I just returned from the family vacation to the Adirondack where vacations have come to mean a lot of fishing, eating and drinking. Chef Peter selected the wines for the vacation from his personal cellar. I did not know what he’d selected. At our last dinner, he brought out Mastro Janni Brunello di Montalcino 2007. All Brunello di Montalcino wines are made from Sangiovese grapes grown on the slopes around Montalcino – a Tuscan village 20 miles south of Siena. Brunello, the local name for Sangiovese, translated 'little dark one', is a large-dark grape, the most widely planted in Italy. Its quality can be variable but, since the 1980s, improved winemaking techniques have resulted in many more quality releases. As Tuscan wines go, Brunello di Montalcino has become known as one of Italy's most prestigious, sharing the spotlight with the highly-prized Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and, of course, the finest Chianti. The Azienda Agricola Mastrojanni estate was established in 1976, a vineyard of approximately 44 acres on the southeast slope of the town of Montalcino where the vines receive the beneficial influence of a volcano- Mount Amiata. The soil, southeast exposure, and the gentle slope of the Tuscan hills virtually guarantee a quality product. In 2008, after the death of the founding member of the Mastrojanni family passed away, his children decided to sell the estate to the Illy family, famous for their global brand of coffee and cafes. Today the Illy family continues the tradition started by the Mastrojanni family.
According to the Disciplinare di Produzione (the document laying out Italy’s production laws) Brunello di Montalcino must be 100% Sangiovese, aged for at least four years- two of the years spent in oak. The wine must be bottled at least four months prior to commercial release. Brunello di Montalcino is known for its brilliant garnet hue. From the first taste it was bright, alive, and I distinctly remember my first audible rating- “wow!”.
It has a rich flavor accompanied by aromas of vanilla, exotic spice, toasted nut, and an earthiness that puts it all in balance. The dark cherries, raspberry and black currant notes add to its richness. It is a wine worthy of aging in any collectors cellar for at least the next 7-8 years perhaps longer. We drank it un-decanted but in as much as it is still has its youth, decanting 2-3 hours would only make it better. Food pairings would definitely include mature cheeses, grilled meats, game, meat stews, risotto, red meat, and charcuterie such as prosciutto and salami. It would finish well with any dark chocolate desert.