Brunello di Montalcino 2016
There has been talk for some time about 2016 being a highly attractive and promising vintage in Montalcino and from our recent tasing which included nearly 150 wines, this certainly looks to be the case. The 2016 vintage in Montalcino is graceful and vibrant, the wines are characterful, elegant and extremely well-made, offering an intriguing variety in the styles coming from the different sub-areas of the region.
The weather pattern was certainly regular in Montalcino. There was little rain during the winter, which was never particularly cold, with minimum temperatures never falling below - 6 degrees Celsius. A rainy spring ensured excellent growth of the vegetation during flowering and fruit set, though avoiding the harmful effects of coulure. The summer registered constant daytime temperatures averaging above 85° C, in-line with recent vintages, and good thermal excursion between day and night. There were just a few timid rain showers around the middle of what was generally a dry July, but they were essential for the vines and grapes to be in excellent shape in August. A small amount of rain in September and October allowed the producers to enjoy a calm and relaxed harvest, in line with the overall balance of the year.
The fruit from this vintage produced wines with extremely ripe and smooth tannins, in most cases and, together with the wines’ natural acidity, create the backbone that will give them excellent aging potential.
There weren’t any perfect wines in part 1 in the first flight of this tasting, but three different producers came remarkably close, making bottles that are hedonistic and immediately appealing.
Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino ‘Vecchie Vigne’ 2016 was the most powerful of the wines on the podium. Taut and muscular, it reveals quite a lot of oak that still has to become integrated and firm tannins that grip from the mid-palate onwards, leaving an impressively long, lively finish. This is a wine that needs more time to open up and reveal all its delicate potency, that vinous oxymoron we like so much.
On equal points, we find a more feminine, mellow expression of a 100% Sangiovese, produced by a world-famous winemaking consultant Carlo Ferrini, together with his daughter Bianca. The Giodo Brunello di Montalcino is the wine that comes closest to being perfectly crafted, with its aristocratic and even almost snobbish profile, which is impressively fresh on the palate. It is the beauty of its simplicity of execution that makes it extremely complex and fascinating. Everything is in the right place, making for its extremely appealing style. The silky tannins and juicy fruit are impressive and confirm what the nose had already suggested: real fruit juice on the palate, where the alcohol is perfectly masked by - and melds with - the wine’s other elements.
The 2016 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino ‘Vigna il Suolo’ is the Brunello that displays the most territorial identity. Extremely floral, it offers an excitingly complex bouquet and broad, juicy, and notably persistent fruit on the palate. In this case, too, the tannins are perfectly integrated, and the flavor’s appeal is all in the juiciness and richness of the fruit in the aftertaste. Its extremely clean style offers an immediate guarantee of its keeping qualities, and it will be a pleasure tasting it again with a couple more years’ bottle-age.
Renieri and Talenti are consistent as ever, producing wines of great ripeness and complexity.
Numerous other wines are of superb quality, among which we must mention a new entry from Banfi: Vigna Marrucheto.
La Magia, Cava d'Onice and Mastrojanni can always be relied on for the precise style and character of the wines they produce. Sensis and Vigna Loreto are a bit tight at the moment and will open up in the next two years, but they display a quality of fruit that has few equals.
A major surprise and a definite improvement in quality for Celestino Pecci, Ventolaio and Terre Nere, which presented the most interesting wines from a value point of view.