Big Splurges $75+, Red; Mostly Napa Cabs, Tastings

“Noble” Brunello di Montalcino Tasting

Brunello di Montalcino is widely regarded as one of the three “noble wines” of Italy, the others being Barolo and Amarone [Super Tuscan lovers, hold your boos.] Produced exclusively around the village of Montalcino using a particular variety of the Sangiovese grape, the ‘Sangiovese Grosso’, a Brunello di Montalcino must be made with 100% Sangiovese, and be aged a minimum of 4 years, including 2 in the barrel and 4 months in the bottle.

Gary is a Brunello booster. His appreciation for this “beautiful, expressively complex” wine has grown in recent years, and our little cellar was getting nicely stocked with Brunello Di Montalcino wines from 2015 and 2016—both considered outstanding years. A tasting was in order. Chef Gary made his famous three-meat Bolognese, which is touted as an excellent complement to Brunello Di Montalcino. We selected four wines to taste and invited four red wine-drinking but Brunello-novice wine lovers to join us.

Experts advise aging your bottles for a minimum of five years, and preferably more than 10 years, to savor Brunello di Montalcino at its peak. The two 2015 and two 2016 vintages we tasted were young, but we lacked the patience to wait any longer.

The universal favorite was also the least expensive wine:
Palagetto, Bellarina 2016; Brunello di Montalcino DOCG; $37 at Vivino

At the close of the tasting, we could say with certainty that homemade Bolognese is indeed a lovely complement to Brunello. In fact, we raved more about the dinner than the wines. Maybe in another five years we will revisit these vintages and see if better things come to those who wait.

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