A modernist forgetting his best brunello vintage in new oak

A danish importer warned me of this wine just after I bought two bottles in 2009, but I had already read how much Robert Parker and James Suckling loved it at the time. Robert’s notes (I actually think these are the notes of one of my favourite wine critics, Antonio Galloni) are as follows; “97 points Robert Parker: “The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino is a huge, dense wine that explodes from the glass with tar, smoke, earthiness black cherries and minerals. The wine possesses dazzling concentration and tons of richness, as waves of fruit coat the palate in stunning style. This big, dramatic Brunello needs time in bottle, but it is nothing short of magnificent today. The balance, and the integration of the French oak in particular, is brilliant. For those who are curious to try a bottle now, the wine should be opened a few hours in advance as the tannins are imposing at this stage. This is a rare Brunello of superb pedigree and complexity. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029.”

Who wouldn’t buy the wine after reading this and now it happens to be 2014.. :)Furthermore,  the Californian importer K&L’s Italian Buyer says: “Wow. Sweet, toasty, coffee notes just bursts from the glass however it doesn’t smell as if it is heavily oaked at all it is just the first step into layers of complex aromatics. There are swirls of complex fruit and earth that well up behind the essence of barrique forming a whirlpool of intrigue and obvious complexity that display the wines decisive flavors. On the palate smooth, rippling layers of fleshy sweetness accented with bits of spice, blackberries fill your mouth in a controlled expansion, layering levels of intricacy. The finish is a wonderful movement full of athletic prowess that in effortless grace portrays the wines completeness. This is a masterful wine. Wine is due December 2009”.

Now, in the last critic adds some warnings or notes that should make anyone interested in enjoying a wine for its originality immediately becoming sceptic.. :S It is always, of course, a really good rule to taste for yourself, if possible, before purchasing wines and that way make up your own opinion. However, this brunello is a blend of two totally different sites in Montalcino; 40% from a lower part in the more elegant clayey and sandy Pellagrilli vineyards in the north and 60% from the more sturdy and structured Piancornello in the southern area of Sant’Angelo in Colle. Moreover, Siro Pacenti still makes a great deal about originality, low yields and their specific soil on their website. However, Giancarlo Pacenti raises his brunelli for two years in well toasted barriques focusing on concentration and elegance. 2004 is the most balanced and aromatic vintage in Montalcino if you ask me, while e.g. 2006 is usually richer, little warmer and much more structured.

2004 Siro Pacenti, Brunello di Montalcino

Colour is garnet dark and blood orange red with scarlet-light-orange edges.

After an hours decanting, some peppery green, tiny flowery soap oak notes emerges from the glass but then there is some fine Mediterranean herbs, some lavender, conserved boysenberries, water-on-stone and delicate minerals. However, after two hours, the oak, disappointingly spreads out and takes over completely and covers everything in here that I am sure could be interesting, even though very closed. Even after four hours, the nose is still quiet and unfortunately an overly modern one that I think covers all the interesting aromatics from its origins. On the palate I can recognise some darker minerals, black cherries, maybe coffee and earthy notes, but that is it as the oak aromas spreads out coating everything in here. Now, this is really unfortunate, since sangiovese grosso, “the blood of Jupiter”, is so easily affected by oak and the result is usually that all other aromas are covered and not enhanced, but at worst ruined. In this case I am sure it suffers more from the first problem really, since the wine started out fine just after opening.

Texture is soft and velvet and tannins appears to be fine, but artificial. The acidity is actually great and approachable, but frankly does it really matter. Moreover, it is highly concentrated and quite persistent too, but does these positive characteristics even matter anymore?..

This is so terribly respectless and pointless, since I realise that there is a lot of great fruit and flavours in here, but it has clearly been ruined by over-excessive use of oak. I don’t know if it is the well toasted French Troncais wood that I am supposed to enjoy here, but all brunello flavours and characteristics from the two blended sites in Montalcino’s are surely covered and probably even ruined. This disabuse of the sacred sangiovese grape from such a grand vintage must certainly render a low score. It is fascinating that it gets such top scores even from a few respected wine critics around the world that ought to understand the fragility and delicacy of the sangiovese grape especially when exposed to this level of new and well toasted oak, even when considering that they like modern style wines.


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