The 2007 vintage is very highly regarded in Brunello di Montalcino. Seven Riservas shown by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino tasted earlier in the year demonstrated power, depth and complexity. Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s 2007 Riserva and Antinori’s Pian Delle Vigne, Vigna Ferrovia 2007 were especially impressive. Carparzo also produced a chewy, satisifying Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and single vineyard Brunello, La Casa.
At Vinexpo earlier this year I had the opportunity to taste twenty-nine Brunello di Montalcino wines from the 2008 vintage and eight Riservas from the 2007 vintage. I’m a student when it comes to Brunello and the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino offered a great opportunity to get down and dirty with the wines. There’s a lot to appreciate here. The best show balance, structure and acidity, with warmth and alcoholic punch. Not as dark as young Bordeaux, the thinner-skinned Sangiovese having less colouring matter than Cabernet and its relatives, the grape still provides Brunello di Montalcino with plenty of depth, sap and chew on the palate. When the balance is right there is a fascinating tension between the power, the warmth and the bite. I focus in this post on 2008 Brunellos, with thoughts on the 2007 Riservas up next.
There is still no doubt that the most exciting wines coming out of Bordeaux in 2011 are the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. If that sounds like faint praise given that the reds are not up to much, it is not meant to be. 2011 forms the third in a trio of successful, consecutive vintages here in this district and by any gauge it is a very good vintage. The wines have slightly less weight and perhaps more obvious acidity than those of 2009 and 2010, though the picture is not really that straightforward. Certainly they seem to have much more to them than 2007. Given that 2011 remains well priced and that many are already delicious, these are Bordeaux 2011s you could be enjoying this winter, although they also have the depth and acidity for further bottle development.
Pauillac looks reasonably homogeneous at the cru classé level in 2011. There’s not the power and depth of fruit here as in 2010 nor the exciting ripeness of 2009. Middle-weight wines in the main, these feel a little compact, though the fruit seems to be there in most cases and there is plenty of chew to the tannins. Most need time in bottle to evolve. All the properties could have benefitted from extra ripeness but that’s largely the vintage speaking. That said Château Pichon-Lalande and Château Batailley stood out particularly for their harmony and finesse.