Traditional 2015 Brunello at a Friendly Price

Today’s Story: Mastrojanni

Mastrojanni is an Italian wine estate located in Castelnuovo dell’Abate of the Montalcino region in the province of Siena. It was established by lawyer Gabriele Mastrojanni in 1975 when he purchased the San Pio and Loreto estates and planted his first vines. Though little viticultural activity existed in this area when Gabriele purchased the estates, he viewed the soil as perfect for Brunello di Montalcino and planted his entire vineyard to Sangiovese with a goal of crafting wines after the great Biondi-Santi. The goal of creating exceptional Brunello di Montalcino has not changed over the years, but the estate grew with the times and now consists of 240 acres of which 80 are planted to vine (42 acres of Sangiovese for Brunello). For their other bottlings, Mastrojanni also grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Ciliegiolo, Moscato, Malvasia di Candia, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Since the very beginning, tradition is the name of the game at Mastrojanni. Beginning in the vineyards of gravel, clay, limestone, and sandstone which cause the vines to struggle, low yields coupled with a more hands-off approach create fruit full of character and quality. At the winery and in the cellars themselves, traditional and minimally invasive winemaking find themselves at home as well, with the winemaking team favoring finesse and a sense of place over heavy-handedness. Though the estate sold to the Illy family (yes the coffee family) in 2008, the traditions, mentality, and passion of Gabriele live on thanks to Franceso Illy’s love of the wines before Gabriele’s passing. Improvements continue to be made at Mastrojanni, with the estate now certified organic while instituting higher quality controls and improving winemaking equipment.

To learn more about Mastrojanni or read through their portfolio of wines, check out the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Brunello di Montalcino

100% Sangiovese; 14.5% ABV

The 2015 Brunello di Montalcino is somewhat translucent and medium garnet in color. I decanted this bottle for about 2 hours and drank it over the following 2 hours or so. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of cherry, black raspberry, redcurrant, red rose, slight barnyard, tobacco, sage, loamy earth, and mild oak. The palate displays similarly traditional notes of bing cherry, dried strawberry, plum, licorice, red and purple florals, worn leather, scorched earth, chopped green herbs, black tea leaf, light baking spice, and cocoa. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high but fine-grained tannins, and a long finish. While certainly delicious and approachable now, I’d give this another 3-5 years and drink it over the following decade.

Price: $60 average (I paid $50). I think this offers good QPR, drinking similarly to some of the $80-90 Brunellos I’ve enjoyed over the years. If you can find this for $50 like I did, don’t hesitate to give it a try or cellar it for enjoyment down the road.

Traditional Brunello di Montalcino for a Great Value

Today’s Story: Fattoria dei Barbi

Fattoria dei Barbi is a historic estate in Montalcino, founded in 1790 by the Colombini family who were one of the region’s most influential and noble families. Though they established Barbi in 1790, the family owned land in Montalcino dating back to 1352 and first built Poggio alle Mura (now Castello Banfi) and then Argiano. The Colombini family greatly helped build the prestige and quality of Brunello di Montalcino as one of the original producers, with bottles back to 1870 in their cellars today. Barbi was the first Montalcino estate to ship wine to France (1817), by mail order (1832), and to the United States (1962), England (1969), and Japan (1975). Today the estate spans more than 306 hectares and is under guidance of 20th generation family member Stefano Cinelli Colombini.

To learn more about Stefano, this historic estate, or peruse their portfolio of wines, you can visit the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Brunello di Montalcino

100% Sangiovese; 14.5% ABV

The 2015 Brunello is medium to deep garnet in color and mostly opaque. Given a couple hours to decant, the wine blossoms to showcase a nose of black cherry, redcurrant, dried strawberry, cedar, tobacco leaf, worn leather, loamy earth, gravel, and savory herbs. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of plum, juicy blackberry, black raspberry, stemmy tomato paste, blue florals, licorice, tobacco, oregano, espresso, and black pepper. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) grippy tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $45. The 2015 Barbi Brunello di Montalcino is a great value for the region and is beautifully traditional. Give this another 5 years of bottle age and drink it over the following decade. Pair with Bistecca alla Fiorentina, herb-roasted leg of lamb, or Pecorino cheese.