• 2017.03.15
  • Impression of Brunello this year
Italy is holding its antiprima events again this year in various parts of the country, kicking things off with the Anteprima Amarone in January and continuing on through this time. Anteprima are wine-tasting events where guests get to preview the new vintages that will be coming on the market that year.

I head out to the various local regions this time of year as well, but since the Anteprima Toscana, Anteprima Emilia-Romagna, and Anteprima Sagrantino are all finished now, I’d like to tell you about some of the wines I tasted. Click below to see my blog post showing last year’s events!


In this post, I’ll be giving you my impressions on the Benvenuto Brunello held in Montalcino this year (Anteprima Brunello di Montalcino).


The vintages revealed at the Brunello di Montalcino this year were from 2012, with some variation depending on the winery. Going back about five years now, the vintage evaluation that the Brunello association gave 2012 was five stars (the highest rating). Having tasted the wines though, my impression was that, though they came off as fresh and certainly enjoyable, they didn’t show the same way as the 2010 wines, for example, which were from another vintage that was given the five-star rating. Put simply, this five-star vintage had a weak alcohol content, was somewhat weak in terms of its overall richness, and featured harsh tannins. Depending on the winemaker and on what zone the grapes were grown in (north or south, high elevation or low elevation, etc.), the wine will create a different impression, and I felt like this was a year that was extremely diverse in that regard. (The differences among winemakers starts with the fact that each is looking to make a dif-ferent wine to begin with and is working with different soil, so these differences are not limited to this year, but there did seem to be more pronounced gaps this time around.)

Looking back now, the weather patterns in 2012 were somewhat changeable and complex. This is also something that differs region to region, but in Montalcino, for example, January and February were extremely cold, and summer was extremely hot. For comparison with the summers, 2011 was known as a very hot year, and I think 2012 was even hotter. And it was dry. That’s probably the bottom line. It didn’t rain. Until harvest time, that is—then it finally started pouring.

So it was in no way a balanced year overall, like 2010 was, and my feeling is that the weather pat-terns affected the Brunello in 2012, while the winemakers added even more variety to this vintage.

At the wine tasting

When it comes to actually evaluating the 2012 vintage, in the case of the Brunello, it was given a five-star rating some five years before it even hit the market—when the reality is that it is impossi-ble to judge a wine that early—it’s not even really become wine yet. Fundamentally, in my opinion, we can’t assess the 2012 unless we wait until 2017, when that wine vintage actually comes out.

Meanwhile, the 2016 ratings were also announced this year—and 2016 got five stars as well. When it comes to the 2016 wines, I’ve personally sampled only a bit of the Tuscan white Vernaccia di San Gimignano from the tank, but what I can say about it is that the Vernaccia di San Gimignano is shaping up to be an extremely fine vintage that we haven’t seen in recent years. Of course it’s too early to know for sure, but I have high hopes for the Brunello as well.


  • Mirai Tsuda
  • JobAIS sommelier (Italy’s national qualification for sommeliers),Wine Journalist

Since acquiring the qualification as a sommelier, I have been visiting some 200 wineries each year. My goal is to share the fascinations of Italy to the people of Japan by holding wine seminars as well as writing about wine and Italian cuisine.

View a list of Mirai Tsuda's

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