One of my resolutions for 2012 was to get out and taste more Italian wines, so getting this sample from the folks at winechateau.com was a great way to kick things off. Every few months, they send me a bottle of something fun and interesting to taste and blog about, usually imported, and always at a really good price. This time I was given the option of this 2006 L'Oca Ciuca Brunello di Montalcino or a 2006 Tenuta Rocca Barolo, both wines which received high scores from Wine Spectator.
I chose the Brunello because it would be more approachable right now, compared to the Barolo which will probably be a tannic beast for the forseeable future. Don't go grabbing your torches and pitchforks yet though, I am well aware that Brunello di Montalcino wines also need a lot of age, often over ten years before they start truly showing the magnificent angles and nuances that sangiovese can produce.
What is Brunello di Montalcino then? Brunello is the regional (in Montalcino) name for the sangiovese grosso species of grape. In the regional dialect, Brunello means "little dark one", a reference to the size and color of the grapes. A wine bearing the DOCG stamp from the region can only contain sangiovese and must follow strict barrel and bottle aging requirements. Montalcino is a warm, dry region in Tuscany, a region also home to Chianti. Vineyards in Montalcino are planted in varied soils including limestone, clay, volcanic soil, schist, and a crumbly marl known as galestro. Vineyard elevation is between 500 and 1,500 feet.
Now let's talk about this Brunello, a 2006 called L'Oca Ciuca, or "Drunken Goose".
After being passed through a vinturi into my glass for about two hours, I figure it was time to give the L'Oca Ciuca a proper evaluation. The 2006 vintage has been getting some great press lately, with the print media critics calling it a superb, balanced year.
The L'Oca Ciuca Brunello has a beautifully aromatic nose full of dark cherries, spice, saddle leather, and a whiff of sweet plum. The secondary flavors manifest as a dusty, brown soil component as well as a hint of thyme. The aromatic complexity of good Brunello never fails to put a smile on my face. I'd even be so bold as to state this is a wine, when sniffed, that you will instinctively know is great. Not good, fine, decent, okay, but a great bottle of wine.
The palate presence gives away this wine's age, but it has already developed a silky, beautiful texture. There's the ever-present sangiovese acidic snap, enveloping gorgeous black cherry and plum flavors. As the wine continues to unfold, an earthy note reaches through the tannic mid-palate, beckoning you towards a finish of dried herb, oak, tar, and more silky smooth tannin. There's a soulful depth to this wine, like Etta James singing "At Last", where you cannot help but be touched by the magic at play. Like the song's rise and fall, the flavors rise and fall in intensity, leaving you with the sense that you've just experienced something special.
I highly recommend buying a few bottles of the 2006 L'Oca Ciuca, and Winechateau.com is selling it for $29.97, versus the regular price of $65. You can visit their site and purchase some to drink, but I recommend a few more years of rest for this Brunello. After 2015, you'll be rewarded with even more flavor integration and silky texture.
This wine was a sample for review purposes from WineChateau.com