Brunello di Montalcino is one of the great wines of Italy. To try it where it is made; to see the vineyards for the grapes; and to visit the winery, was special for me. I was invited by Bottega Spa, to visit their winery in Montalcino while I am in Italy. I could not pass it up. Getting picked up from the train station, my experience started with a long lunch, with multiple courses and multiple wines. I’ll cover the lunch and wines in a separate article, and jump ahead to my Brunello di Montalcino experience.
A very wine knowledgeable lady, Irene, from Bottega Spa shared lunch and wine with me, and took me to their vineyards and winery for the tasting. The vineyard is managed by another family, who have been growing grapes for many years. Lucca, the son of the owner, drove us in his 4×4 truck, through the vineyard, pointing out the ages of the vines, which varied between 5 and 45 years, the soil, which had at least 3 different types (one of which is called galestro – schist-based – and is said to be the best soil for Brunello di Montalcino), and described how they manage the vines for any pests or diseases that may affect the vineyard.
After my brief vineyard education, Irene and I proceeded to the winery where I was poured 3 wines; 2 which are Brunello di Montalcino, and one which is a Rosso. The grapes for these wines are Sangiovese Grosso, with in some cases a small percentage of Colorino Toscana added in for extra colour.
My Wine Reviews
The wines were opened when I arrived at the winery, so did not have time to decant and open up as much as they could, and express as much of their terroir. I find that many red wines, do show more of their character with air. I did try one the wines a second time after 24 hours of decanting, and the wine did indeed show more fruit and character.
Bottega Sant’ Antimo Rosso 2014 DOC – the grapes coming from the vineyard, which is located beside the Sant’ Antimo Abbey. The wine was pale garnet in colour. Light cherry, floral and dried herbs on the nose. Dry, medium body, round and peppery on the palate. Candied cherries, mineral, with light oak treatment. Sour cherries toward the finish. Fine tannins and medium plus acidity. A straight forward wine for Bottega, but still really quite enjoyable to drink. Rating:
Bottega Brunello di Montalcino 2010 DOCG – A higher level tier than their DOC red, this wine is made with the Sangiovese Grosso grape solely. Hand picked, with some of the whole clusters used in the fermentation, which I am told is not common for these wines. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, then aged in Slavonian oak for 3 years, in both 5 hl and 25 hl barrels. This wine was medium garnet in colour, translucent with a light bricking colour, which is common for the Sangiovese grape. Light intensity nose with aromas of red cherries, vanilla, oak, and flowers. Medium body, fuller mouthfeel and quite round. Light sweet spice, Old World wood, red cherries, and other rich ripe fruit flavours, and sweet spices. The tannins were also quite fine in this wine. Medium length. Rating: [4.5]
Bottega Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2010 DOCG – This wine is their top level Brunello, made in the same manner as their other Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, but has one more year of barrel aging. The other thing that distinguishes the wine is the packaging and label of the wine. The winery owner, has a relationship with a fashion designer, who made a faux leather label, encrusted with steel studs, and then a custom wine box, also in the faux leather, metal studded. Pret a Porter is on the box. So very fashionable, and very limited in production. This is the wine, which I had the chance to retry after a day of decanting, and it did indeed make the wine taste richer.
The wine was deeper garnet in colour compared to the other wine. It had a medium minus intensity nose, with dark cherries, light spice, oak and some candied cherries. Medium plus body, round and very mouth-filling. Silky palate. Perfumed flowers, red cherries, sweet spices, with vanilla later on. Firmer tannins on the finish, along with sour cherries, vanilla and oak flavours. Very ripe fruit flavours. WIth decanting I also tasted ripe plums, dark tarriness and pepperiness. I think the same character would show with the other Brunello di Montalcino if it had some decanting time. A special wine to share with family or special friends. Rating:
I think these 2 Brunello di Montalcino wines have many more years of aging possible. While they are solid wines to enjoy now, buy a few more and then try them over the next 4-6 years. These wines are not in general BC liquor store listings, but may be available though some private wine shops.