It’s not often that a vintage fully lives up to the hype we hear when the words from critics are “Best Vintage Ever!” A perfect example is 2000 Barolo, the Wine Spectator 100-point vintage, which has dissatisfied collectors for over a decade.
However, today I am ecstatic to report that 2010 Brunello di Montalcino really is worth all the hype. Having just returned from Benvenuto Brunello NYC, I found myself more excited to sit down and pen my notes than ever before. With 45 Brunello producers showing their new releases, it was impossible to taste everything; yet from what I was able to work through, the outlook is fantastic.
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.
The 2010s present us with cool, yet powerful wines of radiant fruit, soaring, sweet floral perfumes and classic structure. Most are already showing well, yet the potential for the cellar is remarkable. Balance is the key, along with fruit intensity, which nearly masks their tannic structure.
This is a vintage that I will go long on, as these wines are sure to improve in the cellar and in value. If 2010 Barolo is any gauge of the demand for top-shelf Italian wine of this caliber, then we may all need to act fast—especially since we have yet to see Antonio Galloni’s scores on this vintage. If Galloni agrees with the majority consensus, then 2010 Brunello will likely disappear before it ever reaches retail shelves.
Below are my tasting notes of the best wines from my tastings. I’m sure that others will join this list as I work through more of the new releases; yet for now, this is a great place to start.
Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The bouquet seemed to leap from the glass with alluring, dark, savory tones of wild berry, rich earth, saline minerals, undergrowth, and animal musk. I found silky-soft textures on the palate with brisk acidity and remarkable balance as vivid red fruit, dried spice and inner floral tones enveloped the senses. It turned tart through the finish as its structure began to brim over yet maintained a beautiful mix of plum, spice and herbs throughout. (96 points) (website)
Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino V.V. 2010 – At first herbal and restrained yet blossomed in the glass to reveal cool radiant fruit, with dark-red berry, floral tones, soil and hints of citrus and undergrowth. On the palate, it showed intense tart berry with hints of herbs and a classic structure, turning more youthful and clenched through the finish. This is years away from its maturity and should be absolutely glorious after some time in the cellar. (96 points) (website)
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – Rich, dark and sensual on the nose with wild berry and plum, lifting herbal notes, sweet florals and mineral tones, which seemed to turn savory with more time in the glass. On the palate, this turned darker and brooding with an autumnal feel to its berry and spice notes, yet there seems to be so much in store for the future. The finish lingered long, as tart red fruit was joined by earth and soil tones in a truly classic expression of Brunello. (95 points) (website)
Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose showed striking intensity, yet polished with its dark-red fruits, dusty spice, dry coco, earth and woodland tones. It opened on the palate with richness, showing depths of dark cherry, cedar, and hints of bitter chocolate. Dusty tannin lingered on the finish with a nutty, coco and espresso note. This is a dark beauty, and quite stylish, yet young and in need of 5+ years in the cellar. (95 points) (Morrell)
Col di Lamo Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – This was stunning on the nose with a remarkably elegant and floral personality, showing red berry and plum fruit, which turned darker and deeper with air. Mulling spice, sweet florals and a hint of green apple added layers of depth. On the palate, silky textures gave way to a dark and caressing expression of red fruit, dried spice and mineral-rich soil. The structure here was nearly masked by its gorgeous fruit, finishing long. What a happy surprise this was from a producer who is new to me. (95 points) (website)
Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The Uccelliera is drop-dead gorgeous in this vintage, showing a mix of sweet and savory red fruits, dried floral tones and hints of wild herbs. It was like silk on the palate, as ripe fruit seemed to envelope the senses, turning darker and sweet with time in the glass. A bit backward now yet focused and poised with perfect balance. It finished long with tannin-soaked red berries and spice. (95 points) (Morrell)
Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose showed gorgeous layers with dark floral tones, savory red fruit, crushed fall leaves, animal musk, potpourri, mint and hints of undergrowth. Intense and vivid on the palate yet balanced throughout with juicy acidity giving life to ripe, red fruits and spice. The finish showed a classic structure with clenching tannin, yet its lively fruit stayed present throughout the close. (94+ points) (Morrell)
Voliero Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – Voliero is new name for me, but one which is sure to become known; the ‘10 showed a youthful yet vibrant bouquet of dark-red berries, sweet floral notes and hints of wild herbs. It was fruit-focused yet lifted and seemed to waft up continuously from the glass. The palate was driven with cool, radiant red fruit, which seemed to coat the senses. Utterly classic on the finish and guaranteeing an easy decade of development with hints of tart, bitter fruit lingering long. (94 points) (Morrell)
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose was intense with tart red fruits, undergrowth and dried flowers. On the palate, it showed a classic structure with balancing acidity. Notes of red fruit, spice, leather and herbs saturated the senses. Long with tart berry, spice and woodland notes on the finish. (94 points) (website)
Il Palazzone Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The Il Palazzone was intense on the nose with masses of dark-sweet cherry, dried spices, brown sugar and hints of animal musk. It was dense on the palate yet was kept lively by a core of acidity in which dark fruit seemed to envelope the senses. Dark fruit lingered on the finish with an herbal twist and youthful tannins poking through. (93 points) (website)
Villa I Cipressi Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – At first the nose was dark and restrained, yet it blossomed with time in the glass to reveal herb-tinged, young-berry fruit, plum and hints of spice. Velvety textures on the palate gave way to ripe red fruits and balsamic tones with hidden tannin poking through yet balanced throughout. It finished juicy and vibrant with plum and hints of licorice. (93 points) (website)
Ferrero Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose was earthy and herbal up front with animal musk and a hint of mint, yet time in the glass added further depths with cherry, orange zest and spice. Silky textures ushered in focused, ripe berry fruit and inner floral tones with a presence of youthful tannin reminding me that this is Brunello. The palate-coating finish showed wild berry, hints of plum, brown twigs and spice. This is youthful to be sure, yet there’s a lot of potential behind its focused fruit on the palate. (93 points) (website)
Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino Fornace 2010 – The nose was herbal with tart red berry, fresh mint, and hints of cedar. On the palate, it was youthfully lean and structured with focused fruit. The tight finish showed dry red fruit and herbal hints. With time in the cellar, this should gain weight and momentum, making it a very classic expression of Brunello. (93 points) (website)
Bottega Brunello di Montalcino “Il vino dei poeti” 2010 – The nose was dark and brooding with red berry and undergrowth complemented by cinnamon spice, dried flowers and hints of animal musk. On the palate, it turned to savory tart berry, dry spice, minerals and herbs with a classic tannic tug on the cheek. It was structured through the finish with tart red fruit, dark plum and pretty inner floral tones. Quite polished with an alluring traditional persona. (93 points) (website)
Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose was exotic with a slight tropical twist to its red fruit and sweet floral tones. Ripe cherry, cedar and spice washed against the palate with a vibrant expression of Sangiovese, turning to bitter cherry and dry spices throughout the finish. (92 points) (website)
Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – Slightly muted at first yet opened significantly with time in the glass to display an evolved nose of wild berries, dusty soil, potpourri and crushed fall leaves. Silky, dark red fruit caressed the palate in a more savory than sweet expression with clenching tannin which saturated the senses throughout the finish, leaving only dried red berry in its wake. (91 points) (website)
Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose showed savory red berry, animal musk and mineral-laden stone with a dark, rich persona. On the palate, it was silky, verging on sappy with tart berry and dark, inner floral tones. The finish was long, as dried red berry saturated the senses with a tannic tug on the cheek. (91 points) (Morrell)
Capanna Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose showed vibrant floral tones and bright red fruit with hints of tobacco and animal musk in a pretty expression of Brunello. Focused, cool fruit was ushered in by brisk acidity on the palate. Intense wild berry fruit lingered long on the structured finish. (91 points) (morrell)
Sassetti Livio- Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose showed lifted floral notes and cool, tart red berry. On the palate, I found soft red fruit tones and herbs, yet it showed very little depth. It was long on saturating, dried berry fruit, yet tight on the finish. This is one to tuck away for a few years or decant beforehand. (91 points) (morrell)
Banfi Brunello di Montalcino “Poggio alle Mura” 2010 – The nose was forward with oak influences up front, yet showed pretty floral notes which added contrast to its rich berry and spice nose. On the palate, soft textures were made exciting by radiant red fruits with finessed herb notes. It turned darker with plum fruit and autumnal spice on the finish. (91 points) (morrell)
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose was intense yet fresh, showing ripe berry and sweet spice, which turned to crushed raspberry and dark oil with time in the glass. It was lean with acid-driven textures on the palate, showing tart fruit and herbal tones which saturated the senses throughout the finish with a hint of woodland florals and funk. (90 points) (website)
La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose showed ripe red fruits with spice and dried leaves in a pretty, perfumed style. On the palate, it was youthful with tart berry, herbs and spice, yet it lost some momentum toward the close. Its structure showed more in the finish, which seemed clipped. This may gain weight and depth with time, but for now it remains an incredibly pretty Brunello on the nose. (90 points) (website)
Lisini Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – The nose showed rich red fruit, plum and cinnamon spice. I found dark-red fruit on the palate with herbal mint and hints of leather. The finish was remarkably soft for its youth with ripe berry tones. (90 points) (website)
For more info on the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino
Article and Tasting Notes by Eric Guido