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Marvellous Montalcino – New Releases & Some Mature Gems

The 2018 Brunello di Montalcinos have recently been released and Songbird cherry picks the best value alongside some older vintages.

Montalcino is a small, hilltop town that sits about 30 miles south of Sienna and like other local towns has its town square with belltowers, a castle ruin or two and other historical buildings. However, what sets this place apart from its neighbours is its spectacular terroir and its ability to produce some of the finest wines Italy can offer. Brunello di Montalcino is the region’s most famous wine and the first Italian wine to be awarded a DOCG (the highest tier of Italy’s wine classification system) back in 1980. The DOCG rules state that Brunello can only be released five years after the vintage so we are just seeing the 2018s appear on the market.

Many producers will also make a Rosso di Montalcino which have more relaxed regulations and so are made available much sooner. The style of Rosso di Montalcino is less tannic so can be quite approachable in its youth and the outstanding vintages of 2019 and 2020 have given us wines with both excellent ripeness and structure.

Finally, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is made in only the best vintages and must be aged for one year extra than regular Brunello. Production of Riservas are usually tiny and can command quite a hefty price tag.

Recent Vintages

The last few years have been kind in terms of quality. Both 2015 and 2016 were exceptional, although their style differed, with most wines from the latter requiring more cellaring whilst many from the former are in a great place right now. 2017 was hot but still produced some delicious wines which were already drinking pretty well on release – a classic ‘restaurant vintage’. There was another run of super vintages with 2019 and 2020 and although the hotly anticipated Brunellos are yet to be released, the already delicious Rosso di Montalcinos offers a tantalising glimpse of things to come. So where does that leave 2018? A cooler vintage for sure – at least compared to those either side of it – but it’s no slouch at all. As with 2017, it is a case of cherry-picking from producers that can adapt to the conditions and still make delicious wines.

 

 

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