"Our main course of steak paired with Soldera Brunello, Danielle tastes opposite myself. One of the best steaks I have had in ages!"

I will start off saying that I do not know much about the wines of Brunello di Montalcino.  What I did know before the tasting was that they come from a region in Tuscany, Italy.  That the region is nearby Chianti, and that they, like Chianti, are made from the Sangiovese grape.  Brunello, along with Barolo and Barbaresco in Piemonte in northern Italy, are considered to be the kings of Italian wine, “the three B’s”.  They are world renowned and the prices can reflect that.  I purposefully have stayed away from Brunello because I feared I might like these wines too much and then want to buy some.  Well my fears were certainly realized at the Brunello dinner.  The wines were simply awesome, and I indeed fell head over heals and am still crushing big time on Brunello.  The dinner/tasting took place at a great wine bar/restaurant in Soho called Bar Henry Bistro.  The wine director John Slover presided over the event and handled the decanting and service of the wines with great skill.  I am happy to say the the food for the dinner was straight forward, as it should be for a wine dinner, nothing with too many crazy flavors or preparations.  And it was very delicious and each course perfect in it’s simplicity, thanks to chef Cosme Aguilar.  We drank the Pertimali’s with the starter course of Shiitake mushroom crostini.  Anything with mushrooms or truffles goes very well with Brunello, and Barolo and Barbaresco too for that matter.  The second course with the Ciacci’s was a simple homemade linguine with Buffala mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.  The portion served, was reasonable, thank god!  The third course, was a perfectly grilled dry aged strip steak with spinach and fingerling potatoes.  It was one of the best steaks I have had in a long time.  Finally we finished with a course of three cheeses, I cannot recall what they were exactly, but there were excellent and paired well with the Costanti wines, as they were a bit more extracted than the other producers.  All in all it was an excellent simple meal paired with profound wines.  Bar Henry is a great place for anyone who loves wine and good food prepared well.  It is also unique in that you can order any bottle of wine on the menu as a half bottle.  They then put the other half for sale by the glass.  So you can try thing by the half bottle or maybe get lucky and try some different wines by the glass that might not normally be available.  The love affair with Brunello has certainly begun for me, here are the wines we tasted.

1990 Pertimali, Brunello di Montalcino
The nose seemed a little closed on the 1990.  It was medium garnet in color, with an element of salinity.  There are subtle tones of grilled meat, truffle, and acetone on the nose.  There are still a fair bit of tannin, and the finish is slightly drying.  Seems a bit closed still.  RECOMMENDED

1995 Pertimali, Brunello di Montalcino
The nose on the 1995 was quite a bit more exciting with elements of sour cherry, charcoal, pepper, and chocolate truffles.  There was a lively mouth feel to the wine, and there were also flavors of strawberry cola, caramel, and sea urchin on the palate.  There was an interesting tar/petrol note as well.  Very delicious wine indeed.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

"Pertimali and Ciacci Brunello's. Lined up and ready to taste."

1988 Ciacci, Brunello di Montalcino
The first bottle of the 1988 was deemed to be a bit off, though it was drinkable, we opened another bottle which was fine.  It is never good to have an off bottle of wine, but it provided a great situation to compare an off wine to a wine as it should be.  And I think it pleased Danielle and I that we picked up on it and called it out!  As it turned out the 1988 Ciacci was one of the best wines of the night by most peoples account.  It had a nose of sweet and sour cherries, petrol, surf and turf, and church alter (I know, but it did come into my mind so I have to write it!).  The mouth feel was fantastic on this wine, very round and velvety, with rich dusty tannins and lingering flavors of nutmeg, paprika, and Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage).  Best bottle of the night?  Wow.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – ALL STAR

1995 Ciacci, Brunello di Montalcino
We had the 1995 first while we were waiting for the new bottle of the 1988, and all we had to compare it to was the off bottle.  It was a great wine too from go, but once we the new bottle of 1988 we knew it was even better than the excellent 1995.  On the nose there are flavors of dark cherry, salami, pepper, figs, and Ritz crackers.  Blueberry, mixed grill, Langoustine, and pasta water are other flavors and aromas to be found on the palate.  The finish goes on with notes of burnt rubber and chocolate covered raisins.  Yum.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

"The trio of Soldera's in front of numbered glasses which they will go into."

1983 Soldera, Brunello di Montalcino
Bricking garnet in color, the 1983 Soldera had a rich caramel mouth feel, with elements of fig, tar, petrol, medicinal herbs, and salt water.  Very interesting.  RECOMMENDED

1985 Soldera, Brunello di Montalcino
The 1985 Soldera was a very different wine from the 1983 and 1988.  Those two wines shared more in common, and the 1985 seemed by far the most youthful with many years ahead.  It had a rich bright red color with a nose of rich dark cherry mixed with dark chocolate.  One of my first notes is that the wine reminds me of candle hell fire, I am not really sure what that is, but it was in there!  There are elements of mint, eucalyptus, and BBQ spices as well.  The tannins are still there suggesting this young tasting wine is not yet at maturity, though it is drinking very well now, and will cellar easily another 10 year and could last much, much longer.  Indeed.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – ALL STAR

1988 Soldera, Brunello di Montalcino

Cloudy medium red in color, this was probably the lesser of the three Soldera’s.  There was elements of lobster bisque, beef broth, sauerkraut, dirty laundry, and medicinal herbs.  The mouth feel was rich and bright, and there was a bit of alcohol on the finish.  RECOMMENDED

"The epic Costanti Brunello's. They look pretty grand and tasted it too."

1997 Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino
There is a very extracted deep rich garnet color to both the Costanti’s.  The 1997 was very exotic with a nose of fig paste, truffles, forest floor, and German Christmas spices.  There was good acidity to cut the deep dark richness of the wine as well.  On the palate there were also flavors of prune cake and dried fruit.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

2001 Costanti, Brunello di Montalcino
The 2001 shares the deep extracted garnet color of the 1997, but has a completely different and unique bunch of flavors going on.  There is a very present nose of sour cherry mixed with grapefruit, Sour Patch Kids, and minced pie.  There is a decidedly delicious tartness to the wine and additional flavors of raspberry, boysenberry, hard boiled egg, and Lysol.  Dead tie on the Costanti’s.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED