Good acids and tannins make Brunellos food friendly, and all can age well. Although 2009 was not the greatest of recent vintages, the wines will hold for a while. However, they are ready to drink now, which makes them more appealing to the average consumer.
Almost all the wines at the tasting (above) were 100% Sangiovese, but one part of the region, Sant'Antimo, allows blending with other grapes. Collosorbo put out a blend of Sangiovese with Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and a blend of Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot that did not include Sangiovese. Capanna's Sant'Antimo red blended 60% Merlot with 40% Sangiovese. Camigliano and Col d'Orcia both set out the only 100% Cabernet Sauvignons at the tasting.
These three from Le Chiuse were all winners, especially the Le Chiuse Rosso de Montalcino 2011, made from Sangiovese Grosso grapes sourced from vines 60 to 70 years old. Although most of the wines presented were from 2009, a few older and younger vintages were shown too.
As for matching with food, "These aren't wines for sipping without food. They're a little too astrigent, dusty for this, but great to go with steak," said Peter Koff, who led two seminars and guided tastings.
The other seminar leader was Taylor Parsons, beverage director of République. I'm a "passionate lover of Sangiovese," he said, which promises a good assortment of Brunellos on the République wine list.
The Los Angeles tasting followed one in New York. Both were arranged by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, an organization of Brunello producers founded in 1967.