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2017 was the driest and hottest year in Montalcino since weather records began. There was no rain for a whole three months, and by the end of August almost 20 days with temperatures above 35 degrees were recorded. With such drought stress, the vines switch to emergency supply: Even if the must weights increase, aroma development falls by the wayside. At the beginning of September, the longed-for rain shower finally arrived, and it rained again in the middle of the month. The change in weather was accompanied by a clear cooling, which ensured that the must weights did not go through the roof too quickly. This allowed the vines to catch up with the aromatic ripening and make up for lost ground.

As extreme as the vintage conditions are, as different are the qualities. Basically, the wines do not have the power and density of the two previous years. Nevertheless, many producers succeeded in producing excellent, complex, juicy and often astonishingly fresh Brunellos, which are usually enjoyable to drink much earlier than their immediate predecessors. On the other hand, there are aromatically less exciting wines with often more or less brittle tannins, sometimes downright green aromas. Problems also often show up where the alcohol levels are particularly high: In contrast to 2016 and 2015, the wines lack the final concentration and fullness to balance the alcohol power.

So it is important to choose carefully. Since we do not follow the general trend towards inflated fantasy scores and our ratings are meant to reflect the actual quality without benevolently including the vintage context, you can be sure: The wines we give top marks to really deserve it. They are worth every bit of attention.

The Riserve from 2016 confirm the great year. They are not in every case better than the Annate we tasted two years ago. The best ones, however, are once again more concentrated and deeper, but at the same time seem even finer due to their complexity. These are truly great Brunellos that no lover of these wines should miss.

We have currently tasted around 160 Brunellos, all of them at least twice, many three to four times over several days. We present the best results here. Links to all the wines tasted with detailed tasting notes as well as their producers can be found at the end of the lists.

In Focus: Brunello di Montalcino Brunello Vintage 2017

In Focus: Brunello di Montalcino Brunello and Brunello Riserva Vintage 2016