You are going to like 2004 Brunello di Montalcino. Do you remember the great 1997 and 2001, as well as the super 1999 Brunellos? Well, 2004 is along those lines of quality, but it's a different style. The vintage produced more perfumed, more refined Brunellos than other recent top vintages. And they are going to be wonderful to drink with two or three more years of bottle age.
I am not sure if 2004 is quite at the same pinnacle of 1997 or 2001, but it produced many excellent wines. I tasted about 125 Brunellos in blind tastings in my office in Tuscany, and I rated close to three-fourths of the wines 90 points or more. That is about the same as 1997 and 2001 in outstanding wines. The only difference is that I haven’t found any 99- or 100-point wines. But they may well come.
I was impressed that the wines from numerous small, family-owned wineries also came out very high, even at the top of my tastings . There are many more new names making top notch Brunello now. So you might be surprised with some of the names that I gave very high points. Of course, my favorite producers, such as Casanova di Neri, Valdicava and Fuligni did not disappoint, as usual.
The key to making outstanding Brunello in 2004 was keeping grape yields down. Apparently, many producers had to cut back their grapes two or three times during the summer to make sure that only the best bunches were left to ripen on the vine. Mother Nature did the same work in other top vintages as 1997 and 2001, when a spring frost reduced the grape crop.
Good winemaking was also necessary. But that is well known now in the region.
Anyway, this is your heads up. I should have a complete report very soon, so I can’t give it all away yet. But if you love Brunello, you are going to dig 2004.