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With 2015 and 2016, Montalcino recorded two magnificent vintages in a row. 2016 could even go down in history as the greatest vintage of the last two, if not three decades. The differences are particularly clear at the top.

For the elegance attributed to the '16 is not recognisable in all wines. 2016 was also warm; the wines hardly have less alcohol than those from the hot year 2015. So it happens again and again that in a direct comparison, the '16 of all wines seems a bit ponderous, while its counterpart from the previous year manages its alcohol power much better thanks to greater concentration and firmer structure. The best 16s, however, develop a delicacy, complexity, freshness and, precisely, elegance that elevates them far above the already very good Annate from 2015. We can't remember a vintage that gave us anywhere near as many downright inspiring wines.

The fact that 2015 does not have to fear being seen as a loser in this BEST OF is again due to the partly great Riserve of the vintage. In the past, a Brunello Riserva was by no means always better than the Annata from the same winery. In 2015, however, this is the case across the board. The wines seem to have gained in polish and subtlety, not least due to the longer barrel ageing. Moreover, one can now assume that in most cases the best lots are indeed selected for the Riserva. Thus, the effect described above occurs here again: due to the more structure, concentration and complexity, the wines also cope much better with higher degrees of alcohol. Although the wines are almost more powerful, they seem more harmonious and refined. In some cases we were so surprised by the elegance of a Riserva that, had we not known better, we would never have guessed 2015. So, at least until the release of the 16s, the 15s Riserva are likely to be the best we have experienced since the turn of the millennium. As a Brunello lover, you should definitely have tasted some of them.

We tasted almost 200 wines for this BEST OF, all of them blind at least twice on different days in different order and never more than 20 wines a day to give them enough time. As always, we present only the best results here. Links to all tasted wines with detailed descriptions as well as their respective producers can be found at the end of the respective best list.

Shelby-Nick / Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino

BEST OF Brunello di Montalcino Vintage 2016