John Paul Kaminga
You've heard us bash Brunello di Montalcino before... sorry! not sorry... we don't get really excited about them very often, but we have to admit that the best wines of Montalcino are really (really) great. Below we have wines from two Montalcino estates that should be on the radar of every Italian wine lover.
Before we get to the wines, let's posit a quick hypothetical. You have too much money and decide that you want to make great Sangiovese. You choose to do this within the boundaries of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. You hire all the best consultants, find an amazing property, and plant a pampered little vineyard. You can't call it Brunello. Why? Because although there's unplanted land within the boundaries of the DOCG, the allowed acreage of vines that qualify for Brunello is much smaller than the surface area covered by those boundaries, and all the Brunello acreage is spoken for. There are no extra Brunello rights to go around, so if you want your new vineyard to make wine called Brunello, you would need to purchase rights from someone willing to sell, and they would subsequently lose those rights. Kinda weird, we know. Anyway, the wines below come from tiny properties that make some of the most limited and gloriously delicious Brunello di Montalcino, but they also have vines that don't qualify for the DOCG and make incredible Rosso di Montalcino DOC.
Sesta di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2017 - $33
A dark and brawny style of Sangiovese, this would appeal to fans of Napa Valley wines, as it is full-bodied, warm and spicy. Aromas of jammy black and red fruits, licorice, spice and savory herbs. On the palate it is rich and lively at once, with a dense core of ripe fruit and velvety tannins. Finishing warm and spicy. Pair with hearty roasted fare.
Pian dell'Orino Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2016 - $68
This wine is more expensive than many a Brunello, but it is so much more graceful and complex than the average wine that takes the DOCG designation. Simply put, if you have not yet tried a wine from Pian dell'Orino, you are missing out on some of the very best Sangiovese in existence. Their signature is pure fruit and impossibly fine textures, and if you write Montalcino off as rough and coarse, Pian dell'Orino is here to change your mind. Their 2016 Rosso is brilliant, showing amazing purity and intensity. Fruit forms this wine's dense aromatic core: black plum, blackberry, wild blueberry, black cherry, with more dark fruit compared to red fruit, though there are high notes of strawberry and red cherry. Licorice, lavender, violets, petrichor, mint, camphor and ethereal vanilla bean contribute to a wealth of non-fruit accents. This is tense yet velvety on the palate, with a thick mid-palate followed by a vivacious and refreshing finish. Gorgeous stuff that will age for 10+ years. Decant it for a few hours if you're opening it soon.