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Tenuta Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2009
The family expanded their holdings, between the ancient abbey of Sant’Angelo in Colle and Castelnuovo dell’Abate—unquestionably some of Montalcino’s finest terroir—over the years until in 1995, it was split among different parts of the family. Collosorbo was born from this division, having originally been part of the historic Tenuta di Sesta estate.
What sets Collosorbo apart from other Brunello wineries is its unrivaled terroir. The estate’s three very distinct soils, while found separately in the Brunello appellation, are rarely, if ever, found under one winemaking ‘roof.’
Winemaking at the estate follows a natural rhythm and wines are crafted with as little intervention as possible—a breath of fresh air considering the obsession with technology we’ve seen expressed in so many cellars in Toscana. A collection of mostly old neutral foudres allows the wines to evolve slowly in the family’s cool cellar, built by hand ages ago beneath the walls of the estate’s ancient castle.
Even though Collosorbo’s winemaking roots reach back centuries, winemakers Lucia Sardo Suterra and Laura Sardo Suterra have brought Brunello here into the 21st century by simply focusing on the basics. Respecting and nurturing the estate’s exceptional terroir and focusing on Sangiovese Grosso as Brunello’s single grape make for compelling, convincing wines.
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.