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Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1997
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In northeast Montalcino, the Sassetti family has produced wine for more than a century. On the hill known as Montosoli, Pertimali’s wines are renowned for representing the perfect balance between the fruit-forward wines of southern Montalcino and the dense, structured, mineral wines of the north. In the vineyard and in the cellar, father Livio and his two sons work in observance of time-honored traditions, including hand harvesting, giant oak botte, and spontaneous fermentations, all in accordance with the phases of the moon and organic farming regulations. The wines are rich, deep, and perfumed, reflecting a very genuine style of Sangiovese. In addition to Brunello and Rosso, Pertimali also produces the lush Super-Tuscan “Vigna Fili di Seta”, a barrique-aged blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet. The label, while emphasizing the name of Livio Sassetti, the prioprietor, also bears the estate’s historical name, Pertimali.
Lorenzo Sassetti is not only passionate about his native Sangiovese, but is a huge fan and consumer of Prosecco. After years of complaining about the uncomfortable reaction he suffered from after drinking Proseccos bottled with stratospheric levels of sulfites, he decided to take matters into his own hands. In 2012, he joined forces with an old friend with a few hectares of prime, hillside Prosecco vineyards in the heart of the Valdobbiadene DOCG to bottle some sparklers under his own terms. Using techniques including longer periods of lees contact and special tanks to keep musts kept at temperatures just barely above freezing right up until final fermentations were completed, he was able to bottle with less than 20 g/l of added sulfites. The first releases of the Sassetti bubbles were received with a resoundingingly positive reaction at their debut at our spring tasting to the point that nearly half our allocation of these small-production wines were pre-sold before the day was through.
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 Chianti. The Sangiovese grape is responsible for both Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti but Montalcino has its own clone, which the locals call Brunello.
The Brunello vineyards of Montalcino blanket the rolling hills surrounding the village, which fan out at various elevations. The variations of elevation and soils create Brunellos of different styles. From the valleys with deeper deposits of clay, the wines are typically bolder and deeper in color with more opulent black fruit. These wines tend to take better to aging in some percentage of new French oak barrels. The hillside wines and vineyards at higher elevations 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. These, in general, may be aged in larger and more traditional oak casks
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 fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is the backbone variety in Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino. Elsewhere throughout Italy, it can make inexpensive wines for daily consumption ranging from inoffensive to deliciously easy. 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 moderate popularity in California and Washington State over the last few decades.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with savory flavors of tart cherry, plum, tomato, fresh tobacco, anise, thyme, oregano, and dried earth. High-quality, well-aged examples will take on notes of smoke, clay pot, leather, gamey meat, potpourri, and dried fruits. 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 grainy tannins create an affinity with tomato-based dishes, spicy meats, and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines (with price tags to match) that are typically monovarietal or a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.