We are delighted to announce the imminent release of 2011 Brunello di Montalcino.
Last March we witnessed an unprecedented level of interest in the 2010 release, which was arguably the finest in a generation and one that will mature effortlessly in the cellar in many cases for 20 years+. It was always going to be a hard task for the vintage that followed.
The 2011 continues the trend of captivating new releases from this famous area of southern Tuscany. Unlike in 2010 when the weather was consistent and uneventful throughout the growing season, in 2011 it was to play a vitally important role in determining the success or failure of the vintage. The outcome was also largely decided by two additional factors; each producer’s specific terroir and how their vineyards were managed at the crucial times. As usual, a combination of luck and fate played its role in no small part.
There are some outstanding successes in 2011 and some glorious failures. We will be focusing entirely on the leading growers from what is a very attractive year for some.
The growing season
The winter preceding the harvest was unusually warm promoting an earlier than expected budding on the vine. Everything seemed to be progressing ahead of usual with the risk of late frosts keeping the growers firmly on their toes. The flowering happened in normal circumstances but then as the region headed into early summer it suddenly became noticeably cooler stunting the development of the grapes. The pressure on many growers to cut back the canopy through fear of unripeness proved insurmountable and it was this decision (whether to leave the canopy or remove it) that fatefully proved pivotal to a successful outcome or the grower’s undoing. During the middle of August a huge heat wave arrived from Africa which quickly cooked any exposed fruit on the vines of those growers who had taken the decision to cut back their canopies. This roasting of the fruit would have a massive effect as the growers were then forced to make the critical decision of whether to pick early to retain some form of acidity in the grapes and risk unripe tannins, or later, which might allow them to reach their full physiological ripeness. To prune or not to prune?
Who succeeded in 2011?
The hilltop town of Montalcino has many microclimates and subzones. The successful growers in 2011 tend to be those located towards the northern half of Montalcino, the reason being that due to the slightly higher altitude of the vineyards which are also situated on cool clay soils, it meant that temperatures were crucially cooler during the August heat spike.
The growers who left their canopies intact to shield their grapes are ones who ultimately fared best.
Our view on 2011
We have recently completed our tastings across a wide selection of the Montalcino growers and will shortly be releasing a concise offer of those who by design or good fortune, simply got it spot on. This is not a homogenous year like 2010. There are those who succeeded in spectacular fashion making wines which will ultimately rival their 2010s and then those who by misfortune or poor decision making at the crucial times, will simply look upon 2011 as a vintage to forget.
Although difficult to generalise, stylistically 2011 is a more forward and approachable year which one can look to drink before the 2010s. The fruit displays wonderful pure dark cherry and currant aromatics alongside more secondary orange peel and cinnamon flavours. The tannins are silky and well integrated and the overall feel is one of supreme elegance and exquisite balance.
Put simply these are Brunellos for lovers of Brunello and quality Sangiovese.
It is also worth mentioning that a beneficial exchange rate has allowed prices to drop below 2010 so there is outstanding value to be had for the successful growers. For this reason 2011 Brunello di Montalcino is set to be a very good buy indeed.
We will be releasing offers from the following successful growers over the coming 2 weeks:
Salicutti, Sesti, Costanti, Poggio di Sotto, Salvioni, Pieve di Santa Restituta (Gaja), Siro Pacenti & Canalicchio di Sopra.