I recently attended a preview tasting of the 2010 vintage Brunellos in NYC at the Benvenuto Brunello event hosted by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. You probably have heard some some of the loud hype around the 2010 Brunello vintage, and it was amply demonstrated in attendance as the room was jammed, the tables were swamped, and there was definitely a buzz of excitement in the room. And that excitement was well-founded — tasting the 2010s lived up to the hype, with great wines across the board. That said, I found some more appealing than others, which is all further described below.

The 2010 vintage was defined by a lovely, very even growing season. The weather was essentially “normal” — spring was cool with light rain, summer was warm but not scorching, fall was mostly sunny with the occasional refreshing shower, and temperatures were mild throughout. The result was beautiful, healthy grapes and none of the potential issues of rot, disease or infestation.

The Consorzio tasting provided a great overview of the vintage, with approximately 50 producers attending. That said, several very notable estates did not participate — Altesino, Biondi-Santi, Ciacci Piccolomini, Siro Pacenti, and Valdicava, among others. Since there are several other major tastings in the U.S. in the coming weeks (Gambero Rosso, Slow Wine, Vino2015, Great Wines of Italy, various importer portfolio tastings), it’s a challenge for producers to decide which ones to attend since they simply can’t participate in them all.

In terms of the flavor profiles of the wines, I was immediately struck by the big ripe fruit showing across the board. Added to that however, was significant complexity, minerality, and length — in sum, these wines have it all. For me the deciding factors in terms of preference were balance and oakiness — some wines came across a bit raw and/or disjointed, showing noticable wood; others were silky, seamless and well-integrated. Certainly some in the former camp may improve and integrate with time, but there’s also the chance that they move the opposite direction and become more ungainly as well. I liken it to some of the differences I saw when tasting young 2007 Barolo — they were all big, forward, sexy and easy to like, but some were noticeably more balanced than others when directly compared. Over time, some of those less-balanced 2007s haven’t come together particularly well, and now seem a little hot and/or disjointed — something one would not have expected given the universal praise for the vintage originally.

The wines I was fortunate enough to have tasted were: Argiano, Castello Banfi, Canalicchio di Sopra, Caparzo, Il Marroneto, Il Poggione, Le Chiuse, Le Ragnaie, Lisini, Pian delle Vigne, Podere Le Ripi, Sassetti Livio Pertimali,Talenti, and Uccelliera. Generally they were all Brunello di Montalcino 2010, with one or two exceptions.

Notes on my favorite wines from among that group:

  • Le Ragnaie — tasted two wines, both fantastic: the Ragnaie VV had raw power and complexity with lots of balsamic notes, while the Fornace was more sweet fruit but incredibly balanced
  • Lisini — sweet fruit, wonderful floral notes, incredible balance
  • Canalicchio di Sopra — balanced and elegant, with lots of raw power lurking underneath

Notes on wines that I was less impressed with:

  • Argiano — incredibly dark and ripe. Big, chewy and raw. If it all comes together could be a monster but less enjoyable now
  • Uccelliera — Big, dark and raw. Powerful, but clumsy at this stage.

New discovery:

  • Podere Le Ripi — tasted their Rosso 2010 (as they only do a Rosso and a Riserva, no normale bottling) which was exceptional. Also tasted their very impressive Riserva 2009, and triangulating those two data points made me particularly interested in tasting the 2010 Riserva when released next year. It ought to be exceptional and among the absolute best.

Hopefully you found this information useful, and please feel free to leave any comments, questions, or tasting notes of your own in the comments below and I’ll be happy to respond.

Author Kevin Sidders

I was on more than a dozen mailing lists of Napa Valley producers and was frustrated that I couldn’t buy my favorite European wines the same way. I hatched an idea, developed a plan, and am building a business that I hope will change the industry for the better. I spend a lot of time on my road bike to enable indulging my passion for wine.

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