Italian wine expert Monica Larner has completed a comprehensive review of the latest releases of Brunello di Montalcino, published at eRobertParker (subscription required).
This is her comparison of the legendary 2010 vintage vs. 2011:
The current releases – 2011 Annata and 2010 Riserva – offer an impressively wide drinking window spanning the two vintages. The 2011 Brunellos are near and medium-term, and 2010 wines are medium to long-term. A common refrain heard around these parts is: “Hold the 2010, drink the 2011.”
The 2010 wines are naturally endowed to withstand long cellar aging. In fact, many of these wines are still shy and reticent on the bouquet, but you are made amply aware of the underlying potential once they start to blossom in the glass. These wines are profound and complex both in terms of nose and mouth. The silky tannic structure and fresh acidity achieved will help the wines progress according to a slow and steady evolutionary trajectory.
The 2011 releases, on the other hand, display ripe fruit aromas and immediate suppleness. These are the proverbial “restaurant wines” that consumers can enjoy soon after release. This vintage is less equipped to withstand long aging periods. Those bright berry tones stand to disintegrate with time. The plump and juicy qualities achieved in 2011 makes these Brunellos approachable now and inherently food-friendly with paired with meat ragù or succulent steak.
You can read more information about the current releases, as well as harvest reports and tasting notes of 2012-2015 barrel samples, by visiting eRobertParker. We can’t legally reprint the entire article, but we can show you Ms. Larner’s reviews of Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino — see below.
POGGIO ALLE MURA RISERVA 2010 – 96 (Drink 2018/2035)
I’m confident this is the best wine (as a new release) I have tasted from Castello Banfi. The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio Alle Mura offers rich intensity with seamless integration between its primary fruit aromas and background oak shadings. It is distinguished by elegant tones of licorice, dark mineral and cola that are associated with the six-year aging process required of Brunello Riserva. The bouquet shows enormous depth and fluid nuances of spice and chocolate that add plumpness, opulence and softness. The wine shows a rich and well extracted mouthfeel that is impressive both in terms of consistency and persistence. A bright flash of acidity bodes well for this wine’s future cellar evolution.
POGGIO ALL’ORO 2010 – 95 (Drink 2018/2035)
Only made in the best vintages, this wine represents the pinnacle of Castello Banfi’s quality production. The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio All’Oro is a stunning achievement and will serve as a benchmark for this estate’s future endeavors. The bouquet delivers both power and elegance with dried cherry, grilled herb and delicate layers of spice. This ensemble is seamless and balanced. The wine makes a statement without speaking in a loud voice and that’s what I like best about this Brunello. In the mouth, this young wine offers a fresh fruit presentation that promises to evolve slowly. The solid tannic structure and the wine’s fresh acidity will also contribute to its longevity.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO POGGIO ALLE MURA 2011 – 92 (Drink 2017/2030)
This wine is on an impressive upward swing in recent years. The 2011 Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura is a dense, full and generous Brunello. It presents classic aromas of blackberry, dried cherry, pressed rose, cola, tobacco and grilled herb. In fact, it really doesn’t leave anything out. The vintage heat has been well-managed thanks to careful fruit selection and custom farming studied for this special vineyard plot. Castello Banfi rarely gets anything wrong. If you are looking for a popular Brunello that delivers the goods in this vintage, this wine makes a great choice. It doesn’t offer the off-beat idiosyncrasies and eclectic eccentricities of Montalcino’s smaller boutique estates, but it does offer rock solid consistency.
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO CASTELLO BANFI 2011 – 91 (Drink 2017/2027)
Castello Banfi has maintained an excellent reputation for consistency over the years. The performance of its base Brunello offers solid evidence of this. If you look back at the scores over the years, you will see less fluctuation between the good vintages and the bad ones. That consistency is achieved thanks to significant investments in manpower and technology. The 2011 Brunello di Montalcino beautifully illustrates my point. The wine is openly redolent of Sangiovese-driven aromas of wild berry, underbrush and spice. The finish is long, silky and the tannins are polished. This wine should hold well for the next ten years.
Joe Janish is Director of Public Relations for Banfi Vintners, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), and a veteran of the wine industry for over 20 years. He launched one of the first wine blogs back in 1997, the now-defunct “Wine Dictator,” and cut his teeth on his grandfather’s homemade wine. He still keeps a copy of Wine for Dummies nearby for reference.