Saturday, September 24, 2011

Great Vintages of Brunello di Montalcino 1997 v 2006

We recently tasted a 1997 Altesino Brunello and a 2006 Querce Bettina Brunello. Fascinating!

The Querce Bettina Brunello 2006 is rated amongst the top brunello wines in this five star vintage year. It recently received "tre bicchiere" (three glasses) which is the top rating of Gambero Rosso.  The 06 vintage is characterised by quality and elegance. It was a year which produced wonderful sangiovese grapes which allowed winemakers to make classic wines.

When first tasted the Querce Bettina 2006 Brunello envelops you with its luscious berry fruit flavours tinged with slight touches of licorice and leather. Its lovely rounded fruit is complimented by superbly balanced acidity and tanins. Good length that just kept you coming back for more. I think this wine is great drinking now and we will continue to see refinement occur in the bottle over the next five to ten years.

The 1997  vintage of Montalcino was a much hyped vintage and at the time regarded as one of the great Brunello vintages. It was recognised as a vintage where brunellos were characterised as having great structure, solid acidity and balance.

Traditionally brunellos were wines which could be put down and saved for decades before coming to maturity and I feel this is so true of the 1997 vintage. With Biondi Santi recently opening 100 +year old wines it is no wonder that sangiovese carries the label of longevity.

When we first tasted the Altesino Brunello 1997 it had only been opened for 30 minutes and when compared to the Querce 2006 it came across as timid and closed. The first tasting gave me the impression of a wine that was tight, closed and unbalanced with acidity overpowering.

Then (why was I surprised!!) over the next hour it opened up beautifully.

What a star this wine is. It was everything I would expect from this great vintage. And the colour was impeccable with the classic sangiovese ruby/red brick colour and still looking remarkably fresh.

Both wines will live for many more years. The 2006 in my opinion does not have the longevity of the 1997 with 2006 being at its peak over the next ten years and the 1997?...well who knows, but it will last and last for a long time and continue to surprise and delight