The 2010 Brunello di Montalicino vintage has received a standing ovation from winemakers and critics alike. But it is not easy to generalise about a vintage in Montalcino. It is rare to hear unanimous praise.
And it is not just because the proudly individualistic Italian winemakers rarely reach a consensus, but because the vineyards around the classic Tuscan hillside town of Montalcino all face different aspects around the hill.
The vineyard altitudes can range from 320 to 1969 feet, while the south-facing vineyards can be a few centigrade warmer than the north.
To show the difference in temperature over the Tuscan hillside, consider the difference between the harvest dates in 2010. For the warmer vineyards, the vintage finished in harvest at the end of September, while the cooler parts on the high slopes finished in mid-October.
Yet what is remarkable about the 2010 vintage for Brunello di Montalcino is the conditions were universally excellent across all aspects around the town. This is especially true for the top wineries and those with many vintages under their belt who have the experience of working with outstanding conditions.
As the owner of Casanova di Neri, Giacomo Neri, says of the 2010 vintage; ‘It’s the best vintage I have experienced in my winemaking career and I started making wine in the early 1980s.’
Unlike 2010 Barolo or 2010 Chianti – Italy was blessed for great wine in 2010 – Brunello di Montalcino requires a further year in barrel and has only been released now.
The exalted praise is very similar to what we heard for 2010 Barolo and Chianti 2010. Walter Speller, Jancis Robinson‘s Italian expert, explains, “In Montalcino 2010 is truly an excellent vintage, because the great are fantastic, the good are great and the mediocre good.”
The gold-standard definition of a five-star vintage in any wine region.
These wines will drink now and also cellar well. They are reasonably priced compared to their fine wine counterparts in France but, much like Burgundy and Barolo, the vineyards are small with boutique wineries – there is simply not much to offer the world clamouring at their door.