Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beautiful Dark Knight

~ Castello Poggio Alle Mura ~
Recently I've been tasting through some wines from the much ballyhooed 2010 vintage.  Many producers I've spoken to have praised 2010 as the best vintage of the decade. Almost everything went right and the grapes were harvested in perfect condition.  This is almost a universal claim in Tuscany; yet I'm not seeing such broad exceptionalism with the 2010's I've tasted so far.  Many have been very good, but I don't yet sense that they eclipse vintages like 2004, 2006, 2009 or even 2001. 
The subject of today's post is Castello Banfi's 2010 Belnero.   Loosely translated, Belnero means beautiful dark one and this mostly Sangiovese is exactly that.  Bolstered by a tiny additions of Merlot & Cabernet, Belnero is the estate's vision for what Sangiovese grown in Montalcino can create when crafted outside the DOCG regulations. 
The 2010 is deep purple in the glass trending toward a saturated garnet ruby color.  The aromas are gorgeous with ample crushed plum, warm road dust, cured olive and fresh tobacco. Really interesting to smell and it kept me going back to the glass.  On the palate, the wine is more simple, more primary.  There's a solid core of elegant black plum wrapped in spices and a pleasing black olive note.  The balance is wonderful and the ripe tannins assert themselves on the finish.  This could use 3-5 years in the cellar to smooth them out a bit. 

~ 2010 Belnero:  Sangiovese with Merlot & Cabernet ~

Belnero is fermented in Castello Banfi's patented hybrid fermentors that are a combination of stainless steel and oak.  It is aged 14 months in French oak barrique, 30% of which are new barrels annually.  Price varies widely on this wine, so shop with caution.  I've seen it on shelves from as little as $15 to as much as $30.  Recommended at the lower end.   90 points.
Buon Anno!


  1. John, great review as usual! As I reading your description: "On the palate, the wine is more simple, more primary."-psychologically I continued with "primitive"; don't know why, but how do you think it fits?
    Also, I noticed the price is up considerably, but still a good value!

  2. I do not understand the pricing on this wine. At $15, I'd buy as much as I could find. At $30, not so much. That is a huge spread & I'm still trying to get an answer on that. As for primitive, yes, in a stripped down sort of way. This has more to give I think. It's just not there yet.

  3. John, yesterday I found the 2010 Belnero for $23, but the list price was $32!

  4. Did you buy it? I'm curious to see what you think about it. $23 is fair. I don't think I'd buy it at $30+

    1. Yes! Of course I did! I just read your great review, and have loved the earlier vintages. Oh, you'll know when I drink it; you'll know!

  5. Where have you seen it at $15??? That's less than the wholesale price!

  6. Joe,

    Hmmmm..... It was here in NJ at one of two stores. I don't remember which. I don't want to state incorrectly, so I'll find out and get back to you.