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2010 Brunello di Montalcino

Prompted by our recent article re-appraising Tiezzi's Poggio Cerrino and Vigna Soccorso at ten years old, (see Enzo Tiezzi, Brunello article in this section) we went through all of our other 2010 Brunello wines to see how they are progressing by comparison. Our tasting notes below are in the same order that the wines are shown in the following photographs. None of them are riserva wines for the simple reason that the qualitative difference between the regular bottling and the riserva bottling has never been sufficient in our experience to justify the considerable price differential.


Caparzo 2010, Altesino 2010, Fattoi 2010, Il Poggione 2010, Ciacci Piccolomini 2010

Caparzo 2010 (14% alcohol)

Still mostly ruby colored in the glass. Ripe red fruits on the nose and full flavors with well integrated silky tannins. Caparzo is typically a middle of the pack type of wine, reliable and always good and this wine doesn't disappoint. It is a classic Brunello from a good year and is showing very well even if it's not a 'wow' wine.


Altesino 2010 (14% alcohol)

Garnet colored with bricking at the edges. Very full, warm nose with notes of syrup of cherries and rhubarb. Lots of flavor here with noticeably softening tannins. Full, quite complex and in the initial stages of its fully mature drinking window. It will last several more years and might well develop further, but it's very good right now.


Fattoi 2010 (14.5% alcohol)

This wine went through a long mid-life crisis and whenever we tried a bottle it always appeared slightly thin and ordinary and a bit disappointing. But after 10 years it has really picked up the pace. It has a very full, sweetish nose a little reminiscent of Amarone in the sense of being redolent of stewed fruits. Lots of tertiary flavors with tannin and acidity much diminished. A lovely soft wine if you like this style and a very pleasant surprise. It proves once more that however much of an expert you are, you can never predict with any certainty how a well made wine will develop in the bottle over an extended period of time.


Il Poggione 2010 (14.5% alcohol)

This has always been the most consistent wine of our 2010s showing the most promise and all the ingredients for a glorious maturity, whenever that finally happens. Even today it still looks very young in the glass with a gorgeous deep red color as if it was made last year. Very intense, full nose with dark fruits, tobacco and black pepper all at the forefront. And all of this follows through in the mouth. Lots of flavor for sure but still tannic. More patience is required here and it may take a while but all the signs are present today that this should become a really excellent wine at some point.


Ciacci Piccolomini 2010 (14.5% alcohol)

Another wine that went through an extended dumb period but which has now moved into a better place. Granite colored, intense nose full of red roses, pomegranate and spices, cloves and nutmeg. Very full and quite vibrant in the mouth with notes of licorice and early signs of some tertiary flavors. Good finish if a little short with some residual tannins that speak to more life ahead.


Talenti 2010, Fornacina 2010, Col d'Orcia 2010, Collosorbo 2010, Frassina 2010

Talenti 2010 (14.5% alcohol)

Garnet with a pale rim but still quite a deep color in the center. Dark flowers and ripe red fruits on the nose but still quite fresh. Lots of spice and cloves. Subdued acidity and tannins that make it very easy to drink now and a long lingering finish of sweet fruit. This is a lovely wine that may well improve and deliver some tertiary flavors but it doesn't need to.


Fornacina 2010 (15% alcohol)

Garnet with noticeable signs of bricking at the edges. Full, deep and rich on the nose and lots of ripe flavors in the mouth. Some attractive slightly burnt reductive notes. Chewy and concentrated with softening tannins. This is in a perfect place. At its peak right now but the downward slope will be very slow as it's still quite vibrant. A very good wine indeed.


Il Paradiso di Frassina 2010 (14% alcohol)

This wine seems to have aged much more quickly than any of the others and it shows up in both the color in the glass and the reduced fruit. Perhaps it's still in a dumb phase but it just doesn't seem very balanced at the moment with too much tannin still present and a lack of flavor. We'll try another bottle in a couple of years but right now this is quite disappointing.


Col d'Orcia 2010 (14.5% alcohol)

This looks young and tastes young. Plenty of fruit and flavor but not ready yet. Needs at least two more years but it has everything in place to make a really good wine. Perhaps the most youthful and dumb of the whole 2010 flight. Patience required here.


Collosorbo 2010 (14% alcohol)

Very dark, inky black color, surprising for its age, but a more mature nose of preserved black cherries and slightly burnt orange marmalade. Also notes of cloves, nutmeg and finishes with tobacco. Very soft tannins and seems ready despite the youthful color. I think there's more to come here, but there's plenty of flavor already. A dark horse.


Conclusions:

If your only experience of Sangiovese is drinking a young immature Chianti and thinking it overly tannic and acidic then you owe it to yourself to splurge a bit on your next trip to a good restaurant in Italy and try a fully mature Brunello di Montalcino from a great year. Then you will immediately understand what the Sangiovese grape is capable of and why Brunello is one of Italy's best red wines and among the top wines in the world.

Once you become hooked the problem is having the patience and storage space to be able to enjoy Brunello at its peak. In an excellent year like 2010, even though you have the advantage with Brunello of not having to buy the wine until it's released at 4-5 years of age, you will still need to cellar it for several more years to enjoy it in its prime because to buy it when it's fully mature is prohibitively expensive, assuming you can even find some.

Therefore 2021 would be the time to buy the recently released 2016 Brunello wines for drinking in 5 to 8 years and there are many of these wines widely available in the US and Europe. They're not cheap of course in export markets but compared to the ridiculous prices of similar quality French wines or even Barolo, Brunello remains good value in the world of expensive wines.

There are certainly more famous Brunello names than the ones reviewed here but in excellent years like 2010 or 2016, quality is always very widespread and the most expensive ones are not always demonstrably better. From my notes I see that the range of prices that we paid for these wines on release six years ago was between 26 and 32 euros in Italy and for the 2016s all of these wines can be bought for similar prices.