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HIGH-SCORING BRUNELLO FROM THE OUTSTANDING
2012 VINTAGE!

“The 2012 Brunellos are earning high scores for their consistent high quality and the 2012 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino is no exception. Earning 93 to 96 points from Wine Spectator, Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate and James Suckling, this Brunello ticks all the boxes on a great, age-worthy wine for under $45! With a rich history dating back to the 16th century, this is a wine that both impresses and won’t break the bank. Enjoy!” -Jim Knight, The Wine House
2012 Argiano Brunello
di Montalcino
96 Points James Suckling
94+ Points Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
93 Points Wine Spectator

$42.99
“Fantastically complex aromas of spices, dried flowers and plums follow through to a full body, integrated and polished tannins and a superb finish. This is a 2012 Brunello with it all. Drink in 2018.” -James Suckling, November 2016

“The Argiano 2012 Brunello di Montalcino does a great job of interpreting the vintage and of showcasing its special microclimate on the southern flank of the Montalcino appellation. Both these elements point to warm-climate Sangiovese. and Argiano accepts that challenge with creativity and expertise. This is a proud expression of the grape with thick texture, determination and a succulent approach. Aromas of dark cherry, moist earth, tobacco and grilled herb lift from the bouquet. Bright acidity marks the close. The wine still carries its baby fat and needs a few more years of cellar aging in order to fully express itself.” -Monica Larner, Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, February 2017

“An elegant style, displaying cherry, currant, tobacco and earth flavors. The tannins are present yet integrated. This leaves a lasting impression of balance and sweet fruit. Best from 2019 through 2032. 10,000 cases made.” -Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator, June 2017

FROM THE WINERY

Since 1888, the finest Sangiovese grapes of the property have been used to make Brunello di Montalcino, one of the world’s most famous red wines. To make its Brunello, Argiano selects the grapes from its most noble vineyards and ages the wine in two different types of wood. The first year is spent in French oak barriques and tonneaux with different capacities, to strengthen the innate structure of the wine, while the second is spent in larger Slavonian oak barrels which allow the wine to achieve balance. After completing the maturing process in wood, the wine is transferred into concrete tanks. The combination of concentrated and mature grapes undergoing fermentation at meticulously controlled temperatures, together with careful ageing in a selection of different oak barrels, produces red wines that conserve that incredible ageing potential for which Brunello di Montalcino is famous.

Organoleptic characteristics
Argiano’s Brunello di Montalcino is distinguished by its elegance and its deep ruby red colour. It presents a good concentration on the mid-palate and a persistent aftertaste, with a rounded and voluptuous body, and interesting, silky tannins. It unites potency and elegance and looks like having a promising future. With its tempting perfumes of red berries and its clean freshness, the complexity of this wine presents an excellent balance. To fully appreciate its qualities, decant the wine at least one hour before serving.

Climatic conditions
the vineyards of Argiano benefit from a favourable microclimate and an enviable position which contribute to the development of the vines. The extended vegetative cycle and ripening period are due to the altitude of the plateau, 300 m above sea level, which determines cool nights in the summer months. The generally moderate rainfall in Montalcino favours better, healthier ripening of the grapes, conveying greater concentration and aromas to the wine. This, together with the hot and constant winds that blow from the Maremma, cooling the bunches of grapes during the hottest summer days, allows slower ripening of the grapes, determining favourable general conditions. Lastly, Argiano is close to Mount Amiata, one of Tuscany’s highest peaks, which protects the entire area from bad weather. The combination of all these factors enables Argiano to make high profile wines and constantly good vintages, year after year.

Vinification
Sangiovese grapes are usually harvested between the end of September and the middle of October, depending on the type of soil, the exposure of the vineyards and the climatic trend. The must is allowed to ferment in contact with the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for two or three weeks. The fermentation time varies from one tank to another, depending on the vineyards where the grapes are grown. Upon completion of alcoholic fermentation, malo-lactic fermentation begins spontaneously. This is a natural process that transforms malic acid into lactic acid and conveys smoothness to the wine. This second fermentation can last from several weeks to several months, varying on the basis of a variety of factors, such as the temperature in the cellar. Not only does this process add smoothness to the wine, reduce its acidity and stabilise it naturally, it also conveys greater depth, complexity and elegance.

BRUNELLO: THE 2012 VINTAGE

Every once in a while, when visiting a specific wine region, I taste so many good bottles that I find myself thinking I might just turn in my author’s pen and start making wine (clearly, such dangerous thoughts last only a second or two before I come back to my senses). Most recently, this happened during my tastings of the 2012 Brunellos, when I tried one delicious example after another. Even more impressive, the 2012 vintage for Brunello stands out for its consistently high quality. I found more good to outstanding examples than in any past vintage and far fewer unfocused, unbalanced and high-alcohol wines.

The 2012 Brunellos are characterized by impeccable balance, vibrant acidity and fine-grained tannins. They are not especially luscious or fleshy, but they are blessed with precise aromas and flavors of mainly red fruits, blood orange and minerals, and will prove very ageworthy. For the most part, the wines are also lower in alcohol than the 2011s are. In ultimate analysis, the 2012 Brunellos might best be viewed as sharing some of the same qualities offered by the 2006 (but with a less overbearing tannic structure) and the 2008 Brunellos (but with higher alcohol), although a few producers I spoke with believe that the 2012s are most reminiscent of the very fine 2004s (for my part, I think the 2012s are less powerful and tannic). The new set of releases is a much better better-balanced and more fruit-driven crop of wines than the 2011s. This superiority is further demonstrated by the fact that many more estates plan to produce Riserva bottlings from vintage 2012 than they did in 2011.

The most interesting aspect of the 2012 Brunellos is that they convey a cool-climate personality while in fact the vintage was characterized by anything but cool weather. A difficult growing season, 2012 was not just hot but also very dry. In the northern Montalcino sector of Pelagrilli and in the central-southwest section of Tavarnelle it didn’t rain practically from the end of April to the end of August. Other sections of Montalcino benefited from slightly more rain, but just barely. Unlike in 2011, however, the heat and drought started early in 2012, which enabled the vines to adapt, and so the grapes didn’t bake or overripen as they did the preceding summer when the scorching heatwave hit very hard and suddenly. Consequently, the grape bunches and berries were small in 2012 (on average, the berries weighed 1.2 grams instead of the more usual 1.6 to 1.8), and the crop was the lowest in a decade.

Clearly, this naturally occurring yield reduction played an important role in the genesis of the many successful Brunellos I tasted even from those estates that are not exactly known for their high EEE values (Elbow Energy Expenditure: my term) in the vineyards. In fact, 2012 production volumes were consistently down by 15% to 30% in Montalcino. In order to protect their fruit against the effects of heat and drought, most estates avoided de-leafing and reduced grape thinning. Others harvested roughly a week earlier than usual, and still others picked their fruit in two or three different batches—or more—in order to begin with blends of grapes that offered a range of total acidity and phenolic ripeness levels. Rain finally arrived on August 30, and again on September 4 and 5, with the latter precipitation of paramount importance in saving the vintage.

The end result in 2012 is a bevy of refined, classic Brunellos that will repay cellaring. Unlike in 2011, when the northern, cooler and highest sections of the Montalcino production zone fared best, quality was more consistent throughout Montalcino in 2012. Clearly, truly low-lying vineyards and the southern section of Montalcino were also at a disadvantage in 2012, and they were even worse off when planted with young vines. Not surprisingly, older vines fared better in the drought conditions of 2012, as they are equipped with more extensive root systems that can reach deep for water. For the most part, 2012’s less successful Brunellos are marred by green, unripe polyphenols or excessive alcohol levels. Some wines also display an intrusive savory quality due to the lowering of the water table, which led to wines marked by saline (not mineral) notes that may not be for everyone. However, as I stated at the outset, the 2012 vintage is a very good to outstanding one in Montalcino. No, I don’t believe it is a year that will be remembered for 98- and 99-point wines but it is without question a source of excellent, well-balanced wines, many of which are youthfully tight. These latter wines are also quite likely to expand in bottle and to show the complexity that they only hint at today. For this reason, I have made more extensive use of + marks following my scores than in many past years. In ultimate analysis, if you liked the 2004s and 2006 Brunellos, two other mostly outstanding vintages, you will most likely be very happy with the 2012s as well.

-Ian D’Agata, Vinous, March 2017

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