1998 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino
When I first opened this bottle and even after an hour in the decanter, the wine was extremely light bodied for a Brunello. Initially, the wine appeared to be somewhat muted aromatically but with great acidity and minimal tannins. With aeration in the mouth, the wine precisely displayed the flavor of a brandy-soaked cherry dipped in chocolate. I decided the wine needed some air, so I shook the hell out of the decanter for like 5 minutes to really get some air into the wine, and the results were quite nice. The wine tasted a lot more like Brunello after this, becoming much fuller in body, more concentrated, with a lot more of a tannic presence and very subtle vanilla and tree resin notes. As you can tell, decant this wine HOURS in advance or give it a few years in the cellar. Before decanting: 90 points. After a vigorous decanting: 92-93 points. And by the way, I’ve found that Fuligni Brunellos are the perfect match for veal chops. Delicious!
1997 La Rasina Brunello di Montalcino
Last night I had a remarkably similar experience with the 1997 La Rasina Brunello. Upon opening, it tasted like a 7 year old Chianti Classico (and not a riserva), a medium bodied, simple wine. After about two hours in the decanter it started to taste like Brunello. Good levels of acidity, extract, and tannin. Typical Brunello and Sangiovese flavors. Traditionally made—a good expression of varietal and terroir. This wine confirmed one of my impressions of the 1997 vintage, that while top estates might be able to make great Brunello in most vintages, 1997 allowed everyone to make pretty damn good Brunello, and this is one of them. I have two more bottles that I’m going to let mature for at least 3-4 more years before I try another one. 90-92 points. Don’t drink your 1997’s now; they’re asleep.
I’ve been busy recently drinking the 1999 Brunellos to assess them and determine how much to buy and how long to let them mature. The 1999s for the most part are showing great right out of the bottle, but I forgot how much these immature Brunellos from 97 and 98 need to breathe to show their best. My take is that virtually all the ‘97s I’ve had in the last 6 months have been immature, and while in general the ‘98s are drinking beautifully, a few of them (e.g., Fuligni) still need additional bottle age and/or air.