About the vintage
The first thing that we have to say when talking about a vintage in Montalcino is that it is almost impossible to generalize. Thanks to its various expositions and altitudes, depending where the producers are located, each vintage shows completely different between all the sub-areas. Frost risk (we unfortunately had an example this year 2021), rainfall, summer temperatures are just some of the elements that contribute to create the different micro-climates around Montalcino area. That being said, the 2016 vintage was overall excellent in all the sub-zones of Montalcino. Winter has been cool, with temperatures that never went lower than -9° C, with some rain but the season with a good quantity of precipitations has been spring, which has been cool and rainy. Summer was warm and dry, good conditions continued up to September and October, crucial days right before or into the harvest.
Due to this great balance between the 4 seasons throughout the year, 2016 expressed itself with generally high quality for almost all the producers. It has been extremely rare during my tastings to find wines that were not at least good wines. Montalcino raised the bar very high this time.
Compared to the 2015 vintage, where many wines were already pretty ready and immediate, with smoother tannins, good balance and a pleasing sip, in the 2016 I found the wines, also quiet enjoyable but with a very much higher complexity, tannic structure and acidity. Some of them were not yet balanced but the seek of balance between acidity and tannins was the interesting part of the mouth.
We have to point out that recently in Montalcino most Brunello wines are generally already extremely enjoyable also at their exit in the market which is not a symptom of lack of longevity but an arrival point in the research of quality from the entire denomination.
The amazing potential of Brunello in the recent vintages is the great ability to be a wine that gives incredible expressions and vibrancy in the first years but also maintaining a good aging potential.
We always have to bear in mind that the wines in Montalcino that are really capable to age incredibly well up to 30/50 years are still a minority, but considering that the denomination is still pretty young, the future prospective is yet to be seen.
I have heard many considerations about tannins, which were already too soften in many wines tasted, which I actually consider an ability of the wine maker more than a signal of lesser aging potential.
In my personal opinion the aging potential is given of course by a good structure and balance but especially by the acidity more than the tannins. So the balance between a good structure (not over extracted or over concentrated), well ripen tannins and high acidity can give a good longevity, not the harsh and green tannins as they used to be in the past.
Most wines had an incredible agility, given to the higher acidity while I had to note with some sadness in my heart that there are still producers showing extremely high alcohol content, which was one of the reasons why I enjoyed less the 2015 compared to the 2016, as this characteristic was more diffuse due to a generally warmer vintage.
In conclusion I am glad to see many producers, from the smallest to the biggest, trying to evolve to a more slender style of Brunello, while just few producers are still pretty heavy in oak presence and concentration.
Many of the following Brunello’s are not only my favourite from this vintage but also between all the vintages I have tasted in my (still short) experience.
Living in Montalcino I am lucky enough to taste Brunello not only during the Benvenuto Brunello preview showcase but also all year round, when visiting producers or during wine dinners. Some of the wines below I have tasted them in the cellar, some at dinner, some at Benvenuto Brunello Off event. Even if my tasting notes come from different occasions I decided to present all of my best wines here, in order to give you a full overview of my impressions. Hoping to inspire you on your next Brunello wine choice but also I will be glad to receive your comments and feedbacks, which are always very welcome here in the Paper Plane Journey blog.
Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Le Chiuse – One of the clearest expression of this vintage in Montalcino, juicy and vibrant, with an amazing dynamic mouth. I have a true thing for Le Chiuse wines.
Brunello 2016 Cielo d’Ulisse Podere le Ripi – Everything you would like to see in a Brunello, ripeness, juiciness, structure and acidity. It is very exciting how their entry level Brunello can be such a great expression.
Brunello 2016 Amore e Magia Podere le Ripi – Elegant and captivating, beautiful sweet notes and delicate mouth.
Brunello 2016 Cupano – A wine with a strong identity, darker notes in the bouquet and a smooth, while powerful palate. It is incredible to me how strong is the identity of Cupano wines. You can always recognize them between hundreds.
Brunello 2016 Sanlorenzo – Fresh and juicy red cherry, very high acidity and tannic. Still looking for its balance which is very interesting. I am awaiting for Luciano’s Riserva 2016 which I assume will be an amazing wine.
Brunello 2016 Le Ragnaie – Juicy, mineral, vibrant, extremely charming and vivid and intense. Since my first year in Montalcino they have always been one of my favorite expression of Brunello.
Brunello 2016 Col d’Orcia – More rustic nose, with some spiciness and hearty notes, good structure and balance. Love them because also if they are the biggest organic producer in Montalcino they always work in a very artisanal way.
Brunello 2016 Marroneto – A refined, elegant and vibrant wine, can be slender and powerful at the same time. Of course Madonna delle Grazie is always one of the best wines in Montalcino but I love also the quality of the Annata from Alessandro.
Brunello 2016 Baricci – Classic nose, cherry, violet and leather, with a vigorous mouth but also a great acidity and minerality. Don’t miss out also their Rosso, it is always one of the best in Montalcino even between many Brunello’s.
Brunello 2016 Castello Tricerchi – Red fruits and fresh flowers, a very inviting nose and a beautiful structure. Tommaso will be one of the next great wines of Montalcino.
Brunello 2016 Mastrojanni Vigna Loreto – red fruits and a juicy cherry, some sweet spiciness, round and very direct mouth. Loved this cru more than the Annata.
Brunello 2016 Terre Nere – Complex and balsamic nose, smooth and silky in the mouth with a very nice acidity. I have tasted their wines also from the barrels and I can see a bright future for this winery.
Brunello 2016 Fattoria il Pino – Complex and direct nose with ferrous and heart notes. The mouth is austere with a good acidity and minerality.
Brunello 2016 Casanuova delle Cerbaie – One of my surprises of this 2016 vintage. I have to admit I never paid to much attention to this winery but I should do it more in the future. Simply loved their Brunello, elegant, vibrant, complex and sincere.
Brunello 2016 Casa Raia – Finally a different wine ! That’s what I thought when tasting this wine at Benvenuto Brunello Off. Very pleasant, delicate nose and palate but with a good texture and acidity.
Brunello 2016 Pianrosso Ciacci Piccolomini – Always a very good wine, correct, clear and pleasant.
Brunello 2016 Fattoi – More rustic nose, lovely acidity and pleasant drinking.
Brunello 2016 Lambardi – One of this smaller producers that I don’t taste frequently but I should. Elegant, balanced, long and pleasant. Lovely wine.
Brunello 2016 Lisini – A true Classic. Explosive nose, very complex and with some sweet notes. In the mouth it’s earthy and crisp.
Brunello 2016 Pietroso – Intense, with darker notes of undergrowth. Beautiful acidity and tannic structure. I remember other vintages to be more vivid but always one of my favorite tasting.
Brunello 2016 Poggio di Sotto – Elegant, complex and inviting nose. A wine which as already a beautiful harmony but it is not yet at its best. Refined, juicy and infinite, I can only imagine drinking it in 10 years.
Brunello 2016 Sesti – Juicy cherry and sweet spiciness, round and smooth in the mouth, I always enjoy their style.
Brunello 2016 Sesta di Sopra – Straight, direct wine, with a very clear notes in the nose and a good complexity. Still another of my smaller 2016 discoveries together with Casanuova delle Cerbaie and Lambardi.
Brunello 2016 Caprili – Delicate and intense bouquet, silky tannins with a very good acidity. The best Brunello from this winery I have tasted until now.