My tasting strategy was rather simple when I attended the Benvenuto Brunello tasting in Montalcino last February. Foremost, be sure to sample from the most highly esteemed producers who import to the USA. Most prominent on my personal list was the classic producer Altesino from Montalcino’s oldest growing region, whose wines I have purchased from all the great vintages since 1990. I was certainly NOT disappointed and you won’t be either!
Where my previous selections have focused on the southeastern sub-zones of the DOCG, Altesino’s estate and vineyards are located in the cooler and more elevated northeastern hills of Montalcino. Of special not, is the DOCG’s only true “Grand Cru”, Altesino’s most famous, “golden” hilltop Montosoli vineyard situated at a lofty 1,200 to 1,500 feet above sea level. Most os the Sangiovese is grown in the north on limestone marl which affords extra harmony and balance, finesse and class to the wines. However, as an insurance against frost and under ripeness problems in cooler vintages, Altesino has wisely invested in other prime vineyards in the southern extremes of the DOCG (the previously mentioned Castelnuovo dell’Abate and Sante’Angelo in Colle) where the warmer temperature yield riper and more muscular wines. At harvest, Altesino assesses both the north and south sites, and then a blend is determined to compose the best classically styled, balanced wine possible.
“The Altesino 2015 Brunello di Montalcino shows beautiful depth and latitude, with broad fruit aromas of dark cherry and cassis that recall the warmth and golden sunlight of the vintage. The wine is deceivingly streamlined in terms of mouthfeel, but that slim and buttoned-down backbone supports a broad range of flavors and sensations, from lavender essence and camphor ash to moist soil and toasted spice. All of these elements are delivered with impressive harmony and unity, and I expect that this wine will continue on a slow, steady and satisfying aging trajectory over the next 10 years or more. Fruit is sourced from across 21 hectares of vines with tufaceous limestone soils and Alberese rock, which contributes to the freshness and balanced structure of the wine.” – 95 points, Wine Advocate (ML), January 2020
“Terracotta, earth, iron filings, cedar and leather make for an undergrowth-driven Brunello 2015, which doesn’t fall short in the fruit department either, where there are red plums and red cherries. The tannins are neatly stacked, one on top of the other, with tidy acidity drawing in vibrant fruit and keeping it taut throughout. Balanced and stylish. Drink from 2023.” – 95 points, James Suckling.com – Sept 2019