What we learned tasting 2012 Brunellos for a wine magazine

Feature image of Salicutti Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2012

“Salicutti is without question one of the leading estates in Montalcino.” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

A group of us from Flatiron recently joined a magazine panel to review 2012 Brunellos. We spent a couple of hours tasting Brunello after Brunello. It was a bit life-affirming: so many of the Brunellos were just so poor that it reminded us how important it is to have someone (like a trusted wine merchant!) find the gems among the oceans of schlock.

Kerin O’Keefe wrote: “If you love elegant, age-worthy Sangiovese, then stock your wine cellar with 2012 Brunello di Montalcino,” but personally, we’d cellar few of those bottles.

But there were some obvious gems in the lineup: Biondi-Santi and Cerbaiona, of course. And some of our favorites weren’t in the running. There was no Soldera, no Poggio di Sotto. And there was no Salicutti.

Salicutti couldn’t be further from Brunello schlock. Just consider its scale of production: with only four hectares of vines, it would be considered tiny even in Burgundy. Its farming and wine-making is the opposite of industrial. Salicutti was the first producer in Brunello to be certified organic and they take a very natural approach in both the vines and the winery.

Tasting through all those 2012s, we started to notice categories. Many wines were clearly manipulated, over-oaked, or otherwise unacceptable. But the decent wines fit roughly into one of two categories: traditional and rustic, or polished and modern. The best wines of the tasting, however—like Cerbaiona—seemed to cross these lines.

Salicutti is like that. It shares with the modern wines their precision and purity. There are none of the rough edges that you get in the more rustic wines. But it shares with the more traditional category a clear sense of place.

It’s a beautifully Tuscan wine. It radiates the red-fruited purity of Sangiovese, wild cherries and chanterelles. It is dense and concentrated, but the power comes naturally from the fruit, not from high levels of alcohol or wood tannins.

It is already drinking beautifully and it’s a natural with steaks, roasts and the like: its youth and vitality can take on a chunk of meat. But its elegance and purity give it versatility. So if your roasting fowl you’ll still be set for success.

Get extra bottles and put some in the cellar. Try it again next year, and then the year after that. Like many of the world’s top wines, this is Brunello that is great at any age.

Salicutti, Brunello di Montalcino “Piaggione”, 2012 – $74.99 or $64.99 on three or more bottles with code PIAGGIONE12 if you buy before this Monday 2/26, as a special thank you to our blog readers.  => Take advantage of this special offer now. 

Brunello not in your budget for tonight? Have no fear! We also have Salicutti’s Rosso di Montalcino, and it’s fantastic. It’s sangiovese grosso from a single vineyard that has that same Salicutti balance of intense fruit and terroir with refined elegance.

Salicutti, Rosso di Montalcino “Sorgente”, 2014 – $36.99, or $32.99 if you buy three or more bottles before Monday 2/26.  => Take advantage of this special offer now.

The Rosso won’t age as long as the Brunello, it goes without saying. But a wine with this kind of pitch-perfect balance and beautiful fruit is a great contender for a few years of evolution and a perfect wine for what we like to call the “reasonable cellar.”

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