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Senior editor Dana Nigro joined Wine Spectator in 1998. She is managing editor of WineSpectator.com.
Dana Nigro

A Tuscan Red That Was Just Right

Mocali Brunello di Montalcino 2003

Dana Nigro
Posted: March 8, 2010

Wine in half-bottles is a wonderful thing; I wish there were more of it. Not only are half-bottles more convenient for a couple having dinner on their own, they’re a great way to try an unfamiliar label before committing to a full bottle, particularly when it comes to pricier wines.

A while back, I had been shopping online for Brunello di Montalcino, and I saw that the retailer had one of them in half-bottles. It was the 2003 Mocali, a brand I had never tried before, from a very ripe vintage that is ready to drink. I figured I could open it soon while my other purchases matured. At $50 for a full bottle, it wouldn’t have appealed to me, but it had been marked down (which seems to have happened to many Brunelli recently) to $20 for the smaller size. So I considered it a nice chance to see if I liked the style and the vintage character.

My husband and I just got around to the Mocali, with a meal of rosemary-scented lamb in tomato sauce, served over rigatoni. Opening with rich berry aromas, the full-bodied wine had pleasantly earthy, spicy flavors that overlaid the ripe blackberry fruit. It melded perfectly with the lamb, whose rosemary, sage and oregano seasoning brought out herb notes on the finish. The cooked tomatoes posed no problem for the wine, which showed enough bright acidity to stand up, more freshness than I expected for a potentially jammy vintage. 90 points, non-blind. With the half-bottle, there were certainly no leftovers to worry about the following night.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Mocali Brunello di Montalcino 2003 (90, $50).

• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among Italian reds.

Jim Mason
St. John's —  March 8, 2010 7:04pm ET
I find a 750ml bottle just about right for myself and the missus. A half bottle is just a tease, especially when drinking Brunello.
Dana Nigro
New York, NY —  March 9, 2010 1:41pm ET
Hey Jim,

True—when it comes to Brunello, a full bottle can go quickly!

I guess the appeal of half-bottles depends when you're eating and whether you have to go to work the next day. With our crazy, conflicting work schedules, dinner is often late and wine is often drunk weeknights not weekends. So half-bottles let us open that Brunello no matter what … and not let a drop go to waste. Then we can save the full bottles for when we have time for a more leisurely meal.


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