The 2019 Brunello di Montalcino and 2018 Riserva Wines, Part 2: The 2019S Are Exceptionally Good, Even Great, Wines

by Ian D’Agata

As I wrote back in part 1 of this article (Brunello di Montalcino New Vintages Preview: 2019 Brunello and 2018 Riserva, Part 1) published on November 29 here on the TerroirSense Wine Review, Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s most famous, longest-lived, and most collectible red wines. And importantly, it would appear that, at this early stage in the game, the wines of 2019 appear to be poised to be remembered as truly outstanding Brunellos. To be clear, these wines have achieved some of the highest scores I ever remember doling out to Montalcino’s wines.

Interestingly, what I especially like about the 2019 vintage is just how good the classic Brunellos (let’s not call them “entry-level”, as that hardly seems appropriate) from most wineries really are. They might not have the levels of complexity of the best from 2015 and 2016, but they are remarkably delicious, fruit-forward smooth, charming wines that have sneaky concentration and will age especially well, though they’ll be much more approachable early in life than the 2016s, for example.

Another important thing to know about the 2019 Brunellos is that while there are undoubtedly 2019 single-vineyard / top selections from a few Montalcino estates that are deeper, more complex and more memorable wines than the classic bottlings from the same estate, in most cases, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to ante up for the winery’s top selection / single vineyard. That’s because, in general, the difference in quality levels between classic and selection / single vineyard Brunellos is not that steep in 2019. At many wineries, you are actually better off choosing the classic 2019 Brunellos, as more than a few of the “top selections” and single vineyards seem to be hopelessly over-extracted to me in this vintage. Where that is happily not the case, I make it clear, so you can’t go wrong (though obviously, the score of the wine will tell you that too).

And though there are exceptions, this is even more true when speaking of the generally very disappointing 2018 Riservas, of which there’s only a handful I would recommend buying. Making a Riserva in the 2018 vintage always struck me as a very curious idea at best and an unnecessary risk at worst: though it was a vintage that was actually characterized by better wines than was generally said and written at the time of their presentation, producing a Riserva in 2018 was just asking for trouble, which is exactly what happened with the vast majority of the 2018 Brunello Riserva wines made. As always, there are exceptions, but these are few and far between. But there is no need to focus on the negative this year, because the simple truth is that there has rarely been a better year in which to pick one good Brunello after another. In this sense, wine lovers will remember 2024 with glee (the year the wines will come to market, though the vintage’s wines were actually previewed to wine professionals at the end of 2023, including Shanghai, where I live and work), because the 2019 Brunellos really are that delicious.

For those who can’t resist looking at the standings, and cannot help but wonder who the best of the best were in a very, very, very good 2019 lot, then I can tell you that the wines of the 2019 vintage are (listed here in alphabetical order, not by score): Baricci, Capanna, Costanti, Fuligni, Le Chiuse, Gaja’s Pieve di Santa Restituta Sugarille bottling, Le Potazzine, Pian dell’Orino, Poggio di Sotto, Salvioni, and Scopetone.  Argiano, Canalicchio di Sopra, Fattoi, Il Poggione, La Magia, Salicutti, Sesta di Sopra, Val di Suga and Voliero all made really noteworthy wines too, but there were many other memorable wines too.

And yes, there’s a couple of 100-point wines in that lot. In a year of great wines like 2019, it would have been strange if that hadn’t been the case. Astute wine lovers will bear down and buy the 2019 Brunellos of their favourite producers. Enjoy!

The wines in this tasting

Almost all the wines in this tasting were tasted courtesy of the Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino, by far one of the best run in Italy, either in Montalcino or in Shanghai. A number of wines I tasted on my own during winery visits. For the sake of completeness, I have also included in this article the write-ups of the 2019 Brunellos of the twenty+ estates I had already previewed at the end of November here at the TerroirSense Wine Review, such that wine lovers and wine professionals have all the wines at their fingertips in this one article. Note that in a just a few cases I have increased the original scores slightly, while I didn’t lessen any scores (actually, I thought of doing so in one case, but ultimately relented). Please note that at the end of the article you will find the section of “Other wines tasted”, that for one reason or another I either did not like or did not think the bottle was in perfect shape for me to warrant scoring or commenting on the wines.

Abbadia Ardenga.

Abbadia Ardenga  2019 Brunello di Montalcino        88

Bright red. There’s a downright aromatic nuance to the nose, with hints of mint and menthol really dominating the red cherry and earthy aromas. Then similar flavours, but with a slightly gritty mouthfeel. Long and vibrant on the finish.  Drinking window: 2029-2032.

Abbadia Ardenga 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva            90

Deep red. Aromas and flavours of minty underbrush, earth and red fruit. Smoother than the 2019 Brunello, but with rather unique notes of damp moss and noteworthy salinity on the back end. Drinking window: 2028-2034.

Agostina Pieri.

Agostina Pieri 2019 Brunello di Montalcino  89

Good full red. Herbal and citrussy on the nose and in the mouth, with underlying red fruit nuances, but this finishes too drying and mouthcoating for my taste. Drinking window: 2029-2035.

Albatreti.

Albatreti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           91

Good full medium red. Tar, licorice and herbs complement aromas and flavours of red plum and dark cherry. There’s something vaguely old vines-like to this chunky, meaty, solid Brunello. Closes long and clean. Albatreti was recently bought by the Palazzone winery that also makes Brunello. Drinking window: 2028-2034.

Altesino.

Altesino 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                   94

Good full vivid red. Boasts a forward, approachable personality and a nice fruit/acid/tannin balance, not to mention inviting floral lift. Elegant but full-bodied, with a very rich, dense mouthfeel, this gorgeous 2019 Brunello finishes long and beautifully suave. This strikes me as being fresher and more open than the Caparzo 2019 Brunello (Caparzo and Altesino are both opwned by Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini and her family). Drinking window: 2029-2039.

Altesino 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli  93+

Good deep red. Earth and tar complicate red and dark berries on the nose. Similar flavours also have an intriguing note or orange peel. Ripe and not very lifted, this finishes with tactile, repeating earthy nuances, focused and long. Maybe I caught this at an awkward time (but I usually like Altesino’s excellent Montosoli bottling more in its youth than I did this time. For sure, it’s also likely much too young to show all it has to offer. Drinking window: 2031-2040.

Argiano.

Argiano 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                   95

Bright pale red with garnet highlights. Drop-dead gorgeous, archetypal Sangiovese aromas and flavours of the southwest part of Montalcino: ripe red cherry, orange peel by the boatloads, herbs, forest floor, licorce and tobacco. Long and sultry on the savory, lifted finish. Beautiful stuff that will be ready to drink relatively soon. Well done here: this is Brunello at its best. Drinking window: 2027-2037.

Argiano 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Suolo      95+

Medium-deep red with some garnet. Strawberry, red cherry, musky herbs, sweet pipe tobacco and earth tones on the nose and in the mouth. Still slightly youthfully reticent but hints at plenty of ripe fruit and noble tannins. Deeper, richer and denser than the Argiano Brunello classico, but lacks some of that wine’s pretty, immediate charm, though clearly this will prove the much longer-lived wine. Each will have its fans. Drinking window: 2032-2044.

Banfi.

Banfi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Castello Banfi              89

Medium-deep red-ruby. Savory aromas and flavors of licorice and tar dominate red cherry and salted plum nuances. Finishes long with a strong peppery edge and persistent notes of forest floor. In a less fruity style, but nicely balanced. Drinking window: 2028-2035.

Banfi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Marrucheto       90

Medium-dark red. Inviting nuances of red and black cherry, spicy herbs and forest floor. Then rich and layered with very good balance to its savory earth tone and dark red fruit flavours. Finishes smoothly tannic with a repeating Syrah-like peppery edge. 2028-2037.

Banfi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura      91

Bright deep red-ruby. Violet, red cherry, tar and licorice on the slightly reticent but perfumed nose. Then smooth and layered, with lovely tannin-fruit-acid balance nicely carrying the red fruit and herbal flavours on the long sultry finish. This offers more sweetness of fruit and less in the way of savory herb notes than the Castello Banfi and Vigna Marrucheto Brunellos from Banfi. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Banfi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio alle Mura        92

Good full ruby. Savory aromas and flavours of salted plum, herbs, coffee and spices. Finishes smooth and mouthcoating with the oak dominating somewhat currently, but this is well-balanced enough so as to have a long and graceful evolution in the bottle. Drinking window: 2028-2040.

Barbi.

Barbi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         95

Pale medium red. Very elegant, clean, minerally red fruit and fresh citrus aromas and flavours. Juicy, lively and smooth, this beautiful Brunello finishes long, energetic and beautifully focused. Outstanding stuff here made in the winery’s usual, more polite style. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Barbi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Fiore          91

Medium red. Slightly thick aromas and flavours of dark cherry, toffee, smoke and herbs. Not quite as perfumed as the classic 2019 Brunello, and this seems to have been a little over-extracted to me. Maybe cellaring it for a decade or so will help it come around, but I wonder. Drinking window: 2033-2042.

Baricci.

Baricci 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             99

Good full vibrant medium red. Extremely elegant, very deep aromas of red fruit, violet, herbs, cocoa and minerals on the captivating nose. Then complex, multilayered and pure, with very pure flavours that are similar to the aromas. This showcasing remarkable acid/fruit/tannin balance. An absolutely beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous wine that finishes suave and long and with a noteworthy mineral tang. Just great stuff, Brunello as it should be and one of the top three wines of the vintage. Drinking window: 2029-2049.

Camigliano.

Camigliano 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              87

Medium red. Forward aromas and flavours of red cherry, orange peel and underbrush. Salty and flinty, this seems to be slightly too evolved considering its age, and the gritty tannic finish has a gamey, barnyardy note that left me wondering. Drinking window: 2028-2033.

Camigliano 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Gualto         93

Dep red. Hints of coffee and cocoa add complexity to the aromas and flavours of ripe red cherry fruit, orange peel and licorice. Clean round and soft, with a herbal nuance on the long finish, this strikes me as one of the best wines Camigliano has made in some time. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Canalicchio di Sopra.

Canalicchio di Sopra 2019 Brunello di Montalcino      93

Luminous red. Open-knit red plum, blood orange and red cherry aromas and flavours are complemented by hints of tobacco and herbs. Closes smooth and ripe, with very good palate presence. Drinking window: 2024-2039.

Canalicchio di Sopra 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna La Casaccia                97

Medium-deep. Vibrant aromas of strawberry, peppery herbs and truffle. Then smooth and sultry, with multilayered flavours of red cherry, preserved plum, star anise, cinnamon and oaky spices. Long, balanced and suave on the rising finish. This will be a knockout in due course. Drinking window: 2030-2044.

Canalicchio di Sopra 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Montosoli                      95

Dark red- ruby. Very spicy, herbal nose only hints at dark plum and cherry. Then big thick and layered, with a mouthcoating richness to its dark plum and herb flavours that are long on power but short on finesse. Strange as it seems, this is actually bigger and meatier than the La Casaccia, and though I have scored it slightly higher this second time around, I still think that in 19 the La Casaccia bottling is the better wine.  I have no doubts the Montosoli will be scored higher by almost every wine writer out there, but mark my words, it is La Casaccia that is the greater of the two wines. Down the road, all those who prefer the Montosoli today will change their minds. Canalicchio di Sopra’s 2019 Montosoli Brunello will need plenty of time in a good cellar before being fully approachable and revealing of all it has to offer. Drinking window: 2034-2045.

Capanna.     

Capanna 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                 96

Bright red. Gorgeously perfumed Brunello that is benchmark of what the Sangiovese grape offers in the denomination: power and finesse. The fragrant aromas of red cherry, violet and graphite speak of the northern slope of Brunello. Then lively and focused in the mouth, with an easy-drinking charm and plenty of energy to the red fruit and sweet spice flavours. The aftertaste is long and perfumed. Drinking window: 2028-2037.

Capanna 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva    97

Good full, bright red. Complex, soil-infused aromas of red cherry, red berries, violet, sweet spices and minerals. Wonderfully plump, seamless and suave, but with good backbone providing support to the sweet red fruit and mineral flavours. Harmonious acidity and underlying minerality give sappiness and elegance to this very long beautifully sophisticated 2018 Brunello Riserva. The aftertaste is wonderfully silky, sweet, expressive and long. Great wine. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

Caparzo.

Caparzo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini                       93

Pale medium red. Pretty aromas of red cherry, violet and minerals. Elegant, full-bodied, rich and nicely dense in the mouth, with pristine flavours that echo the aromas.  The aftertaste lingers nicely, very fresh and lifted. Nicely approachable Brunello that is very much 2019 in style in its fruity charm. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Caparzo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino La Casa           94+

Luminous red. Big sweet and juicy, with fruit-forward, almost opulent red fruit and tobacco aromas and flavours. Finishes long and suave but not as vibrant as I expected. To be clear, this is an outstanding Brunello, but I would have liked a little more verve for an even higher score. Drinking window: 2030-2046.

Caprili.

Caprili 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                    93+

Moderately saturated dark red. Aromas of red cherry, licorice, menthol and quinine, with a pungent floral (violet, iris, peony, lavender) nuance. Supple and silky but a bit youthfully folded in on itself today, with reticent, steely red and darker fruit flavours firmed up by noteworthy but noble tannins that need time to resolve fully. Closes a bit inky but also hinting at an enticing red-fruit character and growing vinosity with aeration. This needs at least a couple years to unwind fully. Drinking window: 2031-2040.

Caprili 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Adalberto            94+              

Good vivid red-ruby. Complex nose offers cool, spicy, herbal red and black cherry, eucalyptus, tobacco and camphor nuances. Dense and rather powerful Brunello that offers deeply flavoured and well-delineated flavours of smoky plum, dark cherry and menthol, with strong tannic frame providing support. Closes with youthfully firm tannins and nicely persistent cool reminders of herbs and ink. I think this will expand in the years to come to reveal a really pretty good Brunello Riserva, but for now forget about in the cellar for another eight years or so. Drinking window: 2031-2040.

Carpineto.

Carpineto 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                90

Good deep, bright red. Ripe aromas of redcurrant, dark plum, loam, tobacco and balsamic oils. Lush and fat on entry, then plush and broad in the mouth, with a peppery, slightly herbal quality to the ripe and savory fruit flavours. Slightly warm and chunky, with a savory side to its flavours.  Finishes with a broad dusting of tannins and good sweetness on the close, with a repeating peppery edge. A second bottle was marked by a dusty, fruit-challenged drying finish that I scored 88, but I will give this the benefit of the doubt as I liked the first bottle a good deal more. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

Carpineto 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva          89

Medium red-ruby. Slightly reduced aromas of smoky plum, flint and underbrush. Supple and sweet on entry, with smoke and meaty flavours in the middle, then a bit brooding and drier on the savoury back end.  The youthfully chewy finish features dusty, slightly green tannins and a note of coffee. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

Casisano.

Casisano 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           92

Deep crimson red. Ripe aromas and flavours of superripe red cherry, milk chocolate, herbs and truffles. Made in a superripe decadent style that may not be for everyone, but those who like their wines big fleshy and ripe will undoubtedly take a real shine to this. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

Castelgiocondo.

Castelgiocondo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino        94

Bright red. Delicate aromas of violet, dark cherry, orange peel and apricot, with a dusting of herbs and graphite. Lovely long and clean on the rich, round finish. This doesn’t strike me as the most complex Castelgiocondo Brunello ever made, but there’s an enchanting purity, silkiness and balance to it that makes for a really memorable drink. Just be careful, because my inkling is this wine will drink dangerously fast, one glass right after another! Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Castelgiocondo 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Ripe al Convento                     95

Deep red. Ink and graphite complement ripe red and dark plum and candied violet aromas. In the mouth this features plenty of pomegranate and plum fruit, with a hint of ink. Clean, vibrant and very polished on the long herb-accented finish. Outstanding 2018 Riserva, one of this vintages best Brunello Riservas. Well done. Drinking window: 2030-2045.

Castello Romitorio.

Castello Romitorio 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                 94

Vivid red. Orange peel, camphor, cinnamon and red cherry on the minerally-accented nose. Then very similar flavours, nicely framed by harmonious if highist acidity that really extends the back end. I dare say, a very “Romitorio wine”, in its long clean, highly perfumed steely delivery of fruit. Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Castello Romitorio 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Filo di Seta                       NR

Medium red. Faded flowers and ripe red cherry on the nose and in the mouth. Smooth yet tactile, with good length and a repeating floral nuance. I might have caught this at an awkward stage, but I found this a slightly disappointing Filo di Seta that struck me as lacking in freshness and bordering on the flat. Drinking window: 2028-2035.

Most likely,  this bottle had cork issues,  so not rated (NR).

Castello Tricerchi.

Castello Tricerchi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           92

Bright dark red. Camphor, licorice and earth tones mingle with nuances of red cherry and spicy plums. Finishes youthfully tactile and long. Good solid chewy Brunello that ought to develop well over the medium term. Go ahead  and fire up the barbie! Drinking window: 2029-2035.

Castiglion del Bosco.

Castiglion del Bosco 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                95

Vivid red. Enticing aromas of red cherries and berries, pomegranate and watermelon. Lively, juicy and fresh, with anoble if still evry youthful tannic spine that nicely frames the red fruit and floral flavours. Long and pure on the pretty finish. I already wrote that if this isn’t the best classic Brunello Leoneschi has ever made, it’s certainly in the top three.  Drinking window: 2028-2040.

Castiglion del Bosco 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Family Reserve 93

Vibrant good red. Flowers and earthtones complement red cherry and minty plum notes. Rich, big and suave but with sappy acidity nicely extending and lifting the ripe, chunky flavours on the long aftertaste. This is the first vintage of this wine made from grapes picked in several different plots; unlike the name might suggest, it is not a Brunello Riserva, just a small lot of 6000 bottles the winery chooses to sell only at their hotel and resort. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Castiglion del Bosco 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Campo del Drago         96

Deep red with ruby tinges: this is the deepest coloured wine of the Castiglion del Bosco portfolio. Enticing aromas of violets, dark cherries, plums, flinty minerals and coffee on the vivid nose. Big but suave, with fleshy dark berry and cherry flavours complicated by soy sauce and Oriental spices. Closes very deep and long, with building complexity. The large use of whole bunches (70% in 2019) gad me looking for a pungent florality but I find this boasts great sweetness of fruit rather than floral nuances. A well-ventilated area that never suffers drought, the Campo del Drago allows Leoneschi to leave the grapes hanging longer.  Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Cinelli Colombini.

Cinelli Colombini 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           93

Bright red. Straightforward but perfumed aromas of strawberry, camphor and licorice, lifted by a bright violet topnote. Silky and lively in the mouth, with red berry and herb flavours lingering nicely. A note of menthol emerges on the clean, fresh, long finish that also features an earthy nuance. Drinking window: 2029-2036.

Cinelli Colombini 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Casato Prime Donne                             94

Bright deep red. Herbs and strawberry on the enticing nose.  Then savoury and juicy flavours of herbal red berries, almond paste and tar. Closes bright and juciy, with lingering saline notes. Very clean, energetic and nicely focused Brunello that closes long and and full. More complex than some other vintages of this wine that I remember from the past. Drinking window: 2030-2039.

Cinelli Colombini 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva              93

Good ruby-red. Plum, potpourrri, roast coffee, licorice and a earthy nuance on the nose. Supple and sweet, with good flavour intensity and nicely integrated acidity. A rather suave style of 2018, finishing with fine-grained tannins, clean, long, mineral and floral. Drinking window: 2028-2037.

Col di Lamo.

Col di Lamo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            93

Good medium ruby-red. Ripe, slightly high-toned aromas and flavours of crystallized raspberry, milk chocolate and minerals. Intensely flavoured and well-delineated as is typical of the offerings from this winery, boasting at once ripeness and energy. Finishes long with a firm tannic backbone but not at all drying. A lovely Brunello that strikes me as being a slightly riper, bigger Brunello than usual for this winery; some out there might like this 2019 Brunello from Col di Lamo even more than usual because of it. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

Col di Lamo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino A Diletta           95

Dark red-ruby. Expressive aromas of plum, redcurrant, mocha, cinnamon and loam on the complex nose. Then also multilayered in the mouth, with broad and pliant red fruit and spicy flavours. The persistent, ripely tannic finish offers nicely persistent notes of tobacco and spicecake. Very vibrant and focused, this finishes long and refined. Much more concentrated than the classic 2019 Brunello from this estate, this is a real step up in quality. And that’s saying something, given how good the other Brunello is. Drinking window: 2031-2043.

Col d’Orcia.

Col d’Orcia 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             92

Medium-dark red with garnet tones. Aromas and flavours of red cherry, blackberry and licorice, with a hint of mocha and of anise.  Plush and fruit-driven, conveying an impression of solidity and volume, with a note of peppery herbs emerging with aeration. Closes with building, youthfully chewy but noble tannins. Drinking window: 2032-2040.

Col d’Orcia 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Nastagio              95

Deep red. Dense, sweet and fine-grained; a step up in energy, concentration and depth from the excellent Col d’Orcia classic Brunello.  Very suave, boasting deep flinty flavours of raspberry, leather and licorice.  Solidly structured Brunello in the typical Nastagio style (a vineyard that gives Brunellos that need plenty of time to come around), closing with noble but building, mouthcoating tannins. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

Col d’Orcia 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio al Vento                           98

Good full saturated red. Intense aromas of red berries, ripe red cherries, licorice, tobacco, blood orange and coffee on the ample, broad nose. Big, deep and concentrated, showing outstanding mid-palate lift to its creamy, rich red fruit and blood orange flavours. licorice.  Another stellar Poggio al Vento from Col d’Orcia; from the 2016 vintage no less, one of Montalcino’s five best vintages ever. Drinking window: 2028-2050.

Collemattoni.

Collemattoni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino               94

Full red-ruby. Black cherry, blueberry, licorice and bitter chocolate on the nose, plus a whiff of smoke and tar. Dense and chewy on the palate, with very good intensity to its red and darker cherry, smoky plum, and coffee flavours; even a hint of game in the mouth. In the usual Collemattoni house style, another big, youthfully monolithic Brunello that is extremely promising, finishing very long and surprisingly light on its feet leaving a nuance of white pepper behind. Drinking window: 2031-2043.

Collosorbo.

Collosorbo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              94

Bright deep red. Notes of graphite and ink complicate juicy red cherry and plums. Pure, clean, long and mineral, with a strong violet perfume lingering nicely on the lifted back end. A very typical Brunello from Collosorbo that is never especially powerful but showcases lovely balance and perfume. Drinking window: 2029-2036.

Collosorbo 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva                93

Very clean, sweet and long, this highly polished velvety Brunello Riserva offers plenty of coffee and sweet red fruit flavours that linger nicely. About the only quibble I have is that it struck me as slightly highish in alcohol, but to be clear, this is one of the best 2018 Brunello Riservas, in a year where there weren’t too many exciting Riservas made. Drinking window: 2028-2037.

Corte Pavone Loacker.

Corte Pavone Loacker 2019 Brunello di Montalcino    92

Good full saturated red. Aromas of red cherry, dried flowers, licorice and herbs.  Supple on entry, with good energy and focus to its flavours of red cherry and spices. Finishes softly tannic, with nicely integrated acidity and very good savoury fruit presence, not to mention a light on its feet and vibrant mouthfeel.  A nicely approachable, gripping midweight Brunello with solid length. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Corte Pavone Loacker 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Campo Marzio                      94

Moderately saturated ruby-red. Rich aromas and flavours of red fruit, sweet spices and herbs. Closes with a slightly gamey nuance that adds complexity. Shows better balance, fruitiness and a richer mouthfeel compared to the still good classic 2019 Brunello. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Corte Pavone Loacker 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio Molino al Vento                        93+

Good full red.  The nose offers easy red fruit plus hints mocha, smoke and earth. Then similar flavours in the mouth. More tactile but less easygoing in the mouth than the 2019s, but a real step up in concentration and nuance from most other 2018 bottlings. Offers chewy extract to go along with the mocha and tobacco flavors. Finishes with good, ripe, noble if youthfully chewy tannins and lingering sweetness. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Costanti.

Costanti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              100

Good bright ruby-red. Penetrating floral aromas of red plum, blackcurrant, star anise and cinnamon, plus a bright violet topnote. Sweet, lush and round, with a cool-climate quality contributing to the wine’s impression of steely resolve. I love the combination of silky texture and complexity here. Finishes broad and long, with ripe tannins and a multifaceted personality. What else to say? Beautiful, elegant, mineral, suave, pretty and elegant Brunello sums this gorgeous wine up nicely. It is one of the Brunellos of the 2019 vintage. Drinking window: 2029-2043.

Cupano.

Cupano 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             95

Luminous red with an orange tinge. Aromas and flavours of red cherry, sultry superripe peach, milk chocolate and menthol. Beautiful, elegant wine that boasts that unique Cupano sandalwood, milk chocolate and Oriental spice quality that is typical of this estate in the best years.  Drinking window: 2028-2037.

Elia Palazzesi.

Elia Palazzesi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            87

Deep ruby-red. Herbs and dark fruit on the nose and in the mouth. Then herbal, pungent and slightly gritty on the drying finish. An atypical and less successful than usual wine for this producer. Drinking window: 2029-2035.

Elia Palazzesi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva            94

Bright medium-deep red. Musky aromas of dark plum, red currant and tobacco. Juicy, sappy and rather stylish, combining black pepper and herb qualities but also noteworthy sweetness of fruit. Closes silky, long and linear in its delivery of ripe red fruit and herbs. Rather curiously, this strikes me as being a much better wine than this winery’s 2019 Brunello (a much better year). Things happen. Drinking window: 2028-2040.

Fanti.

Fanti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                93

Vivid deep red. Aromas and flavours of smoky herbs, flint, red and dark cherry and tobacco. Very clean, easygoing, nicely balanced Brunello that may not be the last word in complexity but there’s plenty to like in its approachable, easygoing delivery of fruit and herbs.  Drinking window: 2030-2038.

Fattoi.

Fattoi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino               95

Deep red. Perfumed violet, red cherry and blackberry on the lifted nose. A very elegant, pretty medium-bodied Brunello but with sneaky concentration to its violet and red fruit aromas and flavours. Will prove age-worthy, but offers the added benefit of likely being very accessible early. Not the most concentrated Brunello you’ll drink from the 2019 vintage, but beautifully balanced and perfumed: this strikes me as one of the better, most balanced Brunellos from Fattoi in years. There’s a lot of wine for the money here. Well done. Drinking window: 2029-2038

Fattoi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva            92

Deep ruby-red. Expressive aromas of blackberry, redcurrant, licorice, tobacco, woodsmoke, pepper and dill. Dense, sweet and spicy, with fresh herb nuances carrying through on the palate. This intensely flavoured wine finishes with good energy and tannins. Could have used a bit more fruit for an even higher score. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Fossacolle.

Fossacolle 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                93

Deep red with a pale garnet rim. Plum, woodsmoke and flint on the piercing nose. Then similarly flinty fruit flavours and a nice silky mouthfeel that lingers impressively. A slight grassy note adds complexity to the minty fresh, pleasantly juicy mouthfeel, that offers building fruitiness on the long back end. Drinking window: 2029-2039.

Franco Pacenti.

Franco Pacenti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          89

Very pale red. Elegant citrus and high-acid fruit on the floral nose. Then tougher and seemingly over-extracted, with flavours of tobacco and earth, plus a slightly funky note on the already seemingly evolved finish. I’m a huge fan of this estate’s wines, but I don’t believe the 2019 is one of the more successful wines they have made here. Drinking window: 2029-2033.

Franco Pacenti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Rosildo  90

Good full red. Aromas of redcurrant, licorice, smoke, black pepper and faded flowers. Nicely delineated if a bit tight and ungiving, with a floral note contributing a note of delicacy. I wanted a bit more pliancy and more freshness on the already slightly evolved on the finish that hints at diesel fuel and licorice. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

Fuligni.

Fuligni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              98

Pale medium red. Penetrating aromas of sweet blonde tobacco, red cherry, crystallized raspberry, vanilla and black pepper. Elegant full and rich on the palate, with a touch of youthfully chewy oak that will need a few years to resolve fully, but there’s so much fruit crammed into every glass here that I have no doubt this will develop very nicely. A beautiful Brunello that closes long, dense and suave, this is another winner of the 2019 vintage. Drinking window: 2029-2042.

Gaja/Pieve di Santa Restituta.

Gaja/Pieve di Santa Restituta 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Rennina                    94

Bright red. Aromas and flavours of violet, licorice and red cherry. The aftertaste is long and suave. More openly fruity than the Sugarille bottling in 2019, but also less structure and concentration than that wine, as you’d expect. Less expensive than the Sugarille, this is an excellent 2019 Brunello that I quite liked. Drinking window: 2028-2037.

Gaja/Pieve di Santa Restituta 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille                  95

Luminous red. Penetrating, perfumed aromas and flavours of red cherry, red berries, candied violet, tobacco, and minerals, plus a complicating note of orange peel. Good energy and plenty of focus on the graphite-accented, refined, quite mineral finish. Lovely vintage for Sugarille. Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Greppone Mazzi.

Greppone Mazzi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             91

Orange-tinged red colour, typical of a Sangiovese wine. Slightly simple but clean and juicy red fruit and herbal flavours. A perfumed note of violet adds interest on the long minerally finish. Will be ready to drink soon and give plenty of pleasure. One of the best young wines from Greppone Mazzi I have memory of. Much more successful than this estate’s 2018 Riserva. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

Il Poggione.

From left the 1st and 3rd person: Aessandro and Fabrizio Bindocci of il Poggione

Il Poggione 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              97

Good bright, dark red.  Pure but restrained nose shows outstanding mineral lift to the aromas of red plum, red cherry, pomegranate and herbs. Densely built but weightless and sappy, with a distinctly juicy fruitiness and energizing minerality to the fine-grained fruit and floral flavours. Beautifully delineated and seamless, showing superlative fruit intensity and lift. Long on the dense aftertaste with building, noble tannins. Drinking window: 2028-2045.

Innocenti.

Innocenti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          94

Bright red. Boasts very perfumed red fruit and flowers on the enticing nose. Then somewhat tighter in the mouth, but with the same clarity and cut of the nose with repeating red fruit nuances on the palate. Long and steely on the fresh close. Refined Brunello. Drinking window: 2029-2036.

La Casaccia di Franceschi.

La Casaccia di Franceschi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                     92+

Deep red. Full aromas of dark plum, coffee and tobacco. Enters light on its feet and boasting very good sweetness of fruit, then turns more austere and a little too tannic in the middle and on the herbal, earthy finish. This just needs to spend time in a good cellar, so as to round and fill out nicely; there’s plenty of stuffing for that to happen. Drinking window: 2030-2037.

La Fiorita.

La Fiorita 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          94

Medium red. Ripe, fleshy aromas of red cherry, minerals, dried flowers and blood orange; an essence of Sangiovese.  Savory, plush and seamless on entry, with pungent red cherry showing an almost liqueur-like sweetness but without any impression of heaviness. Features a rising whiplash of fruit on the long close, which features sweet tannins, firm acidity and a strong savory nuance. Made in a ripe, warm-weather style, this edge-free Brunello nevertheless stains the palate. Drinking window: 2029-2040.

La Fiorita 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Fiore di NO   94

Medium dark red-ruby. Refined nose hints at red berries, marzipan and coconut.  Fine-grained, fleshy and highly concentrated, with lovely sappy sweetness.  Really builds on the very long, even, youthfully chewy but noble tannic back end, which stains the palate with red fruits, tobacco and complex soil tones. Drinking window: 2032-2044.

La Fiorita 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva         95  

Good full, bright, deep red.  Spicy aromas and flavours of red cherry, red plum, mint and licorice have a broad, open-knit, very 2018 quality.  Dense, fleshy and sweet, this is an excellent 2018 Riserva, boasting strong saline minerality contributing to the impression of chewy extract.  The rising finish boasts building floral length and rich orange peel nuances. Drinking window: 2028-2044.

La Fornace.

La Fornace 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              92

Good full ruby. Downright pungent minty-menthol and floral aromas are then followed up by meatier, fleshier flavours spiced up by hints of orange peel and herbs. Closes long lively and with repeating sweet and dry spice nuances. Drinking window: 2029-2036.

La Fortuna.

La Fortuna 2019 Brunello di Montalcino       94

Bright medium red.  Red cherry, violet and a hint of leather on the vibrant nose.  Sweet, pliant and fine-grained on entry; then lively and floral with very Sangiovese-accurate floral red fruit flavours. Not yet especially complex but lush and seamless, with a nice glyceral sweetness to the fresh strawberry and red cherry fruit flavours. Finishes very long, with sweet, suave tannins. The hint of game and leather might turn purists off, but this is actually a remarkably enjoyable classic Brunello that will be ready to drink while your Riserva wines or the 2016s mature in your cellar. Drinking window: 2028-2044.

La Fortuna 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Giobi        95

Good full red.  Plum, tar, mint and oak tones on the mellow nose, complicated by osmanthus leaves and forest floor.  Deep and rich in extract, with a complicating hint of salinity and noteworthy inner-mouth energy to the flavours of mushrooms, menthol and savoury dark fruit. The long, rising finish featuring suave tannins and a hint of leather. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

La Fuga.

La Fuga 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            93

Opaque deep red. Fresh dark fruit on the nsoe and in the mouth is complicated by flinty, earthy, mineral nuances. A powerful wine with rising freshness on the long, meaty back end. Drinking window: 2030-2038.

La Fuga 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Le Due Sorelle                      93+

Good full ruby. Big, deep, meaty aromas and flavours complicated by herbs, balsamic oils and coffee. Clean long and easygoing, with a rising note of graphite on the long back end. La Fuga is owned by the Folonari family, in fact one of the many estates it owns. This specific wine (le due sorelle or the two sisters) is named after Giovanna and Fabia Cornaro, respectively wife and sister-in-law of Ambrogio Folonari and both owners of the Estate. The grapes are sourced at about 350 meters above sea level in the Camigliano sector of Montalcino. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

La Gerla.

La Gerla 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           93

Bright red. Perfumed aromas of strawberry, orange peel and underbrush. Then similar flavours in the mouth, with harmonious acidity nicely framing the red and herbal flavours. Clean long and well-balanced, but finishes with rising austerity that will leave you scrambling for food. Drinking window: 2029-2039.

La Gerla 2019 Brunello di Montalcino La Pieve       94+

Luminous deep red. Notes of watermelon and pomegranate dominate on the nose and in the mouth. Develops more complexity with aeration as it sits in the glass. Boasts sneaky complexity and concentration, this is a very classic Brunello. Very nice. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

La Gerla 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva degli Angeli      87

Medium dark red with a garnet rim. Aromas of faded flowers and ripe red cherry, plus a hint of orange zest. Enters clean but then turns weedy in the middle and on the aftertaste, with notes of avocado and green fruit that are not to my liking. Finishes long but slightly drying. Drinking window: 2028-2033.

La Magia.

La Magia 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          93+

Good full red. Deep aromas of dark plum, smoke, coffee and tobacco. Ripe red cherry, peach and apricot flavours are complicated by a tarry and earthy note. Closes succulent and juicy, with a nice herbal nuance adding complexity. Very solid, youthfully chewy Brunello that will match heavenly with just about any grilled meat you can think of. Drinking window:

La Magia 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Ciliegio          96

Bright deep red. Pomegranate and red cherry dominate the fruit-forward nose complicated by violet and herbs. Rich suave and very well-balanced, this glides effortlessly on the taste buds. Closes long and silky, clean and fresh, with a captivating minerality and a repeating note of pomegranate. One of the best, most refined Ciliegio Brunellos in years from La Magia. Drinking window: 2029-2039.

La Palazzetta.

La Palazzetta 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             93

Bright medium red colour. Fruity, open-knit, mellow aromas and flavours of strawberry and herbs. Easygoing, early-developing, rather round style of Brunello. What’s there not to like? Much better, fruitier and juicy, than the 2018 Riserva from this estate. Drinking window: 2028-2035.

La Serena.

La Serena 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         90

Medium bright red. Nicely pitched aromas and flavours of cherry, rose petal, herbs and exotic spices. Then ripe and primary, with a restrained sweetness. Still a bit youthfully tight on the otherwise broad finish featuring dusty of tannins. Not the fruitiest 2019 Brunello. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

La Serena 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Gemini    93

Very good, bright red.  Sexy nose suggests floral red cherry, raspberry, herbs, and sandalwood.  Silky-sweet and fine-grained, with an enticing sappy quality to the sweet, ripe, juicy saline red fruit flavours. Nicely tactile and concentrated but lively too, closing with suave tannins, a note of candied raspberry and enticing perfume. Much fruitier and more charming than the classic 2019 Brunello from La Serena. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

La Torre.

La Torre 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           93

Medium red-ruby. Camphor, licorice and potpourri complement red and dark cherry on the nose. At once earthy and fruity on entry, then boasts building sweet red fruit in the middle and on the close. Nicely focused, this turns more mineral on the long energetic finish. Drinking window: 2029-2039.

Lambardi.

Lambardi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         93

Very deep red-ruby. Menthol and dark fruit aromas and flavours linger nicely. The clean, smooth and long on the finish that features an earthy nuance. Drinking window: 2029-2037.

Lazzaretti.

Lazzaretti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         94

Bright red. Sandalwood, orange peel and licorice complement floral red berries aromas and flavours. The aftertaste is long and classically austere, but boasts sneaky concentration of fruit. Old style traditional Brunello that is solid and very satisfying. Will likely develop slowly and for years. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Le Chiuse.

Le Chiuse 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         97

Pale medium red. Very deep, multilayered aromas and flavours of red cherry, dark plum, camphor, licorice, loam and violet. Fine-grained if youthfully chewy tannins nicely support the rich fruit present on the long finish. Elegant, full, rich, dense and beautifully suave, this is another knockout Brunello from Le Chiuse. Drinking window: 2029-2042.

Le Gode.

Le Gode 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           93

Deep red. Aromas and flavours of red cherry, potpourri, minerals and coffee. Clean, easygoing, perhaps slightly obvious Brunello in its fruit-forward style, but solid and easy to like. Will likely drink better sooner than most other 2019 Brunellos but why defer gratification when it offers a nice mouthful of wine?  Drinking window: 2027-2036.

Le Gode 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Montosoli      94

Bright red. Very fruity, with strong clean notes of red and blackcurrant and red cherry. Nicely suave and full-bodied. Finishes long and layered, with a rising herbal note that adds further complexity and nuance. These two 2019 Brunellos are the best and by far the cleanest Brunellos that Le Gode has made in some time; and it should always be that way for this winery owns vines in one of the three or four best spots in all of Montalcino in which to make Brunello. Le Gode is the eastern-swinging slope that continues from the original Montosoli hill: nowadays it’s all called Montosoli, but this specific section of the hill is more correctly known as Le Gode di Montosoli. No matter, it’s still one of the best places on earth where to grow Sangiovese. Drinking window: 2028-2039.

Le Potazzine.

Le Potazzine 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            96

Deep red. Initially closed and reticent on the nose and in the mouth, but very solid; opens slowly with aeration to showcase dense, rich, red ripe fruit complicated by loamy and mineral nuances on the long thick back end lifted by a bright perfumed violet presence. There’s noteworthy concentration, balance and depth to this beautiful Brunello. Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Le Ragnaie.

Le Ragnaie 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              93

Dark red. Tobacco, apricot and red cherry on the penetrating nose. Then at once creamy and lifted, with good penetrance to the ripe red fruit and tobacco flavours. Cool, elegant and mineral, this beautiful Brunello finishes fresh and long. Drinking window: 2028-2037.

Le Ragnaie 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Passo del Lume Spento                       94+

Luminous red. Minerally reticent aromas and flavours of red cherry, violet, licorice and flint. Clean fresh, and mineral on the back end, but still youthfully folded onto itself. Needs to spend time in the cellar; don’t even think of opening a bottle before 2030. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Le Ragnaie 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Pietroso       91

Good full red. Broad, ample red and dark plum aromas are complemented by hints of roast coffee and underbrush. Big, rich and dense, with ripe flavours of red cherry and tobacco. A much bigger wine than Le Ragnaie’s 2019 Brunello Passo del Lume Spento, but this mouthcoating wine finishes a little fruit-challenged and quite tannic for my taste. Drinking window: 2031-2040.

Le Ragnaie 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vecchie Vigne                    93+

Deep red. Intense aromas of red cherry, redcurrant, boysenberry and herbs. Then more floral in the mouth, with hints of violet and rose complicating red cherry flavours. Cool but full-bodied, there’s plenty of concentration to the fruit and noteworthy tannin and acid structure. Still an infant and youthfully disjointed presently, so forget about it in the cellar for a good eight years at least. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

Le Ragnaie 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Casavina Montosoli         95

Good full red-ruby. Multilayered aromas of herbs and red fruit are lifted by mint and violet. Big, full-bodied Brunello but with underlying sneaky refinement and complexity to its red fruit, sweet spice and herb flavours. Boasts a remarkably strong note of orange peel on the long floral finish. A real baby, forget about this in the cellar for another eight years or so. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

Livio Sassetti/Pertimali.

Livio Sassetti/Pertimali 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         89

Deep red-ruby. Slightly gamey nose, then sweeter in the mouth, with earthy and balsamic nuances to the red cherry and coffee flavours. Closes long and tactile, with a nicely complicating hint of quinine. Drinking window: 2030-2038.

Luce/Frescobaldi.

Luce/Frescobaldi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            94

Deep ruby colour. Herbs, cedar, graphite and flint complicate the red and dark fruit aromas, lifted by a hint of perfumed violet. Sweet balsamic oils and cooler menthol complement the dark fruit flavours on the long minerally finish. A very refined wine. Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Martoccia.

Martoccia 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva          91+

Deep red. Orange peel, loam and tobacco complicate red cherry aromas and flavours. Simple and straightforward currently, and a little disjointed in its youthful delivery of fruit, acid and tannins. Cellar accordingly, for another five years or so at least. I liked this a great deal more than the slightly disappointing 2019 Brunello from this winery. Drinking window: 2029-2036.

Mastrojanni.

Mastrojanni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            95

Pale medium red. Captivating very Sangiovese-like aromas of violet, small red berries, licorice and ferrous underbrush. Fresh, clean and juicy, this boasts wonderful lift to its perfumed floral red berry flavours. This beautiful Brunello closes long and suave. Lots of wine for the money here.  Drinking window: 2029-2039.

Mastrojanni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Loreto       96

Good full red. At once fruity and mineral, with captivating juicy precision to its aromas and flavours of red berries, coffee underbrush and minerals. Excellent Brunello that is very well-balanced and long. Repeating red fruit and minerals on the coffee-accented finish contribute to an impression of complexity. Lovely Brunello with plenty of life ahead. Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Mocali.

Mocali 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                     93

Bright red. Easygoing aromas and flavours of red cherry and sweet spices. Boasts very nice acid/sugar/tannin/fruit balance, making for a suave, nicely approachable drink. Closes nicely pure, fresh and long. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

Mocali 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna delle Raunate  93+

Good full red. Coffee, cocoa and tobacco vie for attention with red cherry and smoke on the nose and in the mouth. Bigger and deeper than the 2019 Brunello, but this needs time to further soften and develop nuance. Drinking window: 2030-2040

Musico.

Musico 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             91

Medium dark red. Aromas and flavours of red cherry and licorice. Easygoing and fresh with rising, generally smooth tannins. This will be ready to go sooner than most other 2019 Brunellos. Drinking window: 2027-2034.

Padelletti.

Padelletti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          94

Luminous red. Strawberry, raspberry and an intense note of violet on the inviting nose, complicated by a hint of lemon zest. Then similar flavours, boasting very good juiciness and harmonious tannin/acid balance. Perfumed, vibrant and long on the citrus-accented finish. This is excellent, so if you are looking for a less famous, less in the spotlight producer making good Brunello in 2019 that therefore might not cost an arm and a leg, well…look no further. Drinking window: 2029-2037.

Palazzone.

Palazzone 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                91+

Medium red with an orange cast. Approachable, easygoing clean and fresh aromas and flavours of red berries, earth, underbrush and citrus fruits. Finishes medium-long and slightly simple. Perhaps aging it will allow it to develop further complexity. Drinking window: 2029-2039.

Palazzone 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva          89

Bright red with a garnet rim. Approachable already now, with notes of red fruit and fresh citrus on the nose and in the mouth. Closes long but slightly drying. Drinking window: 2029-2036.

Patrizia Cencioni.

Patrizia Cencioni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            92+

Bright red. Initially gamey and reduced on the nose, with barely perceptible violet and dark fruit notes. Then richer and ampler, even suave, with hints of licorice, herbs and minerals on the long, smooth back end. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

Patrizia Cencioni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Ofelio        94

Deep, bright red-ruby color. Slightly reticent at first, with earthy aromas of plum, redcurrant and kirsch complicated by soy sauce, peony and iris. Silky and with a restrained sweetness and considerable finesse to its moderately ripe, sweet middle palate. Closes long with flinty and floral notes. Initially reduced just like the classic 2019 Brunello from this estate, but also bigger, denser and more complex than that wine. This is a real step up in quality and concentration. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Pian delle Quercie.

Pian delle Quercie 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          93

Orange-tinged red. Easygoing aromas and flavours of red cherry, licorice, herbs and mace. The rising finish features building juicy red fruit and tobacco notes. This really grew on me as it stayed in the glass. I liked it a lot more than the 2018 Riserva from this winery. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

Pian dell’Orino.

Pian dell’Orino 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Vigneti del Versante   97

Bright ruby-red. Strawberry, raspberry and red cherry boast good mineral tang and are complicated by notes of cedar and quinine. Very pure, nicely focused and energetic, this is, as I have written before, an outstanding, benchmark 2018 Brunello. Aged in two 30 Hl barrels, if this isn’t my “Classic Brunello of the vintage’ winner then I’m not sure what would be. One of the first estates to be certified biodynamic in Montalcino, wine lovers know that Pian dell’Orino easily ranks amongst the denomination’s five or six top wineries.  And on that note, stay tuned for some absolutely knockout 2019 Brunellos coming your way soon (next year) from the ultra-talented Jan Erbach and Caroline Pobizer husband and wife team. Drinking window: 2028-2040.

Pietroso.

Pietroso 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                   94

Bright red. Musky blackberry and steely red cherry aromas and flavours are lifted by hints of graphite, mint and violet petals. The silky aftertaste is long, juicy and very focused. Owner Gianni Pignattai farms 3.7 hectares of Brunello vineyards distributed among three separate plots, which he blends together and comes up with one of the denomination’s more understated but refined Brunellos in every vintage. Another reason to follow this winery closely is because it owns a piece of the original Montosoli vineyard (in other words, the true Montosoli, not the enlarged vineyard area that is nowadays all called Montosoli) and it will release, sooner or later a single Montosoli fruit bottling (that is when the husband and wife Pignattai team decide the wine is good enough to warrant it). Drinking window:  2030-2040.

Podere Brizio.

Podere Brizio 2019 Brunello di Montalcino   90

Bright red. Aromas and flavours of underbrush, red cherry, minerals and violet. Clean, good solid fruity Brunello that finishes just a tad drying on the medium-long back end. Pair it with juicy hearty stews and fatty cuts of meat and nobody will notice it’s just a tad fruit-challenged.  Drinking window: 2029-2035.

Poggio alle Forche.

Poggio alle Forche 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          92

Good full red. Tobacco, orange peel and licorice vie for attention with red cherry and strawberry on the nose and on the palate. Clean, glycerally sweet on the long smooth finish. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

Poggio dell’Aquila.

Poggio dell’Aquila 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          88

Good full red. Tobacco and coffee complement subdued red fruit aromas and flavours. Then earth, coffee and balsamic nuances dominate on the medium-long, abruptly ending finish. Drinking window: 2028-2033.

Poggio di Sotto.

Claudio Tipa, owner of Poggio di Sotto

Poggio di Sotto 2019 Brunello di Montalcino        100

Bright, full red. Nuanced, extremely deep and complex nose offers raspberry, redcurrant, superripe red cherry, tobacco, sandalwood, warm stones, vanilla and a violet nuance. Suave, juicy and multilayered, with harmonious acidity nicely framing the wine’s concentrated red plum, tobacco and mocha flavors. This subtle but very concentrated Brunello finishes delicately savoury and mineral, with substantial but smooth tannins and lovely lingering perfume of sweet spices and perfume. A huge success for an estate that has known many over the years, this may well be the wine of the vintage.  Drinking window: 2028-2045.

Poggio di Sotto 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva  96

Luminous red with a garnet cast. Sweet spice and tobacco nuances complement the superripe, almost decadent red cherry aromas on the rich, ample nose. Then concentrated and fleshy, with red fruit and aromatic herb flavours persisting nicely on the long suave and very ripe finish. Not quite as fresh as the magnificent 2019 Brunello from Poggio di Sotto, this actually seems readier to drink and more evolved, but it still ranks as one of the top three or four Brunello Riservas of the 2018 vintage. Best enjoyed over the next fifteen years or so. Drinking window: 2028-2039.

Poggio Nardone.

Poggio Nardone 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              90

Medium ruby-red. Tobacco and licorice complicate red cherry and smoky plum on the nose. Simple, glycerally sweet red fruit and tobacco flavours linger nicely on the youthfully chewy medium-long finish. Drinking window:

Renieri.

Renieri 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                    92

Bright medium ruby-red. Musky aromas of raspberry, leather, tobacco and smoke. Broad and mellow, this boasts very forward, easygoing flavours of red fruit and tobacco and a low-acid impression. Finishes very clean and smooth. This medium-bodied Brunello is made in a fairly accessible style that should prove approachable at an early age. Drinking window: 2028-2034.

Ridolfi.

Ridolfi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              94+

Good bright red. Penetrating but pure aromas of red cherry, flint and spicy oak.  Dense, smooth and rather suave, with a light touch to the flinty red berry and herbal flavours. This is dense and rich without any heaviness, though it is so tightly coiled today that it will benefit from at least a dozen years in a good cellar to show all it has to offer. Lovely example of a Brunello from the northern slope of the Montalcino hill.  A second bottle proved richer and more fruity, so I upped my score from when I had tasted this the first time back at the end of November 2023. Drinking window: 2034-2044.

Ruffino.

Ruffino 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Greppone Mazzi       91

Medium red. Expressive aromas of strawberry, flowers, herbs and flinty minerality with a hint of green tobacco. Nicely fleshy and concentrated, conveying an impression of salty extract along with very good energy for the year. Closes ripe and long. Though there’s a slight green streak that may not be for everyone, this is the best young Brunello from Ruffino I have memory of going back ten-fifteen years. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Roberto Cipresso.

Roberto Cipresso 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           88

Deep ruby. Caramel, red cherry, flint, and herbs on the nose, with a peppery element. Moderately dense and sweet, with modest fat but good intensity of dark fruit and herbal flavours. Quiet tight and tannic currently, with the herb and pepper elements repeating. A big dense wine but that, while long, closes mouthcoating and very drying. Will this blossom in bottle? It’s hard not to like Roberto Cipresso, one of Italy’s best-known consultant winemakers who has made many memorable wines over the decades, but this Brunello, just like other past vintages of it, continues the heavy-handed, overly-extracted style that I personally find charmless and hard to drink. Drinking window: 2030-2039.

Salicutti.

Salicutti is one of Montalcino’s top dozen wine producers. Founded by Francesco leanza, the winery recently changed hands, belonging to the owner of Munich’s very famous Michelin-starred Tantris restaurant. The wines are just as good as they have always been, and the 2019 Brunello Riserva Teatro, that will be released for sale only next year, looks to be a monumentally good wine in the making. Being a Riserva, it is not going to be available along with this year’s releases, but I would be remiss if I did not tell you about it already now and to look for it when it does become available (I have therefore scored it in brackets and will revaluate it when it’s closer to its release date).

Salicutti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                   92         

Bright medium ruby-red. A very typical Salicutti Brunello, with smoky and savoury notes at the forefront, but also plenty of luscious ripe red fruit and saline undertones. Agile, fresh and long, this easy to like, approachable and well-balanced, juicy, Brunello confirms yet again all the good that’s been said about the 2019 vintage. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

Salicutti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Sorgente           96                

Drop-dead gorgeous Brunello. Good full ruby-red colour. Nicely ripe aromas of sultry red cherry, lead pencil, menthol, minerals and violet. Then juicy, intense and nicely delineated, with noteworthy clarity and cut to the deep flavours of red berries, tobacco, minerals and cedar. Closes very long and silky-sweet and with rising intensity. This vineyard is called sorgente or “source” because it is especially rich in underground water: in 2019 it has given a tremendous Brunello, very different from the classic 2019 Brunello. Utterly beautiful, this will turn quite a few heads. Drinking window: 2030-2042.

Salicutti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Piaggione         95+              

Good deep red-ruby. Slightly reticent but very deep aromas of red currant, black cherry, tobacco, licorice, graphite and Piaggione’s typical sweet spices are lifted by hints of iron and old leather. Taut and steely in the mouth with not much baby fat presently. Offers very good texture, closing long with substantial but nobly supple tannins and repeating sexy sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cloves) and mocha that are fairly typical of bottlings from this vineyard. I’d lay this down for a good five to six years to let its complex aroma and flavour profile develop fully. Salicutti’s historical and arguably best vineyard, Piaggione’s soil is a mix of rocks, shale and clay (but less shale than in the winery’s third vineyard called Teatro). Drinking window: 2032-2044.

Salvioni.

Salvioni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            100

Good full red-ruby. Knockout, very deep nose hints at crystallized raspberry, red cherry, shoe polish, flint, minerals and sweet spices. Sweet, deep and rich, but with enticing vibrant minerality energizing the rather full-bodied middle palate. Then finishes with a rising, very pretty, floral perfume in which the fruit is complicated by an almost decadent floral element and powerful but supple, very fine-grained tannins. This is one of the three or four best Brunellos of the vintage and for many wine lovers it will undoubtedly be the best of the lot. Drinking window: 2030-2045.

San Giorgio.

There is probably no bigger Brunello success story in the 2019 vintage than that of San Giorgio, which has most likely made and released its best Brunello ever this year. And their 2018 Riserva, also released this year, is a rather amazingly super-good wine too. I guess this turn of events cannot surprise all that much given that San Giorgio is looked after by the same team that makes the wines at Poggio di Sotto, arguably the best Montalcino winery of this day and age. Still, it is truly remarkable how this estate’s wines has evolved over the years from the very chunky, fleshy Brunellos of a decade ago that had very little if anything in common with those of its stablemate Poggio di Sotto (the vineyards of which are located just next door) to wines that cause you to do a double take since the similarities between the wines of the two wineries are now obvious. For wine lovers, this is super-good news, given that San Giorgio’s wines cost a fraction of those of Poggio di Sotto, but with the 2019 and 2018 Riserva you are getting wines that are similar and not far off in quality level. Let me be clear, lest I risk being misunderstood. I’m no saying San Giorgio’s Brunellos are the equal or almost the equal of Poggio di Sotto’s; what I am saying is that they have never been this good before and that they now bring to mind those of their stablemate a good deal more than they did in the past.

Tenuta San Giorgio.

San Giorgio 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Ugolforte           95

Good bright red. Sultry red cherries, licorice, flint, mocha and sweet spices. Fat, sweet and moderately intense, but with excellent mid-palate lift and building sweetness.  Finishes with youthfully chewy but ripe tannins and a note of iodine. I have always found interesting as the Colle Massari team as been slowly but surely coaxing more Poggio di Sotto-likeness from San Giorgio’s vines (San Giorgio is an estate located next to Poggio di Sotto) over the last six-seven years. Tasted a second time recently, I have upped my score as it really is a knockout effort that seems denser and fruitier to me than when I last tasted it in November. Drinking window: 2028-2036.

San Giorgio 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Ugolforte           95

Moderately saturated medium red. Offers scents of strawberry, smoky oak, dried flowers, menthol, and underbrush on the complex nose. Then rich and sweet in the mouth, showing excellent focus to its chewy, ripe red fruit, tangerine peel and herb flavours. More energy and size here than the 2019 Classico Brunello from San Giorgio, finishing with substantial dusty tannins, building savouriness and outstanding length. Tasted a second time recently, I have upped my score as it really is a knockout effort that seems more complete and richer than when I last tasted it in November. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

San Guglielmo.

San Guglielmo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         91

Vivid red-ruby. Classic red and dark fruit nuances are buffered by herbs and mineral elements. Perfumed, balanced and light on its feet, this is another excellent lighter-styled Brunello from this obviously talented producer that has recently burst on the Montalcino scene. Drinking window: 2028-2035.

San Lorenzo.

San Lorenzo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                   93+

Good full red. Red cherry, chocolate, earth tones and herbs on the deep nose. Then similar flavours, with good freshness and lift, but turns increasingly tannic on the mouthcoating back end. Very clean and pure, this will need to spend plenty of time in a good cellar in order to show its best. Drinking window: 2032-2042.

San Polo.

San Polo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino           88

Moderately saturated bright red.  Diffuse red fruits and flowers on the nose. Then spicy and ready to drink, with flavours similar to the aromas.  An inoffensive Brunello with modest richness and concentration but the tannins are slightly green and mouthcoating. Finishes with a fine dusting of tannins. Drinking window: 2030-2036.

San Polo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Podernovi 87

Good full red. Aromas of red cherry, herbs, mandarin peel and spices, with some warmer loamy nuances emerging with air.  Starts floral and nicely concentrated, but then oaky spice and menthol flavours dominate.  Finishes with substantially green mouthcoating tannins that leave a drying mouthfeel behind, and with only modest lift. Maybe cellaring this will help it resolve its astringent tannic clout somewhat, but I doubt it. Drinking window: 2031-2038.

San Polo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vignavecchia   89

Good bright, dark red. Subdued but ripe aromas of red plum, cherry and tangerine peel lifted by a floral element.  Supple, sweet red fruit flavours on entry show moderate verve and nuance, but like all the other 2019 Brunellos from San Polo, this too turns astringent and green on the back end. Finishes with substantial dusty tannins and a tart quality from a hint of greenness. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this could use more fruit and smoother tannins. Drinking window: 2031-2038.

San Polo 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva     90

Medium red.  Delicate aromas of red plum, flowers, tobacco and mint.  Juicy and moderately intense on entry, then a bit rigid in texture, with red berry and herb flavours turning a bit dry on the back end.  Not at all an expansive style. Drinking window: 2032-2040.

Sasso di Sole.

Sasso di Sole 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                   90

Medium ruby-red. Sassafrass, licorice and dark red cherry on the nose and in the mouth. Tarry and chocolate elements combine to add interest in the mouth. Clean and easygoing on the slightly, simple but approachable, persistent finish. Drinking window: 2028-2035.

Scopetone.

Scopetone 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         95

Pale medium red. Elegant, clean, rich and very minerally, this is a beautifully suave and floral Brunello that also speaks of wild strawberries, raspberry licqueur and orange peel. The aftertaste is juicy and very pure, not to mention focused and brightly energetic. Excellent wine in very much made in a Euro style, but if you like Chambolle-Musigny and Margaux then you can’t not like a Sangiovese wine that is so perfumed, floral and stylish.  Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Scopone.

Scopone 2019 Brunello di Montalcino            92

Good full ruby-red. Thick aromas of red and blue fruit, herbs, black pepper and camphor. Enters clean and fresh, then builds more size and flesh with aeration. Finishes long with repeating notes of red fruit, iodine and forest floor. Drinking window: 2029-2035.

Sesta di Sopra.

Spina husband and wife, owners of Sesta di Sopra

Sesta di Sopra 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         95

Luminous dark red. Deep aromas and flavours of red and dark cherry, herbs, dark chocolate and minerals, complemented by sexy underbrush and tarry nuances. Rich without any undue weight on the palate, this offers a uniquely well-balanced, very agile mix of density, flavour intensity and vinosity. Still quite young, the aftertaste is thick and fleshy but fine-grained, and hints at a delicate bittersweet note. Much better five years from now, but I can tell you this is already pretty irresistible as is. Drinking window: 2029-2039.

Sesta di Sopra 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Magistra      97

Launched for the first time last year in what was a slightly curious choice given the sub-par year, the 2019 Magistra showcases everything you’d expect and more from a top-flight, high-end Brunello. Good full red-ruby.  Complex, multilayered aromas and flavours of red cherry and truffle are complicated by strong, sexy notes of cinnamon and sweet spices. Then also rich and layered in the mouth, with harmonious acidity and smooth if youthful tannins nicely framing the sultry red fruit nuances on the long rising finish. This superb Brunello is made with grapes picked in Sesta di Sopra winery’s oldest vineyard (forty years old+); it is located in one of the two best areas of the whole Montalcino denomination (together with Montosoli, there is no better piece of land in all of Montalcino in which to grow Sangiovese than Sesta) and so no surprise that in a great vintage the wine really shines. Ought to be released sometime next year. Drinking window: 2031-2044.

Sesti Castello di Argiano.

Sesti Castello di Argiano 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              94

Very pale red. Elegant, high acid, almost shrill aromas and flavours of red fruit, green citrus and violet on the nose and in the mouth. Then laser-like in its straightforward delivery of clean minerally red fruit, with not much baby fat to speak of. Finishes long with smooth tannins nicely framing the steely fruit elements present. If some Brunellos are so opulent they border on the baroque, this is almost gothic in style. Drinking window: 2029-2042.

Sesti Castello di Argiano 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Phenomena  87

Good full red. Aromas of violet and ripe strawberry, plus some herbs in the background. Starts very elegant and fruity, but then turns very drying and showing a noteworthy green streak. Normally, this is a very good wine, but I don’t think it showed very well on this day. Maybe I caught it at an awkward time, but still. Drinking window: 2030-2035.

Silvio Nardi.

Silvio Nardi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino      93

Bright red. Perfumed aromas of red berries, violet and underbrush, complicated by a strong note of milk chocolate. Juicy, spicy and sweet, with a focused red fruit, chocolaty and sweet spice flavours. Made in a silky, Burgundian style, this is not especially complex but awfully easy to drink. Still, this has enough tannic clout to allow for a long and graceful evolution in the bottle. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Silvio Nardi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio Doria     92+

Good deep red-ruby. Aromas of black and red cherry, dark chocolate and mocha, complicated by hints of green gage and porcini. Deeper than the 2019 Classico from Silvio Nardi, but a bit aggressive with slightly astringent tannins, and so showing less of the easy sweetness and juiciness of that wine. Nicely full in the mouth, this closes extremely tight, with serious tannins and very good minerality. Needs at least ten years in a good cellar, and twelve to fifteen will prove even better. Drinking window: 2034-2046.

Siro Pacenti.

Siro Pacenti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vecchievigne             95+

Good full ruby-red. Complex nose boasts of dark cherry, blackcurrant, eucalyptus, tobacco and camphor. Conveys an impression of energy and a lower-pH impression in the mouth, with very intensely and sharply delineated flavours of vibrant blueberry and menthol. This has fruit of steel. Herbal, easygoing and clean on the fresh lively mineral finish, it is a wine that will undoubtedly merit a higher score in a few years more. Drinking window: 2029-2040.

Siro Pacenti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Pelagrilli PS            93+

Medium red-ruby. Cool red cherry, licorice, flint and herbs on the nose. Slightly medicinal flavours of dark fruits, herbs and licorice show moderate nuance but good sweetness and plumpness of texture. Some tangy red berry notes emerge with aeration on the youthfully chewy finish. Will likely improve with another five or six years in the cellar, hence the + sign on my score. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

Talenti.

Talenti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              92

Bright medium red.  Aromas of redcurrant, strawberry, tangerine peel and flint.  Supple and sweet if a bit diffuse; then plenty of flesh and texture, with a lightly saline quality to its red berry and cherry fruit flavours. The long close turns slightly dusty and oaky with time in the glass. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Talenti 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Piero    95

Medium red-ruby.  Youthfully medicinal aromas of red cherry, licorice and menthol lifted by a sweet spicy note. Very pure and rich, with an obvious sweetness of fruit that is reined in by a saline note. Finishes long, nicely focused and youthfully chewy, with building tannins. Strikes me as being much deeper and fruitier, and less oaky, than the classic 2019 Brunello from Talenti. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Tassi.

Tassi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino                 91

Orange-tinged red. Clean, sweet red fruit and smoky plum notes have an earthy nuance. Turns more animal on the fleshy long finish. Drinking window: 2029-2035.

Tenuta di Sesta.

Tenuta di Sesta 2019 Brunello di Montalcino        94
Pale red. Steely red fruit, fresh citrus, flowers and fresh minerals on the medium-bodied and refined finish. Finishes with firm tannins and lovely lingering perfume. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

Tenuta di Sesta 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Costa di Marte    93+

Much bigger and denser than the classic Tenuta di Sesta 2019 Brunello, this is currently rather shut down and monolithic but hints at noteworthy concentration of fruit. A still rather brooding young Brunello that finishes long and with a delicate hint of an underlying vegetal streak that adds freshness. Drinking window: 2030-2040.

Tenuta di Sesta 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Due Lecci Est      94

Clean and fresh, rather big, minerally, dense Brunello that like the 2019 Costa di Marte hints at a touch of green too. I don’t know why many of Tenuta di Sesta’s wines have this subtle green note, as I don’t think it is typical of Sesta’s terroir, but, nevertheless, they are all highly enjoyable: this is one of the better 2018s I have tried this year. Drinking window: 2030-2039.

Tenuta Friggiali.

Tenuta Friggiali 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             89

Deep ruby-red. Clean, fresh, easygoing and high-acid, this is somewhat fruit-challenged on the back end. Tenuta Friggiali is part of the Agricola Centolani and Pietranera estate complex. Drinking window: 2029-2036.

Terre Nere.

Terre Nere 2019 Brunello di Montalcino               89

Orange-red colour. Pungent floral aromas of iris, peony and violet dominate the nose. Then slightly fruitier and less floral in the mouth, but the rising drying tannins make for a tough drink currently. I’m not sure cellaring will help this ever resolve its slightly over-extracted tannins much, though trying certainly won’t hurt any. Try again in 2029. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

Terre Nere 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Capriolo       93

Bright ruby-red. Liqueur-like aromas of crushed blackberry, red cherry and tar. Enters ripe with a distinctly wild aspect tom its flinty truffle and rip red cherry flavours that have the quality of a fruit liqueur but there’s enough acidity here to keep this from going over the top. You won’t notice it when having steak with this 2019 Brunello, but the long finish is just a tad drying; otherwise, I would have scored this even higher. From roughly twenty years old vines planted at about 280 meters above sea level in the Castelnuovo dell’Abate area of the Montalcino denomination, a really pretty good Brunello. Drinking window: 2029-2039.

Tornesi.

Tornesi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             94

Bright red-ruby. Knockout nose combines blackberry, mocha, roast coffee, tar and perfumed herbs, all lifted by a violet note. Clean long and full-bodied, this is a very good Brunello from an under the radar producer that has the potential to make excellent Brunellos every year. Drinking window: 2028-2038.

Tornesi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Benducce 570           93+

Good full red-ruby. Decadent notes of herbs and red fruit on the nose. Very saline and savoury, this boasts a note reminiscent of gunflint and saltpeter initially, then becomes fruitier and more balanced in the middle and on the finish. Very interesting Brunello that should develop well. Make sure you decant a few hours ahead. Drinking window: 2029-2038.

Uccelliera.

Uccelliera 2019 Brunello di Montalcino         94

Good medium red-ruby. Expressive nose offers ripe red cherry, salted plum, coffee, and dried flowers, with a slightly roasted note in the background. Nicely concentrated flavours of crystallized red cherry, mocha and nutty oak boast an attractive pliant quality. Quite broad and offering plenty of early appeal on entry, but turns mountingly tannic. This has the structure for thirty years of development in bottle. Drinking window: 2034-2046.

Val di Suga.

Val di Suga 2019 Brunello di Montalcino              93

Moderately saturated medium red. Expressive aromas of red cherry, blueberry and tobacco, characterized by a slightly candied quality. At once juicy and fresh, with good intensity and lovely sweetness to the fleshy, open-knit, broad flavours of red cherry and sweet spices. In a ripe but suave, fairly light style, finishing with a sweet herbal nuance. Drinking window: 2028-2040.

Val di Suga 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Lago   94

Bright medium-pale red; very pretty colour that is noticeably paler in shade than the other two single-vineyard Brunellos from Val di Suga. Offers perfumed aromas of dark cherry, flint and chocolate mint. Flinty, herbal and lifted, showing a slightly medicinal character to its red fruit and herbal flavours. Solidly built and attractive wine with a strong tannic spine that calls for a decade of aging in a good cellar. Not at all in a luscious sweet fruity style but very typical of the more saline, mineral bent of northeastern slope Brunellos. Very serious, nice Brunello that will age well. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

Val di Suga 2019 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio al Granchio    98

Bright, full red. Sexy aromas of red cherry, minerality and mocha, plus an exotic whiff of yellow tropical fruits and sandalwood. Lush and seamless, showing an almost chocolaty ripeness supported by lovely mid-palate energy and focus. This deep wine finishes long and creamy, with fine-grained tannins and truly wonderful balance. This is a benchmark Brunello from that broad part of Montalcino where Salicutti and Barbi are found, with Pian dell’Orino and Biondi-Santi close-by. Drinking window: 2030-2045.

Val di Suga 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Spuntali    97

Full, bright medium red. Musky plum, red cherry, and mocha on the captivating nose. Sweet and pliant, with outstanding energy and balance to the flavours of musky red berries, sweet spices and sweet pipe tobacco. Harmonious acidity nicely frames and extends the creamy, fleshy, very-Spuntali sweet, spicy red fruit on the suave, lingering finish. Great wine. Drinking window: 2030-2045.

Ventolaio.

Ventolaio 2019 Brunello di Montalcino          89

Medium dark ruby-red. Herbs, camphor and truffle complement the slightly reticent aromas and flavours of dark cherry. The dusty, tough and tannic finish strikes me as being a little fruit-challenged. Drinking window: 2030-2038.

Villa al Cortile.

Villa al Cortile 2019 Brunello di Montalcino  90

Pale bright red. Very pretty red fruit, orange peel, and minerals on the fresh simple Rosso di Montalcino-like aroma and flavour profile. Drinking window: 2027-2035.

Voliero.

Voliero 2019 Brunello di Montalcino             95

Medium bright deep red.  Expressive aromas of red cherry, tobacco, mocha and underbrush are lifted by notes of tar and licorice. Sweeter and pliant on entry, with a risingly tannic texture to the dark plum, red cherry and smoky underbrush flavours. Quite concentrated and powerful, with bright acidity focusing the flavours on the long back end. Drinking window: 2032-2045.

OTHER WINES TASTED:

Bonacchi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino; Centolani 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Pietranera; Donna Olga 2019 Brunello di Montalcino; Greppone Mazzi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva; La Palazzetta 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva; La Poderina 2019 Brunello di Montalcino; Martoccia 2019 Brunello di Montalcino; Palazzo 2019 Brunello di Montalcino; Patrizia Cencioni 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1 2 3; Pian delle Quercie 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva; Piccinni 2019 Brunello di Montalcino; Poggio Landi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino; Villa Poggio Salvi 2019 Brunello di Montalcino.

 

 

 

 

 

Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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4 comments
  • Dear Ian,

    I have to ask considering past few years universally hyped Brunello is none other than Madonna delle Grazie. Even the venerable winemaker from Pian dell’Orino told me personally Madonna 2019 is magical one. Also I saw on this site you awarded MdG 16 “only 96”. So therefore I have to ask – why not Madonna report and do you really weigh it below the likes of Costanti (fine wine imo, but cant match MdG in terms of depth, elegance and finesse)?
    Thanks

    • Ciao there, thanks for your query.
      The only reason the Il Marroneto wines (very fine wines as you rightly point out!) is because they weren’t sent in to the Consorzio for my tasting and this year I had to shorten my stay in Montalcino because of my mother’s failing health, such that I didn’t have the time to go visit the winery and taste right there with Alessandro and son. I don’t know how long you have been following my work (I began writing in major Eglish-language publications in 2004, when I started covering Italy for Stephen Tanzer and his International Wine Cellar), but I have written extensively about Il marroneto’s wiens in te past, including long vertical tasting reports and guiding them in different cities of the world. I am a big big fan of Il Marroneto’s wines and I am sure I would have rated the 2019s very, very highly; I agree that they are usually on a par with the denomination’s best. Unfortunately, as I am sure you are aware, some wineries that have been highly rated in the past have a lot at stake and prefer not to send their wines in for big tastings, which is understandable. The flip side though is that if something goes unexpectedly wrong (like last year when it was my girlfriend falling sick on the day I was to visit the winery, such that I had to cancel the visit, while this year it was my mother who was suddenly hospitalized), then I might not be able to review the wine. Normally, I would just buy bottles I haven’t been able to taste from a Montalcino wine shop, but this year I just couldn’t do any of that. For the same reason there i no review of Stella di Campalto’s wines, only because the days I was there she was out of town. It happens. But I look forward to writing about these missing wines when I get the chance in the near future. Again, thanks for your inquiry!

  • Ian,
    Appreciate the length and depth of your review on the highly touted 2019 vintage for this fabulous wine. This type of guidance is extremely helpful as we sort out which offerings to purchase. I certainly took note of your comments that for many wineries, the Brunello annata bottling is on par with the single vineyard offerings, at a fraction of the cost. For those who are looking for “value” (if we can call a $60-$80 value) from this vintage, keeping with those should offer a great degree of enjoyment. Having said this, some of those single vineyard offerings are sublime, and may be worth the splurge for a special occasion. I look forward to future reviews of wines from this vintage, as well as a retrospective 10 years from now. Do you think the annata wines have good ageing potential? Grazie, John

Ian D'Agata