Article by Luca Brandini
After 2 years of wooing, chasing and dreaming I was finally able to attend Benvenuto Brunello 2020 for the first time! And I can consider myself very satisfied with the debut given the vintage presented, the long-awaited and praised 2015.
I arrived early in Montalcino, to take have as much time as possible for the tastings and greetings to the friends and producers there, and so, once I entered and got the glass, I unlined it without no fear and started the marathon right away.
Before dwelling on the tastings, however, I wanted to make a small reflection on my very personal general impression of the event as a whole
First of all, I would like to congratulate the Consortium Brunello di Montalcino for the impeccable organization and the beautiful location, the Cloister of the Museum and St. Augustine.
Another aspect that really pleased me was the great presence of young people, both the producers and the visitors; I personally consider this aspect a real leap forward in this world, very often strenuously attached to old dogmas, attended mostly by mature people who deny the exuberance and the desire to have a voice in the matter by young people who often can bring a fresh insight into matters.
Personally, I believe that the road to success, in all fields, is the symbiosis and a vision of intentions among different generations, each bringing its peculiar contribution, thus integrating aspects lacking to one or the other side, shaping this way a powerful mix to success. Just as we try in sports to form promiscuous teams that are often the most effective to winning, we should do the same with every endeavor, and more specifically in the world of wine, to secure the success of individual realities and entire appellations.
As far as my very personal vision, I believe that here in Montalcino the right path has been taken: I saw a lot of cohesion between producers, there was a serene, festive atmosphere and not the slightest friction emerged. On the contrary, the producers themselves advised each other on the wines to taste!
But let’s shift our attention to an overall analysis from a qualitative point of view: 2015 is confirmed as a great vintage for Tuscany and especially for Montalcino, which came from the difficult 2014, way undervalued I believe. Quite simply, 2014 was a vintage far from the classic canons due to a very rainy season even in the summer, which led to wines with a relatively thinner structure, very fresh and straightforward, but of undeniable elegance.
“A good or a great vintage can be defined as such only if there are also smaller vintages, such as 2014, otherwise what yardstick could one define against a great vintage?
Let’s get back to 2015 now, a vintage of great expectations (perhaps even too many), very high expectations from the market, and also from us simple wine enthusiasts. We all had the chance to taste wines from other appellations that came out earlier, the impression on the vintage had already been very positive, but perhaps the most awaited appellation in Tuscany was that of Brunello, which could be a sort of watershed: either a definitive confirmation or an overall reassessment of the vintage. For me it was the definitive confirmation that 2015 is absolutely one of the best vintages in recent years, with great peaks in quality but in general with a great and very interesting overall average quality.
I would like to wrap it up at this point, and conclude the general impressions on this Benvenuto Brunello by confirming the presence of a really high average quality, starting from the reds, passing through the “basic” Brunello all the way to the Selections and Single vineyards.
The direction that Montalcino has taken in search of the maximum expression of Sangiovese (Grosso) and of this territory is very pleasing to me! We are moving towards the enhancement of individual Cru or Vineyards, rated the best within the wine-growing heritage of each individual estate, and tasting some of them here and there, I found expressions of Sangiovese that are truly particular and distinctive.
During my day here I tasted many wines, each one with its own style and interpretation, from the most traditional to the most modern, from the most austere to the most straightforward, from the big ones to the small ones, the undisputed king of all these tastings was him, the most important and widespread variety of Tuscany, Sangiovese.
I am not going to make a ranking of the tastings in this article, or give more or less reliable and personal scores to the wines. I leave free interpretation and full discretion to the attribution of scores and the drawing up of rankings, but I am going to dwell only on 2 tastings in particular, on 2 wineries which probably will be unknown to most people, that stood out a little from those known to the majority, and that I have found particularly impressive.
The first winery is Albatreti, which debuted on the market only in 2009, with the first bottles. A very small estate of just 5 hectares with a production of about 8,000 bottles per year between Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino, run by Gaetano Salvioni, an Ilcinese and member of one of the well-known families in the production of Brunello. For Gaetano the wine production is mostly a hobby, to which he dedicates his free time from his main activity, he is an entrepreneur. The thing that impressed me the most is the style of his wines, very traditional in style, extremely precise, vertical and with a nice freshness that isvgbbbbbbbbbbik key to a great aging potential.
The second winery is Armilla, which debuted on the market in 1997. Another very small estate of about 4/5 hectares, founded by Silverio Marchetti, and today run by his children and grandchildren, carrying on Silverio’s dream. These wines have particularly impressed me for the extreme pleasantness, for the beautiful interpretation of the territory and the grape variety that I would define “sincere and simple”.
In short, long live Tuscany, long live Montalcino and long live Sangiovese!