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High Five - Brunello 2012
12 July 2017

“A rock star vintage” in the words of James Suckling and awarded five stars by the Consorzio di Brunello, 2012 had a lot to live up to as we headed out to Tuscany to taste the new vintage earlier this year. We were not disappointed, many of the producers whose wines we tasted merited exuberant high fives. At their best the wines have lovely perfumes, sweetness of fruit, a certain verve and fortifying tannic structures. We believe this is a vintage that will age well. The Consorzio’s maximum rating was the same as in 2010, doubtful that the wines are as consistently excellent across the board as the now legendary 2010s, however we tasted many Brunellos of sheer brilliance.

The tone for the vintage was set fairly early in the season: Drought had begun in June and resulted in the formation of small bunches and berries. It was to be a relatively small crop, in the end around 20% less than usual. Heat combined with drought during the summer to put vines under immense pressure, so rains at the end of August and the first week of September were timely and allowed vines to complete ripening. Despite the stress, picking a week earlier than usual seems to have been a common trend, to ensure a fresh and pristine quality of fruit. This could be one reason for the stylistic differences between 2012 and the equally hot 2011. Another was vineyard management and less de-leafing, giving the grapes more shade and less exposure to sun-burn. It may not have seemed possible in the heat of mid-summer but the resulting wines are a triumph, showing more elegance and fragrance than their heavier predecessors, 2011. In the words of Le Ragnaie’s Riccardo Campinoti “ They have the richness of a warm vintage with the acidity and tannins of a classic vintage, they are built to age. Vines were under a lot of stress until rains arrived at the end of August and refreshed everything, the vines sprung back into life.”

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