New Tuscan vintages - Benvenuto Brunello

New Tuscan vintages - Benvenuto Brunello

Tuesday 6th March 2018
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

Benvenuto Brunello is a wonderful chance to get a broad view of the new Brunello vintage.  Some one hundred and thirty plus producers exhibit at this annual event, all under one roof. 

This year was the turn of 2013 Brunellos and 2012 Riservas.  The trip also offered me the opportunity to break out and explore the rest of Tuscany and its new vintages. Here’s what I learned: 

Brunello 2013 – is a highly promising vintage, a potentially great one, and at its best better than the higher five-star rated 2012 vintage.  Montalcino wines rarely struggle for power or density, so these cooler rainier vintages, when handled correctly, can produce excellent results – adding a rare finesse and vibrancy to these naturally well-built wines.  It was no wash out, either, good weather dominating the latter part of summer from end of July onwards. The 2013s show good intensity and great balance, suggesting excellent ageing potential. Of course not everything will be great, many producers still pick too late, extract too much or, a new trend, pick very early. In the latter case, when taken to the extreme, this can yield rather lean, mean wines with aggressive tannins, tart fruit and hollow middles.  There were more of these in evidence than I can remember.  But back to good examples, though, which are in a majority, they are complete and want for nothing.  More discrete than the blockbuster but well-formed 2010s, but don’t miss them – allow them time  and aeration and they become hugely rewarding.  As ethereal as Brunello gets.

Brunello Riservas 2012 – Are impressive and very much your typical Brunello vintage.  A warm vintage that’s packs a punch but offer better balance than the even hotter 2011s.  Rich, powerful wines that have their own kind of balance, they should age well.  These strapping, sturdily structured wines will please the die-hard Brunello lover, though personally I think I will find the 2013s easier and more enjoyable to drink.

2015 – is another warm, dry vintage impressive for its homogeneity and the full flavours of its wines. It can be considered very good but short of great apart from in exceptional cases, usually in the cooler micro climates.  These are big-framed, mouth-filling wines that will demand time, the tannic structures are very evident but there is more than enough sweet fruit to balance these out.  The season was glorious but the usual winemaking dangers were heightened: picking too late, extracting too much or picking too early to avoid high alcohols but not achieving fruit ripeness. However this is a vintage where most producers worth their salt would have avoided these pitfalls and many delicious, full bodied wines have resulted. The vintage is at its most exceptional in the cooler, higher areas such as Chianti Classico’s Radda.  Here Monteraponi have made one of their great vintages.

2014 – That 2014 is a vintage written off that should not have been. Without doubt there are many examples to be found, however it is important to know that there are some genuinely very good wines out there.  Duemani and Grattamacco being two such examples.  The latter being, for me, every bit as impressive as their 2015, even more enjoyable perhaps, albeit in a totally different style.  Fresh, unusually elegant but not lacking in heart and depth the 2014 Grattamacco is not only very enjoyable but also feels capable of ageing very well.  

Join us and sample the latest vintage from Piedmont at our tasting of the 2014s and a range of producers' exceptional wines by clicking here

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