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From Traditionalism to Modenity 1: reflections from a Brunello tasting 1

Brunello needs no introduction but what does need introducing is the style changes in the last decade, many of which have been controversial and have been challenged by old school wineries as not authentic. Nevertheless they are finding support with wine drinkers. Who is right? So I taste blind with Brunellos with stylistics differences to see ourselves.

  1. Poggio Antico 2003. Around $700. This is made in a traditional style. The nose has confected black fruits and a somewhat gamey character. High tannins and high acid. Well balanced and long. This was excellent but needs a bit of time - the palate is still quite aggressively tannic and has plenty of fruit, acid and tannins so no worries about aging potential. I would expect more evelopment for this wine during the tasting.

  1. Argianno 2006. $400. I just that after a big one such as Poggio Anitco, this gives me a great rest and that gives me something soothing and relaxing. I love this wine. High score WA93 from Parker who rightly commented well about the floral notes and the polished finish. The estate's Brunello spent 12 months in French oak (which is mostly felt in the wine's textural richness) and completed its aging in cask. I concur also with James Suckling(who accords WS92) when he writes: "What a nose with perfumes, blueberries and blackberries. Very perfumed. Full body, with fine tannins and a bright acidity. Love the silky texture to the wine. Wonderfully polished texture." It is also Wine Enthusiast 92 . I love drinking this wine. Not my First, though.

  1. Argiano Riserva 1990. Sweet black cherry and cassis fruit, chocolate, smoke, and licorice-defintely more powerful on nose. Still youthful and tannic on entry with the rich fruit leading the way. This modest weight Brunello has excellent acidity and nice texture. Apparently, fruit is overwhelmed by the long spice. I like the younger Argianos. I like the Normale more than the Riserva.

  1. San Polino Riserva 2001. $800. Lots of tar, roses and crushed berries. Full-bodied, with big, velvety tannins and a long, lively and fruity aftertaste of blackberry, cherry and vanilla and dark chocolate-all manfestastions of a wine from the hotter region. It does not resonate on palate. The sweet spices lingers on and on. This is not what I am looking for. A lot of people will like this wine though.

  1. Caparzo Riserva 1990, $1200. Purfumy, lavender, homely scents of the ‘Cussons Soap’(in the good sense), here’s a delicacy to this version, showing a latent structure and a distinctive spiciness surrounding the core flavors of cherry, raspberry, licorice and mineral. A compelling Brunello riserva-very powerful indeed. Overall Harmonious and persistent, featuring a long finish. Still very expressive after 2 hours in glass. A very chatty wine.I love this wine as well.

  1. Altesino Montosoli Riserva 2004. $800. Altesino Brunello 2004 is a brilliant ruby red colour, tending towards garnet red with age. Its bouquet is intense, pure, pleasant and refined, reminiscent of sweet violet, tobacco, chocolate and pleasant hints of wild berries and vanilla. Its flavour fully confirms above in a well-balanced, full-bodied wine with good tannins and a solid structure, hinting cool influences. Still unyielding. Meaty palate with a long long spicy finish. Good weight-not a blockbuster but is full and complex

  1. Siro Picenti 2004. $900. Intense, dense fruits of blackberry, currant, black cherry and pomegranate. Spice from the fruit and oak(old, big barrels)were subtle and pleasing, with light vanilla and a hint of nutmeg, and some floral notes of violet and fennel drift through the senses. Even with a good amount of tannin and the characteristic high acidity of Sangiovese, the silky texture of the wine is very pleasing and the finish goes on and on. Soya. 2 hours in the glass. Powerful ad elegant. I like this wine because it always gives me nice surprises.

  1. Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Pianrosso 1995. $800. Characteristical of the southern communes. Creamy, white chocolaty nose with minty tones. Intense sandalwood notes with lots of unyielding tannins. How many years have we got for this 1995 which is still very very young? Rubbery, complex and a lot of fruit and power. To me it somewhat lack fruit definition. Looks like this should have been a beautiful woman, but it does have the curves that I may want.

  1. Fattoria del Barbi Vigna del Fiore Riserva 1990. $650. Herbal nose. Where is the fruit? On palate, it is entirely different for its moderately complex bouquet mixing chocolate, strawberry and smoky aromas. A vibrant, fairly fruity mouth joined by powerful tannins. Still to reconcile the lengthy spice and hard tannins which is not usual for the bottle age gained. Flashing back, I do not believe this wine does not have adequate fruit; I should have listened more.

  1. Gaja Pieve Santa restitiuta Sugarille 1990. $1000. Interesting horse-raddish tones overlaying dry prunes/plums. I really cannot find the austerity and biggest mentioned by Parker and Tanzer. The palate of this bottle is easy, long, soft and pleasing, and is very very agreeable to me. I just wonder if this is a normal bottle. I Love the label. IT’s not 'Gaja'.

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