Log In / Join Now

what we're drinking now

Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

A Classic Italian Red That Impresses in One Sip

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva 2001

James Laube
Posted: October 19, 2010

I ran into a group of Wine Spectator readers visiting Napa last week while dining at Oenotri, the new Italian restaurant in downtown Napa, a few blocks from our Napa office.

About midway through dinner, the sommelier said the visitors from Seattle wanted me to try one of their wines. It turned out to be a stunner, Valdicava’s 2001 Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva, a textural masterpiece, with deep, rich, riveting fruit that echoed blackberries, currants and exotic spices.

My friend and I returned the favor, sending them our decanter of 2007 Keplinger Grenache Red Slope from Knights Valley, a delightful wine dancing with vivid red berry flavors.

Even though I only had a sip or two of the Brunello, that was all I needed. This remains a brilliant wine from a great vintage, one that would satisfy any lover of great wine. This wine has years and likely decades ahead of it! 98 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review and see the current auction price for Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Madonna del Piano Riserva 2001 (100 points, $175 on release).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Brunello di Montalicino wines.

Jerry Rosenblatt
Montreal, Canada —  October 19, 2010 9:28pm ET

Love your blog about the Valdicava! I was fortunate enough to be able to buy two bottles when I was in Italy a couple of years ago. In your opinion are they ready to drink now, or should I be waiting a few more years - it's been tough hanging on to these 100-pointers!
James Laube
Napa, CA —  October 20, 2010 12:12pm ET
Hi Jerry, this wine offers the best of both worlds. It drank exceptionally well the other night. Sure that a long decant (an hour or more) is advisable...I'm confident this will be a 25 year wine, so were it mine now and in a good cellar space, I'd wait another two or three years.
Jerry Rosenblatt
Montreal, Canada —  October 21, 2010 8:20am ET
Awesome! Thanks James. I'll take your advice and wait a bit. I have a special birthday in 3 years, sounds like that might be a good time.
Thomas Kobylarz
Hoboken, NJ —  October 21, 2010 8:35am ET
Nice wines, I discovered Keplinger last year at La Toque, same wine but the 2006 and it was an eye opener in its balance, depth, and complexity while still being light on its feet. On our last trip out we met with Helen and tried all the 07s and the Scully Cabernet which she makes for a client, outstanding person, outstanding wines.
Richard Lee
Napa —  October 21, 2010 3:10pm ET
Thanks for the blog. I noticed in your original review of the Keplinger that you stated the wine was best to drink starting in 2012. Since you chose to drink it now has your original drinking dates changed?
James Laube
Napa, CA —  October 21, 2010 3:33pm ET
Hi Richard, I prefer to drink younger wines, and in this instance I chose Helen's wine out of curiosity about the appellation. It is beautifully balanced, drinks well now and should age for another decade or more.
Tim Mc Donald
Napa,CA —  October 21, 2010 5:11pm ET
I like my wines young too but there is nothing like a well aged Brunello from a great producer like Valdicava. I hope you had the salumi course at Oenotri as it is a killer course and it would have probably loved to tango with the Keplinger. With a well made garnacha I would want to open a 2007 now and hopefully purchased enough to taste throughout a case worth of years. 2012 is a crystal ball estimate anyway. You've always said that when you find a small production of something great-buy plenty if you can, as it runs out soon after a high score. Cheers!
Thomas Silvestri
lake grove ny usa —  November 6, 2010 3:46pm ET
Hi James,I had oppurtuniy to purchase the dominus estate cab 2006 at agreat price but didnt. The review i was sent was by RP at 96pts.So being a wine spectator guy i checked your rating on the wine which you gave 86pts.Did i make the right choice not to by.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.