VINOUS.COM | Brunello 2015 – Vintage from God?

    "It is a vintage full of strength and purity, the result of a long growing season without extreme events. One that was warmer than 2014 and with much less rain, yet the water reserves were high due to the rainfall during the winter months. These reserves helped the vines through the dry, warm and sunny summer months, supplemented by cool night temperatures and just the right amount of rainfall at the right time. In addition, it was cool and dry before the harvest, which in turn resulted in a healthy harvest of perfectly ripe grapes.

    Andrea Mantengoli from La Serena called the 2015 vintage "A vintage created by God". What he meant was that everything seemed to fall into place and a producer could just sit back and watch the vines practically assert themselves. But this is where many producers failed, and this is why I consider the 2015 Brunello a minefield of great wines hidden in a sea of very pleasant but not outstanding wines.

    Mantengoli went on to explain that producers who did not manage the vineyards throughout the season produced the sun-drenched wines that some people find too ripe or, I might add, easy. He attributes his own success to the north-south exposure, patience, picking for ideal maturity and the thirty-year-old vines, whose roots dig deep for nutrients and minerals - in other words, the term we love so much: terroir.

    So is that the whole answer?

    When tasting the Brunello Flights of the 2015 vintage, some things become clear. In my opinion, the producers located immediately around the town of Montalcino had the best chances to produce excellent wines in 2015. It is the Brunellos of purity and strength, supported by the altitude and a varied mix of soils that added further layers of complexity. Of particular note are the Canalicchio di Sopra (including the first release of the single vine La Casaccia), Fuligni and Valdicava. Le Potazzine and Gianni Brunelli, both blends of vineyards in the north and south, are magnificent. I also found excellence in some selected places around Tavernelle, including Pieve Santa Restituta (Gaja) and Castello Romitorio. All these wines are a strong argument for the vintage.

    Looking south, I found more variability, but many convincing wines, including some of my top performers of the vintage. The success rate may be lower in Castelnuovo dell'Abate and Sant'Angelo in Colle, but the producers who succeeded did so brilliantly. Lisini, Poggio di Sotto, Mastrojanni, Il Poggione and Uccelliera are all masterfully produced Brunellos in 2015.

    But it is not only the top names that shone in 2015. Remember that this is the farmers' vintage. I was very fond of smaller producers, some of whom produced fantastic wines. The fact is, if you don't look beyond the best Brunellos of the vintage, you are missing one of the best qualities of 2015: the Brunello of the "under-the-radar-overperformers". To sum up, 2015 is not the "great vintage" we may have wanted or hoped for, but it is one that many consumers will really love.

    For my part, I for one will not skip the 2015; I'm just extremely picky, because the fact is that this vintage is an unprecedented pleasure - you just have to know where to look. Dare we take a look at 2016? That's a story for another time." Eric Guido  Vinous

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