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Is 2016 the Greatest Vintage for Brunello Ever?
2016 was an all-around phenomenal vintage for Italian wine. It was likely the greatest vintage for Barolo of all time - at the very least it's in the running for it - and from North to South things to be absolutely screaming on all fronts. The focus now, turns to the soon-to-be-released 2016 Brunellos - the gem of Tuscany - that fall on the heels of a super-strong 2015 Brunello vintage. While 2015 was a "farmer's vintage" (a great vintage that required more work and attentiveness in the vineyard), 2016 seems virtually flawless... which can make things too easy for some (a lazy winemaker is definitely not something you want!).
In his exhaustive review of the vintage, Vinous' Eric Guido describes the grouping of 2016 Brunellos as, "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." I mean, if that's not enough to get you excited about the release, then I'm not sure what is!
2016 is being described as a "perfect vintage", but even in the best of growing seasons, talent and smarts are required to make great wine. So with that in mind, we turn to those we know can - and will - only produce top notch bottlings, regardless of vintage. Which are the ones we're most excited to try? Livio Sassetti for sure - these wines are always top notch and 2016 seems to be an absolute box office release for the estate. The top cru of 'Montosoli' from Altesino will also certainly be one to look out for, as will familiar names like Valdicava, Uccelliera, Romitorio, Il Poggione, and Argiano. Harder to find names like Canalicchio di Sopra and Tassi are also receiving ultra-hot praise out of the gate, and will certainly be high in demand.
The vintage is certainly shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated releases in generations, and we're super excited to experience what all the hype is about. As is always the case, when you combine near perfect growing conditions, phenomenal winemakers and vineyard managers the results are always fun, and 2016 Brunello will certainly not be a departure from that tried and true equation. Enjoy!
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