Vintages like this typically happen once in a lifetime!
By Len Presutti
CWE (Certified Wine Educator, Society of Wine Educators)
and Corporate Wine Educator, Martignetti Companies
Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate gave it the highest score ever on their vintage chart, which goes back to the 1970s. They stated…“The 2010 vintage is iconic for Montalcino and the reason is, simply put, it shows the amazing versatility of the Sangiovese grape with a level of clarity that I have never encountered.”
The Wine Spectator was equally enthusiastic, asserting…“With 21 wines scoring classic (95 to 100 points) and the rest outstanding, the 2010 vintage earns an overall rating of 98 points, making it one of the best vintages in the past 20 years.” Top producer Andrea Constanti (who serenaded my wife and me, playing guitar and singing James Taylor songs when we visited his estate) passionately declared…“2010 is certainly a great vintage, a year that has been awarded a maximum of five stars. In this case, the vintage deserves them all!”
Made entirely from the superior Grosso clone of Sangiovese, the grape (meaning little brown one) takes its name from the brownish-red hue it exhibits when fully ripe. The DOCG is said by many to make the best wine of all of Italy, challenged only by Barolo. It is certainly my favorite, typically showing warm, inviting notes of beautifully aromatic earthy cherry made more complex by an intriguing overlay of leaf tobacco and a touch of spice. The wines (especially from a great vintage) can improve for decades, yet are more approachable now than ever in their history. This is due mainly to a change in the production rules reducing the minimum barrel aging to two years allowing for more intense fruit to balance the prodigious tannins. Increased exposure to oxygen through the use of smaller barrels and/or micro-oxygenation assists in this department. The bottom line is that there’s never been a better time to buy Brunello, whether for current consumption or the cellar. Here are a few of my favorites:
2010 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino
This and the one that follows both make great starter Brunellos in two very different styles. The Colombini is softer, with the Campogiovanni more extracted. As you can see, both are highly regarded. “Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s 2010 Brunello di Montalcino makes a big and pleasurable impact on all the senses. First, it hits the nose with a wonderful medley of ripe, dark fruit, spice, tar, tobacco, leather and dried herbs. The wine is impeccably made and the quality of fruit is outstanding. Ultimately, your patronage of this brand depends on whether you like this bold, softer style. If you do, this Brunello delivers satisfaction in spades. Fleshy oak tones of cinnamon and clove round off the finish. It is extremely soft and smooth to the touch. This wine can be enjoyed in the near or long-term.” The Wine Advocate Rating: 94 points $60.
2010 San Felice Brunello di Montalcino ‘Campogiovanni’
The Campogiovanni is made in a decidedly modern style with tons of powerful, explosive, super ripe fruit. Give it a couple of hours in a decanter and serve it with a Rack of Lamb with a Mustard-Peppercorn Crust. Wine Spectator gave it 95 points, proclaiming…“Black cherry, black currant, cedar and tobacco flavors highlight this firm, dense red. This has the fruit, structure and harmony to develop, with a juicy finish and a lingering wild herb and mineral aftertaste.” Rating: 95 points $58.
2010 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino
Another of my perennial picks, the Il Poggione is all about its exquisite sense of balance. The Wine Advocate elaborates…“The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino is a striking wine that shows uncompromising varietal pureness, albeit in a most concentrated and elaborate form. This is what great Sangiovese is all about. There’s so much happening on the nose and the wine brings you to cherry, spice, licorice, cured meat, pressed rose and grilled meat in equal measure. No one element overpowers the next. The mouthfeel is also tight and bright with the kind of fruit intensity that promises long cellar aging. This Brunello is only at the beginning of a long road ahead. The longer the wine stays in the glass, the more it offers in terms of complexity and intensity. This is a true standout that can be enjoyed for up to 20 years ahead.” Rating: 98 points $85.
2010 Costanti Brunello di Montalcino
One of my all-time personal favorites, the aforementioned Andrea makes wine in the classic traditional style. It appears that Antonio Galloni (former Wine Advocate reviewer, now with Vinous Media) agrees, raving…“Costanti’s 2010 Brunello di Montalcino is stunning. Dark, powerful and mysterious in the glass, the 2010 captivates all the senses with its breathtaking beauty and layered, multi-dimensional personality. Lavender, violets, savory herbs, smoke, plums and graphite flow through to the rich, explosive finish. There is a prism-like sense of transparency allied to pure power in the 2010 that is impossible miss. Readers who can find the 2010 should not hesitate; it is a must-have. While many 2010s are approachable today, the Costanti’s 2010 is not; it is a wine for the cellar. Drink 2018-2035.”
Rating: 97 points! $90.