, and by tannins that lay a warm peppery burr over the tongue and flow into a fairly sweet, fairly soft finish with a splintery tannic underpinning and some greenish accents. If you like the style, it will drink well with drier meats, but you have to like the style, and I'm not sure how long it will age for.
1 star

Agostina Pieri
Agostina Pieri Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fairly dark almandine ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is bright, with rich, ripe, slightly greenish cherry and forest berry fruit that has a rather haunting cast to it, and is supported by clean bright berry fruit acidity and some green leather as well. Nice balance, and pleasant to sniff in a decidedly brash, powerful key. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by clean bright cherry acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh cherry laced finish. Graceful, and quite approachable in a ripe, well defined fruit driven key, and will drink quite nicely with succulent grilled meats or hearty roasts in the short term (a year from now), though if I had more than a couple of bottles I would be tempted to set most of them aside, because I think it will do interesting things with time. Worth seeking out.
2 stars

Talenti
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Leathery brownish almandine with black reflections and onion skin nail; it looks older than it is. The bouquet is fairly ripe, and sweetish too, with moderate plum berry fruit supported by some dried flowers, with hints of Moroccan leather and sweetness as well, and a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's ample and soft, wit moderately intense plum fruit that gains direction from bright plum acidity, and is supported by deft fairly smooth tannins that flow into a fairly bright plum finish that gains direction and depth from a decidedly bitter underpinning. It's ample and rather soft in an overripe key, and if you like the style it will drink nicely with drier meats; I would drink it sooner than later, because I don't know how long it will age for.
2 stars

Villa I Cipressi
Villa I Cipressi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. Darker than many of the wines poured. The bouquet is fairly intense, with pungent greenish milky acidity that rises up to tickle the nose, and, with more swishing, savory berry fruit that has some jammy overtones. A bit disjointed. On the palate it's ample and very soft, with moderately rich cherry fruit supported by warmth and big sweet tannins that flow into a warm tannic finish with less fruit than one might have expected; what remains is more acidity, sweetness that is also alcohol, and dry splintery tannins with savory notes that continue at length. Though its basic character is set, the nose is still up in the air, and I would give it another year to get its bearings. It will drink well with succulent, not too fatty meats, and is a good bet if you like wines that are bright, but not too tightly woven from a tannic standpoint.
1 star

Terre Nere di Campigli - Vallone
Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is shut tight; swishing brings up some spice, and hints of berry fruit, but it very much gives the impression of wanting to be left alone. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich red berry fruit supported by bright berry fruit acidity, and by smooth soft tannins that have slight leathery accents, and flow into a delicate, fairly bright cherry finish with cedar-laced tannic underpinning. It's quite young, and needs at least a year to get its bearings and for the tannins to reabsorb the burr, at which point it will drink nicely with succulent roasts or hearty stews. Something to think about if you like ample, softer wines whose fruit register is more cherry and forest berry fruit than plum.
2 stars

Renieri
Renieri Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Lively almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, in a slightly greenish pungent key, while swishing brings up some menthol and a fair amount of cedar. Not much fruit. On the palate it's full, with much of the fullness coming from tannic structure, while there's not much fruit, nor much acidity to provide it direction, while it flows into a bitter tannic finish. The effect is rather like a small person trying to occupy a huge space, and getting lost in it.

Abbadia Ardenga
Abbadia Ardenga Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, with rich slightly jammy cherry fruit supported by deft slightly greenish acidity and some clean spice. Bracing, and displaying a pleasing youthful openness, like a smiling well muscled teen. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by clean bright berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that have a slight bitter cedar overlay, and flow into a clean sour cherry finish with deft tannic underpinning. It's still very young, but pleasant in a full, rich key, and one could drink it now with succulent roasts or stews. However, it will richly reward those blessed with the patience to give it a few years, and be very nice in a decade or more. Worth seeking out if you like the style.
2 stars

Abbadia Ardenga Brunello di Monte Vigna Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim; it's one of the darker wines poured. The bouquet is fairly rich, with ripe plum cherry fruit supported by cool bitterness that brings dusk to mind, and by some wet green leather, while there isn't much acidity. Rich in a very ripe key. On the palate it's full, and fairly sweet, with prune fruit supported by smooth sweet prune acidity, and by soft smooth tannins that flow into a deft prune finish with some prune acidity to keep it on its toes. This is, to my way of thinking, atypical for a Brunello -- were someone to give it to me blind and ask I'm not sure what I might guess, perhaps a light version of an Amarone ammandorlato from the Valpolicella. This said, id does display a fair degree of grace, and if you like the style will sip nicely by the glass far from the table, though I'm not sure how long I would hold it for.
2 stars (barely)

La Lecciaia
La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is shut tight, though energetic swishing does bring up some delicate berry fruit supported by mineral acidity and some green leather. On the palate it's ample, with bright berry fruit supported by moderately intense red berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish with pleasant tannic underpinning. It's quite elegant in a rather delicate, graceful key, and will drink quite nicely with succulent red meats from the grill or the oven, though it needs another year for the bouquet to develop. Expect it to age nicely for a decade or more, becoming quite lacy with time. Worth seeking out.
2 stars

La Lecciaia Il Baccanale Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is elegant, with fairly rich cherry and forest berry fruit that gains depth from some blackberry jam accents, and is supported by clean spice and deft slightly citric acidity. A lot going on. On the palate it's full, and rich, with elegant slightly sour cherry fruit that gains direction from bright berry fruit acidity, and is supported by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a long, clean fresh berry fruit finish with bright citric support and a smooth tannic underpinning. Quite graceful in a fairly traditional key, and also quite young; one could drink it now if one had to with a well marbled steak and be quite happy, but those blessed with the patience to give it a couple of years will be very happy, and those who can wait longer, up to 10 or more, even happier. It's one of those wines one hates to pour out at a tasting, and is well worth seeking out; even if you prefer more the more modern style you'll find things to enjoy.
88-90

Mocali
Mocali Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with rich prune fruit supported by some dark brown sugar sweetness and a fair amount of leather, some Moroccan and some green, and underlying spice. It gives an impression of softness. Which is confirmed on the palate; it's ample, with fairly rich prune fruit supported by prune juice acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright tannic finish with some prune juice acidity. It's quite overripe, and though I'm not sure how long it will age, if you like this big soft style, it will drink well by the glass or with drier meats in the shorter term. If you're of a more traditional bent it won't work for you.
1 star

Capanne Ricci
Capanne Ricci Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with leathery black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up hints of sandalwood and some greenish spice. On the palate it's full, with fairly bright greenish plum cherry fruit supported by prune juice acidity and by tannins that have a decidedly bitter cast, and flow into a fairly quick bitter finish. I'd have liked greater richness and depth from the wine, which is in a funny way neither here nor there; it doesn't have the zesty brightness of one camp of Brunello, nor is it as rich as some of the more extracted, ripe camp.
1 star

Fuligni
Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with a great rush of initial cedar that overlays some red berry fruit and spice, though what's carrying the show at present is primarily wood; with more swishing vanilla laced sweetness also emerges. A study in oak. On the palate it's full, and bright, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh cherry and forest berry fruit finish with lasting warmth and deft acidity to keep it up. So what's the story? Youth; the palate is further along and shows the direction (I hope) that the nose will take as it develops. I'd give the wine at least a year and perhaps two, because the palate shows considerable potential, and if you like wines that are middle of the road in style it should get there. But not for a couple of years, at least.
2 stars

Fanti
Fanti Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some greenish cedar mingled with almost smoky spice, and, with more swishing, with some fairly rich, sweet jammy berry fruit. On the palate it's full and soft, with rich cherry prune fruit supported by sweet prune juice acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a bright, fairly sweet berry prune finish. It's not what I expect from a Brunello, but if you like big, soft, rather sweet overripe wines it will drink nicely by the glass, or with drier meats. I would drink it sooner than later, because I'm not sure how long it will age for.
1 star

Ferro
Ferro Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, in a decidedly vegetal cast, with underlying green leather and some cedar. Not much fruit, at least not yet, while there is a fair amount of vinous warmth. On the palate it's ample and fairly sweet, with bright cherry fruit supported by prune juice acidity and by ample smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly long prune-laced berry fruit finish. It's big, and quite soft, and if you like the style will drink well with drier meats or by the glass; I'm not sure how long it will hold, and would therefore drink it sooner than later. You do have to like the style, but if you do you will enjoy it, as it displays a certain grace.
2 stars

Castiglion del Bosco
Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with deft cherry and forest berry fruit supported by slightly greenish leather and by clean cedar, with underlying spice. On the palate it's full, and fairly rich, with jammy cherry prune fruit supported by dusky mineral acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh tannic finish. It's ample, and decidedly overripe, in a soft fruit driven key, and will drink well by the glass or with drier meats if you like the style. If you don't, it won't work as well for you.
1 star

Tiezzi
Tiezzi Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to brownish white. The bouquet is fairly rich, with delicate red berry fruit and dried flowers mingling with some polished leather and hints of cedar from grape more than wood. Deft, and it has a fair amount to say. On the palate it's full, with bright cherry fruit supported by clean bright berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that will be quite smooth, though they now display a splintery youthful burr, and flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish that's rather long. Graceful, in a more delicate (for a Brunello) key, and will drink quite nicely with succulent, not too fatty roasts or stews in a year's time, and also with richer pasta dishes, for example ravioli stuffed with pigeon or venison and served with a sauce including juniper berries. It needs another year to get its bearings (two would be better) and I would expect it to age well for at least a decade, becoming lacy with time. If you like the traditional style you will enjoy it very much, and even if you're of a more modern bent you will find things to think about and enjoy. Worth seeking out.
88-90

1 comment:

bbuono said...

Kyle;
Thanks for the wealth of information in your reviews of the 2004s. Most of the wines are hitting the market and I have about 6 of the ones you have listed. I appreciate the input on hold time. I need to balance with what I have in 2001s.