Lately I have been exploring more old world Italian varietals and in a previous post I reviewed a 2011 Rosso diMontalcino and discussed the difference between a Rosso and a Brunello. Since then I enjoyed a Brunello, but of an older vintage.
Like Rosso, all Brunello di Montalcino wines are made 100% from Sangiovese grapes grown on the slopes around Montalcino – a classic Tuscan hilltop village 20 miles south of Siena. The word Brunello translates roughly as “little dark one”, and is the local vernacular name for Sangiovese Grosso, the large-berried form of Sangiovese which grows in the area. As mentioned in the previous post, the primary difference from a Rosso is that a Brunello spends more time in oak and in bottle before being released.
The Winery and Vineyard
This wine is from the Tenuta Poggio Il Castellare (Poggio il Castellare Estate), the historical roots of the area of Montalcino go all the way back to Etruscan times before the dawn of the Roman Empire. The vineyards of the estate stretch on the sunny slopes overlooking the picturesque landscapes of the Val d’Orcia on one side, of Mount Amiata on another side and, finally, from the Pian del Bosso vineyard where you can see the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo (Sant’Antimo Abbey).
Poggio Castellare consists of 19.76 acres (8 hectares) of land covered with vines. This area called Colline dei Vigneti at the foot of Monte Castellare is one of the most prestigious areas for the production of Brunello due to the characteristics of the soil and the micro-climate. The soil created in different geological eras, with debris from floods that transported it here. It contains a variety of minerals such as limestone mixed with calcareous soils created from schists of marl as well some clay. The region has a Mediterranean climate with the rains concentrated in the spring months and an almost total absence of fog and the presence of wind during the growing stage of the vines. These conditions provide an ideal climate for gradual and complete ripening of the grapes.
The 2006 Poggio Il Castellare Brunello Di Montalcino is ruby red at the core with a tint of garnet with a touch of brick red at the rim showing signs of age. On the nose it has displays aromas dusty cherries, cinnamon stick, a touch of black pepper, old leather, and dried tobacco leaves. On the palate it has an immediate impact of dried cherries, earth and tobacco that remain persistent through the mid-palate and a long finish. It has medium refined tannins, medium to medium+ mouth-watering acidity and a medium body. If I tasted this blind it is an unmistakable Brunello, but because of the color and the dominating earthy notes I probably would have guessed that it was between a 2002-2004 vintage. I have had many 2006 vintages that seemed much more youthful than this wine.
If you are accustom to and prefer a more fresh fruit California Sangiovese (such as from Luna Vineyards) this wine may not be appealing to you. But if you can appreciate an old world Sangiovese, then you’ll love this wine as it has lots of character and a persistent flavor profile from beginning to end. The most well-known and popular wine critics have rated this wine anywhere from 91-94 points. I paid $43 for this wine at a local wine shop but I have seen it for sale from anywhere from $39-$60 per bottle.