1997 Brunello: Drink or Hold?

So it's been a while since we've discussed what to do with our 1997 Brunellos.

Has anyone had any good experiences with these wines lately? If so, which ones, and how did you decant them?

What are your biggest disappointments of the 1997 Brunellos? While you might expect Brunello to be shut down for a while, these are 8 year old wines now. Do you think these wines have the structure (i.e., acidity) for extended aging.

I've spoken to several very knowledgeable people about this, and they advice has ranged from, "You better drink them now because they won't last" to "They still need 5 more years before they'll open up." I'm very skeptical of the latter position, but what do you guys think?

Best,
Dan
Original Post
We have had this discussion recently on a TN I think.

quote:
I would expect everything I've purchased to go a minimum of ten years, still improving into the teens, then plateauing.


I have said it before, so I'll say it again. IMO, based on several tastings this year (my own and others) - I highly doubt every 97 will age as good as some think or hope and I assure you some will NOT be better in 10 years. 99 is the better aging vintage. I'll stick to it.

A difference of opinion. Brunellos can age, but are some of you just looking to see how long they go or do you want to try some of them in their prime. Prime for many is next year - 5 years tops. Holding some of these for 10 more years is a big risk, and IMO a poor one. brunello is a delicate wine, and is beautiful when aged properly, but it's no easy 15+ years across the board like most Amarones or Barolo. I had a 1988 Banfi last year that was absolute dust.

Futronic will now say something like: "You can drink yours, I'll hold mine" and maybe a Smile after. Before he says that, I will say that these are holds (I have plenty and am holding most), but if you don't taste a little over the next few years, you'll be sorry if you have a lot. Not all Brunello are the same. You need to evaluate certain producers from time to time.

Enjoy! Smile
I think as per the other thread you will get disagreement on this subject. I tend to agree with futronic as well but it also depends on how you like your wines. Some like younger wines and more importantly, like Hunter said, it depends on the producer. Most of the '97's I have I have already tasted and I'm confident they will hold up for quite a while. As for the Banfi that started this orginal discussion in the other thread, I will bring one to the next offline Board-O attends as I have several bottles and we'll see how it's coming along. With that being said there still may be a difference of opinion. Smile
quote:
Most of the '97's I have I have already tasted and I'm confident they will hold up for quite a while.


Hold up or improve? That is the debate I think - or at least where my point is coming from. I have little doubt they'll hold. I have doubt certain bottles will improve.

Ok, now someone open something soon. I did the last time. Smile
Challenge accepted. Cool I'll open something this month and post my thoughts, for what they're worth. I also believe that these wines will just be entering their prime window in the next year or so and that most good ones will hold for a decade or more. I hope I'm right, as I've got more than a couple cases sleeping!! Eek

PH
The last '97 I opened (Siro Pacenti) was disappointing but not for the normal reasons. The wine had a strong SO2 aroma that actually caused my eyes to become irritated. I believe it was flawed (double dose of SO2 at bottling or something like that). Prior to that, the last '97 I tasted (in June) was the Pian delle Vigne which I gave 95 points. Maybe I am lucky but I have tasted this wine on 3 different occasions over the past year and it was great every other time.

Just wondering what Hunter thinks will improve over the next few years. I have the following that are sleeping:

La Poderina
Lisini Ugolaia
Siro Pacenti
Poggio all'Oro
Podere Salicutti
Il Poggione Riserva
Caparzo La Casa
Pian delle Vigne

Any others can chime in.
Futronic,
Which 1997's have you had lately, and how were they drinking? I can understand wines being shut down a few years after bottling, but these are now 8 year old wines. I'm reluctant to think that any wine that is shut down now will suddenly blossom with a few more years of bottle age. But I'd of course be interested to hear everyone else's opinions.
Dan
I have only had two 1997 Brunello in the past year, and both were fantastic. The La Gerla was probably on the young side but at a good point to drink. The Pertimali is a serious, serious keeper with miles to go yet in my opinion. I was blown away.
  • 1997 Pertimali (Livio Sassetti) Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (8/25/2005)
    Wow, and I mean a serious WOW!!! The complexity and depth of flavor on this young wine is just scary. Cherry, balsa wood, leather, espresso, and bitter chocolate all come through on the nose. On the palate this is simply gorgeous with rich fruit that balances impeccably against long, silky tannins, very present acidity and a leathery old world personality. This is just so packed with complex flavors it is hard to put words on it, but the expressiveness and complexity are almost scary for such a young wine. This is the real deal, and I am regretting having just two more bottles of this beauty. Hands off for at least 5 years! (96 pts.)
  • 1997 Fattoria La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (12/9/2004)
    It has been more than a year since I have checked in on a 1997 Brunello from my cellar, so I figured it was time to give one a shot. I would like to say that I put a ton of thought into which one to pick (I had 21 to choose from), but this is simply the first one I grabbed...

    Wow, this is a really nice Brunello. I don't really understand what the Wine Spectator tasted with an 81 point rating, but it was not this wine. I started around 88 and moved up. The nose is one of those you can smell more than a foot from the glass, not kidding. Pine needle and a hint of vanilla increasingly moves to balsa and lots of saddle leather. The palate is gorgeously balanced, pure and deep, quite vibrant with delicate sweetness and a hint of black cherry, tangy and bittersweet, yet with that austerity and firmness that you want in a nice Brunello. Despite a little sweetness, this is no gobby 1997 though, as the acidity and structure are top notch. While I normally find Brunello very drying on the finish, this wine is a little more giving and balanced than most. Don't get me wrong, while sipped on its own this is crying out for some sort of roast beast to complement it, but it is still awfully nice, well done! (92 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker
quote:
I don't really understand what the Wine Spectator tasted with an 81 point rating, but it was not this wine.


JS retasted this wine later, and revised his score to an 89. I haven't had it in a while, but after tasting my first, bought 3 more. Definitely 90+.

PH
quote:
Just wondering what Hunter thinks will improve over the next few years. I have the following that are sleeping:

La Poderina
Lisini Ugolaia
Siro Pacenti
Poggio all'Oro
Podere Salicutti
Il Poggione Riserva
Caparzo La Casa
Pian delle Vigne


LongBoarder, sounds like that Siro was off and bad.

As far as what you have - you have great stuff (well done!). Some of the best of the vintage. Do you have 3 of each or a case of each? That's what it comes down to for me. I have tasted everything you have within the last 2 years except the Poggione and the Lisini.

While I would argue that a couple like the Caparzo and La Poderina (more giving) are in the prime window now - 3 years, you have big hitters there. All will hold strong, and most will get better but i do not think there are a lot of "magical characteristics" that will come out (even with some of these) 7 years from now to make the wines better - which is my point. I would hold most of your lot though. You seem to know your stuff based on what you bought.

That is why JS has a drink or hold on the vintage now and with a few exceptions (riservas and more traditional tannic wines), I agree with that. Nothing sadder for me than past prime or weakened BdM. It's dissapointing and can taste like a Chianti - except you paid $50 or $60 for that "Chianti!" and waited 10 years to drink it Wink

Like I said, you bought well though!

EDIT: I just read Eric Levine's post. HIS notes above prove the point. Try a few. I read the first one as a "probably hold", but could drink and the La Gerla as a "could hold", but I'd "Drink Now". All BdM is not the same.
I only have a few 1997 Brunellos, but they are all very high quality (Castelgiocondo Reserva and a couple of others). I will not be touching any of them for at least another 3-5 years.

Also, I drank a 1995 Barbi and a 1995 Banfi last year and they were both excellent. There was no hurry to drink them as they will last for a while longer. 1997 should be better.
Hunter,

To answer your question, I think they'll not only hold, but improve, that's just based on what I have purchased. Pretty much agree with your advice to Longboarder,

quote:
All will hold strong, and most will get better


I don't know about 'magical characteristics' coming out in these (or any other wines for that matter) but I'm willing to wait for improvement even if nothing 'magical' happens as I have many other wines that I can drink now.
quote:
Originally posted by mwagner7700:
I agree with holding. Not from experience with any 1997's... but judging how beautifully the 1995's are drinking now (also, another very good vintage), I would assume the '97's could use a few more years.


I'm hesitant to draw comparisons between the 1995's and the 1997's. They were very different vintages, and the 1995's are obviously much more structured wines from a much more typical vintage.
quote:
Originally posted by Emilio:
I don't know about 'magical characteristics' coming out in these (or any other wines for that matter) but I'm willing to wait for improvement even if nothing 'magical' happens as I have many other wines that I can drink now.

The most magical thing that could emerge is far greater aromatic complexity. The most memorable Brunello of my life had one of the more magical and soaring noses I have ever smelled on any wine. I have no idea if any of my myriad 1997's will turn into anything approaching this 1990, but if they do I will be a happy man...
  • 1990 Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino (8/27/2003)
    Suzi, Eric and Sid's Trip to Italy; 8/21/2003-9/4/2003 (Tuscany & Bellagio, Italy): (Dinner at La Chiusa) This wine was one of the highlights of my entire trip. The bottle was in impeccable condition, perfectly cellared. OMG! A soaring nose of pine resin, mushroom, earth, and licorice with amazing intensity and complexity. The bouquet was pouring out of the glass. On the palate this has remarkable sweetness, purity, earthiness, dustiness. In a word, this was sublime. Initially the finish was tight and dominated by acid, but within 30 minutes it fattened and lengthened. Long, smooth, complex, suprisingly powerful, highly acidic, but simply unreal with food. An amazing wine!!! (97 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker
Alright ... here are the '97s I've tasted in the past 18 months:

Armilla
Castelnuovo dell'Abate
Castiglion del Bosco
Col d'Orcia Riserva Poggio Al Vento
Poggio Antico Altero
Poggio Salvi
Poggio San Polo

Of these, some were okay, some were quite good, with a definite upside. The tannins weren't integrated enough for my liking, and a lot of the secondary nuances that define Brunello for me were hidden behind the wall. With a couple exceptions, I think there was still enough fruit to last. Admittedly, not all of these are top performers, so I will extrapolate based on how these showed combined with the history of my favourite estates to determine the longevity of what's in my cellar.

Here are the '97s in my cellar:

Antinori
Banfi Riserva Poggio All'Oro
Barbi
Costanti
Frescobaldi Riserva
Fuligni
Fuligni Riserva
Poggio Antico
Poggio Antico Riserva
Poggio Salvi

Most of these I have a few bottles of, while a couple I have one. For those that I have multiple bottles, I'll probably start tasting them come 2007, especially since I can't replace them in the Ontario market.

That said, I had the opportunity to buy some '97 Costanti at Premier Cru (I think they still have some), and so I'm bringing two bottles to the Vegas offline next month. I look forward to tasting them, and I'll be sure to report on its progress.

As has been stated in this thread, how evolved people like their wine is a personal preference. For my palate, I like my wine more mature - but not dead.

For those that brought 1990 into the picture, people said that vintage was quite hot as well and that the wines wouldn't age properly. Well, Eric already mentioned his experience with the Ciacci, and I've posted notes on a fabulous Riserva from Poggio Antico, which I'm very happy to have more of.

Based on what I've put in my cellar, I think I have some great stuff to drink over the next 5-10 years.
As for the 1990's, they're certainly more structured than the 1997's. Infact, I'd say 1990 was more akin to 1995 than 1997.

I've had two 1997's recently, the Argiano and the Poggio Salvi, and I have them 92 and 93 points respectively. That having been said, the 1997 Poggio Salvi was showing more depth, complexity, and intrigue, not to mention assertiveness, 2 or 3 years ago, and I don't see this particular wine improving at all from this point forward.

While Brunello is produced in a relatively small area and (supposedly) from 100% sangiovese, perhaps it's more wise to talk about individual wines than the vintage as a whole. However, certainly an offline would provide lots of illumination.

Jay, I can't make it up to Toronto due to medical school, but you should consider coming down here if we end up getting something together.

Best,
Dan
quote:
Originally posted by Hunter:
[QUOTE] Do you have 3 of each or a case of each? That's what it comes down to for me. I have tasted everything you have within the last 2 years except the Poggione and the Lisini.



Hunter - I have a six pack of each except for the Ugolaia (only 3). I would agree with you on the La Casa. I forgot to mention I tasted this in July and it is right in its window currently. The nose is fantastic. Actually got to taste it at the estate in a blind tasting against the '98, '99 and the '00. By the way, the '00 is a tannic bastard right now. Hard to tell what it really might have in the future.

Thanks for the complements on my purchases. I am lucky and get to travel to Italy on business several times each year. I always take some time to visit the Montalcino area and try estates that I have not visited before. The people are great and actually remember you when you happen to return to one of your favorites. I was able to taste almost all the '97's I bought at the estates which helped me make my own decisions instead of "point chasing".
I have drunk more than three dozen 1997 Brunelli over the summer, and I continue to be amazed by their wonderful quality. They are fresh, balanced, rich and structured. They are wines with wonderful balance for great longevity. I even did a dinner with a dozen 1997 Brunelli and a dozen 1997 Baroli with producers from each area including Giacosa and Pacenti. But that's a column for the magazine. I am sorry people have their doubts, but it's just not true. 1997 is a superlative vintage. You can drink them now, if you decant them before serving to give them some air or hold them for another decade, at least.

I keep wondering if some of the bad bottles in the states that many of you mention are through poor shipping or storage. My bottles were bought in Tuscany and have never left my temperature controlled cellar there.
quote:
While Brunello is produced in a relatively small area and (supposedly) from 100% sangiovese, perhaps it's more wise to talk about individual wines than the vintage as a whole.


My point exactly. Well said. I rest my case....Don't rest yours too long (PI) Smile
quote:
Originally posted by James Suckling:
I even did a dinner with a dozen 1997 Brunelli and a dozen 1997 Baroli with producers from each area including Giacosa and Pacenti. But that's a column for the magazine.


Looking forward to that!

I have obtained (thanks Louzarius) several '97s recently:
Altesino Montosoli
Antinori Pian delle Vigne
Lisini Riserva Ugolaia
Banfi Poggio all'Oro Riserva
Banfi Poggio alle Mura
Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo
Poggio San Polo
Banfi
Villa Poggio Salvi
La Magia Riserva

The only one I have tried is the La Magia Riserva, and it seemed to me (based on my very limited experience) to be early in its window, but in its window.

I can't afford six packs or cases, nor have I had an opportunity to taste before buying most of my brunellos. So I have only one bottle of most of my brunello collection.

I'm going to try to err on the early side with the less well-regarded wines, and use my experiences there to decide if waiting on the more special bottles seems smart.

It's a bad plan, I know, b/c the producers make different styles. So I'm also relying on y'alls tasting notes for the ones I'm saving. So keep posting, please.
quote:
Originally posted by James Suckling:

I keep wondering if some of the bad bottles in the states that many of you mention are through poor shipping or storage. My bottles were bought in Tuscany and have never left my temperature controlled cellar there.


James - I have wondered the same thing since I have not experienced some of the disappointments that others in this forum have. Although, the experience I had with the Pacenti was at Arnolfo in Colle di Val d'Elsa. They replaced the bottle and the second one was wonderful. The '97 Brunelli that I have tasted from my cellar were all purchased at the Estates or at enotecas in the Montalcino area. I can attest to their provenance.
quote:
Originally posted by James Suckling:
Like your name. Do you surf?

The Pacenti 1997 is one of my favorites! It shows such wonderful richness and balance. Giancarlo Pacenti will be at the Grand Tasting tonight in New York. I think he is pouring his 1999 Brunello.


Yes, it is my second passion (after wine). I will be at the NYWE tonight. I have the '99 also in my cellar. I look forward to tasting this wine. Will you be in NY tonight?

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