Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Winecology: Tenuta de Caparzo - Brunello di Montalcino - Italy 1995

Brunello is Italian for 'nice dark one'. And Montalcino is an ancient Tuscan village. Brunello di Montalcino, by deduction is a nice, dark wine made in Montalcino. It is a close to kin to the more familiar Chianti, only more austere. Montalcino also happens to be only 10% the size of the Chianti region. Accordingly supply and demand dictates that Brunello's tend to be more rare, sought after and expensive.

Both are made from Tuscany's sangiovese grape. However, whereas Chianti is often blended with other varietals to add depth and layering, Brunello de Montalcino is 100% sangiovese. It affords this non-blending luxury due to a warmer climate and the limestone soil where its grown. Additionally, Brunello di Montalcino must be aged for a minimum of four years (two in oak barrels) prior to release. These factors add up to what is generally considered Tuscany's most consistent high quality wine.

Tenuta de Caparzo is a picturesque 40 year old estate with a wide range of Brunello bottlings. This effort is their standard label, a far cry in price from their high-end "La Casa" bottling. Fear not though, even the standard label delivers the goods.

In the glass the wine showed opaque ruby red colors with hints of browning on the rim. The nose boasted ripe fruit aromas of strawberry, cassis, cherry. Once in the mouth more cassis fruit and candied cherries carried through the mid-palette. But this is definitely not a fruit bomb. Oak provides for a velvety mouthfeel and soft tannins provide structure. All the pieces were in place for this elegant wine. The finish was supple, but sadly only modest in length. A great showing.

Rating - 8.5/9.0 out of 10
Price - $40