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Brunello di Montalcino 1997: la fin d'un mythe?

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Brunello di Montalcino 1997: la fin d'un mythe?

Message par Yves Martineau le Lun 21 Juil 2014 - 11:24

Reportage très intéressant dans le dernier Wine Advocate au sujet du millésime 1997, autrefois encensé, aujourd'hui décrié....

Monica Larner rappelle aussi l'essor incroyable de cette région, qui passa de la pauvreté à la richesse en pratiquement une génération, en partie grâce à ce millésime.

En voici quelques extraits....:

Brunello 1997 and 1999 Retrospectives

This is a tale of dueling vintages. The first was awarded a maximum five stars by the tasting commission with the local Consorzio, or vintners' association. The second was relegated to a less remarkable four stars. The first generated such a frenzy of media buzz and critical acclaim; it became the breakthrough vintage that would usher Brunello di Montalcino onto the world stage. The second sailed through its retail prime relatively unnoticed. The first was elevated to superstardom status and the second seemed perennially stuck in the shadows.

A decade would pass before anyone would question the sovereignty of the first vintage (1997) over the second (1999).

That day of reckoning came on April 27, 2007. The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino staged a retrospective tasting of older vintages to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Founded in April 1967, the association selected 47 wines spanning four decades to explore, along with a select group of Italian and international wine critics, the long cellar-aging capacity of Brunello di Montalcino.

The list of wines poured included: sun-ripened 1997 Brunellos from Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Fattoi, Uccelliera and others; a rain-soaked 1996 Pian delle Vigne; a challenging 1995 Angelini Vigna Spuntali; average 1993s from Collesorbo and Caparzo La Casa; a problematic 1992 San Carlo; two samples from the highly-anticipated 1988 vintage that both had cork issues; beautifully balanced 1985s from Il Paradiso di Manfredi and Salvioni; a good showing from the 1982 Camigliano; the evolved and complex 1979 Col d'Orcia; a balanced but mature 1977 Argiano Riserva; oxidized wines from 1976; a barely-there 1975 Poggio alle Mura; a stunning 1970 Biondi-Santi; a decidedly done 1968 Tenute Silvio Nardi and a great showing from the 1967 Costanti. A surprise wine was poured at the conclusion of the tasting - the 1964 Biondi-Santi - which turned out to be everyone's darling.

The Consorzio did indeed have reason to celebrate with a tasting of this magnitude. It had overseen a period of stunning growth that is virtually unmatched by any other region in Italy and perhaps the world. In 40 years, a single hectare of Brunello had exploded in value by a whopping 2,153% from approximately 15,000 to 350,000 euros, according to the Consorzio. In 1967, Montalcino counted 37 Consorzio members (of which only 12 bottled their own wine). In 1997, that number jumped to 183 members (of which 129 bottles their own wine). Today, 208 estates bottle Brunello. It would be impossible to exaggerate the effects, both good and bad, that this sudden enrichment would have on the psychology of Montalcino.

The growth was outstanding, and Montalcino was catapulted out of poverty and misery (that members of the generation above me remember well) into a Golden Era of untold prosperity. A grower once told me that his grandparents cast nets in trees to trap migrating swallows. They had nothing else to eat except for boiled stew made from the boney, brittle birds. As the grower tell me this story, his figure is dwarfed by the sky-scraping crane that is assembling the multi-million euro winery behind him.

This spectacular growth spurt was due, in large measure, to the critical and commercial success of the 1997 vintage. That vintage is the Anno Domini by which the contemporary Brunello calendar commences.

The 40th Anniversary Consorzio retrospective, however, would be an act of hubris of unforgivable proportions. Thinking back to that tasting, a producer recently described it to me in soccer terms as "un autogoal clamoroso," or a "resounding own-goal."

As a wine writer only a few years into her career, I shared the honor of being present at that tasting. I will never forget it. There must have been 50 of us, seated neatly in rows with our stemware and tasting pads before us. Samples were poured in bewildering degrees of garnet, brick red, honey, amber and chestnut brown. We carefully evaluated each wine, in utter silence, painfully willing some seed of intelligent commentary to flourish should we be called upon in the public debate that would follow. This went on for a long time. Then, out of the blue, a crusty voice broke the insufferable silence: "Sa di cesso," it said in heavily accented Italian: "It smells like a toilet."

Those seminal words awarded a collective sense of relief. We had all been privately thinking the same thing of course. What followed was a fascinating and very lively debate about the wines - specifically the 1997 vintage. To make a long story short, the wines from that vintage and many from the early to mid 1990s did not meet expectations. The few samples poured from the 1960s showed far more respectable results. Even worse, 1997 cast doubt on the real aging potential of Brunello, a wine presented as one of Italy's most age-worthy reds. It started to feel like we had been sold a bill of goods.

We had no way of knowing it at the time, but our talking points would be doomsday foreshadowing to the dramatic events that occurred in 2008. In essence, our debate covered the very topics that might motivate unscrupulous producers to illegally blend unauthorized grapes into a wine that must be 100% Sangiovese by law. Those underhanded actions resulted in the Brunellopoli scandal that would become front-page news precisely one year after the Consorzio 40th Anniversary Retrospective. Could Brunello age? Why hadn't 1997 shown better (maybe a bad batch of samples were selected)? Why did 40-year-old Brunello show better than the 10-year-old bottles? Were producers embracing a more approachable (less age-worthy), international style solely based on the cash cow that had been the 1997 vintage?


I will close by saying that Brunello has made a fascinating tradition of dueling vintages. The 1997 and 1999 vintages faced off with all bets on 1997 as the better year. Now with the perspective of time, 1999 is far more consistent in quality across the board. It gloriously embraces its prime drinking moment, while 1997 seems to have already left the building. The next pair of competitors is 2006 versus 2007. Popular consensus has 2006 in the lead thanks to a cooler growing season and more prominent acidity. My money is on the delightful 2007 that shows power, freshness and a rare level of aromatic complexity with a greater potential for future evolution. The "balsamic" tones (cola, eucalyptus, anise seed, forest floor, menthol, root beer and Bengay heat rub) in 2007 are simply irresistible and not found with the same intensity in any other recent vintage I can think of. Soon, we will see 2010 matched against 2012. I tasted both as unfinished wines and we can expect stunningly results. In my view, 2010 reflects many of the chiseled, defined characteristics of 2006, while 2012 is very similar to 2007 in its fruit-forward style.

Yves Martineau

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Date d'inscription : 07/06/2009
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Re: Brunello di Montalcino 1997: la fin d'un mythe?

Message par Frederick Blais le Lun 21 Juil 2014 - 11:48

Intéressant que cela leur a pris autant de temps avant de l'admettre! À l'époque de C&S déjà on voyait la différence dans nos dégustations et les gros canons de 1997 ne déplaçaient pas les foules une fois que l'on s'y était brulé! On ne parle pas des 98 mais je crois que c'est un super millésime en Chianti et super toscan.

Frederick Blais

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Re: Brunello di Montalcino 1997: la fin d'un mythe?

Message par Ludwig Desjardins le Lun 21 Juil 2014 - 13:08

Quand même incroyable, autant je peux avoir des chiantis en cave, je n'ai aucun Brunello...

Ludwig Desjardins

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Re: Brunello di Montalcino 1997: la fin d'un mythe?

Message par Michel Therrien le Lun 21 Juil 2014 - 13:19

Ludwig Desjardins a écrit:Quand même incroyable, autant je peux avoir des chiantis en cave, je n'ai aucun Brunello...

Les bons payent pour les tricheurs du BrunelloGate....à peu près pareil dans ma cave aussi! Surprised 

_________________
WineBoy
La dégustation à l'aveugle est une grande leçon d'humilité.

Michel Therrien

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Re: Brunello di Montalcino 1997: la fin d'un mythe?

Message par Alexandre Trudel le Lun 21 Juil 2014 - 13:20

Ludwig Desjardins a écrit:Quand même incroyable, autant je peux avoir des chiantis en cave, je n'ai aucun Brunello...

Je suis d'accord que l'image de la région laisse à désirer, avec tous ses nouveaux riches qui investissent l'endroit, le modernisme parfois poussé à l'extrême, sans oublier le fameux scandale du merlot dans le vin! Mais je pense néanmoins qu'il serait injuste d'ignorer complètement la région et ne pas découvrir des producteurs merveilleux comme Fuglini ou Pian dell'Orino.

J'aime moi aussi les Chianti (Fontodi, Felsina, Brolio, etc.), mais ce sont généralement des vins moins structurés, et la possibilité d'ajouter 20% d'autres cépages (souvent bordelais) donnent des vins moins représentatifs, ou plus "internationaux" disons.

Pour les 1997, jamais bu encore, mais j'ai une bouteille orpheline en cave que je devrais essayer bientôt: Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino. Hâte de voir s'il y en encore de la vie là-dedans!

Alexandre Trudel

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Re: Brunello di Montalcino 1997: la fin d'un mythe?

Message par Frederick Blais le Lun 21 Juil 2014 - 14:17

Ceci dit, j'ai eu beaucoup de plus de plaisir à boire les Brunello 97, j'en ai acheté un truck, que les Super Toscan ou Barolo. Je trouve que les Brunello se sont fondu avec le temps alors que les autres ont souvent gardé des tanins durs et carrés. Mais il est clair que ce ne sont pas des vins qui méritent leur note de WS.

Il me reste un Frescobaldi Riserva 97 que je vais boire cet automne au Portugal.

Frederick Blais

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