VINTAGES IN MONTALCINO 2000-2009 | Comments apply to all wines coming from the town of Montalcino, not just Brunello. However the star ratings from one to five given below are those given by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino specifically for Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
2009 **** (four)
2009 Growing season | Wet weather into July, useful because a very hot, dry summer followed (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p277).
2009 Wine style | Very ripe Brunellos, low acidity levels, offer early accessibility and soft flavours but dubious cellaring potential,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy). In my report for the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards (for which I was Tuscany Chair) I wrote that ‘2009 is a big but not necessarily beautiful vintage for Brunello if you are expecting the majority of the wines to age and improve for more than a decade. The very best might, but plenty won’t. Start drinking up.’
2009 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,918 hectares for Brunello and 476 hectares for Rosso producing 82,568hl of Brunello and 23,330hl of Rosso respectively.
2008 **** (four)
2008 Growing season | Plentiful spring rain. This caused downy mildew pressure. Wet soils made getting the first treatment on the vines problematic. Average summer temperatures. Hail on 15th August in the south of Montalcino. Hail caused a 40% drop in yields in much of Sant’Angelo (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p277). Dry weather followed, allowing the possibility that damaged berries be removed. 2008 ‘was a cool year with high diurnal temperature differences,’ says Walter Speller (2013).
2008 Wine style | 2008 ‘has resulted in wines generally high in acidity with some pretty firm tannins. The contrast with the ripe, plush 2007s couldn’t be more marked, but while 2008 is uneven, in several cases it is also more elegant. It is a vintage in which the best terroirs shine. In the region itself, 2008 is described as a ‘Burgundian vintage’. Fruit ripeness was key in the cooler 2008 vintage, and a real balancing act to achieve. Although the general belief is that the more southerly, lower lying and therefore warmer vineyards had an advantage in 2008, some of the wines are so ripe and already so mature they hardly deserve to be labelled Brunello, much less deserve prolonged bottle ageing,’ says Walter Speller (2013). ‘Balance, size, and ageing potential,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).
2008 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,861 hectares for Brunello and 493 hectares for Rosso producing 75,513hl of Brunello and 20,658hl of Rosso respectively.
2007 ***** (five)
2007 Growing season | Mild winter with little rain. ‘A year with no winter.’ High spring temperatures. Moderate summer. Much needed rain in August. Slightly earlier harvest than normal.
2007 Wine style | ‘Big, bold fruit and soft tannins…were generously bestowed in 2007,’ says Walter Speller (2013). ‘Suprisingly well-balanced wines of real breed and power despite some excessive summer heat,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).
2007 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,916 hectares for Brunello and 485 hectares for Rosso producing 84,818hl of Brunello and 23,382hl of Rosso respectively.
2006 ***** (five)
2006 Growing season | Wet winter without any really cold temperatures. Late bud burst. Vine caught up at mid-summer. Dry summer to compensate for a wet spring. Overall considered a relatively cool year. ‘Long, coolish growing season,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).
2006 Wine style | The wines were somewhat angular upon first release but the best wines from lower-yielding vines on warmer sites should show well in time. ‘Overrated. Many unbalanced, with massive tannins, low acidity, soaring alcohol,’ (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p277). ‘Wines that will develop slowly, with complexity and refinement,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).
2006 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,750 hectares for Brunello and 212 hectares for Rosso producing 83,633hl of Brunello and 12,558hl of Rosso respectively.
2005 **** (four)
2005 Growing season | Overall, a cooler than normal season. A year in which the better growers prepared to select only the best grapes had the edge.
2005 Vintage | Harvest rain compromised the crop (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p277). Francesco Leanza of Salicutti told me 2005 was a hard vintage in which to get grapes fully ripe (at the winery Thursday afternoon, 24 Feb 2011).
2005 Wine style | Elegant, almost delicate, not complex, do not have ageworthy structures (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p277). ‘Midweight wines of average ageing potential,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).
2005 Production | The vineyard area comprised 2,024 hectares for Brunello and 247 hectares for Rosso producing 83,616hl of Brunello and 10,685hl of Rosso respectively.
2004 ***** (five)
2004 Growing season | The cold winter of 2003-04 helped the vines go into dormancy, allowing them to recharge their batteries for what was to prove a really exceptional year in Montalcino. Spring was cool and usefully wet, a perfect start to the help the vine’s growing cycle after the very dry heat of 2003. Throughout summer and during the harvest period [which began around the third week in September, a ‘return to normal’ after some very early vintages] the weather consisted of long, warm, sunny days and fresh nights. These consistent daily temperature differences resulted in red wines combining markedly deep colours, beautifully structured tannins and rich mouthfeel from the abundant, ripe sugars in the grapes. ‘Generally powerful wines of noteworthy cellaring potential. Sangiovese reached perfect maturation throughout the growing zone,’ (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p277).
2004 Wine style | ‘A gorgeous vintage. Impeccable balance, serious ageing potential,’ (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p277). ‘Brunellos from the southern sectors can be excessively warm and ripe with little nuance,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).
2004 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,944 hectares for Brunello and 227 hectares for Rosso producing 95,764hl of Brunello and 12,154hl of Rosso respectively.
2003 **** (four)
2003 Vintage | ‘One of the hottest, driest vintages ever. Higher altitude vines near the town fared best. Lowest vineyards in the south suffered the worst,’ (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p276). Stressed vines, shut down.
2003 Wine style | ‘Overrated. Cooked fruit, low acidity, bitter tannins,’ (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p276).
2003 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,903 hectares for Brunello and 228 hectares for Rosso producing 70,999hl of Brunello and 13,883hl of Rosso respectively.
2002 ** (two)
2002 VINTAGE | ‘Terrible vintage, torrential rains at harvest time. Higher reaches close to Montalcino fared the worst,’ (Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, p276). ‘Wet, miserable year,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).
2002 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,635 hectares for Brunello and 180 hectares for Rosso producing 72,225hl of Brunello and 9,179hl of Rosso respectively.
Burton Anderson, Vino – The Wines and Winemakers of Italy (London, 1982).
Ian D’Agata, 2016, Decanter Italy Supplement 2016, p98, ‘Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Rufina & Chianti Classico’.
James Suckling, ‘Travel Log: First Impressions of 2015 Brunello, 28 August 2019 (jamessuckling.com, retrieved 1st Sept 2019).
Kerin O’Keefe, 2007, ‘Brunello di Montalcino 1967-1997’, World of Fine Wine 17 (2007), p34-35.
Kerin O’Keefe, 2012, Brunello di Montalcino (University of California Press, 2012).
Richard Baudains, 2017, ‘Brunello 2012’, Decanter, August 2017, p42-47.
Walter Speller, 2013, ‘Brunello di Montalcino 2008’, jancisrobinson.com, 11 January 2013.