We recently sent a team from Goedhuis & Co to Tuscany’s most celebrated region, Montalcino. Our objective, to sample the soon to be released and highly regarded 2015 vintage of the world famous, Brunello di Montalcino.
We have waited since 2010 for a year that can lay claim to competing in terms of quality and consistency. Next February, the trade will officially launch the 2015 Brunello di Montalcino and we will be offering our most comprehensive list to date of the top contenders in what is an outstanding year for the region and in Italian critic James Suckling’s opinion is, ‘a fairytale vintage’.
Beginning with the growing season in 2015, any initial concerns that surrounded the heat and lack of moisture in the earlier months were quickly allayed by the ample rain that followed throughout May and July. August and September were dry in the lead up to the harvest which was carried out in near perfect conditions. I recall visiting Montalcino during the harvest of 2015 and rarely do you see looks of such profound satisfaction and excitement in the eyes of growers. As one remarked, ‘the grapes are so perfect, the only pressure I have is to not to **** it up in the winery!’
Now in bottle and awaiting release (officially the 1st January five years after the harvest), stylistically the best wines show superb levels of concentration and are beautifully balanced by fine supple tannins and plenty of freshness which in the past has often been found lacking in warmer years. Let’s make no bones about it, the 2015s are certainly powerful and very Brunello-esque in style with many recording a standard 14% in alcohol, but rarely did you witness this alcohol ever encroaching into the wine. There is a wonderful sense of balance, restraint, elegance and energy that flows through allowing the pure red fruits to shine from the glass.
We sampled some incredible 2015 Brunello across the board; from estates lower down in the warmer south western and south eastern zones, to those situated at higher altitudes with a more northerly exposure.
A measure of a benchmark vintage is always consistency at the highest level, and 2015 has this in abundance. Those vineyards located at loftier altitudes of 400m-500m (close to the maximum permitted) benefited from very warm days with temperatures often reaching the mid-thirties but then dropping like a stone into low single figures at night. What this has allowed are the aromatics, minerality and freshness to really come to the fore. The best examples that we tasted were at Canalicchio di Sopra, Il Colle, Le Pottazine, Salicutti, Poggio di Sotto, Fuligni & Salvioni all of which show profound elegance, minerality and tremendous balance, traits that we particularly gravitate towards at Goedhuis. With the main Italian wine critics set to release their reviews and scores of the 2015s in the next couple of months, it won’t come as any surprise to us if these particular candidates are very well received.
Slightly further down the slopes on the warmer, sandier and more oceanic soils the wines show even greater levels of concentration and are often more muscular, dense and powerful. But unlike in previous hotter years, they are blessed with superb freshness and lift. Sesti have excelled themselves this year but everywhere you turn there are those who have made profound wines. Collemattoni and Il Poggione are both brilliant examples.
To summarise, 2015 for Brunello is a year to get really excited about. It will easily enter the hierarchy of previous greats such as 2010, 2006 and 2004 but I reckon that the duo of 2015 (and then 2016 which follows) will both eclipse these such are the advanced techniques and understanding that the modern day growers now have at their disposal.
Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany’s most celebrated wine, has never been in better shape.
BRUNELLO IN A NUTSHELL
Style: The wines show superb levels of concentration and are beautifully balanced by fine supple tannins and plenty of freshness. There is a wonderful sense of balance, restraint, elegance and energy that flows through allowing the pure red fruits to shine from the glass.
Release: End of February 2020
Estates: Canalicchio di Sopra, Collemattoni, Fuligni, Il Colle, Il Poggione, Le Pottazine, Poggio di Sotto, Salicutti, Salvioni, Sesti