Castiglion del Bosco, Brunello di Montalcino 2016
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Complexity, superb structure, and an inviting, mouth-filling palate are the hallmarks of this Sangiovese grown in the 42-hectare Capanna vineyard facing towards the Mediterranean sea. A garnet-flecked ruby red, it releases generous, emphatic fragrances classic to Sangiovese, developing a near-endless progression notable for its beautiful balance.
Despite the enduring British love affair with all things Tuscan, Brunello di Montalcino remains something of an insider’s wine. On the southern edge of the Tuscan tourist loop, the area is scattered with picturesque, fortified hilltop villages, some little changed since Renaissance times, with the historical town of Montalcino in the middle, and although in summer the area is bursting with visitors, the wines remain steadfastly part of the holiday scene rather than being brought home.
Brunello was one of the first four regions to receive DOCG status in 1980, the highest rating in Italy, along with Barolo, Barbaresco and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The wines are made from 100% Brunello, a Sangiovese derivative which has been recognised for its quality since the 19th Century, with the rules stipulating strict ageing protocols, ensuring the wines cannot be bottled until five years after harvest, of which at least two years must be spent in wood, either barrique or the more traditional botte.
2016 in Montalcino was a superb vintage, considered by many critics to be the best ever, even when compared with the superb 2015, albeit in a very different style. 2016 started with a mild, wet winter which led to early budburst; the generally cool, damp spring gave way to a hot summer with some light rain in August to refresh the vines, but with soils of grey galestro clay the vines could dig deep to ensure sufficient nourishment throughout that period. September was sunny and breezy which enabled the fruit to finish ripening and kept it healthy right up to harvest with virtually no selection or sorting required. The resulting wines are broadly fruited yet with a delicious zip of freshness and will be approachable relatively early yet will age beautifully over the longer term.