Tracie B snapped the above pic of me using my Blackberry the other night, when she came home with an open bottle of Banfi 2004 Brunello di Montalcino in her wine bag (when not otherwise occupied being knock-out gorgeous, Tracie B works as a sale representative for a behemoth mid-west and southeastern U.S. wine and spirits distributor).
The moment of truth had arrived: it was time for me to taste the wine with my dinner of Central Market rotisserie chicken, salad, and potatoes that Tracie B had roasted in her grandmother’s iron skillet.
The wine was clear and bright in the glass and had bright acidity and honest fruit flavor. The tannin, while present, was not out of balance and the wine had a slightly herbaceous note in the finish that might not please lovers of modern-style wines but that I enjoy. If ever there were a wine made with 100% Sangiovese grapes, I would say this were one — tasted covertly or overtly.
According to WineSearcher.com, the average retail price for this wine in the U.S. is $65. I can’t honestly say that I recommend the wine: it’s not a wine that I personally look for at that price point. I did not find this to be a great or original or terroir-driven wine but I will say that it is an honest expression of Sangiovese from Montalcino.
Anyone who reads my blog (or follows news from the world of Italian wine), knows that Banfi has been the subject of much controversy over the last year and a half. But fair is fair and rules are rules and I cannot conceal that I enjoyed the 04 Brunello by Banfi. (Btw, Italian Wine Guy, who is Glazer’s Italian Wine Director, recently posted on 04 Brunello, including a YouTube of Banfi media director Lars Leight speaking on the winery’s current releases at a wine dinner in Dallas.)
Above: Facing south from Il Poggione’s vineyards below Sant’Angelo in Colle, looking toward Mt. Amiata.
Despite the will of some marketers to make us think otherwise, 2004 was not an across-the-board great vintage in Montalcino. In my experience with the wines so far, only those with the best growing sites were able to make great wines in the classic style of Montalcino and wines that really taste like Montalcino.
Btw, in all fairness, it’s important to note that the Banfi vineyards lie — to my knowledge — primarily in the southwest subzone of the appellation, one of the historic growing areas for great Sangiovese. When you drive south from Sant’Angelo in Colle, you see signs for the Banfi vineyards on the right. Earlier this year, my friend Ale over at Montalcino Report posted this excellent series on understanding the terroir of Montalcino using Google Earth. It’s one of the best illustrations of why the wines from that part of the appellation are always among the best, even in difficult years. (Ale’s killer Il Poggione 04 Brunello, which I tasted for the first time at Vinitaly in April, received such glowing praise from one of the world’s greatest wine writers that it caused near pandemonium in the market, prompting wine sales guru Jon Rimmerman to write that it “may be the most offered/reacted to wine I’ve ever witnessed post-Wine Advocate review.”)
Above: Facing north in Il Poggione’s vineyards, looking at the village of Sant’Angelo in Colle (literally, Sant’Angelo “on the hill”).
Franco recently tasted 93 bottlings of 04 Brunello at the offices of The World of Fine Wine in London and wrote of his disappointment with the wines delivered by even some of the top producers. Here are Franco’s top picks and straight-from-the-hip notes, posted at VinoWire.
In other news…
One of the greatest moments of personal fulfillment in my life was when my band NN+’s debut album reached #6 in the college radio charts so I guess that stranger things have happened: a colleague in Italy emailed me last week to let me know that my blog Do Bianchi was ranked #9 in the official (?) list of “top wine blogs.” Who knew?
Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read Do Bianchi. The blog has been such a rewarding experience for me and it means so much to me that there are people out there who enjoy it.