2006 vintage : Part One : Decisions, decisions, decisions.

by Laura Gray on July 9, 2010

Tasting day with Paolo Vagaggini

A couple of Sundays ago decisions were made about the 2006 vintage.

Paolo Vagaggini, our winemaker, hosted us at the lab and then for a follow-up at his beautiful home in Siena. The day started with men in white coats and syringes full of wine and finished with white linen table-cloths and home-cooked Osso Buco.

What could there have been to decide?

All Brunello is (and must be) 100% Sangiovese so there is no blending of varietals involved. However Il Palazzone has three different vineyards that are all picked and vinified separately, before ageing in barrels of different size and age. Each vineyard is in a different area of Montalcino (with consequential variety in terroir, altitude, exposition.. you name it) so each yield is significantly different.

Moreover 2006 was a superlative vintage and during the last four years of aging (and tasting) we became increasingly sure that we would release a Riserva. We only make Riservas when we are sure that the vintage will be considerably improved by a further wood aging. Our “normal” Brunelo already spends over four years in wood (twice the current DOCG obligation) so additional time means the wine in question must have the “stoffa” to be a truly great vintage.

We have made Riservas in 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2004.

The Tasting Day was dedicated to deciding what would go into the “regolare” vintage 2006 and what would stay on in wood to become our Riserva…

A hard job but someone’s got to do it.

And now I know that we will be making 8433 bottles of 2006 Brunello, due to be released in March 2011, 100 Magnums and 5 Double Mags. We are leaving the equivalent of just over 2.000 bottles in wood to become Riserva 2006 (release date February 2012).

I have now requested the final check from the Chamber of Commerce and Unione Italiana Vini. Our 2006 will be subjected to a laboratory analysis and then to a purely organoleptic tasting by an anonymous board of experts. “La Commissione” will not know which estates they are tasting, nor will I know the exact day that our wines will be under examination. We should receive the “idoneita” – the official confirmation that our wine is validated Brunello – in a couple of weeks which means that we can bottle, safe in the knowledge that our wine has passed all the authenticity tests. After six or so months of bottle aging we will be ready to send it out into the world – though be warned, 2006 is definitely a keeper and destined for great evolution in the cellar.

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