Monday, March 4, 2013

Brunello Riserva

As Brunello Riserva go, this one wasn't expensive.  And it wasn't much more expensive than this estates normale, which I have enjoyed greatly in the past.  This is what piqued my curiosity. In retrospect, I should have been wary.

In many senses, Brunello Riserva is a meaningless term.  Technically, the only requirement for a wine to be labeled Brunello Riserva, as compared to merely Brunello, is that it must be aged for an additional year prior to release.   Laws and expectations are two different things. 

There are two types of Brunello Riserva;  the first are superior wines.  Wines from a strict selection. Often times from a single vineyard and typically from the producers best fruit.  Then there are wines made from "normal" fruit that are merely held back an additional year prior to release, labeled Riserva, and marked up accordingly. In this case, I sense the latter example to be the case.

The 2006 Collelceto Brunello Riserva Elia is a medium ruby in the glass with a significant fade toward the rim of brick first, and copper last.  It looks much older than it is.  I decanted the wine for about an hour to remove a slight sediment.  In the glass, the wine displays aromas of tar, dirt and cherry. In the mouth, the wine is medium bodied with straightforward berry and earth flavors.  The acidity, especially on the finish is slightly elevated - not what I would call out of balance, but clearly noticeable.  Tannins appear to be fully resolved.  There's little complexity here and there does not appear to be any structure or fruit for aging.  Drink now if you've got them.  89 points.  About $45.  Disappointing.


Riserva Elia - 2006 Brunello from Collelceto

With the Brunello we had a Rigatoni pasta puglia style - with San Marzano tomatoes, arugula, pancetta and bocconcini.  Delicious, but unfortunately, overshadowed the wine. 

Rigatoni con bocconcini, pancetta, San Marzano


4 comments:

  1. John said: "Then there are wines made from "normal" fruit that are merely held back an additional year prior to release, labeled Riserva, and marked up accordingly. In this case, I sense the latter example to be the case." John, can you know if the grapes are "normal" grapes?
    Thank you for the informed review,
    Dennis

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  2. Hi Dennis,

    The only way you can know, is if you know the producers that make "real" Riservas. For example, Castello Banfi makes a tremendous Riserva. It's a single vineyard and only made in great years. If the year doesn't merit, they declassify the fruit. San Filippo does the same with Le Lucere. There are others too.

    I don't know if this is a "true" Riserva or not. It just wasn't at that level. It seemed old, like the fruit wasn't more robust from the beginning. It seemed dried out from the extra year of barrel aging. And it was maybe $10 more than their normale. Most Riserva's hit $100 as you know.

    I like this vineyard too, so it's a shame. The 2004 and 2006 normale were great.

    J

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    Replies
    1. John, you got me curious, so I checked the bottle of the only Brunello Riserva I have; the back label says:"IL Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva (2006)is produced only in the best vintages with Sangiovese grapes hand picked from I Paganelli, the oldest vineyard on the estate."
      So, I took a breath of relief, because this wine cost considerably more than $49.

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  3. Il Poggione is top tier. That doesn't surprise me. In recent years it's been a bit more confusing as wineries seem to be utilizing vineyard designation more and more on Brunello. Mastrojanni for example has two Single vineyard Brunello - neither of which is a Riserva. Casanova di Neri, same thing.

    Remember, you almost always get what you pay for. :)

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