28 February 2022
Brunello di Montalcino: Small region, big potential
Cooler sites performed best in 2017 while stunning 2016 Riserva releases contain several new icons
The small Brunello di Montalcino wine region represents one of the more intriguing areas of Italian fine wine and could play a bigger role in the growing Italian wine investment market. Partly due to the region’s small size and the rarity of its wonderful reds, many of the top names don’t have the global name recognition of their leading Super Tuscan counterparts. But Italian wine experts will know this DOCG region has been making some of the finest, longest-lived expressions of Tuscany’s native grape, Sangiovese, for centuries.
Brunello di Montalcino ageing requirements
Quality, scarcity, long lifespans – Brunello di Montalcino wines also form great investment wines. Two sets of Brunello di Montalcino wines are hitting the market early this year - the 2017 Brunello di Montalcino Annata (vintage) and the 2016 Riservas in line with the DOCG’s ageing requirement. Here, we provide a profile of the two vintages and look at their investment potential.
2017 Brunello di Montalcino
Where some see a challenge, we see opportunity. The 2017 vintage in Brunello proved a difficult one for many producers. A hot, dry summer thickened grape skins, which increases tannins, and boosted sugar levels, pressuring growers to pick earlier. As a whole, 2017 does not equal the back-to-back standout 2015 and 2016 vintages in the region.
However, a region as renowned as Montalcino should never be written off entirely; seasoned Italian wine collectors will know top producers can still emerge with stunning wines. These top 2017s could hold long-term appreciation potential as demand gets more concentrated with other wines from the vintage destined for earlier consumption.
We think this is especially true in a growing region such as Italy, which has seen larger trade shares in recent years (over 15% in 2020 and 2021 compared to 8.8% in 2019, according to Liv-ex data). As Italian wines continue to gain prominence, we expect more fine wine buyers to look deeper at individual wines rather than pass judgement about the vintage as a whole.
And make no mistake, many producers did succeed in creating top quality wines amid the challenging 2017 vintage.
I love 2017s; they are so enjoyable and fresh and easy to drink I could crush a bottle one after the other.
Andrea Marino, Cult Wines’ Senior Fine Wine Buyer
Although I must say that experienced vintners worked hard to achieve elegance, and the results are impressive, despite the many challenges.
Monica Larner, Wine Advocate
Then there’s the best of them, the wines that transcend everything that we’ve learned about the 2017 vintage, from producers who, through a combination of terroir and expertise, have created some of the most beautiful exotic beasts I’ve ever seen in Montalcino.
Eric Guido, Vinous
2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Unlike the mixed 2017 vintage, the 2016 vintage offers widespread excellence and investment potential, in our view. The Wine Advocate handed the 2016 vintage a 98-point score, the highest in Brunello di Montalcino since 2010, outpacing the sought-after 97-point 2015. Prices for many of these 2015 Riservas are already well above where they were early last year. For example, the Conti Constanti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (95pts, Vinous) was trading 36% higher at the beginning of February 2022 versus the same time in 2021. Canalicchio di Sopra’s fantastic 2015 Riserva (98pts, Vinous) was up 37.5%, according to Liv-ex data.
Now, the 2016 Riservas offer another chance to get hold of a fantastic vintage. They also could be the only new Riservas released until 2024 as most (if not all) producers aren’t expected to release 2017 vintage Riservas next year. The combination of a benchmark vintage alongside scarcity bodes well for their investment outlook.
Here, we profile a handful of our favourite producers to target for the 2017 Annatas and/or the 2016 Riserva new releases.