Great Rosso di Montalcino

A great line-up of values from 2012!


I took some heat last week for my less than glowing review of Brunello di Montalcino. While those wines were attractive, if you’re suggesting to people that they spend money on wines from Montalcino this year, my money is on the Rossos. I’m here to try and present the value proposition to readers. Sure values come in shapes and sizes, may they are not often as clear cut as the distinction between Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. I went into some detail in last week’s article, but suffice it to say that great vintage Rosso has, for my palate, so much going on that I prefer it to many vintages of Brunello.
The notes that followed were taken during the walk around tasting part of Benvenuto Brunello in NYC this past month. There are pros and cons to this sort of an event. Too many wines and not enough time to get a read in great detail on the wines chief among the cons. But one great pro does stick out. You can easily find the outliers in a tasting like this. This is where many people feel that the bigger is better style of winemaking had it origin. A bigger wine will stick out on a day like this, impressing with it’s power and richness. If you’re into that.
At the same time, a wine of uncommon finesse or complexity will also stick out, so I think one tends to see outliers of all stripes at a tasting like this. And you can get excited about those that ring out bell, and easily point people to other styles that have their own audience. So yes, you could say that an outlier of sorts ‘wins’ on a day like this, but ultimately that is what we all are looking for. The wines with more. Whether that is richness, elegance, complexity, or funky flavors and aromas is ultimately your personal decision. Tasting a heck of a lot wine just makes them easier to see.
So the standouts were obvious to me. Overwhelmingly from the very impressive 2012 vintage, they all captured the essence of both the time and the place With varying degrees of power, but mostly elegance and clarity that delivered rich fruit and subtle herbal, mineral and floral aromas with enough power and tension in the mouth to reward 3 to 5 years of ageing. A point that is often lost on drinkers of Rossos. Yes these are the easy going interpretations of the Brunello clone, but it’s a clone that imbues a certain richness and power into even light hearted expressions. That is why I love it, and in particular these wines.  A vintage like 2012 makes me look forward to the Brunellos of 212, and while I wait i am more than happy to wait with these Rossos. 
As far as pricing goes, these wines have generally settled in to the $20 to $30 range. Certainly not inexpensive, and pushing the limits of value in some cases, though the top wines here do offer compelling value, especially since most of my top wines are priced towards the lower end of the range. You can certainly find attractive wines for less, but if you want a glimpse into Montalcino, what makes the wines special and so attractive, there is no better place for value than with these Rossos. 
As this was a trade tasting, and in keeping with the purpose of the day, many of these wines have yet to reach retail channels. In addition several producers are between importers, showing their wines in the hopes that someone might pick them p. As a result there are quite a few wines without prices here. I apologize for that but I would rather omit a price than post one that is misleading.

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Top Rosso di Montalcino tasted 1/14

Cerbaia Rosso di Montalcino (2008)
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Collosorbo Rosso di Montalcino (2012)
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Rosso di Montalcino Voliero (2012)
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Talenti Rosso di Montalcino (2012)
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Fattoria Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino (2012)
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Camigliano Rosso di Montalcino (2012)
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Capanne Ricci Rosso di Montalcino (2012)
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Brunelli Rosso di Montalcino (2012)
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Canalicchio di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino (2011)
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Corte Pavona Rosso di Montalcino (2011)
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Castelli Martinozzi Rosso di Montalcino (2011)
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