On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Brunello Day in Toronto

03 Apr 2023


(November 2022) ... A few years ago I was doing this tasting in Montalcino, then Brunello broke with the rest of their Tuscan counterparts and decided to have their own event(s) – two as it turns out: one to showcase the Rosso wines and the other looks at their top tier wines, Brunello and Riserva.

Then someone came up with the next big idea: have these tastings simultaneously in the four biggest markets for Italian wines, thus Brunello Day was invented with tasting in Toronto, New York, London as well as back home in Montalcino – and all on the same day.

Over 100 wines were poured, in a very similar fashion to how they do it in  Montalcino, with sommelier service and a list of wines to choose from.

The vintage in question was the 2018 – which has found some detractors in the wine world – but I have to admit, some of these wines showed a real elegance and plenty of fruit – not one usually says after a sub-par vintage. In fact, some of the fruit found in the 2018 rose above some that I found in much stronger vintages of the past.

I used my usual Good / Better / Best approach, which I use for young and unfinished wines at Anteprimas – and I must say that with eight-plus wines receiving “best” accolades in this report, it might just be one of the most enjoyable tasting of Brunello I have ever been to. So watch the 2018 Brunellos, they will surprise – and here are the ones I found most pleasing (some also have notes)

The Wines …

(The Riservas)
Col D'Orcia 2015 Brunello di Montalcino - Poggio al VentoBest

Banfi 2017 Brunello di Montalcino - Poggio alle Mura RiservaBest

Sesti 2017 Brunello di Montalcino – Phenomena
More of that red fruit, cherry bomb and red jolly rancher; elegant and suppleBest

Capanna 2017 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
There’s a little VA getting in the way here - woodsy, smoky, earthy notes dominate; fruit is sidling up to the barn door ready to appearBetter

Capineto 2017 Brunello di Montalcino RiservaBetter
Pinino 2017    Brunello di Montalcino RiservaBetter
Caparzo 2017 Brunello di Montalcino RiservaGood
Tenuta Corte Pavone 2017 Brunello di Montalcino - Poggio Molino al Vento VineyardGood

Banfi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino – Marrucheto Banfi Brunello
So much fruit and elegance, just a stupendous drop (video I have) – lovely concentration and just a lot going onBest

Fattoria dei Barbi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Del Fiore Vineyard
Just pure elegance in the glassBest

Pian delle Vigne 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
Nice fruit-forward nature, smoky but lively, with all the red currants, cranberry, and acidity making for a delicious dropBest

San Polo 2018 Brunello di Montalcino – Podernovi
Yum - graceful, elegant and smooth - lots of dark fruit and smoke; lush and lovelyBest

Sesti 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
Red fruit kicks things off and does not let go: red currants, sour cherry, strawberry pith and raspberryBest

Tassi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Colombaiolo Vineyard
Lots of rich red fruit - tasty and easy - there is a seam of oak and acidity that balances the wine; it has a yum factor that can’t be deniedBest

Tassi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino – Franoi
Touch more linear than the above, but still full-fruited and full-bodied, lots of deliciousness with all that lovely red fruitBest

Val di Suga 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Val di Suga
Pretty cherry blossom and other floral componenets, subtle smoke and mocha, good tannin structure, well-balanced; so pretty and elegantBest

Altesino 2018 Brunello di Montalcino    
Smooth and supple - red berry fruit galore, red licorice, good acid punch on the finish … Better

Banfi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Poggio alle Mura
Lots and lots of red fruit plus red licorice and balancing acidityBetter

Carpineto 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
A real elegant style of black fruit, mocha, cherry, blackberry, cassis and cedarBetter

Col D'orciaCol D'Orcia 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
Nice earthy component with smoked-cherry, blackberry, cassis, forest floor and even some distinct pine notesBetter

Collemattoni 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
Plush and lush, pretty with violets and other floral notes plus dark fruit and spiceBetter

Corte dei Venti 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
Pleasant and elegant - very pure with fruit and spice notes throughoutBetter

Fattoria dei Barbi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
So lovely; red cherry and other bright fruits all baring up with good concentrationBetter

La Fortuna 2018 Brunello di Montalcino La Fortuna
Light, but with a juicy core that shows off a little black fruit, all with big acidityBetter

Pinino 2018 Brunello di Montalcino    
Lively, jazzy but with a restraint on the acidity - juicy and elegant - drink nowBetter

Poggio AnticoPoggio Antico 2018 Brunello di Montalcino    
Nice and elegant: cherry, strawberry, blackberry, cassis - hints of cedar and a touch of balsamicBetter

Talenti 2018 Brunello di Montalcino    
Mocha, coffee, maple-wood-bark all can be found on the nose; good acidity with notes of sour cherry on the finishBetter

Tenuta Corte Pavone 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Campo MarzioBetter

Tenuta Fanti 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
Good concentration with darker berry fruit and mocha plushnessBetter

Tenuta Poggio Il Castellare 2018 Brunello di Montalcino    
Licorice and mint, blackberry, smoke and black cherryBetter

Ucceliera 2018 Brunello di Montalcino
Some VA character on the nose, but there is no doubt that this is Brunello through and through - acid / tannin / harsh / but it will come aroundBetter

Val di Suga 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Del Lago Vineyard
Another good wine from Val di Suga: lots of sour cherry, mocha, licorice and earthy characterBetter

Val di Suga 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Poggio al Granchio    
Smooth and round, silky tannins, with a dark fruit coreBetter

Altesino 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Montosoli Vineyard … Good
Banfi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Castello Banfi … Good
Capanna 2018 Brunello di Montalcino … Good Caparzo
Caparzo 2018 Brunello di Montalcino … Good
Caparzo 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - La Casa Vineyard … Good
Fattoi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino … Good
La Fiorita 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Fiore di No … Good
Poggio di Sotto 2018 Brunello di Montalcino … Good
Ruffino 2018 Brunello di Montalcino … Good
San Polo 2018 Brunello di Montalcino – Vignavecchia … Good
Talenti 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Piero … Good
Tassi 2018 Brunello di Montalcino … Good
Tenuta Corte Pavone 2018 Brunello di Montalcino … Good
Tenuta Corte Pavone 2018 Brunello di Montalcino - Fiore del Vento … Good


A Zonte's Tasting and Podcast

31 Mar 2023

(November 2022) ... To listen to the interesting history of Brad Rey and the birth of Zonte's Footsteps, I invite you to listen to it here.

And/or read about the wines tasted below:

Starter wines: four wines tasted, three white / one rosé. Of these, the prosecco style wine made from the original prosecco grape, now called Glera in Italy; The Excalibur 2021 Sauvignon Blanc is another wine tasted in this round – it takes it's aroma from New Zealand, but is pure Australian on its expressive palate. A 2021 Lady Marmalade Vermentino delivers on the level of a viognier / semillon with a mix of flavors: pretty floral and minerality; and a rosé that also delivers on refreshment, but not much more to say about that.

The Regionality of Shiraz ...
Being a Canadian in Australia, Brad felt he had to be all about Shiraz, but he wanted to take a different look at it: from a regional standpoint, and not a mass-market, money-making standpoint. His goal is to show the expression of Shiraz in different parts of Australia – and primarily some of the most popular versus those that are a little less well known … I think he's done an admirable job as the notes below clarify:

Lake Doctor (Langhorne Creek) - Olive, leafy, licorice, minerality, spiced plum... This is the only one that is co-fermented with Viognier (about 1%) to add that floral element.

The Chocolate Factory (McLaren Vale) - Cocoa, blackberry, black, cherry, sweet fruited and quite the dark fruit forwardness, also with a lovely acidic balance.

Interesting to note that the above two wines
make up 33% of the Zonte's production.

Baron Von Nemesis (Barossa Valley) - named appropriately, because Brad never wanted to make Barossa Valley Shiraz, and if given the chance he'd quit it, but the accountants won’t let him ... Big and ballsy yet with plenty of finesse: dark chocolate, plum with a spiced-raspberry forwardness on the palate.

Hills are Alive (Adelaide Hills) - subtle spice, floral, pretty with smoke, spice and a raspberry, strawberry showdown on the finish.

Other wines of note

Dawn Patrol2017 Dawn Patrol (Pinot Noir)
Using Dijon clones and the first planting of Pinot Noir in South Australia (roughly 1979 and on their own rootstock) ... It has Pinot character that is not often found in Aussie Pinot: spicy, earthy, gentle and savoury, plenty of complexity with a peppery-floral finish.  (****+)

2021 Splitting Hares (Tempranillo / Grenache)Splitting Hares
Pure raspberry juiciness with a jammy quality without being over the top. Pretty with floral, nice tannins, white pepper along with some savoury and herbal notes. Really appealing and a perfect wine to chill.  (****+)


To learn more about Zonte’s Footstep – click here to hear the podcast


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