As the 2013 Brunellos are finally being released on to the market there is a lot of talk about where it sits amongst the recent great vintages of Brunello. It is no secret since the magical vintage of 2010 it hasn’t been plain sailing for the region with heat spikes in both 2011 and 2012 (as well as frost damage). Drinkers have had to choose carefully with only the most skilful producers being able to off-set difficult growing conditions. Thankfully the weather conditions were more uniform through 2013 and according to Luca Marrone (head winemaker at Poggio Di Sotto) this meant a very even and long growing season preserving freshness in the wine and avoiding heat spikes producing more balanced alcohol levels.
Interestingly he describes it as a ‘excellent old style vintage’ reminiscent of the great vintages of the eighties. He compares the vintage as similar to the very highly rated 1985, 1988 and 1990 indicating that the even, long ripening process has produced wines of great integrity and great ageing potential of at least 20 years.
Great ageing potential is a recurring theme from winemakers in the region. Filippo Chia winemaker from Romitorio agrees with Di Sotto that the 2013s stand out for their rich yet racy structure with both crisp ripe fruit and backbone of acidity making it a vintage for long-term ageing.
A cold spring meant a late bud burst helping them avoid frost damage (that badly affected 2012). A slow start to the season had some winemakers worried since the grapes for much of the season were behind schedule. The summer was moderate with very few days of extreme heat limited to August. It was a patient wait to the harvest in early October.
Despite the excitement of the vintage in Montalcino, the 2013s still requires drinkers to pick carefully since the region still produces huge variations in quality from producer to producer. There were also rain intervals in September and October which meant a lot of work was necessary in the vineyard throughout the last months leading up to harvest. The challenge of the vintage was keeping mould out of the vineyard, controlling leaf cover and dropping fruit where necessary to reach optimum ripeness. Any winemaker not out in the vineyard at this time would suffer. Filippo Chia calls it a ‘un annata manuale ‘ and by no means a simple vintage.