CANALICCHIO DI SOPRA, BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 1996, 2006, 2016
As passionate oenophiles, certain years just hold a certain sway over us, don't they?
At the mere mention of a prestigious vintage, we go weak in the knees, swooning at the memory of a wine that, somehow, many years later, we are convinced we can still taste.
In the world of Italian wine, ’16 and ’06 are two such magic numbers. No less an eminence than Antonio Galloni of Vinous has declared them two of the top vintages over the past two decades in Tuscany, and if you want to understand the enormous appeal of these two years all you have to do is check the auction logs of the top wine sellers in the world.
We're forever on the lookout for ’16s and ’06s, and when we were recently given a chance to acquire these two vintages from one of the most prestigious houses in all of Italy — well, needless to say, we pounced.
Thrilling as that was, we also scored a gorgeous bonus: the ‘96!
More about that in a moment. But first ... that house: Canalicchio di Sopra, maker of some of the finest Brunello di Montalcinos we have ever had the pleasure to taste. Galloni was not hyperbolizing in the least when he wrote, "Readers who have not tasted these wines owe it to themselves to do so. Canalicchio di Sopra is without question one of the most exciting estates in Montalcino today."
If you love focused, precise, and deeply expressive winemaking, then this is a house to support — if, that is, you can find an opportunity. Its wines are highly coveted, with collectors around the globe in constant, dedicated pursuit of the estate's most celebrated vintages.
We would argue that its enormous reputation rests, in large part, on a decision the family made, more than thirty years ago, to buck prevailing trends. At the time, the fashion among wineries in the region was to blend vineyards from the north and south of Montalcino, in the hope of attaining a balance between the two. But Primo Pacenti and his son-in-law, Pier Luigi Ripaccioli, decided to push against the current, and to remain a fully northern producer of Brunello.
This, more than anything, is what makes these wines feel so defined — as if, truly, they could have come from nowhere else.
Though critics have long heaped praise on the winemaking at Canalicchio di Sopra, they have been positively — and rightly — agog over the '16 and the '06.
In a 97 point review, Wine Enthusiast called it "fragrant," "full-bodied," and "elegantly structured," with "firm, refined tannins and fresh acidity," while Vinous hailed it as "flat-out stunning," "an almost-ethereal expression ... silky ... with amazing length. ... There’s simply so much going on here, and there are promises of more good things to come."
The '06 pretty much proves that. Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, in a 94 point review, said there is "something Burgundian about this wine's perfume and fruit intensity." And Jancis Robinson seemed to echo that assessment, calling it "elegant" and "seductive." James Suckling also awarded it 94 points, raving: "ripe and juicy fruit and lots of ripe tannins. Big and powerful. What length too. Built for aging. Best ever from here. Give it four or five years in bottle."
As for that gorgeous bonus, the '96: Let’s just say that it’s not every day you get a chance to acquire a 25-year-old wine from a legacy estate, and this one, we are delighted to report, has aged gorgeously.
Here's Vinous: "hauntingly dark and impossible to dislike. On the palate ... velvety textures that you could become lost in, with flavors of crushed cherry, sweet brown spices, and earth tones. It finished long with a twang of balsamic spiced cherry. This is simply a pleasure to drink."
Three tiers of Brunello. And Brunello as it should be. For that matter: winemaking as it can be.
But hurry: stock is limited, and the global community of collectors will be out in force, and fast.
*Offer NOT valid in-store. This offer is made pre-arrival, with wines estimated to be delivered to your preferred store in Spring 2022. With the supply chain issues that we are seeing globally, there may be some unforeseen delays which could affect the ETA. All sale prices are the lowest available at Total Wine & More and ONLY valid through Concierge Sales. No further discounts or coupons may be applied. Offer not valid in DE, IL, IN, LA, KY, MI, MO, NC, NM, NY, TN, or WI. This offer is for ONE WEEK, or until sold out, and will expire on Thursday, January 13, 2022.