Banfi: Expertise on Sangiovese Grosso

By Marco Giovanetti

If there is a producer that elicits controversy in Montalcino that would be Banfi. The winery was accused in that messy political wine scandal calles Brunellogate but was found innocent. They have been demonized in Montalcino for introducing the French Barrique and making caricature Brunellos. Despite this negative propaganda,  Banfi is still one of the most trusted, serious and well-known producers of the appellation. To me the wines are always much more of a cross between traditional and modern.

Banfi crafts reliable and well priced Brunellos. They are the Mondavis of Montalcino and the region should be in great gratitude to them for making the world discover Brunello. To my eyes, the wines of Banfi always convey the terroir of Montalcino in a contemporary style.

I recently was invited to a vertical tasting of Banfi Brunello di Montalcino in the company of Enrico Viglierchio. Ligurian by origin, Enrico was responsible for the ground breaking clonal research on Sangiovese at Banfi. He also introduced modern winemaking techniques such as hybrid wood aging and stainless steel fermentation vessels. Signore Viglierchio is celebrating his 20th anniversary as General Manager of Banfi.

The invitation was a courtesy of its Quebec importer, Charton Hobbs. It was an impressive vertical tasting from 1997 to 2014. My favorite vintages were 1998, 1999, 2006 and 2014 because I am more of a traditional Brunello drinker. The other vintages were great as well but the modern style shines more through. Here lies the beauty of Banfi:making Brunellos for every palate

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 1997 

Dark chocolate with leather and undertones of cohiba cigar. Polished and elegant with mature and silky tannins. Racy finale reminiscent of prune jam and mineral dust. Drink now or keep for the next 5 years 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 1998

Deep and resonant complexity bringing to mind olive tapenade, bay leaf and animal nuances.On the elegant side with a bit of astringency  that will soften up with a few more years in the cellar. Classic Banfi. Drink now or keep for the next 10 years 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 1999

Soulful bouquet evocative of roasted rhubarb, plums and medicinal herbs. With time in the glass a fine nuance of Virginia tobacco and Autumn leaves. Balanced with great harmony between richness and acidity. Caressing tannins and a long warm finale. A great vintage for the annals of Banfi history. Drink now or keep for the next 15 years

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004

 Expressive nose of graphite, mint and horse saddle. On the palate, quite perfumed and elegant with fine grainy tannins. A vintage for traditional Brunello lovers.  Hold for the next 10 years

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2006

Powerful nose of wild blackberries laced with licorice, black pepper and cardamom. Quite structured with polished and ample tannins. A great Brunello for the cellar. Hold for the 15 years 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2007

Aromas reminiscent of eucalyptus, black pepper with touches of graphite and red fruit compote. Creamy with soft and plush tannins. Long with an aromatic finale recalling Chinotto. Drink now or hold for the next 5 years.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2010

Heady nose redolent of star anise, cedar, blackberries and mineral dust. Powerful and structured with a racy acidity. Caressing tannins and a long finale. Hold for the next 10 years. 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013. SAQ # 10268596, $55.00

Bouquet reminiscent of wild blackberries with coffee, espresso bean and tobacco. On the palate, quite lean and austere packed with smoke and mineral flavours. Hold for the next 10 years 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2014

Tobacco laced with cedar and  blackberry fruit. On the palate, powerful and quite intense. Very long with complex earth tones and a firm tannic structure. A bright future ahead for this vintage. Hold it for the next 20 years