Brunello di Montalcino is part of the historic elite of Italian wines. Centred around the small town of Montalcino in the south of Tuscany, this Sangiovese based treasure is often labelled as one of the finest wines in the world. Brunello, on it’s day, is a big rich wine of full body, fleshy texture and dry velvety tannins. Common aromas of black berry, black cherry, chocolate, leather and violets contribute to the complexity normally found in Brunello wines and combined with a lively acidity they are often the perfect partner for Italian cuisine.
Like many Italian wines deeply rooted in the areas cultural heritage, there exists the usual philosophical clash on what Brunello should actually taste like. At the centre of the debate is the variations of wood ageing. Traditionalists argue that true Brunello should spend far longer in large oak barrels to soften and refine the wine. Modernists however have successfully lobbied to reduce the minimum ageing requirement down to two years with at least four months in bottle. A reduction in ageing requirements ultimately facilitates the use of more charred barrique which imparts more internationally fashionable flavours such as vanilla, woodsmoke and chocolate. While there is weight behind both arguments the fact remains that there are great wines made in both styles.
Azienda Agricola Verbena’s Brunello di Montalcino is one of them and this boutique, family owned vineyard of ten hectares has caught our attention with a wine that reflects not only the wine making traditions of Montalcino but equally importantly, is a great wine to savour and enjoy.
Producing around 50,000 bottles a year Luca Nannetti and his wife Elena, believe good wine comes from good grapes and so focus their attentions in the vineyard. In July and early August they remove bunches of grapes from the vines to concentrate more sugars and flavours in those remaining, a viticultural technique known as green harvesting. Depending on the vintage, the leaves will be manipulated to either provide shade in hot years or more room for sun and rot fighting breezes in lesser years. The harvest is done by hand and a rigorous selection takes place, discarding any fruit not up to the estate’s high standards.
Vinification takes place on site and fermentation begins in temperature controlled steel vats. Maturation takes place in large oak barrels for about three years before eventually resting for a year in bottle before release. Such a maturation strategy, while being traditionalist, is costly for a wine business with large amounts of capital being tied up in stock. Such a decision is in fact testament to the Nanetti family’s refusal to compromise on quality or mould the area’s heritage around an international palate.
Verbena’s 2006 Brunello di Montalcino then, shows complex fruit laced with earthy aromas and subtle wood. The palate is rich and velvety with a slight feeling of chewy tannin. Ripe fruit and spices come through strong and lead into a long savoury finish. This is certainly a wine ready to drink.
For more information on Verbena or indeed any of their wines please don’t hesitate to contact us.