BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
Always an enigmatic wine, it’s no surprise points are all over the place most years. This is a formidable wine, with layers of both complexities and ‘protection’ in the form of unusually (for Montalcino) aggressive sooty and black-tea tannins, which make it a tardy opener.
THE PERTIMALI STYLE
The Pertimali style is probably not quite like anyone else’s; the combination of the finesse and persistence of its northern Montalcino site, on the fabulous Montosoli slope, with an ability to get southern Montalcino super-ripeness, results in a wine with both the gamey/leather/mushroom/tobacco persona and the black fruits, vegemite and graphite, tighter elements.
Unlike maybe most Brunello, which can often perform quite quickly at table (well at least much faster than say Barolo!) these do need a bit more air. What you get are layers of the characters mentioned and in fascinating waves, persistent and reappearing. In looking for comparisons, wines from the middle and upper sections of Echezaux, and the Clos of Vougeot, are evocative. Maybe an elegant Serralunga?
Livio Sassetti, part-time poet and an original founder of the Brunello Consorzio (1967) consolidated his father’s keen eye for the best vineyard land to bring their holdings of the great slope of Montosoli up to 16 ha, 12 of it able to produce Brunello di Montalcino. The presence of another ‘Div 1’ producer Altesino and the consistent high results by others, like Canalicchio di Sopra, tend to confirm the status of this treasured 75 ha patch, just north east of Montalcino.
As ever, the wise old heads realised that the best wine comes from the best vineyards. This mostly south-facing slope is composed of marl and siliceous limestone soils, great for acidity, austerity, deep roots and excellent drainage. Altitude is from 350 up to 400 meters, and the whole terroir, soils and location offer notably lower temperatures than even a little further south (within the Montalcino zone).
Vineyard practises are generally biodynamic – as they have been for decades now.
Current custodian Lorenzo Sassetti keeps the winemaking simple and consistent and essentially the same for both wines – a gentle press, with must and skins together in the ferment for 12-15 days at 28˚C. Yeasts are indigenous. Rosso does its time in tank, then in bottle, and generally without any oak and Brunello has 36 months in 30hl Slavonian wood and 6 more months in bottle. So they’re not really ‘Parker’ wines at all, but pure expressions of the Brunello of Montalcino.
The Sangiovese grapes of Pertimali, the Pertimali vineyard on the famed Montosoli slope, and their Brunello in Slavonian botti.
"This tiny estate, which has been making spectacular wines since 1982, makes some of the finest red wines in Tuscany. I am beginning to think that if I had only one Brunello di Montalcino to drink it would have to be Pertimali. Unfortunately, quantities are microscopic, making availability a major headache"
Robert M Parker – August ‘96
Of course, one always agrees with Parker when it suits, doesn’t one? But I have been as keen on Pertimali since my first experiences too. It was the very good ’94 (much better vintage there than most other places) that we first brought in (as David Ridge Wines, and later Distinguished Vineyards). Each vintage sold out easily, always providing a delight and a quite unique wine to people. I was very surprised to see Pertimali no longer offered by anyone here when I visited in October ‘14, so that needed to be fixed.