So I’ve tasted 170 Brunellos from the 2007 vintage and it looks like after a long period of unexcitement (see last year’s impatient outburst) Montalcino has finally managed to generate some drinking fun.
Pretty much everybody agrees that 2007 is a successful vintage with many good wines, easy to drink, rich, fruity, forward with no need to cellar for a decade before it can be appreciated (as was the case with 2006). Montalcino actually needed an easy-drinking (and fast-selling) vintage, because the last one of this kind was 2003, which was effectively marred by the Brunello scandal that broke out shortly after 2003’s release.
There is a number of other reasons to drink 2007 Brunello. Technically in winemaking terms the wines are showing a welcome improvement on the weaknesses of 2006 and 2005: the quality of tannins is better and there are fewer unpleasantly drying, overextracted wines; there is less oak than ever in the last decade; Merlot ‘corrections’ are now a thing of the past and pretty much all wines are showing Sangiovese’s typical luminous ruby hue (which I enjoy very much), transparent cherry fruit and crisp acids.
2007s also seem to have largely avoided the vintage’s traps, namely excessive alcohol and overripeness. Although many wines topped 15% alcohol I actually found it well integrated and unobtrusive, and many of my top-scoring wines have 15% on the label including Uccelliera, La Velona and Caprili. Overripeness is a more controversial issue and there are many pruney or even stewed wines, but also a large number displaying good freshness and sometimes even minerality.
It’s not all rosy though, and I was surprised at the poor performance of many perennial favourites, including Costanti and Lisini, two puzzling wines that I’ve retasted to be absolutely sure but that just fail to deliver what can reasonably be expected of such household names. But the list of overperformers is actually longer and the slideshow above shows you some of my favourite bottles including big surprises such as Il Marroneto and Croce di Mezzo.
(Please note that I’ve tasted 170 wines but did not taste some of the leading producers who decided not to participate in the tasting, including Biondi Santi, Soldera, Cerbaiona, Pieve S. Restituta, Ciacci, Poggio di Sotto, Castelgiocondo, Valdicava, Casanova di Neri and others – shame on them. I also didn’t taste the Salvioni which my journo colleagues very often list among the best 2007s).
My trip to Tuscany including flights, accommodation and wine tasting programme is sponsored by the consorzios of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.