Top rated | Brunello 2016 & Riserva 2015

    This is what we call a hat trick: After we were able to enjoy the very well-balanced, fruit-driven and almost perfect 2015 vintage last year, the appellation is now doing it again. In terms of elegance, complexity and finesse, the 2016 vintage brings wines to the market that are more comparable to the great 2010 vintage. Compared to the fruity, warm and very harmonious style of the rightly highly praised 2015s, the 2016 Brunellos have stronger tannins, a somewhat greater depth and tension and less fruitiness. Our verdict: Both vintages have their merits and possess very good ageing potential, although the 2015s are somewhat more accessible.

    At the same time, the starting signal is now given for the release of the Riserve from the more opulent 2015 vintage. The barrel/bottle ageing of the Riserve, which was at least 6 months longer, tended to make the wines less fruity in previous years, but this year the climate and the longer ageing benefited the wines very much and we have round, warm and very rich wines in the glass.

    Below you will find some current critics' comments, which will certainly give you another good insight into the stylistics of the vintages. SUPERIORE.DE

    "If you ever wanted a Brunello di Montalcino for your cellar to age for decades, then buy the 2016 vintage when the wines come out in the market in January 2021. The 2016 vintage marks the second great year in a row for Brunello di Montalcino following the sensational 2015, which is currently on the market. Indeed, I tasted 212 Brunello di Montalcino 2016s in my tasting room in Hong Kong and the young sangioveses certainly do have a lot of tannins. I honestly wonder if the wines have much more tannin than 2015 or they just don't have as much fruit to cover up their phenolic structure. But the 2016s are very impressive.

    The 2015s are much easier to drink young but they have the structure and concentration to age for decades just like the 2016s. The slightly hotter growing season during the summer in 2015 gave the wines that added level of ripe fruit in addition to the ripe tannins. I like to say that 2016 would be the greatest vintage ever for Brunello if it weren't for the stupendous 2015. In fact, you can easily see the difference in personality and nature when you taste the two together, as I did when I also rated almost onehundred 2015 Brunellos last week. Most were 2015 Brunello riservas. And they showed the opulence, plush fruit and ripe tannins like the classic bottlings I tasted last fall before their release in January 2020." James Suckling

    "If I had to think of one way to universally describe the majority of wines from the 2016 vintage, I would offer that they are like a well-muscled black stallion in its prime. They are dark yet radiant, expressive, nearly explosive at times, yet pure, poised and structured. These are wines that capture your imagination; and no matter how youthfully tense they are today, you simply can't help but revisit a glass over and over again; because in many cases, the aromatics alone are intoxicating. I frankly cannot remember the last time I tasted young wines from Montalcino that possessed such symmetry from start to finish. The best part is that this success was widely spread throughout the region; and while there was a mix of the bad, the good and the otherworldly, finding a solidly performing bottle of 2016 Brunello di Montalcino won't be difficult for any consumer." Vinous

    "New releases from Tuscany's superstar appellation, 2016 Brunello di Montalcino and 2015 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, will officially hit the market in January 2021. These wines deliver a twofold win, with classy 2016s and flashy 2015s, that speak to the best of Brunello. With just four weeks before their release, the self-propagated hype and hyperbole surrounding these wines is growing with the unique, almost obsessive intensity that only Montalcino can muster. Brunello from 2016 and Brunello Riserva from 2015 are poised for long-term success, they will undoubtedly be remembered as important highlights on a long timeline of vintages. These are career-defining wines for many estates and for the appellation as a whole.

    I see the 2016s as long-term and cellar-worthy thanks to their balanced acidity and more pronounced tannic backbone. However, the 2016s are more difficult to read at this young stage with some samples appearing more shut down or tight-lipped than others. Because I tasted these wines earlier than I normally do, I was conscious to open my samples a few hours before tasting, and I double decanted many of the wines. Once you get them going, they reveal an extra level of depth, tension and focused intensity that you don’t quite get with the 2015s. Projecting ahead, those are the qualities that will shape a successful bottle evolution. Seen as a group, the 2016s have steeper highs and lows compared to the more even-keeled 2015s, but the payback in terms of power and elegance is greater in the 2016s overall.

    The 2015 Riservas have benefitted from an extra year of aging (in either wood or glass or both) before their commercial release and have had ample time to integrate and find balance. These wines are open-knit, accessible and articulate the second they pour from the bottle. As a group, they show irresistible softness, concentrated flavors and soft textural richness. They offer very attractive fruit, with bold cherry and blackberry, and it would be a shame to miss it. In many cases, I would opt to drink a 2015 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva before opening one of the more mercurial bottles of 2016 Brunello di Montalcino." Robert Parker

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