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2001 Brunello


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I just returned from the Benvenuto Brunello event in New York yesterday. I lost track of how many 2001 Brunello, 2000 Brunello and 2004 rosso di Brunello I tasted, but I was hard at work for 4 hours!

A few overviews....

Boy, there is an ocean of crappy wine under the name Brunello.

When brunello is good, it simply my idea of a perfect wine... earthy aromas blended with intense fruit, full style, ageable yet great to drink young. food friendly. The 10-15 2001 wines I loved were simply spectacular. The 15 wines I hated were an absolute joke to me. Yet these jokes will still sell for $50 a bottle on up and many will receive great scores. Getting an education in Brunello is an expensive endeavor.

Brunello 2000 is a pretty amazing vintage for drinking now up to 2 or 3 years from now, when the wines are good. Good producers include Ciacci, Pertimali Sasetti Livio, Costanti, Cerbaiona, Pieri Le Macioche, Collosorbo (not all of these were at the tasting yesterday). But some usually reliable producers struggled: Argiano, Camigliano, Val di Cava come to mind.

Now for my impressions of 2001. Remember that most of these wines have either just been bottled or were bottled just for this event. When the wines hit in Spring to late fall, they will be much more evolved. At the same time last year I was much less impressed with the 2000 vintage. At the same time 2 years ago, I thought 99 to be very good, now I consider it great.

Best of the crop (In no particular order)

Costanti- Yeah, Andrea Costanti is my friend, but I think his wines are on quite a roll. The 2001 was just about perfect. Firm, spicy, full, huge yet not overbearing. Given his wines track record for aging, this wine should evolve into a simply incredible Brunello with a long long life. His best since 1997 and probably better than that great wine.

Ciacci Piccolomini- Huge, rich, lush, wonderful. Surprisingly easy to drink already, yet the winery has a track record of long lived wines. Superb.

Le Chiuse- small producer not available as far as I know in DC. Too bad. Very big, very spicy, long lived. Not a wine to drink now or soon. Very earthy and a little on the brooding side.

Le Macioche- Tiny producer, lean, tight style, very ripe fruit that should be a real winner. Lots of tar and earthy elements. Another great wine from a very favorite producer.

Argiano- everything I expect from this usually reliable producer. Silkier style than many, very easy to drink now.

The next group-

Collosorbo- top notch wine, but not my personal style. Lighter relative to the over all vintage than previous wines, but still with a lushness of fruit, almost a sweetness yet not sweet, that appeals to many. Even though I would not typically order it myself, it is a really nice wine. Loads of red fruit elements. I think of Collosorbo as appealing to big Napa cabernet drinkers.

Lisini- excellent example from this estate. Again, not my personal favorite but very well done indeed. I would think Bordeaux lovers would appreciate this wine for its leanness.

Uccelliera- very soft, a little on the modern style in character. Black fruit. Another not in my personal style, but a very good wine.

Wines I am not sure about but would love to taste again-

A couple of wines that I tried more than once impressed me on one sip and not the other….

Siro Pacenti- huge and extracted one taste, odd the next. Bad bottle perhaps on the second tasting or just to darn early to tell.

Poggio San Polo- very backwards. Still lot to like here but I’m not in a rush to buy it without further tasting.

Castello di Romitorio- usually a wine I like, this tasted disjoint and confused. Will try again in the future.

Camigliano- I expected good things, maybe just to early to tell. Lots of minerality but no fruit and not a lot of density.

Il Poggione- where’s the fruit?

Silvio Nardi- where’s the fruit?

Wines that truly disappointed-

Val di Cava- overripe, not very specific to the terroir.

Tenute Greppo Mazzi Ruffino- huh?

Banfi- sure to score big in Parker.

Capanna- not a lot of fruit evident

Carpazo- not a lot of heart there

Col d’Orcia- my least favorite wine of the day

2004 Rosso- these wines will be fabulous bargains….



Siro Pacenti (will be expensive but I think outstanding)


Le Chiuse


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Nice report Dean - many thanks for your insightful observations. I'll put your analysis to good use.

Yeah, we're getting inundated with offerings for the 2001's right now. I have to rely upon some people I know who are fair and give me the straight analysis of the vintage, since this will be an extremely press-driven vintage and many wines will only be available to me on a pre-sell basis. In other words, I won't get to taste many of them.

If this vintage is anything like 1997, then they will mostly sell themselves, but I'd prefer wines from a style like 1996. I await the sober analysis of people whom I've trusted in the past.

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If this vintage is anything like 1997, then they will mostly sell themselves, but I'd prefer wines from a style like 1996.  I await the sober analysis of people whom I've trusted in the past.

Thes wines are much more classic than 1997, a vintage I loved in Brunello. The 97's are bright and very lush for Brunello. I didn't particularly like the 96's in Brunello, 95 was another story. A little light for a great vintage but really good wines just starting to mature now. I think that the 2001's are a throwback to 83- big, firm, earthy, spicy. Not as dark as the 99's and with a firmer structure. While this will be a press hyped vintage, the goods are in the bottle with selected producers.

The real takeaway I get from these brunello caravans is that there are few surprises. I like wineries that I have consistently liked in the past, and among these producers, it is a matter of style. Yes some winereies do miss in a given vintage (Argiano 2000 is a perfect example) Brunello is just so terroir driven that anyone practising minimal winemaking has to let the wines make themselves and show the vinyard. I am going to buy as much as I can afford of my usual suspects and then be happy as they age gracefully!

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