Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Burgundian Brunello

 
~ Proprietor & Winemaker Stella di Campalto ~
(image courtesy of Stella di Campalto)

Generalizations are absolutely that, but if you'll permit me,  women know how to make wine.  There, I said it.  I love wine made by women. I don't know what factors lead to that realization, and I'm not certain that I care.  But more often than not, when a wine really wows me, I find out that the owner or winemaker is a woman! 
 
I first fell in love with Stella di Campalto's wines when a friend of mine tasted the 2006 and told me that "he heard mermaids singing" afterwards.  That alone compelled me to find some - and find some I did.  
 
Stella's farm, the Podere San Giuseppe, sits in the far South East corner of the Brunello zone near the Sant'Antimo abbey and takes it's name from the sharecropper Giuseppe Martelli that established the farm in 1910.  Stella acquired the farm in 1992 and set about making wine; the way she wanted, involved in each step of the process.
 
Since 1996, her estate has been certified organic but Stella has taken a further step and since 2002 she has become completely biodynamic.  Her six individual vineyards, five of which are dedicated to Brunello production, cover 5 1/2 hectares (13 acres) and sit at elevations ranging from 240-340 meters above sea level.  This amount of diversity allows her to vinify each vineyard separately and then adjust the blending for her Brunello each year as vintage dictates.
 
Stella di Campalto's Vineyards
 
Vigna al Leccio - S.W. Exposure  340 meters
Vigna Curva -      S.W. Exposure  320 meters
Vigna al Sasso -   S.W. Exposure  290 meters
Vigna Bassa -       S.W. Exposure  270 meters
Vigna All'ulivo -  West Exposure  280 meters
Vigna al Bosco -  SouthExposure  240 meters


~ Vigna al Leccio ~
(image courtesy of Stella di Campalto)


Lying next to the vineyards is the gravity fed winery.  The hand harvested grapes arrive at the winery in wooden trays and are sorted by hand and placed into large wooden vats.  Nothing is added to the grapes.  Once fermentation is completed, the wine continues it's downward journey where it rests in a combination of French barrique and tonneaux until it is ready to be bottled.  Stella doesn't release wines until she feels they are ready to be enjoyed.  The subject of this report, her 2008 Brunello, is only now on the market,  almost a full year later than many of her counterparts.  The results are worthwhile.


~ Tonneaux & Barrique in Campalto's Cantina ~
(image courtesy of Stella di Campalto)

 
The 2008 Stella di Campalto Brunello  is as elegant, reserved, and patient as the woman who makes it.  A product of the vintage to be sure, it is different stylistically from the 2006 and 2007's that preceded it.  The wine was decanted for 90 minutes before dinner, and paired with a rich Cassoulet.  A medium ruby in the decanter and glass, with brick tonal reflections,  the wine gives generous aromas of wild berry, flowers, fennel and toast.  On the palate, this is a wine that lovers of Burgundy will admire for it's elegance, yet soft, subtle power.  A warm core of ripe berry fruit cascades nimbly and there is a soft, almost powdery undercurrent of mushroom.  Subtle touches of spice and faint wood notes echo softly on the finish.  The wine is reflective of the vintage and in that sense, similar to many other 2008 Brunello I've enjoyed.  While not at the level of her 2006 and 2007, this 2008 stands admirably among the best wines of the vintage and is very interesting and appealing. 
 
The only down side here is the price.  Stella's wine is expensive and while cognizant of her extremely small production,  just about 1,000 cases annually, and her manual oversight at every step in the process, I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest there were better values available in this lesser regarded vintage.  93 points, about $85. 

~ Stella di Campalto Brunello di Montalcino 2008 ~
Cin Cin!


4 comments:

  1. First: Stella di Campalto's picture is more than outstanding (Bella).
    Second: I want to hear mermaids singing!
    Third: That means I have to find her Brunellos!
    Thanks John for making me become more obsessive than I already was ;-)
    Though Laurie Hook (Beringers) has caused me to hear sweet music!

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  2. Dennis - what can I say, we are agreed on all counts!

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  3. Nice article, I love your take on wines made by women and hope to taste Stella's mermaid canto inspiring wine some day. Some years ago I was fascinated by a doc called Senza Trucco, about 4 Italian women who produce biodynamic wines and have been intrigued ever since . Thanks for posting, I'll look it up.

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  4. Silvana, thanks for commenting. Let me know how the search goes....

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