2013 Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino
Region: Montalcino < Tuscany < Italy
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic/biodynamic farming; clay/limestone/sandstone soil; 2 week maceration; ages in 25- and 50-HL Slavonian oak 'Botti'; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal added So2; 13.5% ABV
The combination of a high elevation and a young, dynamic winemaker working biodynamically makes Le Ragnaie a unicorn in historic Montalcino. Riccardo and Jennifer Campinoti purchased the property, with the highest vineyards in Montalcino, in 2000. They've been certified organic since 2009, and have since started working biodynamically, eschewing all sprays except biodynamic preparations, and using sheep in the vineyards for weed control and manure (soil health!). These guys are the maverick estate in a tradition-rich wine zone, but rather than buck tradition they're improving on it with their impeccable farming, restrained use of oak, and low-intervention winemaking.
Obviously we love Richard and the Le Ragnaie wines, having worked with several of his bottlings over the past few years, and even trekking to Montalcino to visit the estate and stay in their lovely agriturismo last summer - omg, the foccacia at breakfast was divine!
But while we appreciate the complexity and beauty of Italy's famous wines like Brunello di Montalcino, generally the everyday bottles, like Richard's fun carbonic field blend Miscelone, are more our speed. So when we tasted the 2013 vintage of Ragnaie's Brunello, we were blown away by its finely chiseled power and complex perfume combined with depth and nervous tension. 2013 was a cool, rainy vintage, which everyone thought was a bust, but as it turns out, the wines from this vintage, while leaner than most, are also some of the prettiest (and most sought after) in decades.
It smells expensive, a heady mix of dried rose, cigar and forest floor, and the palate has so many layers: cherry, spice, a woodsy earth element and dusty rose on a firm mineral backbone. It’s everything we love about Sangiovese, in an elegant, well integrated package that comes with bottle age -- and its best years are still to come! If you're an Italian wine collector - or love someone who is - make room in your cellar for one of the last bottles of this epic vintage. But don't take our word for it, see what the critics* are saying:
95 points James Suckling: Extremely perfumed and decadent with dried fruit, orange peel and meat on the nose. Full body, linear and bright with intense citrus. Long and powerful. Like a Barolo! Drink or hold. Made from organic grapes. (11/2017)
92 points Decanter: Riccardo Campinoti blends fruit from five vineyards in different areas of the Montalcino zone to produce this wine. It rides the edge between lean and lush with its cool, mineral tannins and bright cherry flavors, darker tones of blistered tomato and smoked game adding depth. (4/2018)
93 points Wine Enthusiast: ou'll find aromas suggesting forest floor, tobacco leaf, grilled herb and pressed rose petal on this vibrant medium-bodied red. The firm palate evokes sour cherry, star anise, ground clove and a toasted note while firm, refined tannins and bright acidity provide balance and structure. Give it time to fully develop. Drink 2023-2030.
*we generally don't care about points or ratings, but understand it may be more relevant in the world of fine wines