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BdM Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy's Greatest Wines by Kerin O'Keefe
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I read this book on my recent business trip so I thought I would give it a quick review for Brunello fans. It’s a very quick read with a nice history of the region from the very beginning through recent events like the Brunellogate scandal. The last half of the book is dedicated to producer profiles and some tastings notes. I thought the producer profiles were really well done and I have already sought out a few names that were new to me.

She admits up front to having a very strong preference for traditional brunello and pretty much shuns anyone using small French oak barrels. As such she doesn’t even profile some of the popular modern producers like Casanova di Neri, Valdicava and Siro Pacenti. I tend to lean more towards the Biondi-Santi style compared to the Casanova style these days, but my preferences are not as cut and dry as hers.

Some of the book was a little to wine geeky for me, like going into a lot of detail about rootstocks and grape clones. I skimmed those sections, but if you like to geek out there is plenty here for you.

Overall I thought it was a solid read for those wanting to learn more about the history of brunello and to help identify some new producers to try. Not quite as good as having a guided tour of the region by Longboarder though. Cool
 
Posts: 6234 | Location: OC, CA  | Registered: Aug 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for sharing - definitely one I will pick up.


"They speak of my drinking, but never consider my thirst..."
 
Posts: 1837 | Location: Austin, TX | Registered: Sep 07, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by GlennK:
Not quite as good as having a guided tour of the region by Longboarder though. Cool

Big Grin Cool On my bucket list
 
Posts: 15115 | Location: Montreal, QC | Registered: Feb 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You are too kind. It was my pleasure.
 
Posts: 2104 | Location: Virginia | Registered: Aug 22, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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GlennK, thank you. Book sounded familiar to me and should be as it's on my Amazon Wish List! Had not purchased as it's not cheap, even on Amazon, and I was ambivalent without some sort of recommendation. I will now buy.
Thanks again.
 
Posts: 139 | Location: Near NW of Chicago IL | Registered: Jun 25, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks Glenn. I ordered it earlier this week after hearing about it on eBob. Looking forward to reading it after it arrives. Should be here tomorrow or Monday.



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Posts: 10695 | Location: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 17, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by USChelseafan:
Had not purchased as it's not cheap, even on Amazon

I found it at a cheaper price here: http://www.bookdepository.com/...6?selectCurrency=USD
 
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Simon, thanks but that's what I paid for it; and have already read it!
Regarding the book, any knowledgable Brunello fans, other than GlennK out there that have read this yet? Are your thoughts the same as his? My immediate reaction to the book was that I wish I had read it before I bought a number of 2006 Brunellos. Her thought on the vintage was 'over rated'. Ouch!
 
Posts: 139 | Location: Near NW of Chicago IL | Registered: Jun 25, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think she likes taking the contrarian view of the mainstream wine press so you have to take statements like that with a grain of salt. What is interesting about that comment is for the producers that she really likes, she universally loved all of their 06’s that she provided tasting notes for.

I wouldn’t worry if you bought good producers as 06 seems to be universally liked.
 
Posts: 6234 | Location: OC, CA  | Registered: Aug 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Based on what I've tasted so far, I have no concerns about the quality of the 2006 vintage in Montalcino.
 
Posts: 756 | Location: Toronto | Registered: Aug 13, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had good luck loading up on 2005s that she liked (you can find them here http://www.spiralcellars.co.uk...ecanter-may-2010/54/ ) They are drinking beautifully right now and they were a bargain. As I live in Switzerland I usually drive down to fill up the trunk on wine, but last year I could not go so I have no experience at all on 2006. I am going next week to Montalcino and I plan to try a lot of 2006s and 2007s. I hope that I get the book in the mail before I leave as I did not see any article in Decanter this year on Brunello (can you believe those English editors?) and I would like to know what she liked. If the Swisspost betrays me I am glad to learn that the producers that she usually likes made an excellent 2006. Thanks Glenn for letting me know.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by USChelseafan: Had not purchased as it's not cheap.

It's only about the price of a 375 bottle of good brunello; Wink


"The hardest thing to attain ... is the appreciation of difference without insisting on superiority" George Saintsbury
 
Posts: 1469 | Location: DC Suburbs, Potomac MD. | Registered: Dec 12, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was surprised to see a review of O'Keefe's BdM in Times Literary Supplement http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/p...c/article1093898.ece
Good write up from this Cambridge Philosopher, a bit condescending towards US critics but he missed that the author is American! go USA

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Posts: 12 | Registered: Jul 18, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Bartolorules thanks for sharing the link. I love the way he puts it about RP: "The style of these notes often corresponds to the style of the wines their authors prefer. Robert Parker, for example writes loud and fruity descriptions of the loud and fruity wines that achieve his sought-after 90+ points." He puts Kerin O'Keefe in the Broadbent/Coates camp, but I think she just writes about the wines she likes. Fortunately she seems to have a good palate AND a good taste (the 2 things don't necessarily go together for a wine critic). Even though I was a bit disappointed not seeing some of my favorite small Brunello producers profiled in her book (Mocali, Castelli Martinozzi, San Polino) I have to admit that some of the producers in her book that I did not know and that I have been able to taste are truly outstanding and not too expensive (Le Gode and Lambardi for example).
 
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You are welcome. It's interesting that you mention Lambardi as I was reading an old post
quote:
Originally posted by Longboarder:
The best '97 I have had this year was from Lambardi, which is a little known producer that may not export to the US (don't know for sure).

which mentioned Lambardi and I was wishing I could try it. Hopefully it is imported now.
 
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Here in Switzerland I never saw Lambardi, I bought a few bottles last June on my trip to Montalcino. It was a top 5 in my personal ranking of more than 70 Brunellos I tasted. Very earthy and elegant with a wonderful balance, pure Sangiovese at its best.
The staff at Osticcio in "downtown" Montalcino was great as I was able to taste everything I wanted, even the most obscure producers mentioned in the BdM book that I did not know about, such as Aietta which is the smallest. If they did not have a bottle they would tell me: come back tomorrow and we will have it for you. They even had copies of the book for sale, something I was very grateful for, as I had forgetten my copy at home.

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I am in Ravenna right now and I am heading to Montalcino next. I am planning to see at least one winery per sub-zone and this is my list:
Montalcino north Altesino
Montalcino south Fuligni
Bosco Castiglion del Bosco
Tavernelle Caprili
Camigliano Marchesato degli Aleramici
Sant'Angelo Scalo Col d'Orcia
Sant'Angelo in Colle Lisini
Castelnuovo dell'Abate Mastrojanni
Torrenieri Innocenti

Any suggestion about must-see wineries that I need to add is most welcome.
In addition restaurants suggestions, especially those where I can find old Brunellos.
Thanks

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I've met the owner/winemaker for San Polino a couple of times. Great wines and reasonably priced. He said loves to have visitors.
 
Posts: 1075 | Location: Gig Harbor, WA | Registered: Apr 02, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by bartolo rules:
In addition restaurants suggestions, especially those where I can find old Brunellos.
Thanks
Il Giglio in Montalcino has good food and a great wine list.
 
Posts: 6234 | Location: OC, CA  | Registered: Aug 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi Bartolo rules, in case you are still in Montalcino in addition to Giglio (I agree with Glenn, good food and excellent wine list) you might want to try Al Giullare, owned by Padelletti a producer profiled in O'Keefe's book. Food is good and they have really old Padelletti Brunellos, I tried a couple of them and they were excellent (I do not have my notes handy and I can't remember the vintages). For the same reason you might want to eat at La Vineria, owned by Gorelli of Le Potazzine. It is one of the top 10 producers in my view, and they have old bottles. They also have some old Brunellos from other producers as the place is also an enoteca. Have fun in Montalcino!

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Its probably way to late now for any advice, but when its about restaurants/old Brunelli I second Glenn's advise.
Il Giglio's wine list is second to none when it comes to aged Brunelli.
Grappolo Blu and La Vinera are nice options too. As in fact most restaurants in Montalcino have some older Brunelli on their list. But none of them offers the choice of various producers for most relevant vintages way back to the seventies as Il Giglio does.

Please let us know about your experience!


Albert Jochems
- life is to short to drink bad wines -
 
Posts: 718 | Location: The Netherlands | Registered: Aug 19, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for all the suggestions, much appreciated. As I got to Montalcino I soon discovered it was not the ideal time for cellar/tasting visits as grape picking was in full force. It worked out well as walking the vineyards, sometimes even at random, and seeing the results of a full year of work, the excitement of producers and their employees after many worries, makes me appreciate even more those wonderful Brunellos.
I did not get Albert and Simonbeve suggestions in time, so I will have to try Grappolo Blu and Al Giullare next time, but I did try La Vineria and I loved it. It is ideal for lunch, the food is classic and I love to check out the labels before buying a wine, something you can easily do in an enoteca/ristorante. Il Giglio was excellent (thanks GlennK), with amazing food and a cellar you can only dream about.
 
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The question I had for several years about Brunello di Montalcino was the following: Sangiovese is grown across Italy (the first grape variety by volume) and in other countries, why is it that Sangiovese-based wines are much more complex in this small part of Tuscany?
I was pleased that I was finally able to answer my question thanks to O'Keefe's book. Not only she gave the usual "this is what I like", but there are also the tools to understand what is going on in terms of history, geology, soils, climate, viticulture and cellar practices.
This makes it possible to appreciate jewels such as my favorite wine in my latest trip to Montalcino even more.
Il Marroneto 1999 BdM: great balance and solid tannins on the palate, with berry flavors and tertiary aromas developing in a long finish. Still a long life ahead.
What old BdM impress you the most?

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The oldest bottle I had while I was in Montalcino was a BdM Riserva Col d’Orcia 1985. The color was darker compared to brunellos from the classic sub-zone at a much higher altitude and was initially closed, but opened up beautifully with tertiary notes of leather and tobacco, with an impressive freshness and a long finish.
BdM Poggio di Sotto 1999 was the best wine of my trip with intense cherry aromas and a long licorice finish, combined with lively acidity and strong but graceful tannins. Still youthful with a long life ahead.
 
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I read a previous book by Kerin O'Keefe on Franco Biondi Santi, the grandson of Ferruccio and son of Tancredi, the inventors of Brunello di Montalcino. The book was published in 2004 at first in italian and then in english by Veronelli Editore, the publishing house of the guru of Italy's food and wine, the great Luigi Veronelli. It seems incredible to say it now, but at the time the book first came out nobody was talking about Biondi Santi positively. I got the book in italian after reading an excellent review (in italian), published in 2005 and still available on the internet http://www.winereport.com/wine...goria=19&IDNews=1458 by Franco Ziliani. He said that Franco Biondi Santi was considered as "an old fogey, a stick-in-the-mud, a man incapable to understand the present and the necessity, for Brunello, to evolve and align towards the needs of today's consumer".
If the French had somebody like Franco Biondi Santi they would have put him on a pedestal, instead he was mocked by the notables of italian wine. A few years have gone by and, fortunately, many things have changed as many observers changed their tune and recognized the greatness of Biondi Santi, such as Gambero Rosso in Italy.
There was also Brunellogate which exposed all the contradictions of Montalcino and its producers. But the battle for authentic Brunello, as the expression of a unique terroir is not won yet, as demonstrated by the recent attempts to change the production code in order to allow other grapes in addition to Sangiovese.
I was hoping for an italian edition of her book, but nothing came out so far, so I guess I will have to read it in english.
 
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