The fact is that we have been bombarded from all sides by every critic, every retailer, and every blogger (myself included) about the level of quality and truly stunning set of wines that Montalcino produced in 2010. My first introduction was last winter at Benvenuto Brunello, and what I tasted wowed me. Since then I’ve been able to taste many more and re-taste a number of others; each time I’m left with the same feeling of satisfaction. I would even go as far as saying, amazement, as I’ve become accustomed to being let down by many of the past “Vintage of The Century” proclamations of the media.
This time, they all got it right. The 2010 vintage in Brunello started with slightly wet and cool springtime temperatures, which carried on into the summer months. Alternating sunshine and showers throughout the fall, along with mild temperatures, gave growers all they needed to pick at leisure. It was a relatively late, yet healthy harvest; the resulting fruit was better than anyone could have hoped for. The most important role of a winemaker in 2010 was to allow the wine to make itself, showing a transparent mix of perfect fruit and terroir.
These are cool, yet powerful Brunello of radiant fruit, soaring, sweet floral perfumes and classic structure. Most are already showing surprisingly well, yet the potential for the cellar is remarkable. Balance is the key here, along with fruit intensity, which nearly masks their tannic structure.
At a recent event, hosted by Antonio Galloni of Vinous, we were presented with a selection, hand-picked by Antonio, to show the diversity of locations, wine-making character and overall quality—the best that 2010 Brunello has to offer. There was not a single bad wine throughout the evening.
Stylistically, the traditional school of restraint and uber-natural methodologies stood out to me, as they are my preference. Yet I cannot deny the shear quality, potential and likability of even the most modern producers. These are wines that belong in our cellars. As much as it seems like the fountain of 2010 Brunello will not run dry, I assure you that a time will come when we will not be able to find these in the market any longer.
I left that night with a smile from ear to ear and a grocery list of wines which I purchased the very next day.
Below are my notes, which I am eager to share with you. If your love is Brunello, or for some reason you’ve chosen not to jump into the 2010 vintage before now, I urge you to consider any one of the examples below.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Flight 1: This was a flight of contrasts. The Siro Pacenti stood out for its intensity and modern leanings against Costanti and the—yet to be released—Stella di Campalto. Costanti drank beautifully right out of the gate. This is a wine that we should all put in the cellar. As for Stella di Campalto, I loved this wine tremendously, but it was not what I was expecting by any measure. Ethereal, finessed, with tremendous depth but lacked the youthful structural components that we associate with Brunello. Will it age on its balance alone? Quite possibly. All I know is that it’s so good today, that I found it hard to put down.
2010 Costanti Brunello di Montalcino – At first restrained yet quickly coming to life, with a dark and focuses display of crushed red berries, cedar and herbs. It was unexpectedly open on the palate with pure cherry and spice notes, which seemed to coat the senses as a wave of mouthwatering acidity added vibrancy. The finish was gorgeously long and focused, showing ripe cherry and hints of spice. This is simply beautiful—youthful—but giving tremendous enjoyment already. (95 points) @morrell
2010 Siro Pacenti Pelagrilli Brunello di Montalcino – I was greeted by unbelievable depths of dark red fruits and espresso bean, followed by rich earth, leather, hints of cheese rind and forest floor. On the palate, it displayed intense dark fruits and mocha with saturating tannin, which lent grip to its otherwise velvety textures. The finish was redolent of dark wood and dried fruit, with moderate tannin lingering long. Aromatically, this wine wowed me, but on the palate it came across as too heavily affected by it’s barrel aging. Still, it’s a beautiful wine. (92 points)
2010 Stella di Campalto Brunello di Montalcino Riserva – Where do I start? What defines a Brunello? For the longest time, I would say a classic structure to age would be a point in the corner of a wine this young, yet here I found such a delicate nature and mesmerizing layers, that I’d find it difficult to leave in the cellar for longer than 5-10 years. Coming across more ethereal Burgundy than Brunello, the Stella di Campalto displayed a highly expressive nose, which seemed to continue opening with each tilt of the glass. There was earth, leather, crushed berries, dried flowers—which turned to deep and lively floral tones over time—as well as a savory toastiness, which wasn’t oak but something rich and warming. On the palate, it was soft, caressing, yet brilliantly focused in its ripe red fruits, sweet spice and herbal tones. The most elegant of tannin wrapped around the senses, yet were never drying. It clung to the palate throughout the finish, with saturating dark fruits and fine tannin. (97 points)
Flight 2: Il Poggione stole the show in flight two. There’s so much potential in this cool and classic Brunello. Antonio has been singing their praises for years, and the 2010 hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to believe this is such a large production wine, as it is simply gorgeous. The Biondi Santi was unexpectedly enjoyable at this young age, and far from typical for this historic property. Again, the modern leanings of Casanova di Neri were apparent in this lineup, however there’s no denying the quality in the glass.
2010 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova – The nose showed rich dark fruits, coffee bean, sweet herbs and spice. On the palate, I found smooth, silky textures with a balanced contrast of gripping tannin, which carried ripe black cherry across the senses. There were noticeable depths of fruit here with a drink-me-now personality, finishing on black cherry and dusty dark chocolate. (91 points)
2010 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino – Classic in every way and enjoyable on its potential alone, the Il Poggione showed focused bright cherry with spicy floral tones and undergrowth. On the palate, I found cool, focused red fruits, leather strap and earth, as fine-grained tannin coated the senses. It finished on structure with hints of dried cherry lingering long. This is a classic in the making, and all it needs is time in the cellar to come to life. (95 points) @morrell
2010 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino – This was restrained at first, yet it opened slowly on the nose, as hints of dried cherry, cedar, leather and minty herbs wafted up from the glass. On the palate, it was tightly woven with a mix of tart red fruit, leather, herbs and lingering minerality. Tannin coated the palate throughout the finish, along with hints of cherry and minerals. (93 points)
Flight 3: Flight three played from strength to strength, as each glass seemed to add more and more satisfaction to the overall experience. The Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragon is a big wine to be sure, coming from the south of Montalcino, yet the balance here is spot on. Call it a bridge wine, if you will; a great way to introduce a new-world wine lover to Brunello. Salicutti took it up another notch, adding more lift and floral/herbal tones with a perfectly balanced yet structured palate. It’s a wine that will reward cellaring. Then there was Pain dell’Orino, which I couldn’t stop thinking about for the rest of the evening. It’s a wine of remarkable beauty and intensity. It stays firmly grounded in the earth while also exploring a collage of fruit and exotic spice. Like I said, this flight played from strength to strength.
2010 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Vigna di Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino – This showed an intense and extroverted bouquet of vibrant red fruits, spice, sweet floral tones and milk chocolate. On the palate, a wave of silky textures delivered intense ripe fruits with mouthwatering acidity and spice, which seemed to coat all of the senses. The finish showed tart cherry pits and herbal hints. This is an incredibly attractive Brunello. (94 points)
2010 Salicutti Piaggione Brunello di Montalcino – The nose was bright and lifted yet vibrant, showing focused red fruits, sweet herbs, and floral undergrowth. On the palate, it was a game of contrasts, as youthful structure met playful vibrancy and balance with a core of spice and minerality driving intense red fruits across the senses. The palate was coated in refined tannin throughout the finish, promising many years of development here. The Salicutti Brunello is drop-dead gorgeous. (95 points)
2010 Pian dell’Orino Brunello di Montalcino Versante Amiata – The nose showed rich, ripe cherry, plum, exotic spice, floral funk and fresh-turned earth. On the palate, I found silky textures with a pulse of driving acidity delivering intense dark-red fruits, exotic spice and orange rind. The finish was long on dried cherry, sweet herbs, leather and spice, but also substantial fine-grained tannin. It’s a classic in the making. (96 points)
Flight 4: Then there was the grand finale. Antonio saved the best for last, with a flight of the top traditional, artisanal and limited production Brunello to come out of the 2010 vintage. The Salvioni and Cerbaiona seemed to face off at the table, as most participants went back and forth over which was the wine of the night. Both were majestic and truly remarkable wines. Through all of the excitement the Il Marroneto sat on the sidelines, watching the chaos ensue, yet anyone who ignored the beauty of Il Marroneto lost out in the end. Il Marroneto was simply stunning on this night, a perfect example of traditional Brunello, crafted by a master. In a perfect world, we could put all three of these wines in our cellars.
2010 Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino Madonne delle Grazie – This was highly expressive and defined best as refined intensity, with a bouquet of fresh ripe cherries, cedar, spice, airy herbal tones, and chalky minerality. On the palate, this was simply stunning, displaying silky textures which seemed somehow weightless all the same, with saturating cherry fruit, exotic spice, medicinal herbs, and grainy minerality. Long and saturating on the finish with formidable structure. (96 points)
2010 Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino – Revelatory, and possibly the best young Brunello that I’ve had the pleasure to taste, the 2010 Salvioni displayed a multifaceted bouquet of bright red fruits, floral funk and spice which became deeper and richer over time, turning to dark, mulled spices, tobacco and rich fruits. On the palate, it was seamless as it hovered over the senses with sweet and savory cherry fruit, minty herbs and minerals. This went on and on with notes of cherry pit and inner floral tones. It was flat-out gorgeous, getting better with every minute spent in the glass. (98 points) @morrell
2010 Cerbaiona Brunello di Montalcino – Stunning for its finesse contrasted by remarkable elegance, the 2010 Cerbaiona provides a bouquet of lifted red fruits, exotic spice, provincial herbs, and pretty red floral tones. The textures were silky and refined, hovering on the palate, with notes of fresh savory herbs, green olive, and ripe black cherry, which seemed to swing back and forth from sweet to savory. A coating of fine tannin saturated the senses with hints of cherry and herbs on the long finish. (95 points) @morrell
Click HERE, for Morrell’s full selection of 2010 Brunello di Montalcino.
Article and Tasting Notes by: Eric Guido
— Morrell Wine (@morrellwine) October 12, 2015