Terre di Bò Brunello di Montalcino 2001
This wine left me staring at my notes, wanting more on paper, but that said, I drank it all and
I feel happy. Decanted for five hours. It's a good $30 wine, all Sangiovese. Since Brunello
must be released no sooner than five years after harvest, this 2001 is the current model. No
question it still has a young side to it, relatively speaking, but cellaring isn't a reality at the
The fruit is pervasive, and tasty: plum, strawberry, black cherry, dried sour cherry, fig, maybe a hint of apricot, all swathed in the heat of a respectable 14% (or so the label reads) alcohol content. Behind the fruit I got distant chocolate on the nose, more insistent leather and spice on the palate. The leather is the leather of first tasting, a chewed baseball mitt that made me regress to age eleven or so. The spice is a warm fragrant cinnamon, the good quality kind that reminds you of home baking rather than processed breakfast cereal. Supporting the cinnamon are black pepper and ginger, but neither is pushy.
This wine has medium acidity and medium tannins as well. I've been thinking Italian, and so I prepared a red sauce for pasta today: I sweated shallots, onions, shredded carrots and celery in olive oil and chicken broth before adding the crushed tomatoes; I roughly crushed plenty of peppercorns using my mortar and pestle, salted, added two bay leaves and let it simmer for an hour. The sauce fit this wine: acidity for acidity, yielding a pervasive yet refreshing sweetness.
Hence I got fruit, a variety at that. I got spice, though I could have used more, and a wider
variety. The leather was interesting, but I retired that mitt years ago, and would have enjoyed
a more mature leather, the kind one would associate with a saddle. I get no animal, no
mineral, no dirt, and for $30, I feel entitled to them, or at least a hint of licorice. While the
wine's youth is an issue, I think I have the ability to extrapolate from it, and I don't see
getting much more than what I got.
Verdict: Not Enough
I am always looking for a wine that connects with a place; vines in a field; roots that reach deep.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman