With its expressive nose and deep layers of smoke, earthiness, tar and plummy dark fruit, the deeply-colored 2001 Brunello di Montalcino exudes notable concentration on the palate in a backward, potent style.
Brunello di Montalcino is regarded as one of Italy’s best appellations. Located in south central Tuscany below Chianti, the wines of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG are made of a Sangiovese clone called “brunello,” which means “little dark one,” a reference to the brown tones in the skin of the grape. Unlike some Tuscan appellations that allow other grapes to be blended with Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino is entirely Sangiovese. Montalcino itself is a picturesque, hill-top town not especially well known for wine production until the mid-19th century, when a local vineyard owner isolated the brunello clone and planted it. Other growers followed suit. Nevertheless it wasn’t until 1970s that wine enthusiasts started paying attention to Brunello di Montalcino, which by then was becoming an outstanding wine. Today there are 120 estates in the DOCG, up from about 25 estates in 1975. Brunellos in general are bigger, darker, more tannic and more powerful wines than Chiantis or most other Sangioveses. By law they must be aged for four years, and two of those years must be in wooden barrels.