Just before the annual Tuscan en primeur tastings (on which I will report in detail later this week) last February, I met up with Kerin O’Keefe in Florence. She reports on Italian wines for both Decanter and The World of Fine Wine magazines,while last year she published her second book, Brunello di Montalcino. Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines.
In her book she describes a system of sub zones in order to get a clearer picture of the diverse Montalcino terroirs, and the different wine styles as a result of this. It is something wine lovers and wine professionals alike are keen to know about more, but a controversial topic in Montalcino itself, where every producer considers his or her vineyards automatically to be of Grand Cru status as long as they are located within the Brunello di Montalcino designated area. It is the reason why the region has never tried to map its sub zones in any comprehensive or systematic way so far.
There was little sign of the celebrated Tuscan sun in late February as I made my way through the rain-swept narrow streets of Florence towards Palazzo Antinori, to meet Italian wine scion Piero Antinori.
Not only was I going to taste the latest vintages of Antinori’s famed Super Tuscans – Tignanello and Solaia – I was also going to ask him his views on the latest happenings in Chianti Classico.
What, you may wonder, do much-sought-after Tignanello and Solaia have to do with generic Chianti Classicos? Absolutely everything is the answer.
The latest releases from Montalcino’s cellars have had their first outing and they’re a mixed bag. The 2008 Brunellos and 2007 riservas shown at the annual Benvenuto Brunello tasting ranged from outstanding to unpleasant, and the two vintages could pose serious challenges for Brunello fans.