Brunello is back, and it’s just what the doctor ordered! After a couple of challenging vintages – which, don’t get us wrong, were still charming in their own ways – Brunello di Montalcino was blessed with quite the outstanding year in 2019 and we are now looking forward to reaping the benefits. Our Senior Private Client Specialist (and lover of all things Italian) David Massarella talks us through the highlights of the 2019 vintage and the wines to watch as we look forward to some exciting new releases in the weeks ahead.

The 2019 Growing Season

As with most (if not all) modern wine regions around the world, extremes in the weather are always undesirable. Too much or too little rain, rain at the wrong time, or heat spikes, all bring their own set of problems … but, to the delight of the Brunello community, all of that was avoided in 2019 and the Sangiovese crop flourished. Just the right amount of rain over the winter helped to build up underground water reserves, followed by a glorious summer which ended with the perfect amount of rainfall just before harvest to add a last bit of ‘oomph’ to the grapes whilst avoiding the dreaded rot.

The resulting wines have all the hallmarks of great, and I mean great, Brunello. In these wines, one is looking for power, concentration, elegance, and energy, along with a distinctive perfume of violet, rose, tar and dried herbs which is the hallmark of Brunello’s unique regional expression. I firmly believe that 2019 has all of those, and in abundance.

A few key points to note:

  • Evenly spread rainfall throughout the growing season
  • Some rain in September, turning dry
  • Long ripening, later picking
  • Balanced, with high concentration
  • Quality and quantity
  • Lots of power balanced with elegance
  • More approachable than 2016

Vintage effects aside, when you have the juice ‘in hand’, thing can become a little more complicated in Brunello di Montalcino. Cellar practices, despite a move to create some form of homogeneity, are incredibly varied. For better or worse, methods in the winery – from maceration time to fermentation method, maturation vessels and more – all vary considerably, and it can take a significant amount of brainpower and a good memory to recall what to expect from which producer!

That said, it is clear that the region’s wines are collectively moving in a fresher direction. The days of chewing your way through a young Brunello hoping that it will one day be ready to drink are dying out, thankfully. These wines now possess a balance between crunchy fruit, energy, and a stunning tannin profile without sacrificing any of the region’s unique identity or those elements which make Sangiovese the king of Brunello di Montalcino.

The Wines to Watch in 2019

If one were to try and compare 2019 to another relatively recent vintage, it is the 2016 that comes to mind; however, that might be doing the vintage itself a disservice. Yes, 2019 is the best since then – but there is enough nuance, character and quality in 2019 to give it its own audience and unique appeal. So, over the next few weeks, the Chelsea Vintners team will be dissecting Brunello’s new releases as they arrive and looking to pick out some of the standout wines of the vintage: those with a real story, the wines created by the characters of the region, with a balance of traditional and new wave. Whilst the list below highlights a few of our favourites, it is by no means exhaustive.

  • Il Marroneto
  • Cerbaiona
  • Canalicchio di Sopra
  • Giodo
  • Le Potazzine
  • San Polino
  • Poggio di Sotto
  • Argiano
  • Valdicava
  • Le Ragnaie
  • Mastrojanni
  • Salvioni

Whether you are new to Brunello or an avid long-term fan, you are guaranteed to find something in 2019 worthy of adding to the cellar. Critics have been consistently buoyant and effusive in their praise – we too have tasted a few and, my gosh, they are good. We’ll be tasting more as the releases progress, and nobody at CV HQ has any doubt that they will more than live up to the hype. We can’t wait to show these wines to you in the weeks ahead and look forward to reporting back on more of our favourites.

Italy, outside of the big names, has not traditionally been a focus for us at CV – however, we want to change that as the wines continue to surprise and delight us. Making sure our clients have the very best wines in the cellar from every exciting region on earth is at the heart of what we do, so keep an eye out for our recommendations!


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