Last weekend, Fattoria dei Barbi owner and winemaker Stefano Cinelli Colombini hosted the “birth of Brunello” event at the winery: Guests had the opportunity to taste the newly “racked” wine shortly after fermentation had been completed. This week, Francesca Puliti, who attended one of the tastings, shared her impressions and notes on the popular Italian food and wine blog Scatti di Gusto. The following is our translation of her post from the original in Italian.
Ruby red, with hints of violet. Elegant on the nose and smooth on the palate with a lingering finish. But that’s if you get the chance to taste it in five years. It’s the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino, made from grapes that ripened with nearly ideal weather conditions and harvested between the end of September and the first week of October. [At the time of publication] this future Brunello is ready to be “racked,” in other words, the winemaker is about to empty the tanks that had been filled with the new harvest grapes. The grape must has already produced a first fermentation. And now it will be transferred to oak casks where it will spend at least a couple of years.
If you ever happen to visit Montalcino during this time of year, take advantage of your stay to find your way into one of the wineries that give you to opportunity to take part in the process, like the Fattoria dei Barbi, one of the oldest producers of Brunello, today led by Stefano Cinelli Colombini. You’ll have the chance to witness one of those crucial moments in which winemaker decides on the fate of a given wine.
The racking is a fundamental moment when the cellar master (in Fattoria dei Barbi’s case, Maurizio Cecchini) constantly stirs the liquid in the tanks and tastes it every so often to take stock of the fermentation and the level of sugars. He then determines when the wine is ready to continue its journey.
In a vintage like this one, the tanks are all nearly empty by mid-October. But you might still be fortunate enough to get to taste a sample of this newly born Brunello di Montalcino. It’s not clear or transparent like the wine you are accustomed to drinking. It hasn’t yet evolved in its flavor and aroma. But it’s rich in flavors that come from the grape variety and from the yeasts. And it’s still slightly acidic.
At first taste, the 2016 Brunello is rich and full-bodied, just like its brothers that came before it over the last 10 years. The vintages were relatively similar in terms of weather and they were all marked by an important factor: The age of the Sangiovese vines. Over the last years in Montalcino, they have been reaching the right age for producing their best fruit.
While you’re waiting to taste the Brunello di Montalcino 2016, you can console yourselves with a glass or two of wines from previous vintages, like the Barbi Brunello 2010 or the riserva from 2005. And even better: A bottle of Brunello Vigna del Fiore, produced with grapes from a single vineyard that grows over six hectares with the best exposure among the Fattoria dei Barbi’s estate…
Scatti di Gusto