Brunello di Montalcino Blind Tasting

Last week I invited a bunch of friends over and since we all love wine I decided to open a few bottles. I uncorked four wines. Three of them were Brunello di Montalcino and one was a Sangiovese from California. Since Brunello is produced with Sangiovese, too, I hoped that the Calfironian wine would blend in quite well, too.

All wines were decanted for two hours.

First wine was a 2007 Brunello di Montalcino docg from Merchesi Antinori. Antinori has been producing wine for 26 generations. Antinori is also the winery behind the world famous Tignanello. Their Brunello di Montalcino is named Pain delle Vigne.  The wine aged two years in oak casks. Ruby red color with garnet reflexes. On the nose, raspberry, ripe cherry, black pepper and hints of smoke. There is a little bit of alcohol, too which I did not expect considering the wine retails for $60. The palate is well-balanced. Tannins are rather aggressive. Medium-bodied and decent after taste.
If anybody cares about wine ratings: WA 91 WS 91 WE 90.
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

The second wine was from Californian winery Altamura. Just like the Brunello di Montalcino, the wine was produced with 100% Sangiovese grapes. Therefore it fit quite well in. We uncorked a 2008 vintage. The wine aged 24 months in French oak. Sadly, the wine was filtered before bottling. Intense ruby red color. Red cherries, caramel and tobacco on the nose. Softening tannins, very dry. Long finish. Retail price: $45
Ratings: WA 91
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

The third wine was a

Brunello di Montalcino docg from Tenute Loacker (also known as Corte Pavone). We

went with a 2006 vintage here.
I red about this wine first at the blog Vino in Love.
The wine aged three years in French oak. Dark ruby red color with purple reflexes.  Incredible nose with dark ripe cherry, tobacco, black pepper, raspberry and vanilla. Full-bodied with smooth, mellow tannins. Blueberry notes on the palate. Persistently long finish. Retails for $55.
If you care for a second opinion about this wine then go here. Ratings: JS 96 WS 93 WE 93
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

The last wine the evening was magnum bottle of Brunello di Montalcino docg from Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona (2007 vintage). The wine aged two years in Slavonian oak. Light ruby red color with garnet reflexes. Intense nose. Aromas of tobacco, ripe cherry, spices and hints of smoke. Palate was a little bit disappointing. Not very well-balanced at all. Strong oak, silky tannins. Retail price: $55 (for a regular 0.75 liters bottle).
Ratings: WS 94 (#9 in WS Top 100 2012) WA 90
Find this wine on Wine Searcher.

Out out of the four wines two really convinced me. My personal favorite was the Brunello from Tenute Loacker. The best Brunello that I’ve drank in my life. I very much liked the Altamura Sangiovese, too. It’s a perfect wine and shows how stunning Sangiovese can be outside of Italy. If you never had Sangiovese from California then go to the store and pick up a (good!) bottle.
The Brunello from Antinori was alright but not worth the $60. I wouldn’t buy the wine from Antinori again but it was a “good experience” to try it.. Ciacci Piccolomini’s Brunello was a bit of a disapointment. Almonost nobody of my friends liked the wine. I don’t think we had a bad bottle because there was no cork or signs of oxidations. I have a hard time understanding why this wine was selected for the WS top 100. For $55 I just expected more.

I’m looking forward to read your opinion on these four wines.


12 thoughts on “Brunello di Montalcino Blind Tasting

    • Oh I forgot to add that to the post. I added it now 🙂 Thanks for letting me know about that.

      The Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona was a 2007 vintage. I’m really disappointed with it. Sometimes I wonder how a wine can be a flop when these so-called “experts” rate it extremely high.. I guess we all have different tastes but still.. The Brunello from Tenute Loacker anf the Altamura were so good though that the evening was still lots of fun 🙂 I wished the Loacker wine would have been a Magnunm bottle!

      • I think wine reviews all boil down to figuring out which taster is closest to our palate and we can therefore trust. I, for example, learned that the red wines Parker likes are way too oaky for me, so I stay away when I see he rates something high. On the other hand, I have had so many tastings with my friend ManSoo over the years that I trust him blindly when he suggests something…I had him pack me a case with a lot of wines I never had, but I am quite sure I will enjoy them now that they are here. It’s all a learning curve…

  1. Great reviews. I’m happy that you, too like the Tenute Loacker Brunello di Montalcino. Thanks for the shoutout by the way!
    Sorry to hear that Brunello Ciacci Piccolomini was a flop. I wondered about that wine long time ago when I first red the WS Top 100. I’ll stay away from it!
    I would love to try the Almatura now but it’s not available in Germany.. Always the same problem when it comes to good US wine.

    • Anytime. Without your site I would never have tried that Loacker wine. I didn’t know the winery until I red about it on your site.

      Well if you get to go to the US then don’t forget about Altamura 🙂

  2. Hey Frank, thank you for this very good and interesting review. A few comments:
    1. I wish you had had my number on speed dial that night to invite me over to take part in this cool “horizontal tasting with a guest” (the guest being the Altamura)!!! 😉
    2. Sorry to hear the Brunello from Antinori was a disappointment. Based on your description, I suspect that the bottle you had would have given you more joy in 2/3 years from now. Like Nebbiolo, Sangiovese tends to have harsh tannins and needs considerable aging before it can express its qualities at their best. This is not to sound like an Antinori sales rep 😉 but over the years I have generally come to appreciate their wines and their winemaking style and I am sorry that this one did not work for you.
    3. You definitely piqued my interest with the Altamura and I will be on the lookout for a bottle!
    Take care

    • Hey Stefano
      Sorry for my late reply but I was out of town!

      I think a wine tasting together with you would be extremely fun! Maybe sometimes we can make that happen.

      You are probably right that I should have kept the Antinori for another 2-3 years. The wine was a little bit too young.

      Let me know if you like the Altamura. It is a really good non-Italian Sangiovese. It was one of my first wines that I tried from Altamura.
      If you get a chance to try Brunello from Tenute Loacker then take it 🙂 The winery is not very big but they make excellent wines.

  3. Thank you, Frank, for your comments and yes, I ended up going but then got stuck in meetings for two days solid and could only work on my full story about the event tonight. It is online now on F’sT if you want to check it out!
    Take care!

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