Looking Back at the 2005 & 2004 Brunellos
BY ANTONIO GALLONI | OCTOBER 19, 2016
Revisiting the 2005 and
2004 Brunellos is a terrific opportunity to gain further insights on these two
very different vintages given that some time has passed since the wines were first released. The best Brunellos from both vintages have plenty to
offer, although the finest 2004s are truly superb.
The 2005 Brunellos:
Late Rains Have the Final Say
Interestingly, 2005 is remembered today as a warm vintage by
some producers and a cold year by others. There is some truth to both views. At
certain times during the growing season, 2005 was quite warm, but late season
rains turned out to be the single most defining weather event of the year.
Taken as a group, the 2005s are relatively compact, mid-weight wines that lack
the structure, depth and ripeness of tannin that defines the very best years.
With the passage of time, many wines have begun to fray around the edges and
show the wilder, gamier side of Sangiovese. Very few 2005s will continue to
develop positively from here. There are a handful cases where estates did
better in 2005 than 2004, but they are few and far between. Readers will also
note that only a small number of producers bottled Riservas. For more on the
2005 Brunellos, readers might want to revisit my original
report on those wines.
The 2004 Brunellos:
Quality & Quantity
Two thousand four was marked by much more
moderate conditions than 2005. Specifically, the weather was nearly perfect in
the weeks leading up to the harvest. The challenge in 2004 was moderating
naturally occurring high yields that resulted as plants unleashed the energy
they had stored during the torrid 2003 growing season. Expressive aromatics,
beautifully layered fruit and fine, silky tannins are vintage signatures that
are found in the 2004s. The best wines remain fresh and full of life, although
virtually all 2004s are approachable today. At the very top, the most profound
2004s are viscerally thrilling, majestic Brunellos on a level that even the
best 2005s don’t reach. Readers will find a more complete overview of the
growing season and wines in my first
report on the 2004 Brunellos, which was published in 2009.
The entrance to
All of the wines in this article were tasted over the last
eighteen months. Sadly, in a few cases, wines I tasted at the properties were
not as fresh as examples from my cellar. The lack of proper libraries remains
one of Montalcino’s greatest shortcomings. To be fair, Montalcino is hardly
alone in Italy in that regard. But it remains an inescapable fact that too many
estates in Montalcino do not cellar their own wines under ideal conditions.
Still, much of Montalcino remains magical, especially with
regards to light. When Sangiovese is grown in the right places by dedicated
producers, the results can be stellar, as these notes show. Readers should
consider checking in on their 2005s, while the 2004s still have plenty to say.
See all the wines
You Might Also Enjoy
Salvioni: Brunello di Montalcino 1985-2011, Antonio Galloni, May 2016
2011 Brunello di Montalcino: Terroir Matters, Antonio Galloni, February 2016
Canalicchio di Sopra: Brunello di Montalcino 1970-2008, Antonio Galloni, March 2015
Biondi-Santi: The Epic Vintages 1955-1975, Antonio Galloni, March 2015
2010 Brunello di Montalcino: A Promise Fulfilled, Antonio Galloni, February 2015
Soldera – Case Basse: Brunello di Montalcino 1981-2006, Antonio Galloni, January 2015