Brunello 2010

Brunello 2010

Simon commented extensively last year on the quality of the 2010 vintage in Italy as he was struck by the balance exhibited by a great number of wines from Tuscany to Piemonte. At the time, all of the talk was of the Super Tuscans and the innumerable successes in Barolo, as both of these regions released their wines last year. Now, it is the turn of Brunello di Montaclino. We are pleased to offer the following: 

2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Vigna Loreto, Mastrojanni 
@ £235 per 6 bottle case in bond
2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Mastrojanni
@£175 per 6 bottle case in bond
2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Casanova di Neri, Tenuta Nuova
@£295 per 6 bottle case in bond
2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Fuligni 
@£395 per 12 bottles in bond

Brunello di Montalcino is a small region situated 15 miles south of Siena in the heart of Tuscany. Despite that the wines are made solely from Sangiovese (there are various clones that are unique to the Montalcino region), they encompass a great deal of variation in style within any one vintage. Recently, there has been a run of hotter vintages that have challenged growers’ ability to make a balanced wine. 2010, however, was a different vintage in the main; it presented a long growing season with welcome - but not excessive - warmth in the run up to harvest. Crucially 2010 provided a beneficial shift in temperatures between day and night, which assists in preserving both aromatics and acidity.

However, in spite of recent rave reviews from James Suckling,  I would urge a touch of caution. Generalising about success in Montalcino is a stretch at best, given that altitudes vary from around 100 to 600 meters above sea level. Site is all important, and in such a geographically diverse region we should expect differing results. No other major critic has yet issued their reviews on the vintage, and the cynic in me does wonder if James Suckling was intent on being the first out the blocks after missing the sound of the starting pistol on Barolo 2010. 

At Atlas, we prefer to validate critics’ scores by tasting ourselves and comparing reviews across different critics. I will read with interest the forthcoming reviews from Antonio Galloni ( and Monica Larner ( In the meantime, we are pleased to be offering a small selection of highly successful 2010 Brunello from estates whose wines we have tasted and with whom we have worked previously.  Along with James Suckling’s notes which I include for reference, I include a few brief personal comments on each featured estate.


Gabriele Mastrojanni did a lot more than just put his name to a winery in the south-east of Montalcino in 1975.  A retired attorney at the time, Mastrojanni installed every facet of the estate, from vineyards, to cellars, to running water. What Gabriele Mastrojanni saw of value in the terrain was precisely what made others turn their backs; the land was hostile and unforgiving, completely unsuited to producing an abundance of anything, but perfectly suited, as Gabriele identified, to producing low yields of high-quality Sangiovese.  Once Gabriele’s son Antonio took the reins and employed Maurizio Castelli as winemaker and Andrea Machetti as estate manager in the early nineties, a greater level of control was exercised in the winery to compliment the exceptional quality of the fruit. An excellent Brunello di Montalcino was born. The Vigna Loreto soon followed; a single vineyard Brunello which has been made since the 2007 vintage with just 8,000 bottles produced.

I remember tasting the impressive 2004s and being struck by the fuller nature that their Brunello revealed. These are very finely-tuned wines yet in a richer, riper style. The wines of Mastrojanni offer good density and substance, and often a darker fruit character too. 

2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Vigna Loreto, Mastrojanni
97 Points, James Suckling
£235 per 6 bottle case in bond

I love the savory character and silky texture to this wine. Full body, chewy tannins and a juicy and delicious finish. A baby still. Needs three to four years to soften. Better in 2017.

2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Mastrojanni
98 Points, James Suckling
£175 per 6 bottle case in bond

What a tightly knit wine this is with so much fabulous character of dried meat, orange peel, berry and spice. Dried and dusty earth too. Full body, sweet fruit character and ripe tannins but loads of structure and intensity. Structurally intense and dry at the finish. It goes on for minutes. Best ever. Better in 2018.

Casanova di Neri, Tenuta Nuova

Giovanni Neri established Casanova di Neri in 1971.  Today, with an estate stretching over 500 hectares (63 of which are dedicated to vines), Giovanni’s son Giacomo is responsible for producing award winning Brunello in the eastern part of Montalcino. Giacomo has a firm belief that outstanding wines can only be produced where fastidious attention and consideration in the vineyards is matched by dedication and a measured approach in the winery. Against this backdrop the wines of Casanova di Neri have garnered high international praise since Giacomo took over production in 1991. 

Giacomo and his consultant Carlo Ferrini’s work in the winery turns great potential into great wine.  The bunches of grapes are sorted, destemmed and then the grapes sorted once again to ensure that only the finest quality fruit makes it into the Tenuta Nuova.  The resultant grape must is then fermented without the use of yeast additives, and maceration takes place in open conical vats under controlled temperatures for between 3 and 4 weeks.  The wine is then aged in oak and bottle for 30 months and 18 months respectively.

Again, I recall some great vintages from this estate, including 2004 and 2006. Coming from the south of the Montalcino district, there is a real sense of exuberant ripeness to the wines of Casanova di Neri. Very complete styles with richness of fruit allied to sleek, fine tannins.

2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Casanova di Neri, Tenuta Nuova                   
99 points, James Suckling
£295 per 6 bottle case in bond

This is very muscular for the vintage. It shows lots of stones, dark fruits and hints of tar. Full body, firm tannins and a chewy texture. Ripe and rich. Yet shows tension and intensity. This racy and structured. Tannic now but will show its greatness in 2018. As it should be from one of the masters but the new hand of his son Giovanni Neri is showing through with a touch more finesse.


The Fuligni estate is synonymous with high quality Brunello. Founded in 1923, the estate is managed by Maria Fuligni and her nephew, Roberto, who looks after the vineyards. While it was Maria’s father who tended vines to satisfy family consumption, it was Maria who invested in the vineyards and cellars once he passed away. It is her uncompromising approach that has been so admired since she first began bottling in 1975 and this approach now seems ingrained in the ethos of the estate. Monica Larner (of The Wine Advocate) recently commented that the family shows ‘brass knuckles’ when making such difficult decisions. High praise indeed for a producer in a region which has been plagued recently by some very challenging vintages (namely 2003, 2005 and 2008) and required such fastidious attention in vineyard and cellar.

Fuligni dedicates just over 10 hectares to wine production. The vineyard comprises four different parcels of land which allows for optimal blending. These sites all boast different soils, exposures, vine ages and high altitudes of 380-400 meters. Fuligni champions the traditional style of Brunello, aged for four years in oak (although regulations now require just two years).

Stylistically the wines of Fuligni wine are more traditional. The proportion of new oak is not as high as it is at many estates, and it impresses by its understated elegance. This style, allied to the ripeness apparent in 2010, makes for a winning combination.

2010 Brunello di Montalcino, Fuligni
98 points, James Suckling
£395 per 12 bottles in bond

I really appreciate the dark berry and burnt orange aromas that follow through to a full body, with very integrated tannins and a ripe and juicy fruit character. Savory, succulent and salty. Hints of chocolate and salted nuts. So juicy and gorgeous. A fabulous red. Drink now but hold for years ahead. Drink 2018-2030.

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