Montalcino, 2008 vintage: 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.
2008 – Brunello
2008 **** (four)
2008 Growing season: Jan Erbach of Pian dell’Orino told me ‘it rained a lot in spring 2008, causing downy mildew pressure, and wet soils meant it was a problem getting the first treatment on the vineyard.’ 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, p.277). Dry weather followed, allowing the possibility that damaged berries be removed. Some rain during harvest. Jan Erbach of Pian dell’Orino told me ‘2008 brought very good September and October, cool and hot but sunny.’ 2008 ‘was a cool year with high diurnal temperature differences,’ says Walter Speller (2013). Patient picking required.
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 supplement).
‘The 2008s are decidedly mid-weight wines with excellent freshness but modest structure. A number of producers told me they would not bottle their highest-end selections…less consistent than either 2006 or 2010,’ (Antonio Galloni). ‘In 2008 the Sangiovese shows blue fruit, a characteristic of the year. It can be austere, it’s a high acid year but it will age,’ Lorenzo Magnelli of Le Chiuse told me.
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.
Antonio Galloni, ‘2006 Brunello: The Emperor’s New Clothes or Historic Vintage?’, Vinous.com
Kerin O’Keefe, Brunello di Montalcino – Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines (University of California Press, 2012).
Walter Speller, ‘Brunello di Montalcino 2008’, www.jancisrobinson.com, 11 Jan 2013