Brunello - Aging and drinking

Before a Brunello can be sold it has to age for at least 5 years with a minimum of 2 years on wood and a minimum of 4 months in the bottle. The Riserva variant has to age for 6 years before it can be sold with a minimum of 2 years on wood and a minimum of 6 months in the bottle. So the difference is small except that the Riserva needs to be stored for one more year. The wine is usually good to drink after about 10 years.

Some more traditional wineries still produce Brunello according to older rules which required 4 years of aging on wood. These producers also use the more traditional large wooden barrels which provides less wood contact and thus adds a different taste to the wine than the smaller modern barrels in which more modern style wineries age Brunello for 2 years. This difference as well as the many different micro-climates in the area of Montalcino make it difficult to describe a unified flavor style of Brunello. The best way to get to know this wine is by tasting bottles from different wineries in Montalcino.

Brunello can age for a long time, at least 25 years (or more) when the wine came from a good winery and vintage.

When a wine will be cellared longer than 5 years it is advised to store the wine in a dark environment at a steady temperature, preferably around 17°C or 62°F, but room temperature (between 15°C / 59°F and 22°C / 72°F) will do as well.

Decantation:
Before a bottle of Brunello can be drunk it is best to be decanted using a decanter. A decanter is a glass jug that is wider at the bottom than at the top. The wide bottom ensures that a large part of the wine is in direct contact with the air. This process brings out the flavors better and breaks down the strong tannins, making the Brunello softer and more enjoyable to drink. How to do this and how long before drinking this must happen depends on the age of the wine. For a young wine (7 till 10 years old) you can pour the wine in fast to ensure that the wine comes into contact with air as much as possible. After this you can best wait for about 4 hours before drinking the wine. For an older wine (20 years and more) it is better to put the bottle standing a day before drinking it to enable the grape residue to sink down. Then when decanting the wine make sure to use a decanting glass with limited space (as much space as the wine itself has or slightly more) and pour the wine slowly in it to avoid too much contact with air. With older wines too much air can break down the taste. Taste the wine after one hour of decanting it, if the flavors still don't come out, leave it for two more hours.

Always make sure to serve Brunello at the right temperature (cool it down for 30 minutes in the fridge when needed). Too hot or too cool wine can really destroy the taste. The best temperature to serve a Brunello is between 18°C and 20°C or 64°F and 68°F.


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