Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino "La Casa"
Montalcino may not have a formal vineyard ranking system, but amongst the Brunello cognoscenti, the Montosoli hill is unambiguously considered a Grand Cru site. Why? Give Caparzo’s “La Casa” a taste and you’ll see immediately. This is the Tuscan equivalent to Musigny or Clos de Bèze, sumptuous and gutsy, yet supremely elegant. A heady admixture of Brunello’s booming fruit and the vineyard’s signature verve, it’s a testament to the prestige of both this special site and the people who make it. This is a cellar cornerstone, the kind of surefire, great-whenever-you-open-it classic to build a collection around. When it comes to blue chip Brunello, where even average bottles can quickly approach the triple-digit threshold, our dollars are preciously meted out. We’re spending them lavishly on “La Casa.” If you’re going to go big, there are few better options than this!
Single-vineyard bottlings are increasingly common in Montalcino, but it all began with Montosoli. In 1975, Caparzo’s next door neighbor Altesino produced the region’s very first “cru” bottling, and Caparzo quickly followed suit. Little wonder that a site like Montosoli caught the estates’ attention: located just northeast of the town of Montalcino, it’s a site with unusually high altitude (up to 1150 ft) for the region and limestone-laden soils. These provide a pedigreed, elegant frame around the booming fruit and herb-laden depths Sangiovese often takes on in these warm and sunny climes. Caparzo and Altesino are no longer alone in their passion for Montosoli; such benchmark producers as Le Regnaie, Cerbaie, and Canalicchio di Sopra now own land here and bottle Montosoli on its own.
Caparzo has been there from the very beginning of Brunello di Montalcino’s rise. Though viticulture and winemaking here date to the 14th century, by the 1940s, only one winery was operational. In the 1960s, however, the region went through a resurgence, as investors from points north were drawn by the stunning landscape and rare wines. Caparzo was one of the first 11 producers who established the DOCG for the region, and they watched as Montalcino blossomed over the next 30 years to include more than 200 estates.Throughout Caparzo’s history, “La Casa” has remained its flagship cuvée. It hails from a five hectare, south-southeast facing slope in Montosoli with a high proportion of fine gravel in the soils. After rigorous hand harvesting and sorting in the vineyard, the destemmed fruit is fermented in stainless steel and then aged one year in 225L French barrels, followed by two years in 3000L oak vats. 2017 was a warm and dry year in Montalcino, one that turned out more than a few inky booze bombs, but the combination of “La Casa’s” singular terroir and Caparzo’s deft touch produced stunning results. It pours a vibrant ruby with slight bricking at the edges, the nose launching with a waft of crushed red raspberries, black cherry pit, plum skin, licorice, wild herbs, forest floor, and balsamic. The palate is silky and full, yet sings with a deep, almost saline minerality, and plays up the more woodsy, savory aspects of the nose. This is true, terroir-laden Brunello, with none of the confectionary or overly polished tones you often see here. It’s stunning right now, and will reward years of patience in your cellar. Brunello this great for this price doesn’t come around often!