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Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2001 Riserva | Wine Review

Overwhelming profusion of flavors makes for a Fantastic Bombastic wine.

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Very often at my place of employment (Grotto Wine Bar) the most common question asked by customers is, "Do you get to taste all of the wines on your list?" The literal answer to this question is 'no' (we have over 200 wines), but I must give thanks to my work environment, because I have been able to taste most of the wines on the list. Since I have not been able to taste them all, when an offer arises, I am the first to jump on. I can't deny the perks of working at a wine bar, while also writing wine reviews. Although many have been tasted throughout my experience there, there are a few instances where I have been lucky enough to partake, which under other circumstances (usually monetarily) I would not be able to enjoy. Just the other day at work, one of these memorable situations arose-- my manager found a 2001 Brunello di Montalcino, and wanted me to join in a tasting.

The bottle was an Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2001 Riserva, which I had the pleasure of opening myself. The cork came out slowly but without hesitation, and was completely intact, giving not one hint of its ten-year age. The bottom of the cork was stamped with a deep maroon residue, textured with sediment. I poured myself and my co-worker a small taste in our glasses. The color was a little cloudy at first, but after a few swirls and up against a white piece of paper, the crimson, almost brick-like coloring was unlike any color I had seen before. Learning about these big Italian grapes which produce this aged color is one thing, but the opportunity to experience them first-hand like this (let alone in a grape as big as the Brunello), is quite another.

The Brunello di Montalcino, per DOCG guidelines, requires 100% Sangiovese Grosso grape (a clone of the well-known Sangiovese grape) from the Montalcino region of Tuscany. Brunello is probably Tuscany's most widely-known grape, and it’s most elegant as well. The grape is known for exuding the terroir (essentially the flavor of the earth the grape comes from) of Tuscany, and producing a complex, dynamic, and well-rounded red wine. The nose, at first scent, brought flavors of earth, leather, a hint of tar, and an abundance of ripened dark cherry. I was so excited with the scents this wine was producing, just moments after removing the cork, that I knew decanting this wine for at least an hour or so would release its full potential.

After decanting the wine and letting it sit, I anxiously returned back after an hour. I knew I was in for a treat once I put my nose to the decanter to detect any change. The nose went from a very tight, structured smell, to an overwhelming complexity of scents, all of which I could not name. The leather, ripened cherry, and earth were still very abundant, I lost the tar, but the scents of wet cedar and sweet oak were now present. At moments I thought I could pick up tobacco, but it was not consistent on the nose. Now for the moment we've been waiting for, the taste.

I put the glass up to my mouth, allowing the first sip to coat my tongue, and then went back to make my assessment on the second sip. I was intoxicated, not because of the alcohol, but because of the flavor. The wine was unlike any other Tuscan wine I have tried before. The wine had so much of the terroir of Tuscany, that just tasting the wine made me feel like I was sitting on a hilltop in Montalcino. The tannins were smooth, and the flavor was bold. This wine has been aged 42 months in oak bottles and small French barriques prior to another 18 months in the bottle before it was released. The aging in the French barriques is prominent in the flavor, depositing a bit of vanilla and jam-like fruitiness. I tasted ripened fruit that was counter-acted by licorice and exotic spices. The texture was velvety and the finish was anything but disappointing, leaving the flavor of coffee, red fruits, and smoke lingering in my mouth.

I was in shock, my mouth just having had an overwhelming profusion of flavors that somehow all worked together to make an unbelievably delicious wine. Prices of the wine vary, but it is available mostly between 85 and 100 dollars. Wine Spectator and Enthusiast both give Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2001 Riserva a score of 93 out of 100. I must continue in the same fashion, giving this unbelievably big, bold Italian beauty a 95, making this a Fantastic Bombastic wine!

Angela Campanella - Wine Reviewer and Contributor

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