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Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007
Decant at least an hour beforehand and pair with rich, structured dishes, red meat, game, seasoned cheeses.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Andrea Costanti has turned out a superb set of wines. What else is new? His 2008 Brunello is one of the wines of the vintage. Judging by the wines Costanti has in the cellar, there are plenty of exciting Brunellos in the pipeline as well. Costanti ages his Brunellos in a combination of cask and tonneau. Tasting the separate components illustrates the effect of oak on unfinished wines to a striking degree. Personally, I feel this fruit, from relatively high-altitude sites near the center of town, is best suited to more neutral oak. That is also true of the Riserva, a wine that, while outstanding, doesn-t seem to hit the same high notes as the straight bottling. I have long thought of Costanti as a top ten estate in Montalcino, but I am now convinced this property could belong in the top five.”
The small town of Montalcino, huddled around its fortressed castle on the Tuscan hillside, is miniature perfection. Montalcino residents are a tightly knit community, with a strong sense of identity and deep love for their territory. Within this community, Andrea Costanti is a well known and highly liked figure. The Costanti family has been part of Montalcino history since 1555, yet Andrea is anything but 'old hat': young, brilliant and amiable, he very much moves with the times. You will find him perfectly at ease in Tuscany as in New York, in Paris or in Tokyo. In 1983, Andrea (at the time, fresh out of Siena University's geology department) took over from his uncle, Count Emilio – the man who first put Costanti on the wine map. A difficult task: yet this inexperienced youth not only coped with his huge new responsibilities, but actually upgraded and enhanced the family's reputation for making great Brunello. He achieved this by relying on his own fine instinct for wine and in-depth knowledge of the terrain's geological components. In time, these natural skills were perfected, so that he eventually styled the range together with Vittorio Fiore. Roughly 25 acres are under vine and vine age ranges from 6 to 25 years old. Soil type is classic Tuscan "galestro" (shale marls from the Cretaceous Era, formed by a mixture of sand and calcareous rock with very little clay).
Famous for its bold, layered and long-lived red, Brunello di Montalcino, the town of Montalcino is about 70 miles south of Florence, and has a warmer and drier climate than that of its neighbor, Chianti. The Sangiovese grape is king here, as it is in Chianti, but Montalcino has its own clone called Brunello.
The Brunello vineyards of Montalcino blanket the rolling hills surrounding the village and fan out at various elevations, creating the potential for Brunello wines expressing different styles. From the valleys, where deeper deposits of clay are found, come wines typically bolder, more concentrated and rich in opulent black fruit. The hillside vineyards produce wines more concentrated in red fruits and floral aromas; these sites reach up to over 1,600 feet and have shallow soils of rocks and shale.
Brunello di Montalcino by law must be aged a minimum of four years, including two years in barrel before realease and once released, typically needs more time in bottle for its drinking potential to be fully reached. The good news is that Montalcino makes a “baby brother” version. The wines called Rosso di Montalcino are often made from younger vines, aged for about a year before release, offer extraordinary values and are ready to drink young.
The perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is the king of the best red wines in Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino
Elsewhere throughout Italy, Sangiovese plays an important role in many easy-drinking, value-driven red blends and on the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed success growing in California and Washington.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with qualities of tart cherry, plum, sun dried tomato, fresh tobacco and herbs. High-quality, well-aged examples can take on tertiary notes of smoke, leather, game, potpourri and dried fruit. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.
Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine-grained tannins create a perfect symbiosis with tomato-based dishes, braised vegetables, roasted and cured meat, hard cheese and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may actually contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines as a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.