When Brunello Lives Up To Its Fame

By Robert Parker

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Brunello di Montalcino may be Italy's most famous wine, but it frequently disappoints me. The wine, which hails from the Tuscan town of Montalcino and is made from the sangiovese grape, is aged in wood for at least two years. Often I find that it has too much tannin and musty oak and not enough fruit. Since selection is so important with brunello, I asked my colleague Antonio Galloni for a list of his favorites from 2001, the best of the recent vintages. Among them are:

Tenuta La Fuga

92 points.

This is a fresh, vibrant Italian red displaying attractive notes of cherries, tobacco, minerals, and sweet toasted oak. Full-bodied and ample on the palate, it offers outstanding length as well as plenty of style, fine tannins, and an understated yet expressive personality. It will be at its finest between 2009 and 2019. $57

Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Pianrosso

93 points.

This stylish, cask-aged offering reveals a floral, aromatic nose followed by sweet, perfumed red fruit that blossoms on the palate with notable expansiveness, finesse, and elegance. It closes with fine, supple tannins. While it can be enjoyed today, it will be even better in a few years and should keep for two decades. $60

Siro Pacenti

95 points.

A midweight, ruby-hued brunello, this wine opens with a finely nuanced, fresh bouquet followed by a delicate core of ripe fruit that bursts onto the palate with exceptional elegance, purity, and finesse as well as silky tannins in the finish. Enjoy this profound wine any time between 2007 and 2019. $70


93 points.

With its pure, cleanly articulated notes of cherries, tobacco, and underbrush, Costanti's brunello is a textbook example of sangiovese from Montalcino. It possesses excellent concentration, great length, nuanced transparency, fine, elegant tannins, and a note of warmth from the alcohol on the finish. This outstanding effort will benefit from a few years in the cellar, and it will keep for at least 20 years. $75


4 points.

This wine exhibits nuances of ripe fruit, earthiness, and tobacco with great length on the palate, firm tannins, and a fine, long finish. Although full-bodied and intensely flavored, it also has an ethereal sense of lightness. This bottle needs to be cellared. Its anticipated maturity: 2011-2023. $100


96 points.

This superb wine opens with a profound, deeply expressive nose of licorice, tar, black cherries, and smoke that takes on new dimensions of complexity as it sits in the glass. Medium body, vibrant fruit, and noble tannins ensure that it still will be a magical wine in 15 to 20 years. $125


95 points.

One of the vintage's top wines, the Salvioni displays sweet dark fruit, notable concentration, a classic structure, and superb expansiveness as well as length. Despite its four years of cask aging, the wine boasts incredible freshness, richness, and vibrancy. It will be at its finest in two to three years and should keep for two decades. $145

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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