Gambero Rosso Wine of the Year
Gambero Rosso is the world’s foremost guide to things Italian and, especially, so far as we’re concerned, wine, and it has a rather different set-up to most professional wine review magazines: for a wine to be awarded one, two or three glasses it has to have first been tasted by a panel of experts local to the area of production (Chianti, for example), make it through to tasting by a regional panel (Tuscany) and then be selected for the final, national stage. This takes place in Rome at Gambero Rosso’s headquarters where the most prominent experts compare wines from all the regions, marking them out of 100, with any wine having an average score of 90 or more being awarded the coveted Tre Bicchieri. On top of this, every tasting is ‘blind’, so that the tasters have no prior knowledge of where the wine comes from or who made it. As you can see, the whole process is much more rigorous than the approach taken by most journalists.
Finally, the best of the best are again tasted blind to decide the award of Wine of the Year. To achieve this, the wine has to be beyond exceptional! And,
Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Suolo 2016 Tre Bicchieri, Argiano
Price is GBP per case size as indicated, inclusive of VAT, delivery charged on orders below £200. All wines offered subject to availability. E & OE 10% Discount on 24 bottles, may be mixed.
Dating back to at least 1500, the historic and visually stunning Argiano estate covers some 100 hectares of prime Brunello-shire, sharing its land between vineyards, olive groves and meadows, and with Mount Amiata in the background it is an estate that would be well worth visiting even if they made nothing better than cooking wine. Fortunately for us, it is a top-class winery. In 1992, the estate was acquired by Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano, and the philosophy changed from quantity to quality; Sebastiano Rosa, whose experience included a two-year tenure at Chateau Lafite Rothschild and three years at Sassicaia, was appointed as General Manager and the great oenologist, Giacomo Tachis (Sassicaia, Tignanello and Solaia, to name a few), was to oversee the viticulture and winemaking – not a bad team. In 2013, the estate was purchased by Andre Esteves, who only added to the efforts to continue the long-standing tradition of Argiano: the world-renowned Chilean terroir consultant, Pedro Parra, was added to the winemaking team in 2015, the cellars and villa have recently been renovated and under Bernadino Sani, CEO and winemaker, things have never looked better at this famous estate.2019 Non Confunditur – £107.70 per 6 x 75cl
Non Confunditur is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 30% Syrah and Sangiovese Grosso, vinified separately and grown at 280 – 310 metres on mostly clay and limestone high-density, organically managed vineyards using spurred cordons. Before blending, the wines are aged for 6 months in one-year-old French barriques or two-year-old tonneaux. After blending, they are aged in stainless steel.
A little more serious than the price reflects. Lovely ripe black and red fruits combine with a fleshy palate, ripe tannins and good acidity to make a really attractive, youthful, wine to go with a huge variety of foods.
2019 Rosso di Montalcino – £119.70 per 6 x 75cl
100% Sangiovese grown at 280 – 310 metres on mostly clay and limestone, high-density, organic vineyards using spurred cordons. Cold soaked prior to spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel, with 10 days on the skins. Argiano’s Rosso is always one of the best and leans more squarely towards Brunello than most.
This has a lovely bright ruby colour; fragrant nose – red and black cherry, plum with hints of spice. Youthful palate, energetic, cherry, ripe red fruits, fine tannins with good acidity and medium long finish. Really very good now and over the next few years.
2016 Brunello di Montalcino Vigna del Suolo, Gambero Rosso Wine of the Year 2021 (very limited) – £399 per 3 x 75cl (or £645 per 6 x 75cl under bond)
This vineyard is on the southwestern side of Montalcino, on a spur of rock overlooking the Val d’Orcia, the Sangiovese Grosso vines are 55 years old and lie 320 meters above sea level, on a soil of clayey-limestone marl, rich in fossils from when this area was a seabed. Only the best parcels of vines are selected for the del Suolo. Fermentation was natural and spontaneous, and maturation was for 30 months in 10-15 hectolitre Allier oak barrels from Garbelletto, including some ovoid (egg-shaped) – after bottling in April, during the most beneficial phases of the moon (Bernardino’s attention to detail is key to the quality of Argiano’s wines) the wine rested for 10 months.
Gambero Rosso note
The wine is announced with a deep ruby colour, and opens with a seductive bouquet with ripe cherries and small fruits turning to more complex notes of tobacco, floral and scrub, and then fade into spice and citrus peel. The mouth is wide, deep, clear, supported by a rich acidic structure that supports an intact and pulpy fruit and tannins of spectacular finesse. Rich but not dense, it is assertive, deep, very elegant, with an extraordinary vitality that predicts glorious aging. We will talk about it for a long time…
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. Vinous 96+ pts Drinking window: 2026 – 2040 Eric Guido. Tasting date: November 2020