Benvenuto Brunello 2022 presents vintage 2018, a cool year with a few too many rains. We’ll call it the vintage of flowers! A healthy whiff of fragrant lightness that puts aside for a moment the muscles of bodybuilders and lets the elegance and sinuosity of dancers enter the stage. And what outstandig dancers! The dance of Brunello di Montalcino 2018 has just begun!

Several unique products of Italy are known and appreciated everywhere in the world. No one has ever questioned them. They are made the same way ever since, according to tradition, and with the sole aim of remaining authentic and authentically rooted to the land of origin. The inimitable Parmigiano Reggiano, the authentic Prosciutto San Daniele, the buffalo mozzarella from Campania have only one goal: excellence. The recipe is the same, and we focus on making good, sincere, and inimitable products. Because good things, these good things are loved by everyone.

We should adopt the same philosophy, the same approach in the production of wine. Especially where the bond with the land of origin marks it in such way to make it unrepeatable and inimitable, as in the case of Montalcino. Montalcino is most definitely an established brand, and to deviate from this path is to betray its roots, its traditions and ultimately the expectations of the world. It does not make sense to chase the tastes of the world when it is here that the tastes of the world are defined! Those who buy Montalcino must find Montalcino, and Brunello di Montalcino must remain true to itself because that is its true strength.

On the test of vintage 2018 at Benvenuto Brunello 2022, with a cool and fairly rainy year, those who expected to find thin and drained wines were disappointed indeed. It is certainly the vintage of flowers, a healthy whiff of fragrant lightness that puts aside for a moment the muscles of bodybuilders and lets the elegance and sinuosity of dancers enter the stage. The desire for lightness grows with each chalice; there is rhythm, there is tension, there is so much freshness and fluidity. The strength of elegance and precision in execution prevails, with wines that are already very enjoyable but that I am sure will provide unexpected surprises in the future.

Let us set aside once and for all the notion that if the vintage is not for long aging, the wine is less valuable! And that these wines are not suited for aging is yet to be proven. Wine is valuable when it is good and enjoyable. As far as I know, I’m here today and might not be around in ten years, who knows! Therefore, I do not always have much desire to wait for wine! These Brunellos are so very enjoyable right away, and that in my opinion is a great virtue! You are going to love them, and they will go very fast! Let’s leave room for future vintages!

What did I enjoy? A lot but not everything. I never do organoleptic descriptions; the world is full of those and there will be far more virtuous pens to accomplish the task. The ones I have been most passionate about, however, I will leave them here for you. My favorites might always include the same ones more or less, but what can I tell you! I always find them authentic, true to the terroir, and conceived and crafted to bring excellence to the glass, each with its own character and style.

  • Sanlorenzo – depth and elegance for a Brunello that interprets the vintage and the terroir without deviation. This is the strength of Luciano Ciolfi who nailed it again and signed another masterpiece. Irresistible!
  • Pietroso – Floral notes prevail, the style is unmistakable, a Brunello that stands out for its elegance, complexity and textbook taste-olfactory coherence
  • Castello Tricerchi – Elegant, dynamic and contemporary, with aromas of embarrassing precision! Tommaso Squarcia is definitely the knight of the new millennium in Montalcino
  • Gorelli – A didactic Sangiovese on the nose, a rigorous and beautifully structured Brunello you can drink right away. Beppe Gorelli signs many labels in Montalcino, but this Brunello is the first with his name on it. Excellent!
  • Franco Pacenti – In perfect balance between tradition and modernity, ample and elegant in bouquet and to the sip. Curious to taste it again in the future. Young Lorenzo Pacenti has very clear ideas.
  • Terre Nere – Francesca Vallone’s wines are getting more and more like her. They are authentic, intense and with that hint of unpredictability destined to surprise in the future. Orange and chocolate are one of my favorite combinations
  • Ridolfi – Lots of finesse and elegant pleasantness, consistent characteristics in Gianni Maccari’s wines
  • San Guglielmo – New entry in Montalcino, at the debute with its hectare and a half with vintage 2016. Ilaria Martini is here to stay and will be the talk of the town very soon, her 2018 Brunello leaves no doubt about it!
  • Poggio Landi – Good I did not know it! My fault because such a mouthwatering Brunello surely enjoys an established reputation. I will make amend as they are on my list of upcoming winery visits 
  • Casanuova delle Cerbaie – Brightness, vitality and finesse dance among aromatic herbs, citrus and floral notes that return to the smooth, graceful sip

Vintage 2018 passes the test with straight As, a little uneven in interpretation but certainly not in quality. Some samples will be worth tasting again in the future to allow an optimal integration of the wood that is however always well managed, is already pleasant, and never overpowers the sip. Montalcino, in this not so easy vintage, once again proves to be more than ever a DOCG of excellence. Its production is based on the widespread ability to do well regardless the specific terroir and stylistic orientation of each winery. The only regret is that this edition of Benvenuto Brunello lacked some excellent Cellars, and some unfortunately were only present on paper; the bottles on the third day of preview were already missing.

Benvenuto Brunello presented also the new Rosso di Montalcino, and I did indulge in many tastings. I had some on my list but I ended up tasting many more because I really enjoyed it! For those who thought that Red Montalcino was just a slogan, I assure you it is not. It has objectively set in motion a process around a new concept of wine that may not yet have been embraced by everyone. We are all inherently resistant to change. however, in the end that will be the direction to take, on the impetus of those who have believed in it and are working accordignly.

Lean, straightforward, dynamic and very approachable wines without losing in the least the characteristics of Sangiovese or even the specificity of the terroir. Perhaps in this sense wineries are succeeding in producing something that embraces the tastes of a wider audience of winelovers, without in the least distorting what Montalcino wine must be and always will be (we hope).

I will leave my favorites here, but I assure you, you can pick any bottle given the very high level and spirited soul of these wines. Finally, Rosso di Montalcino is building its own personal fiefdom free from the shadow of its illustrious brother.

  • Albatreti 2020 – wonderful nose that needs no superfluous description which would be way to onerous indded! It stays firm in the center of the mouth and is long remembered with an endless finish
  • Sanlorenzo 2020 – blind tasted since confused with another label, but the signature was so very unmistakable, and I put the glasses back in the correct order. Expressive nose, deep and complex with rose petals and delicate fruit. Nimble, precise, irresistible sip to show that you can be important while remaining casual and authentic
  • Castello Tricerchi 2021– Rhythm and brio in this Rosso di Montalcino that presents itself as a didactic Sangiovese but then takes you elsewhere with a personality all its own
  • Uccelliera 2021 – Delicate and elegant nose for this sleek and very fresh Rosso di Montalcino despite the complexity of the sip.
  • Talenti 2021 – Graceful and very pleasant nose, in the glass a fine Sangiovese with a broad and dynamic sip
  • Franco Pacenti 2020 – Mulberry, myrtle, cherry blossom, and black cherry for a truly seductive nose. Fresh, agile, and flowing with character
  • Ridolfi 2020 – Fresh, spicy nose of crisp fruit with a hint of Burgundy. Fresh, dynamic, and very pleasant sip
  • Casanova di Neri – Giovanni Neri 2021 – An amazing, indescribable Rosso di Montalcino that winks at Burgundy it leaves me speechless every time, the kind that wow!

That is all from Benvenuto Brunello 2022. I am headed to a great winery that was missing unfortunately, but that is another story. I’ll leave you a hint here, stay tuned!