2016 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino
The Brunello di Montalcino estate of Argiano is so ancient that it was producing Brunello wine long before Brunello, or even the town of Montalcino, existed. The name, Argiano, is thought to derive from the first Roman settlements of the region—‘Ara Janus’ or the Altar of the God of Beginnings – so sometime around 700 BC. And while that’s a long time to be making good wine, there are several other dates to note in the history of this magnificent estate.
Over 2,000 years later, in 1580 AD, Argiano reached a turning point when the wealthy Pecci family from Sienna take over the estate and build the magnificent villa on its highest point that still stands today (and if you have the means, I highly recommend their agrotourismo within). This also marked the founding of the modern winery and cellar at the estate – extremely gorgeous and a magnificent tour, if you are able.
From the 1580s to sometime around the time of Carducci – Italy’s National Poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1906 – the estate passed through several noble families, all of them dedicated to fine wine production. By the 1930s, Argiano was winning European prizes for its “Brunello” and Carducci noted in verse, “I cleanse myself of this bitterness with the wine of Argiano, which is extremely good…”
After over two millennia, in 1967, Argiano was a founding member of the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium, officially establishing the DOCG of Brunello and at long last, giving Argiano’s wine the title of Brunello that it so deserves.
Which brings us to modern Argiano. In 1992 the estate was acquired by Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano, who wanted to take Argiano to the next level – the highest possible delineation of how great the wine of Brunello can be. To do this she hired two people – Sebastiano Rosa, who had been the winemaker of First Growth Lafite Rothschild as well as Super Tuscan Sassacaia; and Dr. Giacomo Tachis, Italy’s most well known winemaker and creator of Sassacaia, Tignanello and Solaia Super Tuscans, just to name a few. Together, the trio brought Argiano to the stunning level it’s achieved today, and in the glass, it shows:
Right out the gate Argiano’s 2016 Brunello proves the lead stallion in what is a heated race for Montalcino this year. The nose shows gorgeous Sangiovese Grosso character with its blackberry fruit, fine black truffle undernote, graphite and shaved pencil lead minerality. The palate is exceptionally sexy, silky and mouth-coating within its full-bodied frame of tannins. The finish rides with a long, lingering finish that touches on mint, anise and blackcurrants. Like most of the 2016 Montalcino wines I have had so far, this drinks beautifully upon opening (it’s a great year). But it will likely reach year 20 in your cellar (if you can keep your hands off it!). Food pairing here is simple, and keeping it simple is best – a thick-cut porterhouse steak rubbed with sea salt and cracked black pepper, grilled over rosemary leaves and coated in the freshest olive oil you can find. Don’t even bother to plate it – just slice it on the cutting board, drizzle the oil, and share.
2016 is a great vintage for Montalcino and its wine Brunello. And this is one of the best. We got ourselves one heck of a deal. Don’t miss it.
“Another great interpretation from the historical winery. Nuances of small dark fruits, blackberries dominating, offering notes of fresh laurel. The mouth is crunchy, iodized tannins, closing of laurel.” – The WineInsider @ GardiniNotes.com
“A very polished red with cloves and caramel, on top of black cherries, mushrooms and forest floor. Black olives, too. It’s full-bodied with polished tannins and lovely depth all the way through. Lightly chewy. Juicy black-cherries and savory black-olive character. Complex. Drink after 2025.” – James Suckling
“96 points. Editor’s Choice.
“This fragrant red opens with heady scents of blue flower, star anise, camphor and new leather. Still young and primary, it delivers juicy red cherry, spiced cranberry, licorice and tobacco supported by a backbone of refined tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it energized and balanced. *Editors’ Choice*” – Wine Enthusiast
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