Vinopolpick Weekend Edition – October 26

October 26, 2013

Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino is one of the great wines of Tuscany.  It is made exclusively from the Sangiovese Grosso clone along the warm and dry hills of Montalcino to the south of the Chianti region.  This clone is known to produce thicker-skinned berries with high potential tannins and color concentration.Before 1870, Brunello di Montalcino wines were typically field blends of Sangiovese clones and other red and white grapes.  Ferruccio Biondi-Santi revolutionized production by creating Sangiovese-only wines with a single fermentation and aging them in barrel.  Formerly, additional grapes were added to the wine to start a second fermentation which reduced the risk of a stuck fermentation and aided malolactic fermentation.  In Italian, the process is referred to as governo.  The new techniques led to richer, fresher-tasting wines with greater ageability and tannins and a purer Sangiovese presence.   Biondi-Santi’s grandson is credited with isolating the Grosso clone.


It was not until almost a century later that the majority of producers began to emerge.  In 1980, Brunello was designated as one of Italy’s first DOCGs.  Under the DOCG rules, vines must be planted along slopes surrounding Montalcino no higher than 1968’ above sea level to ensure adequate ripeness.  The best vineyard sites are along the southern and western slopes, which see more extreme temperature variation between the day and night, more sunlight hours, and cooling breezes leading to greater complexity in the wines.  Brunello must be aged for at least two years in oak and four months in bottles, for five years total.  A riserva must see an additional two months in bottle and one more year total.
Focus Today: Casanova di Neri
Giovanni Neri founded Casanova di Neri in 1971 and passed it on to his son, Giacomo Neri, in 1991.  The family owns seven vineyards (155 acres) mostly in Eastern Montalicin: Fiesole, Poderuccio, Podernuovo, Le Cetine, Pietradonice, Cerretalto and Spereta.  Each vineyard has the sandy soil common throughout Montalcino.  Fiesole is their oldest holding, one of their main sources for their Brunello di Montalcino grapes.  Cerretalto, a 1986 acquisition, is home to their single vineyard release, referred to as a selezione in Italian.  These vines are careful managed to ensure low yields.  The selezione is produced only during excellent years.  Although it is not required for a selezione to be aged as a riserva, Casanova di Neri does age theirs for the additional time.
The Casanova di Neri estate grows mostly Sangiovese as well as olives and chestnuts.  Vines range in age from 18 to 50 years.  The grapes from their harvest are hand-sorted and completely de-stemmed.  Fermentation takes place in open stainless steel vats with temperature control.  Oak aging is done in Slovenian and French barrels in their underground cellar.


Their wines are hailed by industry professionals for their elegance and ageability. While some would categorize them as ‘modern’ styled, their trademark richness was in place before Giacomo Neri took over from his father in 1991. Their 2001 Brunello Tenuta Nuova was named the top wine in 2006 by Wine Spectator.  Below, we have listed our offerings from Casanova di Neri as well as other fine Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino producers.  Although Brunellos are highly versatile with foods, we’d suggest to try pouring  with roasted pork with thyme, rosemary and juniper to bring out its herbal notes or rabbit and pappardelle, as the Montalcinesi do.  And, if at all possible, we’d suggest that you age some of your bottles, or access some aged bottles. While they deliver their money’s worth young, they really do have extra dimensions that reveal themselves over time.
Casanova di Neri
Brunello and Rosso Wines In-Stock Now
Casanova di Neri Rosso di Casanova 2009 ($21.95) $14.00 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 88-90 points: “The 2009 Rosso di Montalcino (labeled Rosso di Casanova di Neri for the US) is a beautiful, impeccably balanced wine. There is lovely transparency and elegance to the fruit in an expression of Sangiovese that offers gorgeous roundness in a mid-weight, elegant style. The finish is long, soft and caressing. Even better, this is an outstanding value.”
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($59.95) $49.00 special, only 19 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 points: “The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino is fabulous in this vintage. Waves of dark fruit caress the palate as this juicy, delicious wine reveals its considerable charms. The fruit shows lovely weight and richness while maintaining an essentially mid-weight personality. Sweet scents of French oak linger on the round, caressing, impeccable finish. This is an excellent choice for drinking now and over the next decade-plus. The harvest took place from the 2nd to the 5th of October. The wine spent 24 days on the skins, after which it was racked into cask, where it spent 45 months prior to being bottled. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024.”
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($49.95) $44.00 special, only 13 bottles available
Wine Enthusiast 95 points: “A big, opulent pleasure bomb with lavish layers, loaded thickly on top ofeach other. Chocolate fudge, dark cherry, blackberry preserves, rum cake, prune, exotic spice, pipe tobacco, cola, hummus, and leather. Huge personality and intensity. Staying power too. All that density is backed by solid tannins and a steady firmness.”
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2008 ($49.95) $39.00 special, 3+ cases available
Antonio Galloni 91 points: “The 2008 Brunello di Montalcino sweeps across the palate with superb richness and depth. Dark cherries, plums, spices, tobacco and menthol blossom as the wine opens up in the glass. A decidedly large-scaled, dramatic wine for the year, the 2008 impresses for its pure resonance and rich, enveloping finish. This is one of the most rewarding 2008s to drink upon release, but it should also age well for a number of years.”


Casanova di Neri Brunello Cerretalto 2004 ($219.95) $179.00 special, only 15 bottles available
Wine Spectator 98 points: “Very powerful and rich, with blackberry, licorice and light toasty oak. This has pure fruit. Turns exotic and decadent. Full bodied, with dense, powerful tannins, but velvety and beautiful. Big and powerful. Layered and gorgeous. Best from 2011 through 2018.”
Casanova di Neri Brunello Cerretalto 2006 ($249.95) $199.00 special, 3+ cases available
James Suckling 99 points: “Aromas of ripe strawberries, sandalwood, and flowers follow though to a full body, with soft tannins and a fruity finish. This is so long and gorgeous, with intense fruit and a defined and beautiful structure. Amazing fruit at the finish. Gorgeous now, but will age beautifully. The palate builds and shows such depth. So wonderful now, but better in 2015.”
Other Brunello di Montalcino available here now:
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli 2006 ($119.95) $89.00 special, 3+ cases available
James Suckling 96 points: “Perfumed and fruity, with dried cherries and citrus fruit. Wow. It really opens on the nose giving so much gorgeous fruit. Full body and very dense, with dried cherries, cedar and hints of coffee bean. Powerful and rich.”
Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($69.95) $49.00 special, only 22 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points: “The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino is a beautiful wine laced with red berries, flowers and subtle hints of earthiness. Soft and supple throughout, the Brunello shows lovely juiciness in its fruit and a delicate, understated personality. The 2006 represents yet another step in the more elegant, refined direction the estate has taken in recent years. The 2006 Brunello was aged in equal parts cask and French oak barrels. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020.”
Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($49.95) $39.00 special, only 16 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino is a big, fleshy wine endowed with considerable richness and volume. Layers of dark red fruit, crushed flowers, licorice and tobacco are woven together beautifully in this expressive, generous Brunello. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2022.”
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($49.95) $33.50 special, 3+ cases available
James Suckling 93 points: “Love the flowers, ripe berries and minerals on the nose here. Light dried fruits too. Dried porcini! Full bodied, round and fruity, with a decadent and fruity finish. Try in 2013.”
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($39.95) $27.00 special, only 30 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 91 points: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino wraps around the palate with layers of rich, seductive fruit. There is plenty of expressiveness in the glass, even if the wine loses some of its persistence on the mid-palate and finish. This is a tasty, approachable Brunello that should drink well right out of the gate. The 2007 spent three years in Slavonian and French oak casks. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.”
Caparzo Brunello Vigna La Casa 2006 ($89.95) $69.00 special, only 30 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points: “The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna La Casa boasts a deep, dark core of fruit. Ripe black cherries, tar, leather and licorice are some of the nuances that emerge from this resonant, expressive Brunello. In 2006 La Casa shows plenty of muscle but without abandoning the house’s medium-bodied style. Anise and menthol reappear on the creamy, generous close. This is a beautiful, deceptively medium-bodied Brunello from Caparzo. In particular, I admire the way the wine turns minerally on the finish. The Vigna La Casa spent 36 months in Slavonian and French oak casks, but of a slightly smaller size than those used for the straight Brunello. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2026.”
Caprili Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006 ($69.95) $51.90 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Spectator 95 points: “A fresh version, scented with cherry, berry and wild herbs, with racy acidity driving its pure fruit and tobacco flavors. Elegant and intense, building to a lingering aftertaste of fruit, spice and mineral. Best from 2015 through 2035.”
Cerbaiona Brunello di Montalcino 2005 ($129.95) $89.00 super special, 3 cases available
Wine Advocate 93 points: “The 2005 Brunello di Montalcino impresses for its elegance, balance and class. Silky, finessed tannins frame dark cherries, flowers, minerals, menthol, tobacco and spices. The 2005 doesn’t have the kaleidoscopic, multi-dimensional personality of the finest Brunellos here, but it reveals outstanding length and plenty of style, albeit in a smaller-scaled, lithe expression of this site. Ideally, readers should open the wine several hours prior to serving. It is a wonderful effort in this vintage. 2010-2020.”
Cerbaiona Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($199.95) $159.00 special, only 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97 points: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most exciting wines of the vintage. An exotic melange of freshly cut flowers, dark cherries and plums conquers all of the senses. Intense saline notes and the wine’s underlying minerality are buried under the massive fruit, but over time they emerge. Hints of graphite, spices, crushed rocks and sweet, juicy dark cherries wrap around the huge finish. This is a breathtaking effort from Diego and Nora Molinari, and more than a worthy followup to the epic 2006. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2032.”
Cerbaiona Brunello di Montalcino 2008 ($199.95) $169.00 special, only 12 bottles
 Antonio Galloni 93 points: “Succulent red cherries, dried roses, violets, tar and spices are some of the many notes that are woven together in the 2008 Brunello di Montalcino. Intensely perfumed, the 2008 shows many of the classic Cerbaiona signatures, even if it is a touch less polished than some of the recent vintages. At the same time, the 2008 has come together nicely over the last few years, so it will be interesting to watch what happens with further time in bottle. Dried rose petals and spices add complexity to the subtle, layered flavors. This is one of the stronger wines of the year.”
Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($47.95) $37.00 special, only 30 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points: “Bright medium red.  Musky red cherry, smoky minerality and an ethereal floral topnote on the nose.  Silky, elegant and seamless, with lovely inner-mouth perfumed lift to the flavors of red cherry and rose petal.  This intensely flavored, very suave Brunello finishes floral, energetic and long, leaving the taste buds vibrating.  A lovely 2007”
Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($59.95) $49.00 special, only 28 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 points: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Fossacolle is gorgeous in this vintage. Freshly cut flowers, plums, spices, licorice and mint are all woven together in this rich, generous wine. The 2007 impresses for its fabulous depth and power. Layers of dark red fruit saturate the palate on the intense finish. Everything is in the right place. The Brunello was aged one year in French oak barrels followed by a second year in cask. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024.”
Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($69.95) $47.50 super special, 3+ cases
James Suckling 95 points: “Frescobaldi’s Brunello always delivers great quality in just about any vintage. Gorgeous nose of ripe berries and slice plums with an almost peach undertone. Full bodied, with a solid core of gorgeously clean and clear dark fruits. Dense and integrated tannins on the finish. So long and fascinating. Best after 2013”
La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($59.95) $39.00 special, only 23 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer & Wine Advocate 92 points: “Good full, deep red. Complex, expressive nose offers blackberry, black raspberry, sassafras, cola, earth, licorice, mocha and minerals. Sweet, pliant and rich, but with very good energy and an impression of strong extract to the flavors of red fruits and spices. Boasts very good density and volume but excellent definition as well. Finishes long and subtle, with firm tannins and heady aromatic lift. This wine tightened up with air, suggesting that it really should be cellared.”
Marroneto Madonna Della Grazie Brunello 2007 ($84.95) $69.00 special, only 19 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Selezione Madonna delle Grazie is a huge, explosive wine endowed with fabulous aromatics, beautifully delineated fruit and plenty of supporting structure. Violets, mint, licorice and black cherries develop in the glass, adding further layers of complexity and nuance. The 2007 Madonna delle Grazie possesses stunning richness and power. Today the tannins are firm, but they will soften with further time in the bottle. This is another beautifully balanced, first-class effort from Il Marroneto. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2027.”
Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($59.95) $49.00 special, only 30 bottles available
James Suckling 95 points: “Love the aromas of cedar, light vanilla, dark berry and plums. Full body, with layered tannins and and a beautiful mouth-feel. Lingers for minutes. The is a subtle and complex. Mastrojanni is getting better and better. Better than 2006.”
Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino Loreto 2007 ($79.95) $59.00 special, only 10 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92+ points: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Loreto is a new wine from Mastrojanni. Ripe, silky tannins support the fruit in this caressing, expressive Brunello. The generous, inviting style captures the personality of the year in spades. The Loreto is a touch less aromatically expressive than the straight Brunello, but also has an extra dimension of textural richness. The Loreto was fermented in cement and in aged in cask for 36 months”
Piccolomini Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($69.95) $59.00 special, 3 cases available
Wine Spectator 94 points, #9 Wine 2012: “Though dense and rich, this red is also sleekly proportioned and harmonious. The cherry, raspberry, licorice, earth and tobacco flavors meld with the solid structure. Offers fine length and complexity that increases with aeration. Best from 2014 through 2025.”
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2004 ($99.95) $79.00 special, only 9 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 points: “The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino is awesome. This finessed, regal Brunello flows onto the palate with seamless layers of perfumed fruit framed by silky, finessed tannins. The wine remains extremely primary at this stage, and its full range of aromas and flavors have yet to emerge, but the sheer pedigree of this Brunello is unmistakable. The elegant, refined finish lasts an eternity, and subtle notes of menthol, spices, licorice and leather add final notes of complexity. The estate’s 2004 Brunello is a wine to buy and bury in the deepest corner of the cellar. Brunello is never inexpensive, but this is the real deal, and in relative terms, it is one of the world’s great values in fine, cellar worthy wine. Incredibly, there are 18,000+ cases of the 2004 Brunello, so it should be fairly easy to source in various markets. The Brunello is made from four vineyards ranging from 250 to 400 meters in altitude, all in Sant’Angelo in Colle. The wines from the various vineyards were aged separately in French oak casks prior to being assembled and bottled. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2034.”
La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($74.95) $59.00 special, 3+ cases available
James Suckling 95 points: “Blueberries, flowers and raspberries. Love the nose, like so many others. Full body, with fine tannins and a silky textured finish. So much going on here. Class”
Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino Altero 2007 ($109.95) $89.00 special, 3+ cases available
James Suckling 98 points: “This is the best wine ever from Poggio Antico. Aromas of blackberries and flowers follow through to a full body, with ultra-fine tannins and a polished tannin mouth-feel. This is really structured, yet elegant. Wonderful purity. Better in 2014, but who can wait?”
Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($199.95) $149.00 special, only 21 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97 points: “The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino is a pure, rapturous beauty. Layers of sweet red fruit meld into rose petals, licorice, spices and mint as the 2007 seduces all of the senses. The ripe, open personality of the year is present, but there is more than enough structure to provide balance. Floral notes reappear on the vibrant, beautifully articulated finish. The 2007 is more than a worthy follow up to the epic 2006. Even better it should drink well quite a bit earlier than that wine. Sadly, there are fewer than 1,000 cases to go around. This is a magical Brunello in every way. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2032.”
San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello 2008 ($49.95) $39.00 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 91 points: “The 2008 Brunello di Montalcino is strikingly beautiful in this vintage. Sweet floral notes meld into raspberries, flowers, mint and spices. A sexy, radiant wine, the 2008 impresses for its balance and overall sense of harmony. The long, polished finish is impeccable. All the elements are in the right place. I don’t expect the 2008 to be a long-term ager, but it is very appealing today.”
Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2007 ($59.95) $49.00 special, 3+ cases available
James Suckling 95 points: “A very structured 2007 Brunello, with ripe and firm tannins and beautiful fresh fruit. Full body, chewy and intense, with a long finish. This is the best from here in years. Wonderful depth of fruit.”
Silvio Nardi Brunello Manachiara 2006 ($99.95) $59.00 special, only 13 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points: “Good full medium red.  Aromas of plum, redcurrant, coffee, mocha and oak.  Broad, silky, sweet and seamless, but today a strong spine of acidity gives it a rather backward impression.  Not yet as sweet or delineated as the normale, but this wine’s tight bitter cherry and redcurrant fruit and rather clenched tannic backbone suggest that it will eventually surpass the regular release.”
Solaria Brunello di Montalcino 2004 ($59.95) $30.90 super special, 3+ cases available
Wine Spectator 94 points: “Plum, cedar and leather aromas follow through to a full-bodied palate, with a lovely density of ripe fruit and a soft, velvety textured finish. Ripe and beautiful. An opulent wine that opens on the palate. This is the best ever from this estate.”
Vitanza Brunello di Montalcino Tradizion 2007 ($49.95) $28.00 super special, 3+ cases available
James Suckling 93 points: “Rose petals and plums on the nose. Full body, with round and chewy tannins and a ripe finish. Tannic, yet polished texture. Give it two to three years of bottle age. This wine is clearly better in 2007 than 2006.”