Yesterday was the annual coming-out party in NYC for the new Brunello vintage: BENVENUTO BRUNELLO. This showcased the 2011 Brunellos and 2010 Brunello Riservas.
Universally, 2010 is considered an exception year, one you can bank on. These are classic Brunellos destined for long aging. It's a hard act to follow.
2011 is considered a good vintage for the medium-term. (Hint: These are wines you can enjoy now.) There was a hot spell in July and August, when a front came up from Africa and settled in. It's this that defines the vintage. But relief came in the form of a refreshing rain and normal temperatures in the weeks tha followed, in the critical time before harvest, which meant that acidity was retained. So overall, it's a pretty decent year. As one importer said, "The only problem is it comes after 2010."
But this is a year where location matters. Some of the Brunellos I tasted from the hotter southeastern subzone seemed a bit cooked, with high alcohol, some prune or port character on the nose, and a too-brown color. The higher elevations and cooler microclimates, however, were able to weather the heat wave without problem. These tended to be fruity and elegant, showing Brunello's characteristic dark cherry-dark chocolate flavors.
While I couldn't get to everyone, my favorites included both old friends (Collosorbo, Castello Romitorio, Capanna, Col d'Orcia), historic wineries I've long admired (Lisini), and newcomers I tasted for the first time (Castello Tricerchi).
Want to try Brunello on location? We have several tours to pick from:
• XTREME TUSCANY (June 6-11) - A wine-intensive tour in Montalcino & Bolgheri
• TUSCAN WINE TREASURES (May 23-28 / August 29-Sept 3) - The classic regions of Tuscany—Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Chianti Classico—plus a cooking class & sightseeing
• TUSCAN TREK (September 25–October 1) - Hiking & wineries in Montalcino & San Gimignano