Tasting 2003 Tenuta Oliveto Brunello di Montalcino
Tenuta Oliveto is located in the southern boundary of Montalcino. They produce a small amount of wine, all of them using the sangiovese grape. Founded in 1994, the property came with vines planted long ago, but left in disrepair. This led to extensive renovations and replanting over a period of four years. The wines are fermented in Slavonian oak vats at cool temperatures, then aged in large French tonneau barrels. All of their wines are unfiltered.
The vintage in our Evolution cabinet was 2003, a year that was scorching hot, often resulted in wines that were rich, powerful, and viscous, but often lacking focus. Luckily Brunello has a higher elevation, so there was intense fruit, but good acidity and tannins still worked their way in the glass. Considered a bit of an ‘off’ vintage, it would be at a sweet-spot for drinking.
It was the perfect time to drink: time in the bottle had lowered the fruit, kept a good amount of acidity, and softened the tannins, yet keeping them pronounced. All this allowed the 2nd and 3rd layers of sweet blackberries, tobacco, mint, kisses of leather, a touch of balsamic, and herbal notes to flow through with precision and length. Add a juicy cut of meat, and you are in heaven.
During the warm and sunny seasons, grilling meat seemed the best course of action. In this case, medium-rare Hanger steaks were on the menu, as was a delicious black-rice risotto dish.
What really made the whole experience what it was is the fact that we drank it at the proper temperature, something that is impossible to overstate as an often-overlooked component to a great wine experience. In this case, keeping and serving the Oliveto at around 65*F kept the balance, while reducing the volatile alcohol.