Brunello 2016, Montalcino’s time to shine

April 15, 2021

The critics have signalled that 2016 is a truly iconic vintage, set to prove itself consistently over the next couple of decades. At Decorum, we were lucky enough to be sent samples by some growers that we have long-standing relationships with. It is, undoubtedly, one of the best Brunello releases that we’ve tasted.

Rules in place for donkey’s years mean that Montalcino growers are always the last to release their ‘Grandi Vini’ onto world markets – by law, they may not offer their Brunello for sale until 5 years after the year of vintage; thus, the 2016s have been recently released, in 2021.
What we have seen throughout Italy, and France as well for that matter (though releases from Bordeaux and Burgundy seem an age ago), is uniform excellence. It was a domino vintage, one where everything just slipped neatly into place: all the right notes, most definitely in the right order, and bang on time.
A cool spring, a slow and even start to the growing season; and the summer was warm, but never too warm with no evil heat spikes.

2016 has amply proven Montalcino’s ability to produce wines of purity, world class complexity, and longevity.

Sesti: the original and the best

That is to say that Sesti represent our first steps into Montalcino, and they are the GO-TO estate for Rosso and Brunello. We do not claim they are the ultimate in terms of quality, but they are far from the most expensive. What you get in a glass of Sesti wine is sheer charm, authenticity and reliability, so it is not surprising that this estate remains ‘Top of the Pops’ when it comes to customers that follow one particular estate. This, their 22nd vintage of Brunello, exemplifies their attitude towards doing it right; indubitably, one of the very loveliest families from whom we have the pleasure to purchase, and they are making some of the loveliest wines.

2019 Rosso di Montalcino
2016 Brunello di Montalcino – Also exists in magnum
2015 Phenomena, Riserva di Montalcino – Also exists in magnum

Salicutti: a non-interventionist’s approach

In short, in our tasting line-up of 2016 Brunello , there was one wine that showed so much breed…an absolute thoroughbred, Salicutti Piaggione had such precision, intensity, purity, and all balanced by racy acidity, it was the runaway winner. This remains a very exciting address, and we are ever more encouraged to see new owners, the Eichbauers, progress. The style represents purity and a non-interventionist’s approach. Simple, hands-off winemaking always works best in the great vintages, the 2015 and 2016 are absolutely terrific creations.

2016 Brunello di Montalcino, Sorgente
2016 Brunello di Montalcino, Piaggione

Pietroso: parallel with the top-estates

Forgive us for a brief spot of self-satisfaction, but we’ve always thought that Gianni Pignattai’s Brunello was up there with the finest in Montalcino, right from the very first slurp of his 1995. Indeed, over the years, various customers consistently rated him alongside Salvioni and Salicutti. So, it’s extremely pleasing that Mr Jeb Dunnuck’s publication has now also fallen under his spell! Has to be said, Gianni’s 2016 is stunning, amazing concentration to it, layer after layer of exquisite Sangiovese.

2019 Rosso di Montalcino
2016 Brunello di Montalcino

Castello Romitorio: the quest for perfection

Castello Romitorio’s vineyards are located in the northwest of Montalcino between 220-500 meters, all broken into smaller parcels between one to two hectares, which are each surrounded by thick forests. While cool-climate in character, there’s a power and rugged feel to the wines of Romitorio, each demanding your attention but also your time. The lower elevations is where we find the vineyard which produces Filo di Seta, with thirty-five-year-old vines growing in limestone, shale, schist and clay. The good news is that, as much as Filippo is constantly tinkering and may never be 100% happy with his current vintage, the wines are really something to be excited about.

2019 Rosso di Montalcino
2016 Brunello di Montalcino – Also exists in magnum

2016 Brunello di Montalcino, Filo di Seta – Also exists in magnum

Colleoni: a visionary of the area

Marino Colleoni’s winemaking journey began when he and wife Luisa discovered a patch of old vines buried under shrubs on Montalcino’s northern reaches while taking an evening walk.
They spent the next few years clearing away at the undergrowth and to their surprise, a rather detailed vineyard lay beneath. After replanting some of the damaged vines, they harvested for the first time in 2000.
At 470-500 metres above sea level, their vineyards are some of the highest in Montalcino and unusually, face almost entirely north. They are surrounded by forest, well ventilated and planted over a complex mix of sand, limestone and volcanic rock. A visionary in the area, Marino really values biodiversity and is seeking to reduce the use of any compounds in the vineyard entirely, instead of relying on natural predators of any bugs or disease.

2016 Brunello di Montalcino, Santa Maria – Also exists in magnum
2015 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Santa Maria – Also exists in magnum

2016 Brunello di Montalcino, Poggio Sant’Arna – Also exists in magnum

Poggio di Sotto: the modern classic

Poggio di Sotto was established in 1989 and is located on a hill to the south-east of Montalcino. Since its inception, the property has become famous for the quality of the Sangiovese it cultivates, which quickly earned its prestigious estate status. Located in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, at the foot of Monte Amiata, the vines, anchored in steep slopes facing due south, are located at an altitude of 200 to 400 meters. The micro-climate that the area enjoys, due to protection from an ancient volcano on one side and a river on the other, results in ideal conditions for growing Sangiovese. Their wines contain a poised power that underlines the quality of winemaking at Poggio di Sotto. Already with a loyal following, this producer is a true modern classic.

2018 Rosso di Montalcino
2016 Brunello di Montalcino – Also exists in magnum

Salvioni: generations committed to excellence

Umberto Salvioni, who had studied agriculture, chose to make wine so that he could offer it to his friends. His son Giulio decided to extend the range of friendship, creating a winery that could produce a limited number of bottles of absolute excellence. The first Cerbaiola Brunello was the fruit of the 1985 harvest, to be followed by other remarkable vintages that carried the name of Montalcino and the passion of the Salvionis far further afield. Following his degree in Agriculture, Giulio’s son David joined the family concern to help with vine husbandry and winemaking. More recently, his sister Alessia has completed the team, working alongside her father on marketing, sales and administration. They are so committed to quality that their flagship Brunello di Montalcino is only created when growing conditions are idyllic. Their wines flow with a plethora of exquisite complexity, from red fruits to roasted red meats. Generations of learning have been well spent!

2019 Rosso di Montalcino
2016 Brunello di Montalcino

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