Montalcino
By George Stewart

Even with the Burgundy En Primeur campaign in full swing, it seems that everyone is talking about Brunello 2015. One of the region’s most devoted admirers, James Suckling recently released his own report for the vintage and in describing it as “fairytale vintage” left readers in no doubt whatsoever that initial impressions are of a great vintage. He also acknowledges early comparisons with the 2016s but indicates that while it is likely to be another solid year, 2015 shows more classicism, power and depth.

What makes 2015 such a promising year for Brunello di Montalcino? This most celebrated region of Tuscany has already been lavished with a strong run of phenomenal vintages; even ‘off’ vintages like 2014 have had an abundance of great wines and tons of charm. The simple answer is that everything seemed to go more or less according to plan for the growing season. A cold winter gave the vines time to rest and a rainy spring replenished the water table, bracing for the heat that was to come. As with much of Europe the summer of 2015 was hot, but not such that it became defined as a “hot vintage”.

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“What makes 2015 such a promising year for Brunello di Montalcino? The simple answer is that everything seemed to go more or less according to plan”

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Overall the quality of the growing season was a balanced one and harvest took place at a normal time with most grapes coming in by early October. Compare this to the overall cool, wet season that pushed the 2014 harvest into the later weeks of the month, and made it a “drinker’s vintage”, or conversely we can point at the hot, dry 2012s which yielded a top-quality vintage but one which was far from homogenous across the region. 2015 is a picture of balance and perfection and it would have taken a major misstep in either winemaking or vineyard management to make anything other than fantastic Brunello.

One of our favourite wines in the region and always one of the smartest buys regardless of the quality of the vintage is Il Poggione. The 2015 was recently rated 96 points by James Suckling which shows a hefty increase from 2014’s 91 points. If when the Wine Advocate ratings are released we see even a modest bump from 2014’s rating of 94, it will place the wine in the stratosphere of best value wines on earth, but more than that it will confirm that 2015 is indeed one of the most impressive, noteworthy vintages in Brunello’s illustrious history.

He have yet to see any major critics apart from Suckling release their reviews of the vintage but what can be said with some certainty is that 2015 is likely the best vintage in Montalcino since 2010 at least, possibly one of the all-time greats.