Ever since he visited my cellar in December, my buddy Guy and I have been plotting an evening of Brunellos. According to Guy we had a complementary vertical of the Castelgiocondo, but that wasn't really true - I had the "regular" Castelgiocondo, while he had a bottle of the higher-end (and pricier) "Ripe al Convento". An "imperfect" vertical, but a perfectly enjoyable blinded tasting!
The 1999 Castelgiocondo was showing its age - a pretty nose of prunes and leather, vanilla and cherries. Soft and silky smooth, a palate of minerally cooked fruit. Delicious, but simpler than the other two. Drink now. cork. 14% alcohol, Score: 16.5/20
Guy's 2000 Castelgiocondo Riserva "Ripe al Convento", the estate's top bottling, impressed with a complex and ever-changing nose - flint, violet and tobacco, some fresh cherries and fruity hard candy. Delicious cherry fruit and a long, long, finish of soft, velvety tannins. Very balanced, nearly flawless. cork. 15% alcohol, Score: 18/20
The 2001 Castelgiocondo had a big dose of tobacco and smokey ashes, vanilla - a tad too heavy with the oak. Younger, fresher, cherry fruit with a beautiful finish - everyone's 2nd favourite and a winner considering the price differential vs. the Ripe al Convento. cork. 13.5% alcohol, Score: 17.5/20
A wonderful evening of wine (all in their prime), paired beautifully with great friends and a tasty prime rib roast.