February marks an exciting month for fans of Tuscan wines as it heralds the release of the 2017 Brunello di Montalcino classicos, as well as the hotly anticipated 2016 riservas. But while 2016 was marked by textbook brilliance, the 2017s require a little more thought in order to get the best of the vintage (of which there is much to be excited about!). So we asked James Colacicchi, IG Wines Private Client Sales Director, to pick his top buys and highlights.
Brunello for me is one of the true bastions of value in fine wine, especially when it comes to the old world. You simply cannot beat it for price versus quality.
Eric Guido of Vinous Media muses in his 2017 Brunello report; “This is not a vintage to skip, nor is it one to go deep on. As a lover and collector of Brunello, I would be doing myself a disservice by missing out on some of the exotic and wildly successful wines of this unique vintage”. With this in mind, here we have hand-selected producers and wines that we know will delight all Brunello lovers. Much of our top list is name checked as a highlight by Eric Guido in the aforementioned guide; “Wineries like Argiano, Talenti, Il Poggione and Col d’Orcia continue to make some of its greatest wines”. These elegant and pretty Brunellos won’t set you back much at all starting at just £25 a bottle, but will give infinite drinking pleasure.
Alongside the 2017s, there is the exuberant excellence of the 2016 riservas. 2016, as we already know, is one of the most incendiary Brunello vintages of all time, it therefore follows that the vintage’s riservas are sublime. Eric Guido writes; “There’s frankly so much pent-up energy and brilliance of fruit within 2016 Brunellos, that the extended aging process has only finely tuned these already-souped-up roadsters.” If, like me, you went deep into the 2016 Brunello campaign this time last year, you absolutely do not want to miss out on the joys of their elder siblings.
A new highlight allocation for us comes from Castello Romitorio, who have made some of the wines of the vintage with their 97 point Riserva and 98 point Riserva Filo di Seta, which may well be one of Brunello’s greatest ever wines. Casanova di Neri’s Cerretalto Riserva 2016 gets 100 points from James Suckling and is well-worth adding to your collections too. Of course, these wines will cost you a little more than your classico Brunellos, but they provide incredible value when we consider the quality they offer. To put this into Bordeaux terminology; this is Lafite quality, for Batailley prices!
Here is my short-listed guide of top buys:
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2017
6x75cl £150 IB
Masses of ashen earth, smoke, dusty cherry and roses with nuances of clove lift up from the 2017 Brunello di Montalcino. This is silky and pliant upon entry, presenting a rich display of intense red and hints of black fruits laced with chalky minerals that drenches the palate. Penetrating acidity and grippy tannins create a burst of cheek-puckering tension, clenching down hard with youthful poise, as notes of licorice and hard red candies linger through the structured, medium-length finale. There are some moments where the 2017 reminds you that it comes from an incredibly hot and dry vintage, yet overall, it’s a huge success for the year. That said, it needs time to unwind from its youthful state. Production was down 15–20% at Il Poggione in 2017 due to severe selection of bunches, and all of the fruit that would have been reserved for the Riserva Vigna Paganelli was added to the Brunello instead. 93 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2024 to 2029)
Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016
6x75cl £850 IB
The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva lifts up with elegance and richness, as sweet lavender and violets give way to a more savory display of black cherries, Tuscan dust and cedar box with hints of cooling mint. This rushes the palate with sweet red fruits and spices, silky yet lifted, and displaying a delicacy not expected from the Riserva category, yet quite welcome. Beneath is a core of power and density just waiting to unfold. Minerality comes through in the finale, mingling with a fine coating of tannin and hints of spicy citrus. This harmonious Brunello will have a very long life. The Riserva is a selection of two Brunello barrels, one tonneau and one large cask, from Romitorio’s cellar. Simply stunning. 97 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2026 to 2038)
Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Filo di Seta 2016
3x75cl £1170 IB
After tasting and loving the annata, I had high expectations for the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Filo di Seta Riserva. This is youthfully restrained and grumbling in the glass, but it’s worth waiting for, as a captivating display of mentholated herbs, dusty rose, lavender, black cherries, hints of animal musk and crushed ashen stone evolves before your eyes. It’s deeply textural and polished in feel, but also full of zesty, cooling acidity that enlivens the sultry core of dark fruits and exotic spices. A saturation of tannin coats the palate, creating a massively structured and long finale with lingering remnants of salted licorice and inner violet tones. The 2016 Riserva Filo di Seta may be a masterpiece in the making, though it will be many years before it shows all of its hidden beauty. 98 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2026 to 2040)
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2017
6x75cl £175 IB | 1x150cl £62
The bouquet on the 2017 Brunello di Montalcino is to die for, offering cloves and balsamic spices that give way to crushed cherries, sage and fresh mint. It’s elegant yet lifted in feel, with silky textures carrying the ripe wild berry fruits effortlessly across the palate. Saline-minerals combine with grippy tannins toward the close, slowing the 2017’s momentum ever so slightly, yet still permitting the most beautiful display of hard red candies and violet florals to linger incredibly long. What a gorgeous 2017, and with short-term cellaring potential as well. Of note is that Talenti’s production was down by 25% due to the conditions of the vintage, and there will not be a Riserva, as all of the juice went to the Brunello. 93 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2023 to 2029)
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Pian di Conte 2016
6x75cl £295 IB | 1x150cl £100
A mix of mentholated herbs, sweet smoke, sour cherries, and cedar spice box creates a dazzling, lifted bouquet as the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Pian di Conte blossoms in the glass. It’s polished and elegant, communicating prestige through its seamless textures, as mineral-tinged red and black fruits wash across the palate, leaving nuances of sour citrus and balsam herbs. There’s simply so much going on that you hardly notice the fine-grained tannins taking hold, clenching the expression with youthful grip. This tapers off like a black hole of structural depth, leaving hints of currant and violet inner florals to carry on. The Riserva of Talenti is a barrel selection that refines in a combination of 25- and 20-hectoliter oak barrels, along with a small amount in tonneaux, for 36 months. To be frank, it’s not always my favorite wine from this estate, but that said, the 2016 takes things to another level. 95 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2026 to 2036)
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2017
6x75cl £425 IB
The 2017 Brunello di Montalcino Cascina Nuova lifts up with a layered display of peppery herbs, musky plums, black raspberry, crushed stone, tobacco and smoke. It’s silky yet juicy, pliant and staining to the senses, offering violet and lavender tones balanced by cooling acids and hints of candied citrus. The 2017 really plays with the palate; it’s spicy, long and intense, and lightly structured yet classically dry. Balsamic herbs, salted licorice – it goes on and on like a spice box menagerie. An elegant pleasure bomb. 93 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2024 to 2029)
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto Riserva 2016
3x75cl £720 IB
There’s something intriguing, alluringly dark, earthy – animal, even – yet floral and packed full of rich black fruits and exotic spices that defines the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto. This impresses with its cool-toned dark berries and minerals, complemented by bright acidity and sweet inner herbal tones. It’s not yet ready to reveal all of its charms, though it drops subtle hints each step of the way. A bitter twang keeps the expression lively and fresh, while grippy tannins saturate deeply and leave the palate aching with youthful tension, as notes of licorice, clove and a hint of ginger linger. What a wine! 97 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2026 to 2034)
Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2017
6x75cl £165 IB | 1x150cl £60 | 1x300cl £120
The 2017 Brunello di Montalcino is incredibly exotic in both spice and floral tones, and an intense wave of cherry and raspberry preserves mixes with hints of tangerine and cocoa that pull you close. This is so deep and fleshy yet energetic in feel, boasting a core of bright acidity that enlivens the experience and motivates the tart wild berries, zesty citrus and inner rose tones. Light tannins linger, yet the 2017 remains juicy and fun, delivering gobs of immediate pleasure though lasting notes of red currant, licorice and clove. Sadly, there will be no Vigna del Suolo from 2017, as all of that juice was added to bolster the Brunello. Even so, production was down by 35%. 92 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2023 to 2027)
Argiano Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2016
6x75cl £600 IB per 6
The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva captivates with a rich, intoxicating bouquet that mixes deep black cherry-berry with plum sauce, balsam herbs, chalk dust and hints of camphor. It fleshes out across the palate, a staining of primary fruits and spices seeming to coat all that it touches in youthful concentration. Zesty acidity creates a refreshing balance in spite of the grippy tannins that settle in toward the close. The result is a wine of poise, structure, but also remarkable length and energy, as tart currants and salty minerals mingle – and, somehow, leave the mouth watering for more. Bravo! Argiano totally knocked it out of the park with their 2016 Riserva, which is a vineyard selection of fruit, refined for two years in 1,500-liter Garbellotto casks. 95 Points, Eric Guido (Drink 2026 to 2040)
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