Italian wine reviews (tasted through April 2017)

Check out my latest reviews (226 wines): Lugana, Collio, Soave, Taurasi, Aglianico, Fiano, Greco, Falanghina and more

blind tasting Kerin O'Keefe

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

Italian wine reviews (tasted through December 2016)

Check out my latest reviews (367 wines): Bolgheri, Toscana IGT, Morellino di Scansano, Montecucco and more

Top 12 Wines of the Month

Tenuta San Guido 2013 Bolgheri Sassicaia 98 Points Cellar Selection

Castello dei Rampolla 2012 Vigna d’Alceo (Toscana) 95 Points Cellar Selection

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

Italian wine reviews (tasted through November 2016)

Check out my latest reviews (167 wines): Lessona, Boca, Gattinara, Bramaterra, Ghemme, Valtellina and more

Top 10 Wines of the Month

Proprietà Sperino 2011 Lessona, 96 Points, Cellar Selection

Arpepe 2007 Sassella Vigna Regina Riserva Valtellina Superiore, 96 Points, Cellar Selection

Colombera & Garella 2013 Lessona, 96 Points, Editors’ Choice

Gaja 2013 Barbaresco, 96 Points, Cellar Selection

Le Piane 2009 Boca, 95 Points, Editors’ Choice

Gaja 2013 Costa Russi Barbaresco, 95 Points, Cellar Selection

Nino Negri 2013 5 Stelle Sforzato di Valtellina, 95 Points, Cellar Selection

Germano Ettore 2012 Prapò Barolo, 94 Points

Germano Ettore 2010 Lazzarito Riserva Barolo, 94 Points, Cellar Selection

Anzivino 2010 Gattinara, 93 Points, Cellar Selection

Grillo: Try This Cool White Wine From Sicily

Nearly forgotten, a white grape of Sicily [re]captures the imagination.

Looking for a cool new white? Meet Grillo (pronounced GREE-lo). Hailing from Sicily, Grillo produces crisp and savory wines—some structured enough to offer moderate aging potential. Lighter styles have citrus blossom and peach nuances, while more aromatic versions deliver passion fruit, grapefruit and herbal sensations reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc. Lees contact and barrel aging create more complex, mineral-driven wines loaded with apple and citrus flavors. Vineyards closest to the sea produce wines with pronounced saline notes.

Read the article: Grillo: Try This Cool White Wine From Sicily

Italy’s Great Pinot Grigios

Follow this guide to find versatile, delicious Pinot Grigios worth savoring.

Wine snobs may look down upon Pinot Grigio, but I’m proud to say that I like it—as long as it’s the good stuff. There are extremely good, even excellent Pinot Grigios out there, although finding them can be a challenge.

First launched in the U.S. during the late 1970s, Pinot Grigio rose to become one of the most imported wines from Italy by the mid-1990s. These savory, refreshing offerings were polar opposites to the oaked-up, buttery and often palate-fatiguing Chardonnays that dominated the American market.

Read the article: Italy’s Great Pinot Grigios

Check out my Pinot Grigio reviews

Barolo 2012: Balanced, Approachable and Enjoyable

Having recently returned from Barolo where I blind-tasted over 300 of the just released 2012s, it’s time to weigh in on the vintage, which will be hitting the US market over the next few months. Even though 2012 isn’t a great vintage, a number of producers produced very good, balanced Barolos. Most don’t have age-worthy structures, offering instead early appeal, but the best will offer fine drinking over the next decade or longer.

Castello di Barolo
© Paolo Tenti | Castello di Barolo

Due to the erratic growing season, the 2012 Barolos don’t have the full-bodied structures of recent vintages. However, generally speaking they do boast succulent fruit, refined tannins, fresh acidity and balance. They also demonstrate a welcome return to more restrained alcohol levels: 14 and 14.5% compared to the hefty 15% avb commonly found on 2011 Barolo labels (and to a lesser extent the 2009s). While they are already accessible, top 2012 Barolos should age well to the ten-year mark or a little longer.

Read the article: Barolo 2012 Balanced, Approachable and Enjoyable

Check out my 2012 Barolo reviews

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