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Forgotten Brunello Tasting Notes

Posted: Sep 27, 2007 4:49pm ET

I just found some notes in my back pocket of my jeans while walking down the street in Havana. They are a bit soggy from all the humidity in the air. They are tasting notes of Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto – the fantastic single vineyard wine from the great Brunello di Montalcino producer.

I was with Giacomo Neri a few weeks ago at a dinner at his winery and he laid on the 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2001. I am a great fan of this superb Sangiovese. It has an incredible raciness despite great concentration and structure. Here are my notes and non-blind scores:

1995: Intense aromas of blackberry and mint follow through to a full body, with rich tannins and a long caressing finish. Totally ready and totally delicious. 91 points, non-blind.

1997: This shows lots of velvety and soft tannins now with a full body and loads of coffee, jammy and berry character. Ready. 93, non-blind.

1999: I liked this the best of all the Cerretalto that night for drinking, even though it was very young still. It has an amazing nose of dark chocolate with cherries and blackberries. It’s full and very velvety, with a fresh and racy finish. Big and rich and better in four or five years, but who can wait? 97, non-blind.

2000: Lots of blackberry and mineral aromas follow through to a full body with mineral and dried flower character and blackberries. Velvety texture. Drink now. 93, non-blind.

2001: This is still a perfect wine but some of the mineral, floral and new wood character has turned to pure, crushed blueberries with black licorice. It’s full-bodied, with racy velvety tannins and a long, long finish. This is powerful and very rich. Leave it for another seven to 10 years. 100, non-blind.

Cerretalto is not made every vintage, but only in the best years. The only one missing in the dinner was the 1998, but I have never been a great fan of that.

I also had the chance to taste a sample of the unreleased 2003 Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova. It was outstanding quality, but like many of the 2003 Brunellos I have had so far, it had a lot of jammy fruit yet remained fresh and structured.  It should be interesting to taste them in January just before they go in the bottle.

Marcel De Vries
Netherlands —  September 28, 2007 6:16am ET
I have several bottles of 1999 and 2001. I can't hardly wait if I see your comments to drink them
Greg Hedrick
Virginia —  September 28, 2007 8:26am ET
James,I was wondering if you were going to include this tasting in your blog. I agree, the '99 was drinking beautifully. Hope to see you in NYC. And no, you can't have my forum name.
James Suckling
 —  September 28, 2007 11:54am ET
Hey Greg. It was fun sharing those bottles with you with Giacomo the other night. May be I can be Longboarder2....
Roberto Cassis
Ecuador —  September 28, 2007 2:55pm ET
Hello James, I found some bottles of 1997 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto here in Firenze near the Duomo.The price price is ok, but do you think is a good buy or not?
Albert Jochems
The Netherlands —  September 28, 2007 3:43pm ET
Great update on the Cerretalto. And good to see that the 2000 (the only one I have) is in good shape right now.

Would you say that this lineup is representative for current status of the same vintages for other Brunelli?
Nick Kosick
British Columbia, Canada —  September 30, 2007 6:41am ET
Hi James, great tasting notes... really happy to see the 2000 scored well amongst the others. We are the importers for Neri up here and have been pleased to introduce all of these vintages, aside from the 1995, to our market but have always been particularly impressed with the quality of the 2000 despite the vintage... nice to see your positive comments. happy smoking in Havana.... /Nick.
David Lobe
Toronto, —  October 1, 2007 12:48pm ET
I just had the 1997 Cerretalto and although it did not show as well as other bottles, was still classic for me at 95 points. This is exceptional wine and a must try if you are into Italian wine.
Michael Schulman
Westlake Village, CA —  October 1, 2007 1:37pm ET
James,Just got back from 10 days in Tuscany. Spent some time with Giocomo (whom I met last year at the Grand Tour in Vegas) and his wife at their place. They were just bringing in the harvest that afternoon. Tasted a lot of their wines and picked up 3 bottles of 2001 Cerretalto to take home. Can't wait for the new Tenuta. Keep up the great job.

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