Brunello in Toronto

By / Wine + Drinks / March 20th, 2014 / 4

It was a rare winter’s day in Toronto for two reasons. First, the temperature was above zero. Second, members of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino were in town for the first time in over a decade to pour their wares at a trade and media event held at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Founded in 1967, on the day B di M received Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status (since upgraded to Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, or DOCG), the mission of the Consorzio is to ensure the quality and safeguard the reputation of one of the wine world’s heaviest hitters. It also is in business to increase the awareness of all the wines of Montalcino (Brunello and others) among the general public, hospitality industry, and media.

There’s plenty of info on this site about Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, and the region’s other wines, so I won’t go into a lengthy dissertation on the technical aspects of the region and it’s wines, suffice to say that those (primarily red) produced from the local variant of the Sangiovese grape variety (called Brunello and meaning “little brown one”) are recognized as some of the world’s best, with Brunello di Montalcino occupying the top tier of the oenophilic royalty.

In tasting through some of the over 100 wines presented by the 31 member wineries, one thing became very clear: Brunello di Montalcino is a wine that really does reward long, patient ageing. While the 2007, 2008, and 2009 vintages were all very good, most of the wines from these years were still, more or less, very much babies, characterized by tight structure and somewhat reserved aromas hinting at greatness to come.  “I’m just opening my 1997s now,” revealed Harald Thiel, proprietor of Niagara’s acclaimed Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery. And, in fact, the 1997 Brunello di Montalcino from Col D’Orcia he suggested I try turned out to be one of the highlights of the show for me, with an incredibly complex nose of mint, mineral, earth, plum, and cedar that followed through on the palate with mature, sweet fruit, elegant styling, and a long, long finish.

Younger but equally stunning was Campanna’s 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (“riserva” denoting an extra year of aeging before being released on the market) with its intense aromas of baking spice, violet, leather, black raspberry, and mocha, silky mouthfeel, and balanced structure.

The day before the show, at The Fine Wine Reserve (a wine storage facility with Get Smart-like security), I had the pleasure of tasting the 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from Donatella Cinelli Columbini at a tasting hosted by Donatella’s daughter Violante. A story on the winery was featured in the April 2013 issue of Tidings, but the winery is unique for a number of reasons, a big one being the fact that it is run entirely by women. The ’04 was textbook Brunello, with captivating aromas of smoked meat, slate, tar, and sweet black fruit. Seductively smooth in the mouth, it offered a multifaceted flavour profile sporting dark, smoky plum, clove, sandalwood, and tobacco leaf. Donatella’s other wines – including the 2007 and 2008 “Prime Donne” Brunellos and the chewy, mouth filling 2010 Il Drago e le 8 Colombe IGT Toscana (the name paying tribute to the eight women now involved in the winery) which includes as measure of Sagrantino, along with Sangiovese Grosso, and Merlot – were also top notch.

Other show highlights:

  • Corte Dei Venti 2009 Brunello di Montalcino
  • Fanti 2012 Sant’Antimo Bianco Soralisa
  • Paradisone – Colle Degli Angeli 2007 Brunello di Montalcino
  • Campanna 2010 Moscadello di Montalcino Late Harvest



Tod Stewart is the contributing editor at Quench. He's an award-winning Toronto-based wine/spirits/food/travel/lifestyle writer with over 35 years industry experience. He has contributed to newspapers, periodicals, and trade publications and has acted as a consultant to the hospitality industry. No matter what the subject matter, he aims to write an entertaining read. His book, 'Where The Spirits Moved Me' is now available on Amazon and Apple.

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