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What's Open Owen? - October '21 Edition

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

It is finally fall! After a wonderful summer filled with rosé, sparkling seltzers, and refreshing cocktails, it is officially time to buckle down and drink some red wine. In my mind, there are specific grape varietals that invoke warmth and should be enjoyed either fireside or under a fuzzy blanket (my wife’s preference). Whether you are a Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, or Pinot Noir drinker, I think you know the styles of wine that I am talking about.

A well-made Sangiovese based wine fits perfectly into this category. Sangiovese is known for many things, including being the most planted grape in all of Italy. Chianti, for one, is made with the Sangiovese grape and is pretty much associated with every Italian restaurant and wine list from Chicago to Timbuktu.

Brunello Di Montalcino, however, should live in its own category. Not to be confused with Montepulciano, Brunello is a truly serious red wine. Made from 100% Sangiovese, this Tuscan wine comes with very specific rules about its production. The wines produced must spend at least two years in oak containers of any size, and then at least another 4 months in the bottle. From there, it is up to the discretion of the producer or the drinker as to how long they want to hold onto the bottle for.

As we've seen in past posts, wines from the Old World aren't usually named after their grape varietals, but rather after the town in which they are produced. In this case, the name is derived from the Italian name for brown, “Bruno” and the name of the town it is produced in, Montalcino.

This brings me to this month’s open bottle:

2011 Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG

Gaja is an absolutely legendary producer of Italian wine and currently has 40 acres of land around Brunello.

This particular wine is a blend of all of the single vineyard sites they own. When I say blend, I do not mean there is a blend of different grapes, as Brunello needs to be 100% Sangiovese, but rather that they take grapes grown in all of their different sites and blend that juice all together.

This wine had a very deep ruby red color with notes of both black and red licorice, thyme, and a balsamic smell on the nose. The wine was quite aromatic and expressed silky tannins and great structure on the palate. There were also notes of red fruits, such as cherry as well as notes of cigar box that came through later on. We decanted this wine first for about an hour in order to settle down the tannins, pairing it with a 24-hour marinated skirt steak.

After 10 years, I thought this wine showed up to play.

Have any questions or comments? Don't be afraid to reach out and let me know what you have open this month.



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