Casanova di Neri Brunello 2016 New Arrivals

If I had to think of one way to universally describe the majority of wines from the 2016 vintage, I would offer that they are like a well-muscled black stallion in its prime. They are dark yet radiant, expressive, nearly explosive at times, yet pure, poised and structured. These are wines that capture your imagination; and no matter how youthfully tense they are today, you simply can’t help but revisit a glass over and over again; because in many cases, the aromatics alone are intoxicating. I frankly cannot remember the last time I tasted young wines from Montalcino that possessed such symmetry from start to finish...

But now the big question is: Do the 2016s live up to our expectations? Oh, yes; they certainly do...

Whether you consider your palate for Brunello to be international or traditional, you really owe it to yourself to check in with Casanova di Neri. ANTONIO GALLONI


So it begins.

The 2016 vintage releases of Brunello are starting to arrive. This is a vintage I have seen in barrel - both large and small - over the last few years and at no stage has it ever been anything other than thrilling. Like any truly great vintage, wine quality is always on display. It doesn't need time to come into balance or a few years to round out the tannins or some other prevarication. In the truly great vintages there's no need to hide, they let it all hang out from their youth through adolescence and into old age. 2016 is that vintage in Montalcino, of that there is no doubt!

I mentioned last year when offering the 2015s - also a cracking vintage - that 2016 would add in an extra dimension of structure and restraint combined with power that would set it apart as a modern day classic. In much the same way as these vintages have fallen out in Barolo, they offer on the one hand lovely ripeness and an accessible "hug-me" quality (2015s) contrasted by the power, cool fruited aristocratic persona of 2016. Moreover, in a region that has sometimes tested our capacity for continued devotion trading as it sometimes does on past glory, these wines restore the faith!

Our first offer is for the wines of Casanova di Neri, a superstar of the modern Brunello era. This estate has been noticeable for the fact that while others have waned over the last couple of decades, Casanova has been resolute in their commitment to turning out quality Brunello no matter what conditions confront them. In large part this consistency comes from the luxury of having several different plots across the zone, meaning they can ride the vicissitudes of vintage by drawing the best parcels from across their holding to create enviable consistency.

Their main claim to fame has come via the Tenuta Nuova bottling. Over the years it has garnered big scores and a cult following to match. It is a wine that sits firmly in the modern, international style camp and while some get a little precious about the styling, I have to say, it's modern but it's really, really good modern. It sacrifices none of the incredibly deep and pure fruit, never falling foul of its oak elevage. A modern classic, you could say.

The ying to its yang is the wine affectionately known as the "white label". This is the estate's "entry" Brunello but in truth it could be another producer's icon bottling such is the quality. Most of the fruit comes off the southern (read warmer) side of Montalcino but more importantly it sees far less oak and certainly a lot less new, small oak. It is a more traditional style but perhaps a better way to describe it is that it's a "straddle style" because it's neither modern nor traditional, taking the best aspects of both.

The salient take out about Casanova di Neri is, they make silk purse wine out of sow's ear vintages. In 2016 you have one of the truly great vintages of all time so, yes, these are wines that fit the 'must buy' category. MICHAEL MCNAMARA