Italian wine reviews (tasted through February 2017)

Check out my latest reviews (282 wines): Brunello di Montalcino, Alto Adige, Soave and more

blind tasting Kerin O'Keefe

Italian wine reviews (tasted through January 2017)

Check out my latest reviews (425 wines): Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti, Chianti Rufina, Carmignano and more

Top 20 of the Month

Il Marroneto 2012 Madonna delle Grazie Brunello di Montalcino 99 Points Cellar Selection

Conti Costanti 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 98 Points Cellar Selection

Altesino 2012 Montosoli Brunello di Montalcino 97 Points Cellar Selection

Baricci 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 96 Points Cellar Selection

Biondi Santi 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 96 Points Cellar Selection

Le Potazzine 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 96 Points Cellar Selection

Le Chiuse 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 96 Points Cellar Selection

Abbadia Ardenga 2012 Vigna Piaggia Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points Editors’ Choice

Fuligni 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points Cellar Selection

Ridolfi 2012 Mercatale Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points Cellar Selection

Il Marroneto 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points Cellar Selection

L’Aietta 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points Cellar Selection

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points Cellar Selection

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2012 Vigna di Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points Cellar Selection

Armilla 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 95 Points

Michele Satta 2012 Cavaliere Sangiovese Toscana IGT 94 Points

Altesino 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 94 Points

Gracciano della Seta 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 94 Points Cellar Selection

Gianni Brunelli 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 94 Points

Lisini 2012 Brunello di Montalcino 94 Points

2012 Brunello: a return to finesse and age-worthy structure

If you love wines with elegance, fragrance and longevity, then you’ll love the just-released 2012 Brunellos. And even though I’m one of the biggest critics of the Consorzio’s Brunello vintage classifications (I find most vintages have been overrated), when it comes to 2012’s five-star rating, I completely I agree.

Defying the intense heat of the growing season, many 2012s have the vibrancy usually found in cooler vintages. They boast juicy red berry fruit, noble tannins and impeccable balance that will allow them to age well for years. Out of the 140 Brunello 2012s I tasted so far, I rated 88 wines 90 points or more, with 20 of these getting 94 points or higher. I was pleasantly surprised to see a return to finesse, enticing aromas and generally lower alcohol levels when compared to other recent releases.

The 2012s even have more consistent quality across the denomination than the highly acclaimed 2010s. The latter were a mixed bag divided between majestic wines boasting structure and finesse, and subpar wines marred by low acidity, cooked fruit and alcohol of 15% abv or more.

Quality is more uniform in 2012, but in terms of weather, 2012 was an undeniably difficult year. Unstable conditions included a cold, wet winter and an extremely hot, dry summer marked by late rains. But the extended heat wave was gentler on the grapes than the turbulent temperature changes of other past vintages.

Read more here: 2012 Brunello: a return to finesse and age-worthy structure

Here you find the full reviews: 2012 Brunello di Montalcino reviews by Kerin O’Keefe

Make it a Double in Montalcino: 2011 Brunello and 2010 Riserva

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage facing the just-released 2011 Brunello vintage – awarded four out five stars by the Consorzio – is that it comes on the heels of the widely acclaimed 2010. And while the 2011s won’t be remembered as an historic vintage, overall they have an immediate, juicy allure that exceeded my expectations from what was a difficult, at times torrid vintage. The best also show some staying power, and more than a few showed unexpected complexity.

The best 2010 Riservas are displaying impeccable balance, restraint and complexity. And while many have cellaring potential, they are still more immediate than Riservas from cooler vintages. The good news is this also means you also won’t have to wait decades before you can enjoy them, as is the case with quintessential Riservas. I also gave a rare 100 points to Biondi Santi’s drop-dead gorgeous Riserva, which shows real aging potential to boot.

Read the article: 2011 Brunello and 2010 Riserva

Check out my 2011 Brunello reviews

Check out my 2010 Brunello reviews

Addio Franco Biondi Santi

The Italian wine world lost an icon when Brunello legend Franco Biondi Santi, dubbed “The Gentleman of Brunello,” died over the weekend. He was 91 years old.

© Paolo Tenti | Franco Biondi Santi

Franco—whose grandfather, Ferruccio Biondi Santi, invented Brunello in the late 1800s—learned the winemaking craft from his father, Tancredi, one of Italy’s most celebrated enologists. When Franco inherited the family’s Greppo estate in 1970, he remained true to his father’s traditions while also improving quality, starting with a lengthy collaboration with the University of Florence that allowed him to isolate the best Sangiovese clones on the estate.

Franco was an avid defender of traditional Brunello, and refused to rely on any winemaking techniques that could potentially change the quintessential characteristics of his wines.

Read the article: Addio Franco Biondi Santi

Biondi Santi

Drunk by the Queen, hidden from view during WWII: the wines of Biondi Santi. (The head of the renowned estate, Franco Biondi Santi, died suddenly at the weekend. This interview by Kerin O’Keefe was one of his last.)

© Paolo Tenti | Franco Biondi Santi

Read the article: Biondi Santi

Brunello’s Moment of Truth

While the notion of terroir has been both celebrated and ridiculed in some of the world’s greatest wine-producing areas, one of Italy’s most illustrious denominations has instead chosen to ignore it—until now.  Kerin O’Keefe discovers Montalcino’s unofficial subzones.

Majestic. Elegant. Powerful. Long-lived. Expensive. Rare. All these adjectives have been applied to Brunello di Montalcino by the world’s leading wine authorities, from Cyril Ray to Burton Anderson, but may soon be supplemented by another much less positive—overflowing. Due to massive overplanting, Brunello production is now on the brink of exploding, which has pushed the long-neglected question of Brunello’s tipicità to the forefront, as Montalcino winemakers search for ways to protect Brunello’s identity and prestige from the perils posed by a saturated market. As areas previously considered unsuitable for winemaking are cultivated, many producers feel the time has come to recognize officially Montalcino’s greatly varied subzones and to curb vinification techniques that render a more international style.

Read the article:  “Brunello’s Moment of Truth” (PDF). The World of Fine Wine (2006, 11): 74–80.

Kerin O’Keefe racconta Franco Biondi Santi, il gentleman del Brunello (di Franco Ziliani)

© Paolo Tenti | Franco Biondi Santi and Kerin O’Keefe

Con il suo libro Kerin non ci propone solo una documentata, appassionata, ben raccontata biografia della dinastia Biondi Santi e di Franco, gentleman del Brunello, descritto a tutto tondo nella sua umanità e nel suo voler essere il degno testimone di un impegno, quello della qualità senza discussioni, che è sentito ancor più fortemente perché s’intreccia con la storia della sua famiglia.

Kerin O’Keefe, Franco Biondi Santi. Il gentleman del Brunello, Veronelli Editore, 2004

O’Keefe, e di questo dobbiamo esserle profondamente grati, nel suo libro dimostra di credere in una sua idea del Brunello, (che, vedi caso, coincide con la visione di Franco Biondi Santi), e con coraggio, senza perifrasi e giri di parole, ricorda chiaramente che ora ci si trova di fronte ad una “situazione allarmante per il futuro del Brunello, il cui carattere e la cui tipicità uniche al mondo sono minacciate”, e che “oggi con il futuro di questo grande vino in pericolo e il volere da parte di certi produttori di cambiare ancora il disciplinare”, Franco Biondi Santi ha scelto di aderire al Consorzio per combattere dal di dentro ,”nella speranza che lui e gli altri produttori del Brunello tradizionale possano fermare la tendenza a renderlo un vino irriconoscibile”.

leggi l’intera recensione: http://www.winereport.com/winenews/scheda.asp?IDCategoria=19&IDNews=1458

Trend vs. Tradition. Italian wine styles under siege

A modern-day war is being waged in Italy’s most renowned and treasured wine regions.

Of course there are no real battlefields and no loss of life. Instead, this war is being fought in seemingly idillic vineyards and winery cellars up and down the peninsula as two schools of tought clash. In jeopardy in this conflict are native grape varieties, prized wines and years of winemaking tradition. Some obeservers even argue that those who admire and enjoy Italy’s unique wines could suffer.

Read the article: Trend_vs_Tradition_Kerin_OKeefe_2004.PDF