The hotly anticipated release of 2015 Brunello di Montalcino is finally here, and many critics are already raving about the power and purity of these Tuscan wines. After the difficult 2014 vintage (a year that was plagued by cool, wet weather and under-ripe grapes), winemakers had an excellent 2015 season. Hot, dry weather resulted in quality wines that are lush, but not overly ripe, with plush tannins and relatively low acidity. This is a great vintage for Italian wine enthusiasts, especially those looking for exceptional young wines to drink over the next few years. The best wines of the vintage may even age for decades. In this detailed guide to the 2015 Brunello di Montalcino vintage, you’ll learn which producers and vineyards had the most success. We’ll also offer tips on how to properly age these wines so they reach their full potential.
Drought-Like Weather Conditions Produced Lush Wines
A dry spring kicked off a very steady 2015 growing season in Montalcino. June and July were consistently hot and dry, producing incredibly ripe, concentrated grapes. By the end of August, rain was still scarce in Montalcino. Some areas didn’t experience their first significant rainfall until September, just before harvest. This period of rainfall didn’t last though, as high temperatures and drought-like conditions took hold once again by mid-September. So, while the weather in 2015 was predictable, it was also a little on the warm side for traditionally acidic Sangiovese wines like Brunello.
Producers that picked their grapes just after the cooling September rains were able to make perfectly balanced wines.
This was both a blessing and a curse for Brunello producers, depending on their location and how early they harvested their grapes. Sangiovese is a sensitive grape that doesn’t thrive in hot conditions, as it blisters easily and can’t reach an ideal acidity level in the heat. To be successful after such a hot growing season, producers had to harvest early and keep a close watch on the ripeness of the fruit. Producers that picked their grapes just after the cooling September rains were able to make perfectly balanced wines. In these wines, the fruit is prominent and pure and the wines are very pleasurable, even in their youth. Acidity is lower than usual, but these wines are still receiving high scores from critics. However, producers that allowed their fruit to hang on the vines longer produced wines that are much less balanced and refined. These wines are also high in alcohol, with many containing 15 to 15.5 percent alcohol by volume (Brunello typically contains just 13 percent ABV).
Partly as a result of these differences in harvest time, 2015 Brunello di Montalcino varies significantly in quality from producer to producer. This is by no means unusual for Tuscany’s Montalcino subregion. Because there’s a huge variation in altitude, soil composition, and microclimate in the area, collectors know that quality is often hit or miss, even among wines made in the same year. Thankfully, the 2015 vintage offers plenty of successes to choose from.
The Highest Rated 2015 Brunello di Montalcino
Most 2015 Brunello di Montalcino is pleasurable and approachable. However, there are a number of producers that stand out from the crowd this year and have produced incredible wines that are powerful, complex, finessed, and age-worthy. Some wines from this region even received coveted perfect scores from professional wine critics. This is not a vintage serious collectors should sleep on.
Here are just a few of the wines that critics find especially alluring:
|2015 Renieri Brunello di Montalcino||“The finish is hauntingly long, the after effects of the acidity unworldly. This is certainly in a quiet, reserved stage of evolution, and will need time to fully mature in bottle.” – James Suckling|
|2015 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Pianrosso||“Lots of ripe and rich fruit with a decadent undertone of meat and spice that turns to pure fruit and licorice. Medium to full body, refined tannins and a fresh and bright finish. All about harmony.” – James Suckling|
More Top-Rated Wines
|2015 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova||99 points|
|2015 San Filippo Brunello di Montalcino||98 points|
|2015 Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino||98 points|
|2015 Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino Manachiara||97 points|
|2015 La Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino VV||97 points|
|2015 La Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino Fornace||97 points|
|2015 Podere Giodo Brunello di Montalcino||97 points|
|2015 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Loreto||96 points|
|2015 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli||96 points|
|2015 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino||95 points|
|2015 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino Prime Donne||95 points|
|2015 Luce Della Vite Brunello di Montalcino||94 points|
|2015 Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino||92 points|
Any of the wines above would make fantastic additions to an Italian wine collection. As an added benefit, some of these wines are already drinking well, so you can invest in multiple bottles and drink them slowly over the next decade or so. It’s a very versatile vintage.
Tips for Investing in This Delightful Vintage
Of course, there are many gems in the latest 2015 Brunello di Montalcino release that aren’t listed above. If you want to find the best 2015 wines from the Montalcino region, consider the winemaking techniques each producer used, as well as the most reliably excellent terroirs.
The Most Successful Winemaking Techniques
Not only did early harvests have an impact on the quality of 2015 Brunello di Montalcino, but so did vine age, canopy management, and hand harvesting. Producers with the oldest vines (at least 30 years old) produced high-quality wines in 2015 because the vines had deep roots that could access water and important nutrients underground during the warmest months. This contributed to excellent acidity and complex flavors. Additionally, producers that maintained denser canopies had success because the grapes were shielded from direct sunlight. Finally, you should look for producers that harvested by hand according to ripeness. In particular, producers with decades of experience or that used winemaking traditions handed down through the generations created some of the standout wines of the vintage.
The Best Terroirs
To shop for top-quality 2015 Brunello di Montalcino, look for wines made from grapes grown in:
- High altitudes
- Areas close to the town of Montalcino (the diverse mix of soils gives wines great complexity)
- Vineyards near Tavernelle
- Some areas of the south, including Castelnuovo dell’Abate and Sant’Angelo in Colle
Generally, northern terroirs fared better than southern terroirs, but there are potentially great wines to be found in nearly every area of Montalcino. The wines you choose will also depend on how long you want to age them, if at all.
How Long Will the 2015 Vintage Age?
The 2015 Brunello di Montalcino vintage is not quite as age-worthy as some of the region’s legendary vintages of the recent past, like the 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2010. However, there is still some aging potential here, especially among the top-rated wines. Since these wines are rounder and less acidic than usual, they’re ideal for medium-term aging, and while a minority of 2015 wines still need some time to open up (about three to five years), most are ready to drink right now. The ones that are ready to drink should hold up for an additional eight to ten years, perhaps more. A few wines (particularly those that received a score of at least 95 points) will age for as long as 20 years and may evolve more complex flavors.
The 2015 Brunello di Montalcino vintage is a true crowd-pleaser.
The 2015 may not be a vintage that you can lay down and forget about for the next 30 years. However, its sunny personality and lush, ripe fruit make it a prime candidate for collectors who want to enjoy their wines with minimal waiting. The 2015 Brunello di Montalcino vintage is a true crowd-pleaser that even the most casual fans of Italian wines will enjoy.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.