This wine is a surprisingly fruit forward shiraz. Juicy ripe cherry, plum and berry aromas delightfully waft from the deep ruby wine. Those aromas carry through nicely to the flavor. The flavor also hints of very light spice and a slight touch of cedar. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the absence of alcohol heat, which almost invariably comes with a 14.5.% alcohol level. The acidity is well-balanced with the nicely structured tannins. This medium-bodied beauty has a fairly long, pleasant finish. A good value that pairs well with a seared, peppered steak.
When the cold, wet weather hits, a warm red is always in order. This Sicilian wine echoes the hot, dry climate of the Italian island. Dark ruby with modest legginess. The dark cherry on the nose blended with a bit of plum and prune. A hint of spice touched the aroma as well. The taste was very nice, with a pronounced cola flavor that blended beautifully with cherry undertones. The finish was long with persistent acidity. I did get an expected punch of tannins, but pairing this wine with pasta in rich olive and onion marinara turned those tannins into a velvety, lush experience. I look forward to revisiting this wine in a year or two.
Kevin Zraly is, by most accounts, the master of wine education. Yes, the premier rock star of the wine education world. So when I had the opportunity to participate in a master class that he was teaching, I jumped at the chance.
The wines? Brunello di Montalcino.
Ah. It just rolls off the tongue. Brunello di… Mon..tal…cin…ooo.
Heaven, I tell you. Heaven.
For anyone who has isn’t familiar with Brunello di Montalcino, this is a wine from the town of Montalcino, a small medieval village in the Tuscany wine region of Italy. Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s most famous wines, made with 100% Sangiovese grape, and it tends to be some of Italy’s most expensive wine. The hot, dry days under the Montalcino sun bring the grapes to ripe perfection earlier there than in other regions of Tuscany. The result? After fermentation and over 4 years of required aging in the bottle, Brunello di Montalcino is a lush, deep, intense wine, that maintains its acidity.
And the wines from that amazing class? All 2007’s. They are:
1. Brunello di Montalcino Poggiolo
2. Brunello di Montalcino Fanti
3. Brunello di Montalcino Nicale
4. Brunello di Montalcino Castiglion del Bosco
5. Brunello di Montalcino Pertimali Livio Sassetti
6. Brunello di Montalcino Fuligni
7. Brunello di Montalcino Nardi
8. Brunello di Montalcino La Casa Caparzo
As in any wine tasting, there is a certain subjectivity involved, especially with a room filled with wine wonks. But sometimes wines stand out, for any number of reasons. There was, in short, the good, the bad and the ugly.
The ugly? With such beautiful wines?
Yes. Even a lineup like this offered up at least one that was, shall we say, funky. Lost its mojo. Maybe never had it. Bottle shocked? Corked? I don’t know. Funky.
And how about the bad? Well, maybe not bad as much as perhaps just not ready. And that’s ok. We’ve all had those wines that were still developing. Maturing. Toning down. You have them today – yuck, or maybe just meh. You have them a year from now – delicious. So yes, we had a few that needed some time.
But ah… the good. The good were very good. Mmmm…
One stand-out, for me, was Brunello di Montalcino La Casa Caparzo. It had a beautiful fruit and spice balance. Heavy, dark wild berries mingled with cassis. Full and luscious, with an amazing finish. Kevin noted that this wine “smells like Brunello”, and oh how right he was. If this was everything a Brunello di Montalcino is supposed to be, sign me up.
The other notable wine, for me, was the Brunello di Montalcino Castiglion del Bosco. Dark red and black fruits were simply beautiful. The fruit danced with flavors of anise and spice, and the acidity was perfect. The long finish was beautiful. Very nice. Very nice.
As the tasting went along I could have just closed my eyes and imagined a Tuscan sunset. Every sip brought me that much closer to tasting the Tuscan terroir. What a perfect day.
Kevin noted that Brunello di Montalcino is considered to be a best value of the great wines of the world. How very true. The wines we tasted ran anywhere from $40 a bottle to $70 a bottle. Not an every day range, but very accessible.
I do have to offer a special thank you to Kevin Zraly, who opened my eyes to wine education through his book, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, all those years ago, and who gave me one of the best wine experiences ever in this master class. You can learn more about Kevin on his website, http://www.KevinZraly.com. I would also like to thank my dear friend, Wendy Dubit, for making my experience with Kevin possible, and whose amazing work can be read in Windows on the World Complete Wine Course. You can also learn about Wendy on her website, http://www.TheSensesBureau.com.