Special Feature: La La Land of Brunello: October 2023


Do you drink Brunello?

You should.

If you haven’t noticed, Italy is consistently producing some of the best vintages and wines the market has ever witnessed in recent years. The trend extends across the entire country, from the racy and mineral driven reds and whites of volcanic Sicily to the perfumed and haunting wines of Piedmont. The entire nation has fully emerged from the slumber of rustic winemaking methods and now the pursuit of excellence is all-encompassing.

Perhaps no single region has felt this rebirth as much as Brunello di Montalcino. Back in the late 20th century there were only a handful of producers that were catching global attention and occupying spots on some of the finest wine lists in the world. Today, the gorgeous hilltown of Montalcino and its surrounding vineyards are bursting at the seams with top-class wineries and beautiful sangiovese grosso based wines.

Let us introduce you to La Fortuna and La Gerla. Both of these producers got their start in the 70’s and they’ve had a meteoric rise to the top of Brunello fan lists since the turn of the century. The wineries have similar vineyard positionings on both the North East and North West slopes of Montalcino itself and also significant holdings in Castelnuovo dell’Abate in the Southeast. The former produces wines of greater elegance and delicacy, while the Castelnuovo bottlings are more structured and rich in fruit.

What is Brunello like?

It’s as ageworthy as a Bordeaux and as delicately perfumed as a fine Barolo. Dark black cherry, licorice, tobacco and sun-kissed Italian herbs.

What distinguishes these estates? Small details but they matter! La Fortuna has a winemaking regimen that includes longer aging in wood of a smaller size (Slovenian oak) and longer maceration time for the grape skins. The result is that Fortuna wines are often richer than their La Gerla comparison and suit a palate more accustomed to bolder, textured reds of Bordeaux and Spain. La Gerla Brunello is more akin to Barolo in style with that distinctly Italian acidity and intense fragrance of cherries and licorice. 

Both of these producers make wines that can age for 20 years no problem, and with time their aromas, texture, and overall structure become increasingly impossible to resist. If Brunello isn’t a substantial part of your wine cellar, you are missing out on some of the greatest wine experiences you never knew were possible.

Check out our top La Fortuna and La Gerla recommendations below with praise from the critics.

La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino 2013 750ml $59 special, 12 bottles available
Wine Spectator 92 Points “Starts out with cherry, iron and tobacco flavors, before firming up, with a solid structure. A kernel of fruit holds steady as this red unfolds on the lingering finish. Best from 2022 through 2036. 2,200 cases made, 1,000 cases imported.”
La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 750ml $99 special, 31 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points “The La Fortuna 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is a wine of pretty Sangiovese purity. This Riserva (with 9,000 bottles produced) shows a darkly saturated color with plump and intense aromas of wild cherry, crushed flowers, fresh plums, spice and ferrous earth. Balsam herb and rosemary-like aromas round off the finish. There is great freshness, some oak tannins, a drying finish and lots of rich fruit fiber. This is a terrific wine from La Fortuna (although I need to point out the high 15.5% alcohol).”

La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino 2018 750ml $54.50  special, 36 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 Points “A juicy style for the vintage, boasting cherry, raspberry, floral, graphite and spice flavors. Balanced and lively, with bright acidity and refined tannins for support. Shows fine length. Best from 2025 through 2042. 2,916 cases made, 1,250 cases imported.”
La Gerla Gli Angeli, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012 750ml $99 special, 7 bottles available
Vinous 95 points “Bright medium ruby. Very clean and fresh aromas and flavors of red currant, cherry pit, flowers and blood orange jelly. Bright, juicy and very light on its feet, offering superb vinosity and clarity of flavor, this conveys an impression of real underlying density and a multilayered mouthfeel. A knockout wine of outstanding energy and class, finishing with polished tannins, uncanny sweetness and lovely subtle persistence, not to mention outstanding balance (it hides its 14.5% alcohol very well).”
Wine Advocate 95 points “Here is a dense and meaty Tusan red that flaunts its immediate power, structure and intensity. The 2012 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva gli Angeli is robust and deep thanks to a generous offering of dark fruit, spice and tar-like aromas. Fruit is carefully selected for this wine, and the grapes are fermented in stainless steel. Post fermentation, the wine goes into large Slavonian oak casks for four years. The finish is soft and supple with sweet berry flavors. This wine has made an impressive jump forward in this vintage.”

La Gerla Gli Angeli, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2015 750ml $89 special, 18 bottles available
Wine Spectator 96 points “Rich and round, here is a red full of macerated plum and cherry flavors, with almond, leather, spice and earth accents. Firms up on the finish, where the vibrant fruit echoes. Best from 2025 through 2050. 500 cases made, 280 cases imported. — BS”
Wine Advocate 95 points “The La Gerla 2015 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva gli Angeli is a softly textured and fleshed out wine that shows darker and deeper fruit (compared to the 2016 Brunello that I tasted at the same time). This wine makes a great first impression, mostly thanks to that sense of quiet balance. As it opens in the glass, I notice the pretty ripeness of the vintage with dark cherry and summer plum. In all, this Riserva gives us an accessible and rich expression that will perform nicely upon release. Production is 8,560 bottles, and this wine will hit the market in April 2021.”

Want to Go Big? Large Formats Available November 3rd

La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012 3L $399  special, 2 bottles available Available Nov. 3rd.
Wine Spectator 97 points “Perfumed, with wild herb aromas and a subtle mix of strawberry and cherry fruit. Vibrant and dense, with fine acidity driving the long finish. Though elegant, there is intensity and fine energy on the aftertaste. Best from 2022 through 2028.”

La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2015 1.5L $119  special, 1 bottles available Available Nov. 3rd.
Wine Spectator 94 points “Black cherry and black currant fruit is accented by tobacco, earth and mineral flavors in this sleek yet dense red. Balsamic elements of juniper, thyme and olive add depth as this cruises to a long finish. The potential lies in the excellent length. Best from 2023 through 2042.”

La Gerla Gli Angeli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 1.5L $219  special, 9 bottles available Available Nov. 3rd.
La Gerla Gli Angeli Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016 3L $449  special, 2 bottles available Available Nov. 3rd.

Vinous 96 points Smoldering with remarkable depth, the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Gli Angeli makes itself known with a blend of spicy citrus peels and minty herbs giving way to masses of black cherry, strawberries, hints of iodine and smoke. This is a textural thrill ride, velvety and almost weighty in feel, while finding wonderful balance in its vibrant acidity and the tart wild berry fruits and savory spices that are unleashed upon the palate. Hints of mocha combine with sour cherry and almond paste through the impressively long and classically structured finale. In the end, the 2016 Gli Angeli is the total package. This Riserva is a single-vineyard bottling from La Gerla’s northern Montalcino vineyard, which was planted by Biondi-Santi in 1968.”

All La Fortuna & La Gerla Wines Available
LA FORTUNA BDM RISERVA 12 3L $399.00 2 Link
LA FORTUNA BRUNELLO 2013 $59.00 12 Link
LA FORTUNA BRUNELLO 2017 $49.00 32 Link
LA FORTUNA BRUNELLO 2018 $49.00 24 Link
LA GERLA BRUNELLO 2015 1.5L $119.00 1 Link
LA GERLA BRUNELLO 2017 $51.90 15 Link
LA GERLA BRUNELLO 2018 $54.50 36 Link
LA GERLA BRUNELLO ANGELI 2015 $89.00 18 Link
LA GERLA BRUNELLO ANGELI 2016 $99.00 24 Link
LA GERLA BRUNELLO LA PIEVE 2017 $59.00 12 Link
LA GERLA BRUNELLO LA PIEVE 2018 $69.00 12 Link