About a week ago, I had a free night so I decided to call a few producers I know well in Montalcino and hook up for dinner. They said that I should come a little early and they would bring some samples of their yet-to-be-released 2003. The wines will be on the market early next year.
I must admit that I didn’t have many expectations for 2003 Brunello. As most of you know, it was incredibly hot during the growing season in 2003, and many of the vineyards in Tuscany were scorched. Many wines are out of balance in 2003, with loads of jammy fruit and too much alcohol. I expected the same from Brunellos, particularly those coming from vineyards on the south side of Montalcino.
Anyway, I spoke too soon. The four 2003 Brunellos I tasted last week were beautiful and very delicious already. They are a fruitier, richer and more flamboyant style than what you might be used to. Their acidities are a little lighter and their tannins a little softer. They remind me of the early-drinking 2000s. but they have a little more fruit on the finish.
Here are my notes for the four wines and all of them were outstanding quality.
2003 EREDI FULIGNI Brunello di Montalcino: This is rich and round with loads of plum, almost jammy character, but comes through rich and long. Layered and very soft yet racy and pretty. Needs a couple of years of bottle age still.
2003 CAPARZO Brunello di Montalcino La Casa: Wonderful aromas of fresh porcini and very rich and opulent fruit. Plum skin. Full and round, with loads of fruit and soft tannins. Round and opulent. Already hard to resist.
2003 CONTI COSTANTI Brunello di Montalcino: Superbright fruit with loads of blackberry and plum. Minerally and floral. Very Sangiovese. Full yet reserved and racy. Very long and balanced. Refined for the vintage. Needs a couple of years.
2003 ALTESINO Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli: Wonderful purity of blackberry and plum skin with just a hint of lilacs on the nose. Full and silky, with chewy tannins and a long finish. This shows loads of smokey, gamy and length. Needs time in the bottle. My favorite of the group.
Roberto Guerrini of Eredi Fuligni explained that it may have been super-hot during the summer in 2003, but “you have to remember that at night it gets cool here. So it worked. The grapes did not suffer as badly as you might think.”
In addition, all the wines I tasted above came from vineyards north of Montalcino, which remain much cooler than the south. This is something to remember.
In any case, I think that Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini, owner of Altesino and Caparzo, had the best comment after the tasting: “They make you want to drink them. They are really good!"