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Roaming Through Brunello

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Oct 1, 2006 4:52am ET

As you might expect, I’ve tasted dozens of great wines on my Tuscan holiday.

Spent a couple of days in Brunello di Montalcino, at Altesino and Fuligni. From what the owners and winemakers say, the quality of the 2006 harvest--which is either finished or ending in many areas in Tuscany--is very high.

“Five stars,” Roberto Fuligni said of his Brunello crop. That's his highest rating.

It’s easy to complain about wine prices from afar and not be aware of the intensity of harvest.

Here in the middle of the battlefield, so to speak, it’s heartening to see the passion, dedication and effort put into growing the grapes and shepherding them through fermentation, aging in the cellar, into the bottle and off to market.

I’ve now tasted more than 100 wines in a few days.

But for me, for now, the most interesting wine comes from d’Alessandro, in Cortona. Its main red wine is made entirely from Syrah, and the owner and winemaker, Massimo d’Alessandro, has an amazing vineyard.

The former architecture professor from Rome has seemingly studied every angle and possibility in choosing Syrah, and he says rather matter of factly: “Sangiovese doesn’t work here.”

His Syrahs have impeccable balance, depth and richness.

Standing with him in his vineyard, watching his grapes dry for vin santo, or tasting his young wines in his office, has been a great experience--one that I won’t soon forget.

He is, in my mind, a great wine architect.

Michael Culley
October 2, 2006 9:55am ET
JL...if you like syrah, go up to Cortona and pick up a bottle of Il Castagno...2003 was, I think, the first vintage and the vines are still fairly young from what I've been told. I sold the Alessandro 1995 syrah back in the States and it was like pulling teeth. Now it probably walks out the door. If I'm not mistaken, the winery is not open for visits except for giornalisti....vero?
Sean Norris
Dallas, TX —  October 9, 2006 4:19pm ET
I have been to his home on a number of occasions and while he is delightful (and a little quirky) his wines are fabulous. I have a few remaining bottles of Il Bosco at home, as well as 4 grappa and the last remaining drops of olive oil. Is he still growing (not so legally according to him) viognier?

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