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Casanova di Neri – The Story of How I Discovered Their 2017 ‘White Label’ Is A Must For Every Brunello Lover

Songbird in Chief, Jonny Wren, shares his recent experience of getting to know the Exceptional Brunello di Montalcino estate, Casanova di Neri.

Now Vintellectuals, I feel compelled to tell you this little tale of how I became aware of this wonderful wine but it’s a bit of a yarn. If you would like to cut to the chase, then scroll down to Here’s The important Bit, but if you’re happy to indulge me, then please read on…

This story begins back in May this year when I received a message from an old colleague. Would I care to attend a lunch hosted by Gian Lorenzo, of the Brunello estate Casanova di Neri, one of Montalcino’s finest? After a deliberation of about 5 nanoseconds (I still can’t believe it took that long), I readily and wholeheartedly accepted the invitation and two days later I found myself in a snazzy SW1 restaurant, sitting next to Gian himself as he told the story of his family’s estate, and we tasted the wines over lunch.

The winery was started by Gian’s grandfather, Giovanni, in 1971 when Montalcino had just a handful of wineries and the region was far from being the renowned place for fine wines that is now. He produced the estate’s first Brunello di Montalcino in 1978 and in 1981 purchased the now legendary Cerretalto vineyard that is situated in a natural amphitheatre (which creates its own microclimate) and has soil rich in iron and magnesium. Throughout the 2000s the Cerretalto received the perfect score of 100 points in the noted vintages of 2001 and 2010 and the legend that is now Casanova di Neri was born.

Over lunch we tasted a range of the Casanova di Neri wines, including the 100-point scoring 2016 Cerreltalto which was delicious, but at over £300 a bottle you would it expect it to be. Despite the huge international success of the winery, Gian came across as a humble young man working in a family business who love what they do and are unfazed by the high price tag some of their wines command. After lunch he happily joined a few of us down The Red Lion for a few pints of Adnams and we shared stories of our favourite wines from other region and countries.

I was totally captivated by this winery after meeting Gian and tasting his wines and although I had tried some ‘seriously good kit’, it was the more modestly priced 2017 Brunello ‘White Label’ that made a lasting impression on me, there was something that made it special in that vintage, now what was it again? The Adnams had slightly clouded my memory, I’ll have to ask him next time I see him…

Fast forward to about two weeks ago and I’m on holiday in Tuscany, staying about 40 minutes from Montalcino. It’s hot and my car consists of three restless boys aged between 1-6, along with Mrs. Songbird, and I am determined to take Gian up on his offer to visit Casanova di Neri. I only contacted him the day before, but he said we were welcome to drop by for a tasting anytime that day. It’s a very popular place for the affluent wine loving tourist and the reception is awash with white linen and designer sunglasses. We rock up with three young lads – one sleeping, two giggling – and me looking like an extra from Pirates of The Caribbean. Luckily Mrs. Songbird carries her usual understated charm and elegance.

Gian kindly greets us but is busy attending to another visitor and passes us on to his colleague Simone whose presentation of the wines is superb. Again, we are treated to the 2016 Cerretalto and the 2017 White Label and again I find myself astounded by the quality of the latter…and then it all makes sense!

Here’s The important bit…

2017 was a very hot year and quality was hit and miss across the region. The finest estates still made excellent wine and I personally have been impressed with many of the Brunellos I have tasted. However, because of 2017s inconsistency Casanova di Neri decided not to produce their single vineyard Cerreltalto that year, but what happened to the grapes from this much treasured vineyard? The entire 2017 harvest of Cerretalto was included in the blend of the Brunello White Label.  That’s right, the grapes that usually make a wine that sells for over £300 a bottle are used in a wine that sells for a little over £55 a bottle. And that’s why Casanova di Neri’s 2017 White Label is a must buy for any lover of Brunello di Montalcino.

2017 Brunello di Montalcino (White Label), Casanova di Neri @ £280 per case (6) Inc. VAT – Save £68 per case!

“A serious powerhouse but with underlying elegance. Pronounced aromas of luscious black cherry, plum and blackcurrant with undertones of leather, balsamic and spice. Silky and smooth on the palate with soft grainy tannins, ripe but elegant fruit and a wonderful silky finish that lingers for a long time. Despite the warm vintage, Casanova di Neri have produced a wine that manages to display the ripeness of the fruit while maintaining the elegance that they are renowned for. The top-quality grapes from their Cerretalto vineyard that are included in this blend have propelled it to another level.” Songbird Wines

“There’s amazing length, hard red candies and violets and sweet tannin that goes on and on…this is stunning juice.” Vinous.com

So, there you have it, sometimes the non-hyped vintages hold a certain secret that can reward canny purchasing, as here is wine that’s retailing at £58 a bottle that includes grapes that would normally sell at £300 a bottle, and for a limited time only it’s available at £46 per bottle by the case. Any single bottle orders (or multiples of) replying to this email will receive a discounted price of £50 per bottle.

Please register your interest by emailing orders@songbirdwine.co.uk

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