Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Brunello Tasting - March 2004

Our first Brunello tasting required some changes to our usual tasting format. Obviously, it was not possible to stick with our C$40-ish objective and taste Brunello. With the hefty cost for decent Brunellos, the four tasters split the cost of the three wines. While this removed the 'competitive edge' of our tastings, it focused the group on comparing and contrasting some top Brunellos. To further control this experiment I bought three Brunellos from the same vintage. While 1998 was not a top vintage, this was perhaps a better strategy for separating the better winemakers from the pretenders.

The price range was dramatic, and the four of us had a good time with this. Unfortunately, I was not feeling well that day (stomach thing) and my nose was partially stuffed up. As result, my notes may not be fully reflective of the group, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have ... sigh.

First Place: 1998 Gaja 'Sugarille'
This was one of the most expensive Brunellos available at my shop. Not surprisingly, this wine was great, classy. This wine had a spectacular nose, with scents of vanilla, caramel, cherries - "beautiful, elegant". Given the price (C$157) and pedigree (Gaja), this was the crowd favourite by a WIDE margin. At that price I would never buy it, but I would love it if someone else bought it for me.

Second Place: 1998 Altesino Montsoli
Altesino is supposed to be an excellent Brunello house, and the single vineyard Montsoli is their premium wine. The wine displayed delicate floral aromas, with some cherry scents. On the palate it was spicy, oaky, with some acidity and light fruit, medium/light-bodied and medium in length. I was out of consensus, as I didn't like this one as much as the regular Altesino below. C$110.

Third Place: 1998 Altesino
I thought this had a beautiful nose - delicate scents of chocolate, fruit, spice, oaky, nearly perfect. On the palate this also tasted of chocolate, oak and spice, but was a little off balance with high acidity and little fruit, medium bodied but with a longer finish than the Montsoli above. C$62


  • You get what you pay for? There was a clear linear relationship between price and quality. The regular Altesino was the closest to a 'value' in my mind.

  • Vinuous infanticide! These wines were not ready - we should have waited at least another two years to taste these wines.