Brunello 2016: Vintage Report

Brunello 2016 is a staggering vintage, with all peaks of the 2015s yet greater consistency. The wines marry elegance and refinement with intensity, grip and power, revealing hauntingly persistent tannins and the promise of incredible complexity in the future.  

These wines are undoubtedly destined for greatness, with many pundits talking up 2016 as potentially the best-ever vintage for Brunello. Perhaps this is why merchants have been eager to release the wines so early! 

Growing Season 

2016 was cooler and more temperate than 2015, with growers relaxing into the ebb and flow of a picture-perfect growing season in Montalcino, a welcome change to the previous year’s heat. As such there is little to report here – cooler nights and warm days meant the grapes ripened beautifully, and veraison led to a smooth September harvest with temperatures a more pleasant 35 degrees. The grapes were lighter skinned with higher acidities than 2015, and early signs pointed towards wines of real class and elegance. 

The Wines 

As always we have been narrow in our selection, although these superstar growers really capture the generous soul of the vintage. From Castello di Romitorio and Mastrojanni to Argiano, all our producers have received dizzyingly high scores from critics and their Brunelli will provide unrivalled drinking pleasure for a very long time indeed.   

You can see all the wines as they are released on the campaign page here. In the meantime below is a snapshot of some of the great scores our growers have recieved over the past few weeks.

Castello di Romitorio Team
The amazing team at Castello di Romitorio

Castello di Romitorio 

Romitorio Filo di Seta, 2016  

“The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Filo di Seta is a remarkably pretty and pure expression of the vintage. It impresses with a lifted yet stimulating display of bright red fruits and savory spice, framed by notes of crushed stone, animal musk and dusty florals. This boasts striking depth and elegant textures, all offset by a mix of tart wild berries and cool-toned acids, as salty minerals create an almost-crunchy feel toward the close. The tannins are firm yet rounded, displaying tremendous balance and length, as the 2016 Filo di Seta never grows tiring or youthfully clenched. That said, the best is yet to come for this complex and age-worthy effort.”

97 points, Eric Guido Vinous (top five of the vintage!) 

Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino, 2016 

“Dark, brooding and geared for the cellar, the 2016 Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino takes its time opening up in the glass, yet patience is rewarded, as a mix of blackberry and cherry further blossoms, adding crushed stone minerality with hints of sage, lavender and violets. It’s silky and textural upon entry, yet it firms up quickly through a mix of vibrant acids and saturating fine tannin. However, there’s plenty of density to its primary fruits, feeling almost weighty in this youthful state yet perfectly balanced all the same. Savory herbs and spice linger along with tart red berries on the long, structured and dramatic finish. The 2016 is full of potential yet needs time in the cellar to show its best.”

95 points, Eric Guido Vinous 

Brunello di Montalcino, 2015 Riserva 

The 2015 Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is youthfully restrained yet also surprisingly feminine, leading off with a dusting of cedar and white smoke, as nuances of strawberry, rose and violet perfumes come forward. It’s silky and undeniably elegant, seeming to coat the palate in a polished display of red and black berries, liquid florals and minerals which slowly saturate adding a tactile feel. A complex web of tannins wrap the senses up tightly, leaving sweet inner herbal tones and savory spices to linger. This is like a whisper rather than a shout, yet it has so much to say. In forty years, only nine vintages of Riserva have ever been made at Romitorio, and the 2015 is sure to rank amongst the best of them. 

 95+ points, Eric Guido Vinous (also top five of vintage) 

Argiano 

The beautiful estate at Argiano
The beautiful estate at Argiano

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Suolo, 2016 

“The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Suolo from Argiano lifts up with a minty freshness which gives way to peppery herbs and florals. Medicinal cherry, hints of clove and licorice come forward over time. It is dense and textural, leaning toward black fruits, with a complex web of salty minerals and tannins that penetrate the senses. The 2016 Vigna del Suolo shows remarkable length, yet is currently folded in upon itself, creating what feels like a black hole of structure through the finale, which nearly masks an array of residual spices and perfumes. That said, it’s a long-distance runner that is packed full of potential.”

96+ points, Eric Guido Vinous (top 10) 

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino, 2016 

The 2016 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino shows sweet herbs and tobacco with hints of mocha and cedar spice box. It’s silky in texture, coasting across a medium-bodied frame while giving way to tart red berries, with grippy tannins mounting toward the close. A cooling wave of minty herbs and licorice adds much needed freshness, bringing the 2016 into balance throughout the youthfully structured finale. While this was hard to read and quite backward upon opening, it blossomed beautifully in the glass over time. 

94 points, Eric Guido Vinous 

Mastrojanni 

Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino Vinga Loreto, 2016

“The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Loreto wafts up with a gorgeous display of crushed stone, graphite and exotic savory spices before giving way to citrus-tinged cherries, cinnamon and clove. It’s silky-smooth and medium in body with a weighty density to its polished yet compact dark red and black fruits, all perfectly framed by juicy acids. Minerals, spiced orange and purple inner florals amass toward the close, as fine tannins slowly saturate, creating a dry yet wonderfully balanced expression through the finale.”

95 points, Eric Guido Vinous