Montalcino, 2012 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.

2012 ***** (five)

2012 Growing season | Dry winter, cold. Early spring. ‘Uneven flowering due to copius spring rains, reduced yields, summer heat,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy)‘Hot, very dry summer with no rain from July to mid-September, exacerbated by three days of sirocco, the hot, dry wind  from the Sahara, which not only raised temperatures by day but kept them high at night,’ says Richard Baudains (2017). See comments by Jan Erbach of Pian dell’Orino on how his vines reacted in 2012 and the implications for wine style. Small clusters with compact grapes. Low yields, the severity of which varied across the production zone.

2012 Wine style | ‘The defining features of the vintage are depth of colour, massive extract, and high alcohol. The downside [is] baked, leathery aromas, tannins are hard and underripe, peppery and flat,’ says Richard Baudains (2017). Francesco Leanza of Salicutti called the 2012 Brunello wines ‘Brunelloso’, meaning big, brawny. Jan Erbach of Pian dell’Orino told me ‘the vines in 2012 were in some way closed you could say, they did not grow as big as normal [shorter shoots, smaller leaves, small clusters with compact grapes]. So even though 2012 gave concentrated wines I am not so sure the wines will also have the depth one might expect from such a hot, dry growing season.’ Marco Sassetti of Il Palazzone reported ‘very low yields in 2012, both in terms of the grapes we allowed to thrive on the vine and brought into the cellar, but also in terms of juice from the fruit. The colour, polyphenols and so on come from the skins and in 2012 the ratio of skins to juice was very much skewed towards the skins. As a result the wines [of] amazing concentration, colour and structure.

In my report for the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards blind tasting competition (for which I was Tuscany Chair) I wrote ‘The hot 2012 vintage has produced appealing, forward Brunellos whose unusually dark fruit is starting to peak in the lower-priced wines.’ The best wines show balanced acidity and tannins, and offer flexible drinking until the early- to mid-2020s. ‘Some wines with gritty tannins,’ (Ian D’Agata 2016 Decanter Italy).

2012 Production | The vineyard area comprised 1,932 hectares for Brunello and 487 hectares for Rosso producing 65,993hl of Brunello and 20,905hl of Rosso respectively.

Bibliography

Richard Baudains, 2017, ‘Brunello 2012’, Decanter, August 2017, p42-47.