“There is something new in the sun today, indeed something ancient…. A breath of sweet air…. an air from another place and another month and another life: a celestial air that holds many white wings suspended…”
The medieval tower of Palazzo dei Priori stands alone against the clear sky of this last day of winter as a proud bulwark of hope and resilience; the round arches of La Loggia observe with dull and composed sorrow a deserted Piazza del Popolo. The shutters are down, the stores are closed. Surreal. We enter the only bar open for coffee, served in an aseptic paper cup by a young man with a resigned look in his yes: the tinkling of the cups is missing, so is the click clack of the coffee machine that runs fast to offer its precious morning treat to the numerous guests, their voices, some still sleepy others already busy are gone. The sound of life is nomore.
Montalcino, in this silent and desolated version, has the mysterious charm of an enchanted town suspended in time; of a no man’s land, slumbering and still, waiting for the Prince’s kiss that will finally give her back to life and to the warmth of all of those who love her and dream of returning to embrace her. The silence is deafening; even the north wind, which blows hard as if this winter would never let go, does not make any sound among the tiny streets, but leaves its trail of frost that paralyzes and yet corroborates. Do I stop or do I react?
We walk briskly with one hand clutching the lapels of our coats and the other the certification we can no longer go anywhere without:
“Who are you? Where do you come from? Where are you going? How many of you are there? One florin!”
It’s 10:10 a.m., we are running late, we should be sitting there already, contemplating the precious light of the first chalices that are forever lost now. Time is never enough, what will I be forced to give up? The Cloister of Sant’ Agostino has already welcomed the very few guests of this day of presentation, but it is empty of everything else. I am stunned and stare in disbelief at the tasting tables elegantly set up for the occasion, torn between the sadness of this silence and the joy of finally being here. Where is everyone? The beautiful Catie comes to my rescue however and pulls me out of my trance with a warm welcome smile showing me to my desk. Silent, but I’m ready!
Time slows down and stops in the timeless dimension, the tastings flow with perfect rhythm: you cannot be in a hurry because this is Montalcino and although the expressiveness of its wines has a tremendous impact, the story of each glass unfolds in a slow and evolving tale that requires calm and concentration. Moreover, we are in a magical configuration with the rare alignment of 15 stars:
- 5 stars to vintage 2015 with its Reserves
- 5 stars to vintage 2016 vintage with Brunello
- 5 stars to vintage 2019 vintage with its Rosso.
A 15 stars presentation has happened only one in the history of Montalcino, back in 2012 with the 15 stars of the 2006-2007-2010 trilogy.
A total of fifty tastings, that is all I could do with the time I was given, each confirming the grandeur of every vintage. It is granted that all vintages are like children to producers, to be loved unconditionally with their merits and flaws, as the Vice-President of the Consortium Riccardo Talenti explained to us; but today even the most bitter advocates of “forced choices” could not possibly help but equally love everything. Here, today, more than ever, Sangiovese as grown in Montalcino speaks its voice loud and clear, exemplary, manifest, unequivocal. And we remain silent and happy!
The Rosso 2019 is a powerful younger brother, but only in terms of age; not only it carries the precise signature of the territory in its DNA, but also a clear Brunellesque imprinting that evokes and anticipates the character, elegance and majesty of the one who will ascend the throne in 2024. The deep blood tie between the two is so strong that, given an hypothetical impossible world where the legitimate Crown Prince should unfortunately succumb, nothing would prevent this Rosso from claiming the throne of his illustrious brother.
The moment everyone has been waiting for with eager anticipation is here at last, the new King finally making his entrance to receive the blessing of the sword and the responsibility of the crown. He precedes in his radiant red cloak this Brunello 2016, with firm steps and elegant bearing. His essence is intoxicating, it fills the air with a thousand fragrances and a thousand sensations. The world stops in awe, the moment is topical! The King then looked me straight in the eyes and that’s how our story began.
We are at the beginning of a story destined to last over time, a rich and complex story that will satisfy the tastes and preferences of everyone always with extraordinary expressive beauty. From north to south, from the smallest craftsman to the most technological of producers, from the most rustic to the most refined, this King does not discriminate against anyone and carries the message of each with the same authority and fervor. It embodies the personal beauty and richness of diversity with the characteristics that blend into the whole: the freshness and verticality that carry the promise of a significant aging potential, and the disarming elegance and balance that make it extremely delightful right away. Long live the King! Long live Brunello!
Now since Montalcino belongs to the dimension of the unconventional, where everything is possible, Ladies and Gentlemen, pleas salute the coronation of yet another King so that beauty will never end! And the beauty of the Riserva 2015 is devastating! Superlative, enchanting, eloquent, irresistible! It possesses a striking complexity and at the same time a reassuring fullness, warm and comfortable.
I’m not reporting any of the labels I have tasted, to me everyone is a winner! Even those that were not present or the ones I was not able to taste. And the Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino won over everyone else. It had the audacity to create magic in these dark times in which magic has been abolished by means of many temporary laws, thus giving us precious moments of intimate happiness.
The urge to find a way to succeed in the making of this unusual edition of Benvenuto Brunello has emerged from a deep desire for normality and healthy sharing we all crave so much nowadays, as Vice President Riccardo Talenti told us. The Consorzio kept going and never stopped for a second, he told us, they had to adapt to the distancing and to virtual interaction, and everyone inevitably suffered the lack of physical contact, of real sharing and of healthy interaction also made of handshakes, hugs and warmth. And then there was this magical alignment of the three 5-star vintages, how could they possibly let it pass them by? Granted, Nature plays the leading role, still a 15 star presenation does acknowledge the achievements of the tireless and passionate work of every Producer. Riccardo knows it well, and when we asked him how he manages to reconcile the commitments of the Consortium with those of his winery he answered with just one word: Love.