Bottling Brunello

by Laura Gray on January 19, 2012

Today we are bottling 2007 Brunello and 2006 Riserva…. The variety of noises that a bottling line emits is an astounding collection of clinks and clanks, juddering rattles and hisses. Although the insertion of the cork is automated, the bottles need to be lifted manually one by one onto the line and removed and placed in their cages on the other end. We do not label yet, and the bottles stay nude and upright for a week before being gently lain on their sides to get over the trauma that is known as bottle shock (for a full explanation of this temporary condition, see here)

Our production of these vintages is limited to say the least; a puny 1200 bottles of 2006 Riserva (yep, that’s right, 100 cases….) and under 5.000 bottles of 2007. Small numbers indeed but picking up “just” 6200 bottles twice in one day is a taxing day’s work.

2007 and 2006 are both five star years. This is actually the first time since 1945 that two consecutive vintages have received the prestigious five stars “annata eccezionale.” See for yourself here

Obviously late and early are relative concepts but it is true to say that most Montalcino producers bottled these vintages between 6 months to two years ago and that we are – in a sense – late to bottle. All Brunellos must spend a minimum of 24 months in wood and Riserva can only be released on the 6th year after harvest. In our case this wine is a different composition than our vintage 2006 and has also spent an extra 18 months in wood. Our 2007 and 2006 Riserva have spent respectively 43 and 57 months in wood – infinitely more than the current DOCG regulations for 24 months. We decide to bottle our wines when they are ready and this decision is determined by the vintage and the wine’s development in the cellar. This prolonged time in wood, which two such great vintages can well withstand, will extend the “cellarability” and increase the complexity of these wines.

After bottling Brunello must spend 4 months of bottle ageing and Riserva 6 months before we can request the DOCG strips.

Many of our colleagues are gearing up to present their wines at Benvenuto Brunello next month and journalists are already rounding up bottles in order to review the new vintages. We will be hanging back until after the summer.

Watch this space.

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