by Chris Ryerson
It was a pleasure to have Francesco Ripaccioli from Canalicchio di Sopra visit us last week, and an even greater pleasure to enjoy three older vintages of their Brunello di Montalcino together over dinner…
In addition to their recent Tre Bicchieri-winning 2004 Brunello and their 2007 Rosso di Montalcino, we also featured the 1998, 1999, and 2000 vintages of Brunello from our “Wine In Time” program. All three showed very well and it is great to see such fantastic results from the efforts of our owner and my predecessors holding back vintages of traditionally made wines for enjoyment when they are actually showing their best, ten or more years down the line.
Not surprisingly, the 2000 was the most accessible and open of the three. Definitely focused more toward the red fruit end of the spectrum, with light baking spice notes, subtle integrated earthiness, and supple tannins, it is delicious right out of the bottle and is a wine to drink now. The 1999 still has formidable tannins and took the longest to reveal its core of dark red fruits and leather notes. Greater complexity and range of flavors are lurking in this dense wine, but it seems we’ll have to be patient – it still has a long life ahead of it. The 1998 was the star of the show, however. During the first twenty minutes in the glass, it was a bit closed, but after that, it continually offered an evolving range of aromas and seemed to be the one wine we all regularly kept coming back to. It certainly offered the most complexity and balance, with a mix of red and black fruits, dried herbal notes, and hints of dried tobacco.
We have stored away our 2004 Brunello di Montalcino from Canalicchio di Sopra and look forward to sharing a bottle with Franceso on a future visit five or six years from now. In the mean time we’re well-stocked on older vintages that are drinking great right now!