2004 Poggio Il Castellare Brunello di Montalcino


With happy memories (and a stained palate) from my tastings for the 2001 Brunello di Montalcino vertical that was recently published, I thought it was about time to look ahead to the next highly-praised year - the cool, balanced and abundant 2004 vintage. It was a year where Montalcino finally saw some relief after the substandard 2002 and torrid 2003 vintages. The warmer south benefitted more than the cool north in 2004. The biggest challenge for these estates was to not allow themselves to get greedy, as the plants released the energy they had in reserve from the previous year, which resulted in a generous amount of fruit. Green harvesting and strict selection was necessary to create a truly great wine. My first taste of the 2004s was in 2010, and while I found some wines lacking the primary fruit to hold up to long-term cellaring, the majority of the 2004s were packed full of potential and depth, in spite of their youthfully dry and dusty tannins. As a result, I bought deeply.

Having just celebrated its fifteenth birthday, I thought it was about time to check in on the 2004 Brunello di Montalcino from Poggio Il Castellare, an estate from the southeast that I associate with suave character and dark ripe fruits. I figured this would be a good gauge to see how the vintage is coming along. As expected, the house style balances well against the cool vintage character of 2004.

A dusting of cinnamon, clove and cedar shavings evolve into a more savory mix of tart black cherries, plum sauce, mentholated herbs and hints of animal musk, as the Poggio Il Castellare’s 2004 Brunello di Montalcino opens up in the glass. This hauntingly dark and elegant wine casts velvety textures across a medium-bodied framework of vibrant acids and adolescent tannin. Depths of sapid black fruit and rich brown spices give way to saturating minerality toward the close. It’s long, yet zesty and invigorating through the finale, contrasting hints of sour citrus against ripe fruits under an air of inner florals. The 2004 is extremely giving and pleasurable today; still, it has quite a few years of positive evolution in store for the patient collector. 93/Drink 2021-2028.