If you haven’t noticed, there are 2014s and 2015s still on the market. Why? Because 2016 happened. Suddenly, despite the 2015 vintage being full of great, ageworthy Brunellos, most were passed up for the 2016 vintage, points or no points.
I offered everything I could possibly get my hands on, but almost as soon as the well was full, it was bone dry. The best of the vintage was simply not around any longer, all the top bottles had been gobbled up- many by international private collectors.
But luckily, I’ve known all along that help was on the way. One of my favorite Brunello producers also happens to be one of the region’s most strict. Val di Suga, who for years has remained one of Tuscany’s finest and most consistent producers usually releases their wines pretty late. We offered their 2013 vintage, back when 2015s were just hitting the market, but that’s all by design.
The Brunello di Montalcinos at Val di Suga spend 24 months in Slavonian oak barrels and 12 months in concrete tanks before spending at least 12 months in the bottle. Many times, they’ll spend even more than 12 months in bottle prior to release, meaning that by the time they hit the market, they have already aged a few years and are already hitting their stride.
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94 Points, Jeb Dunnuck
The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino has aromatics of menthol and medicinal herbs, brushed leather, and black cherry. The palate is dark fruited without weight, marked with dried blackberry, black tea, dried herbs, and classically balanced structure. It is sourced from three different vineyard sites of various exposition on the hill of Montalcino. This will be ready to drink a touch earlier and be great to check in on over the next 15 years. Drink 2022-2036
94 Points, James Suckling
Dusty notes with crushed gravel and dried tea leaves are a prelude to aromas of fresh button mushrooms and hints of fennel. Savory mushrooms and olives, followed by firm, fine-grained tannins. Structured and full-bodied.
93 Points, Wine Spectator
Aromas of iron, blood and cherry lead off in this smooth and vibrant red, with a well of dark fruit—black cherry and blackberry—settling in on the palate. Offers a dusting of dark chocolaty tannins on the finish. Best from 2023 through 2043. 1,500 cases imported.
Grab a few bottles– one or two to enjoy now and one or two to lay down and check back on in 5-10 years time.
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#24 Wine of the Year (2022), Wine Spectator
92 Points, Wine Spectator – 91 Points, James Suckling
“This supple red shows a core of cherry and plum fruit allied to olive, juniper and tobacco notes. Delivers well-integrated tannins and acidic structure, lingering nicely on the finish.”
95 Points, Decanter
The Gaja family first started releasing this great Brunello in 2015 and doesn’t make it in every vintage, only the ones they deem excellent. It’s a classic Brunello with a light garnett hue. The nose boasts red fruits and Mediterranean herbs with a hint of rosemary and thyme. On the attack, there are Bing cherry notes along with plum and cocoa notes at the back of the palate. It’s a well-balanced wine, but it is still such a baby at the moment. It will reward those with patience but should have another 20-30 years of agebility easily.
92 Points, James Suckling
It’s a very intense wine that was described by James Suckling in his 92-point review as “firm and focused” and I think really shows off with its wild red berry fruit, that’s chewy and slightly spicy yet undoubtedly fresh and fruity with lots of symmetry in the glass. The tannins are super silky, making this one incredibly approachable and the finish is persistent and balanced making it extremely memorable.
98 Points, Luca Maroni – 94 Points, Jeb Dunnuck
“Northeastern side of Montalcino, a historic and glorious winery, that keeps faithful to its interpretations of classic and juicy Brunello. Nose of blueberry, with touches of eucalyptus, orange peel and rhubarb. The mouthfeel is dense-sapid, crisp, with fruity-citrusy return.” -Luca Maroni