Monday, May 17, 2010

The 94 plus Brunello di Montalcino Wines – Falstaff 2010 Selection

Falstaff, the Austria-based Wine Guide, has released its list of top Brunello de Montalcino Wines. 8 Wines are in the 94 to 96 points range (see below).

Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine produced in the area surrounding the town of Montalcino, in Tuscany. Brunello, roughly translated as "nice dark one" in the local dialect, is the unofficial name of the clone of Sangiovese grown in the Montalcino region. Brunello di Montalcino is one of the Italy's best-known and most expensive wines.

The town of Montalcino is a small medieval village located about 1,850 feet (564 m) above sea level in the province of Siena. Compared to the nearly 41,000 acres (16,592 ha) of planted land in Chianti, Montalcino is a relatively small wine region with around 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) planted. Vineyards in Montalcino are planted in varied soils-including limestone, clay, schist, volcanic soil and a crumbly marl known as galestro-at altitudes ranging from 490 ft (149 m) to 1,640 feet (500 m). Montalcino has one of the warmest and driest climates in Tuscany with the grapes in the area ripening up to a week earlier than in nearby Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico.

Picture: Tuscany wine map (Source:

Brunello di Montalcino is made 100% from Sangiovese. Traditionally, the wine goes through an extended maceration period where color and flavor are extracted from the skins. Following fermentation the wine is then aged in oak. Traditionally, the wines are aged 3 years or more in large Slovenian oak casks that impart little oak flavor and generally produce more austere wines. Some winemakers will use small French barrique which impart a more pronounced vanilla oak flavor and add a certain fruitiness to the wine.

In addition to Brunello di Montalcino, producers in the Montalcino region can produce wine under Rosso di Montalcino, Sant'Antimo and Moscadello di Montalcino DOCs as well as the generic Indicazione geografica tipica designation of Toscana IGT.

Rosso di Montalcino is made from 100% Sangiovese grown in the same delineated region as Brunello di Montalcino. However, the wine is required to spend only six months aging in oak and 1 year total aging before release. Rosso di Montalcino is typically lighter, fresher and more approachable upon release though some producers will make wines with more Brunello like characteristics. These "Baby Brunellos" are often 1/3 to 1/2 the price of Brunello di Montalcino.

There are 200 Brunello producers in Montalcino now. You find the complete Falstaff list of the best Brunello di Montalcino in their database, which, however, is in German.

The Winning Wines

96 Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto 2004, Casanova di Neri
96 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004, Poggio di Sotto
95 Brunello di Montalcino PS 2004, Siro Pacenti
95 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004, La Fiorita
94 Brunello di Montalcino Altero 2005, Poggio Antico
94 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004, Uccelliera
94 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004, Poggio Antico
94 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Santa Caterina d'Oro 2004, Ciacci Piccolomini

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