2016 La Fiorita, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
There’s a lot to be said about these 2016 Brunellos, much has been done already, but they will be talked about for decades and wines like this La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino are ones that will much more to say in the future, this is a classic or legendary vintage in Tuscany’s most prized region. I tasted through the latest set of wines from Natalie Oliveros at La Fiorita, the two Brunellos, including this fabulous bottling, both of which were stunning, from this highly acclaimed 2016 vintage, as well as Fiorita’s 2018, value packed, garnet and ruby edged Rosso di Montalcino, which I reviewed on release last November. This dark and powerful Brunello flows across the palate with layers blackberry, plum, cherry and earthy mulberry fruits along with sweet cedar, anise, dusty spices, shy delicate florals, tobacco leaf and a touch of fig, and while taut and youthful there’s an expansive mouth feel and impressive length already. The nose is slightly subdued at this stage, but the wine as a whole opens up brilliantly and you can easily see this flagship effort from Oliveros has tons of potential and it should provide even greater rewards in the future, with cellaring, look for this year to age gracefully, like a Bordeaux, for 10 to 15 years easily. While some of the Brunello zone is on volcanic soils, the La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino DOC comes of all organic Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello clone) vines that are set on Tufo and galestro soils, comprised of clay and limestone, giving it plenty of terroir driven (with a chalky mineral) character, a serious structure and concentration, as this beauty shows. This wine saw 36 months in wood, Slavonian oak casks, plus 2 to 4 months in concrete settling vats, after blending the select lots, before bottling, then 8 months in the bottle before its release.

La Fiorita, as I have noted here, gained a lot of notoriety in 2011 when former adult film star and wine fanatic, Natalie Oliveros, joined forces with Roberto Cipresso, one of Montalcino’s top winemakers who had founded this label back in 1992, and has helped raise the game, now with Vincenzo Pirrone as winemaker, putting La Fiorita in the upper echelon of producers. Natalie Oliveros confidently took over the Estate, and she pushed the shift towards organic viticulture here and in 2014 she planted her Giardinello site, which is showing a lot of promise, as well as adding a forth vineyard, then she turned her attention to her cellars which she modernized into an all gravity fed winery. This Brunello is sourced from three main sites, Poggio al Sole, Pian Bossolino and Giardinello with different exposures that help with balance and complexity here, allowing full ripened fruit and retaining good acidity. The La Fiorita, which I mentioned in recent reviews, winemaking is leaning toward a natural and traditional style, the team employs concrete tanks, some stainless and old wood open top vats for primary fermentation and aged their wines in large Slavonian oak casks to preserve the properties unique terroir influences and personality. Natalie Oliveros born and bred in Northern New York owes a lot of her interest in wine, especially Italian, to her Calabrese “Nonna” grandmother who gave her an education steeped in her family history as well as exposing Natalie to wine and food culture, including making basement wine. Oliveros, formerly known as Savanna Samson, made the transition into her wine career, with humor and humility, overcoming some serious chauvinistic and prejudice issues with hark work and humor, which is something we should admire, as much as her wines, and this 2016 Brunello is the best yet I have tried, I highly recommend these La Fiorita wines.
($83 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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