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Six long years have passed since the first reports about the incredible 2011 harvest at Canalicchio. Six cruel years waiting to taste Franco Pacenti’s reference-point Brunello. Waiting to savor those brandied cherries sprinkled with spices emerging from a classic, dense structure that unfolds in the glass. Finally, that awful wait is over! And one taste of this Tuscan nirvana wipes it all away. This is sensational quality Brunello at its purest and most authentic.
About the wine
The Canalicchio vineyard is considered ground-zero for great Brunello. It’s also the family vineyard of Franco Pacenti! The wines that come from Franco’s home vines are considered incredible delicacies – unmatched in Italy or elsewhere for their irresistible complexity, elegance and the diabolically appetite-enhancing character. You take a sip. Then a gulp. Then you start searching for another bottle – and a steak! That’s how it works in Tuscany, too – the natives are equally powerless against the liquid giddiness delivered by Canalicchio’s super Sangiovese. Even the world’s most studied palates can’t help but call it “utterly compelling” and capable of providing “immense pleasure.” How is this even possible? The Pacenti family have one of Montalcino’s most coveted vineyards and they haven’t changed their recipe in decades – its purest Tuscan tradition. That allows the excellence of their fruit to shine through - and to last forever in the cellar. Really something special and it’s drinking at its best – open it an hour before you intend to drink it for best results!
Winemaker: Franco Pacenti
Appellation: Montalcino, Tuscany
- 94 pts: Antonio Galloni, Vinous
- 93 pts: James Suckling
- 92 pts: Wine Advocate
Grapes: 100% Sangiovese (Brunello)
Vineyards: 100% Canalicchio di Sopra & Sotto
Cooperage: Minimum 24 months in Traditional Slavonian Oak, then 4 months in bottle
About the winery
Canalicchio is a name that captures the imagination of Italian wine lovers. It’s a bulletproof guarantee of magical Sangiovese that comes from the tiny village of the same name. The winery Canalicchio is run by the Pacenti family, who came to the area at the turn of the last century as sharecroppers – and three generations later, their farming is world-renowned. They produce only wines made from the Brunello clone of Sangiovese and have a strict sorting process that ensures their Brunello and Brunello Riserva are embarrassingly good. They’ve been scoring in the 90’s from every major critic since they first began submitting in the late 1990’s. This awesome winery is sandwiched between Valdicava and Casanova di Neri – both 100-point Wine Spectator wines – gives you an idea about the quality of the area!
About the vineyard
The Canalicchio vineyards are divided into six plots, with north-east exposure. This direction allows the vineyard to ripen more slowly and to preserve its inherent freshness after other Brunellos have fallen apart. The Canalicchio site covers some 10 hectares in clay-marl-limestone soil which gives the wines a satiny texture and great longevity. The exquisite Sangiovese Grosso selection (known as Brunello here, at the foot of the Montalcino hill) is utilized in their Brunello, which yields small amounts of highly concentrated fruit that is prized in both Italy and abroad.
About the winemaker, Franco Pacenti
In 1988, Franco Pacenti took control of the family winery, previously called Fratelli Pacenti, in the desirable zone of Canalicchio di Sopra. He and his children handle all of the winery duties and are consulted by the widely respected Paolo Vagaggini (also known as Mr. Sangiovese – seriously!). Vagaggini also makes the wines at legendary estates like Biondi-Santi (Brunello’s first winery!), Il Palazzone, and Poggio Antico. The aim here is to make the utmost quality from traditional methods. A lengthy fermentation is followed by at least two years in Slavonian botti – very large oak barrels that have been used many times. The resulting wine is defined by the great complexity of the vineyard site, but softer tannin than one would find in Brunellos aged in French Oak.
94 points - Antonio Galloni, Vinous
"Pacenti's 2011 Brunello di Montalcino is fabulous. A striking, vibrant wine, the 2011 wraps around the palate with bright, red-fleshed fruit, iron, smoke, licorice and tobacco. The 2011 is a bit subdued and also open-knit by Pacenti's standards, yet the wine possesses exceptional balance - especially for the vintage - and a level of sheer appeal that is hard to capture with words alone. This is one of the few 2011 Brunellos will real upside."
93 points - James Suckling
"A silky and delicious wine with lots of dried berry and currant aromas and flavors. Full body, dense and tight. Gorgeous polished tannins. Very well done for the vintage. Drink now"
92 points - Wine Advocate
"Here is a wine that offers ripeness, opulence and roundness in balanced measure. Franco Pacenti's 2011 Brunello di Montalcino is a supple and enduring wine with excellent aromatic richness. The bouquet's complexity is not to be underestimated. It creeps up on you slowly. It shows a solid core of red fruit but also offers clove, cola, licorice and pressed violets. This Brunello delivers an elegant and tempered side to this warm vintage. The mouthfeel needs to flesh out further and the wine would benefit from another three to five years of cellar aging."