Brunello di Montalcino are typically full-bodied, high-flavoured, tannic wines from Tuscany in the centre of Italy. The conventional explanation as to why the wines are generally better than the rest of the region is that a superior clone of Sangiovese is involved, but climate is apparently more significant: the town of Montalcino, 112km south of Florence, has a warmer, drier climate and hence the wines are richer and fuller.
Last night the 1998 versus the 2001 Tenuta Nuova from highly regarded Casanova di Neri. The 1998, a lesser vintage, was medium bodied with bright acidity and those super-fine tannins you get on seemingly all Italian wines. It showed red cherry and some pleasant savoury character – drinking really well now (score: 16/20).
The 2001, meanwhile, comes from a great year and this wine famously was rated first in US magazine’s Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of 2006. It was rich and ripe, thicker textured and with smoother tannins than the 1998. Impressive but arguably not one for the classicists (score: 17/20).