2017 Sesti – Castello di Argiano, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva “Phenomena” Tuscany, Italy.
The 2017 Brunello Riserva Phenomena from Sesti is a gorgeous, layered and transparent wine with a luxurious mouth feel and beautiful structure, this rarity bottling, which I hadn’t had the opportunity to taste of spend time with before, shows classic Sangiovese personality with dried roses, tobacco leaf, minty herb accents to a deep expression of blackberry, plum, cherry and balsamic strawberry fruits along with subtle leathery/earth, cedar, coco powder and anise. Full bodied, but not heavy, this wine has tannin and acidity still in evidence, though perfectly meshed within this exceptional wine, which I had originally though wouldn’t live up to expectations, especially coming after the much heralded 2016 vintage, so it was a stunning surprise on just how fabulous this wine was in the glass. Tasted with Elisa Sesti, who I had met with on a couple occasions while she toured the States, at importer Kermit Lynch’s 50th Anniversary portfolio tasting in November of 2023, this Phenomena Brunello impressed. The Phenomena Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, which is required to be 6 years before release, plus a minimum of two years in oak, though this one always gets over 4 years, comes from 20 plus year old vines, up at around 350 meters, set on marine or oceanic sediment, rather than volcanic or limestone, seen in other parts of the terroir. With a southern facing site, allowing for its own distinct personality and perfectly ripened grapes, this vineyard has proven to deliver quality stuff, I also must note that since 2010 I have loved the Sesti Monteleccio Rosso and the Rosso di Montalcino DOC, which are both savvy values and drink as well assume much more expressive Brunellos.

In 1975, Giuseppe Maria “Giugi” Sesti, according to importer Kermit Lynch, moved his family to Tuscany and bought the Castello di Argiano, a historic ruins and began to form ideas of a planting a vineyard there within the Montalcino commune and starting a winery, that he founded in 1987, which didn’t realize much of anything until around 1991, when his first Sangiovese (Grosso) vines were in the ground around the old castle. In fact, Giugi really didn’t get much done until his talented daughter Elisa put herself in charge of things at Sesti in around 1999, though he did believe that the potential to produce great wines was there, and only if they farmed organic and that the wines were made with natural methods, which he pursued from the beginning here. After Elisa Sesti, joined the family estate full time, she was active in all aspects of the vineyard management, promotional work and the winemaking, which has taken this lesser known property to international fame and these traditional styled wines are now some of the region’s best and most coveted offerings. The winemaking is done in old school fashion, with 100% de-stemmed grapes being macerated and fermented in stainless steel and then aged in large oak (30 HL ) botti (cask) for 51 months, after which it spent another year maturing in bottle the cellar, and was unfined and unfiltered. I can imagine the Sesti Phenomena Brunello di Montalcino aging extremely well, I tried a decanted bottle, which helped reduce the tannic shock and to allow for the touch of funk, which I tend to find here, to fully blow off, it definitely is a wine that will reward with a hearty meal, I bet 7 to 10 years brings even more magic. I also very much enjoyed the regular Sesti Brunello di Montalcino, which was in the large wood for 39 months, and I would recommend to Brunello fans as well, it is oh so close to this one and a bit less money.
($166 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

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