TN: Brunellos 1978 - 2006

Notes from a mostly Brunello tasting.

Guy Charlemagne Reserve Brut – showing a bit of development, clean and a lot of minerality.

2006 Cuvee Guy Charlemagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut– a selection from the same area, this showed a clean chard nose, good fruit and excellent acidity. Very nice.

1958 Luigi Nervie Gattinara Spanna – an interloper from Piemonte, and surprisingly alive. Browing edges with a ripe bay leaf nose (a new one on me) and decent acidity, although not surprisingly short on fruit.

1970 Selvapiana Chianti – DOA.

2006 Percarlo San Giusto a Rentennano – this IGT is a new age Sangio with considerable oak. Nutty spicy, big fruit and in need of a few years yet before it hits peak, but not really my style – I prefer more traditional.

1999 Soldera Brunello – this tasting was more or less inspired by the devastation wrought by some as yet unknown vandal who opened the taps in this winery, thus destroying vintages 2007 – 2012 completely (I’m sure the owners would volunteer an earlier barrel if the miscreant is found, to administer poetic justice a la Duke of Clarence – Brunello isn’t Malmsey but I’m sure it would do the trick). Lighter in colour and a very pleasant nose of chestnut and cherry, balanced and elegant. Nice.

2006 Valdicava Brunello – sadly, everything I abhor in modern Italian wine making all rolled up together. Individually the elements are pleasant enough, with ripe fruit, sweet in the mouth, tannic and bright, but not really one iota of classical sangiovese to be found. If you like California Cabernet this is the Brunello for you. Good well made wine, just not my cuppa tea. Hopefully with time it will loosen up, but it will never become a classic wine.

2001 Salvioni Cerbaiola Brunello – in contrast I was impressed with this wine. It showed leather, cherries and a floral element in the nose, was elegant and very well balanced with great length. I predict a long future for this one. Darker in colour than the Soldera but very much in the same style.

1988 Pertimali (Livio Sassetti) Brunello – I had hauled this one from the depths of my cellar. It was surprisingly dark and had a nose of bitter cherry and tar, with a hint of fennel. The tannins are resolved and this wine is at peak now. Lovely supple and long. The tar element could make you mistake it for a mature Nebbiolo!

1978 La Magia Brunello – nice to be able to take a look at the past. Ripe dry nose with a hint of raisin, no tannins at all but plenty of acidity, interesting in a slightly forensic sense, although still arguably alive, but I think it had shed much of its attractiveness while retaining the outer framework of a Brunello. The melody was still detectable but the grace notes were missing (sorry if a bag piping metaphor is too obscure).

After that, our host, who runs a local wine shop, brought out a couple of wines unrelated to the theme.

1990 Perelli Minetti Cabernet – this ripe cab was decent but finished short. A regular Mondavi from this vintage I opened recently slays it.

2009 Qupe Bien Nacido Syrah – I like this producer so it was nice to get an early look at this wine. Very dark with a ripe black olive tapenade nose, sweet entry, tons of concentration, finishing medium long.

88 pertimali is a majestic wine!!! And while elegant I would never confuse with Nebbiolo. The spiciness is decidedly sangio, IMHO!

Yeah, I still think their '88 is the best Brunello they’ve ever produced - not even sure what vintage I might place 2nd, as that one seems head & shoulders above anything else by them I’ve ever tried.