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Poggio di Sotto, Brunello di Montalcino RiservaTuscany, Italy 2013 (750mL)

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Poggio di Sotto, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Tuscany, Italy 2013 (750mL)

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Alcohol

Because there is so little of this wine available, I shouldn’t spend undue time rhapsodizing about it, lest I invite the wrath of those who miss a chance to obtain a bottle. And as you know, we don’t list critics’ scores for the wines we offer, but this is the kind of bottle that sends collectors scurrying to the internet to assess the viability of the investment. I can save you the trip, if you like—the numbers are downright gaudy.


There are only a handful of Brunello di Montalcino producers who consistently capture the Burgundian high notes of the Sangiovese grape, and Poggio di Sotto is one of them. This small estate on the south slope of the Montalcino hill is regularly mentioned in the same breath as that of the late Gianfranco Soldera, another Brunello classicist who created (and whose estate still creates) Brunellos known not for brawn but for lithe, sinewy energy. This is the elite, plain and simple, one of Tuscany’s greatest contributions to the world of fine wine. I know I said I wasn’t going to rhapsodize too much, but this is hardly a trifling price point we’re talking about here. You have my assurance (and that of any critic you trust) that this ’13 is worth every penny. Sadly, we have only one bottle per customer available, with free shipping, until our minuscule allocation is gone. This is going to be a quick one!



One piece of conventional wisdom on Montalcino—a “fortified” village perched on the crest of a hill —is that there are stylistic differences between wines from vineyards on the northern slope of the village versus those on the southern slope (as you might imagine there would be). Montalcino, which is southwest of Siena, is essentially the point where the hilly, densely forested “central” part of Tuscany gives way to the more open, scrub-brushy, “Mediterranean” Tuscany. As such, Brunellos from the “south slope” are expected to be bigger and riper wines due to the fuller sun exposition the vineyards receive. Poggio di Sotto, perched on an almost perfectly south-facing slope just outside the village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, is not just on the south slope—it’s at the southern edge of the Montalcino appellation boundary. And yet, Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino is not big, burly, or chunky-ripe (neither is Soldera, which is also a south-slope wine). It’s powerful, yes, but full of tension. It’s aromatic and lifted, not dense or monolithic. Unlike many modern Brunellos (whose producers chased “big” critical scores by way of heavy oak use and/or unauthorized grape varieties to deepen color and extract), Poggio di Sotto remains a model of restraint and varietal purity.


Founded by the soft-spoken Piero Palmucci in 1989, Poggio di Sotto was one of several wineries lucky enough to work with the late Giulio Gambelli, a Yoda-like figure in Tuscany who was regarded as the maestro of the Sangiovese grape. Although he wasn’t a trained winemaker, Gambelli was a master taster, and the wines he worked with had one main thing in common: they respected the true nature of Sangiovese as a fragrant, high-acid variety. That philosophy continues to be embraced by Claudio Tipa, who acquired the property in 2011. Tipa, who also owns Colle Massari, in Montecucco, and the legendary “super-Tuscan” Grattamacco, in Bolgheri, has been unwavering in preserving the personality that has served the wines so well. The estate’s vineyards are now being farmed biodynamically, which has only enhanced the purity and energy of the wines.


The 2013 vintage is referred to as a “classic”—meaning not too rich, nor too lean, but just right. Descriptions of the 2013 harvest in Montalcino describe one of the later picks in recent memory, notable for being consistently sunny and unaffected by rain, but also cool. Grapes were harvested in mid-October at optimal ripeness, producing very luminous, fragrant wines (in contrast to the burlier, chunkier produce of 2012). One publication used the word “radiant” to describe the wines, which I’d agree with, but I’d go a step further: I think a lot of people got this vintage wrong because the wines were a little reticent when they were first released, but these are very complete, multi-dimensional wines that are really starting to blossom right now—and they still have plenty left in the tank.


Poggio di Sotto only releases a riserva in exceptional vintages. This one was aged five full years in 25- and 35-hectoliter Slavonian oak casks, followed by a year in bottle, before its initial release. In the glass, the 2013 is just starting to show a few signs of maturity, with notes of leather, cedar, and dried mushroom layered in with the black cherry fruit. In the glass, it displays a deep garnet-red core with the first signs of bricking at the rim, while a few swirls of the glass send a mesmerizing array of aromas upward: woodland berries, dried cherry, orange peel, licorice, tar, leather, red and purple flowers, and a hint of balsamic. It is full-bodied the way a great Gevrey-Chambertin is full-bodied—penetrating and structured rather than viscous and chunky. Decant it an hour or so before service in large Bordeaux stems (Burgundies would be fine, too) at 60-65 degrees, and of course be prepared to cook something worthy of such a special-occasion bottle. I know I said I wasn’t going to rhapsodize, but here I am, 800+ words later, still at it. For those of you lucky enough to obtain a bottle, consider stowing it away for another 5 years before pulling the cork. This wine still has a lot more to say! Cheers!




Poggio di Sotto, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Tuscany, Italy 2013 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionTuscany
  • Sub-RegionMontalcino
  • SoilMarl, Clay, Sandstone
  • FarmingBiodynamic
  • BlendSangiovese
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Oak25/35HL Slavonian Casks
  • Service Temp.60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkNow-2035
  • Decanting30-60 Minutes
  • PairingMushroom Risotto

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionTuscany
  • Sub-RegionMontalcino
  • SoilMarl, Clay, Sandstone
  • FarmingBiodynamic
  • BlendSangiovese
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Oak25/35HL Slavonian Casks
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2035
  • Decanting30-60 Minutes
  • PairingMushroom Risotto