It's time to crown Ali with the title "Brunello Queen", because this was the third Brunello Brawl she has won in row, after coming out on top in May 2018 and November 2011. Her winning bottle this time gained three first place votes and two second place votes, for a total of 26 points.

Ali was a clear winner, but we were also thoroughly impressed by all the bottles. None were duds, and although a couple didn't quite exhibit more typical Sangiovese Grosso flavors, all the entries were very good to outstanding, showing beautiful, evolving aromatics and plenty of structure. Tasters felt that it was unfair to have to vote for winners.

Four different vintages were represented. None could be considered inexpensive, but there was a solid range of prices, from the mid $40s to nearly $100.

Photography by Andy.

First Place:  Franco Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2018. Tasters found scents of inner tube, wet animal, Luden's cough drops, wet stone, and damp wash cloth. Some gamey, feral scents. Ali was reminded of "Elizabeth, New Jersey", while Josephine detected "old perfume made with real animal glandular secretions." Andy described "wet fire log", and expanded with "smoldering fire that is wet now." Showed more obvious fruit on the palate, like pomegranate and sour cherry, but also ended with darker, medicinal notes. Jamie felt that the finish was "something dark like coffee or a bitter tea." Improved as the night progressed. Kristin, Jamie, and David's favorite of the night. 26 points. Ali's bottle. About $59.

Second Place (tie):  Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino 2015. A bare hint of wet cardboard, then scents of brown sugar, basement floor, lake cottage, library book, dark wet soil, old wallpaper, and some vegetal funk. Deep, savory umami flavors, suggesting miso, dark mushrooms, and cured meat, plus notions of briny green olive and black cherries. The acidity pops out on the end. Kristin's favorite. 17 points. David's bottle. About $50.

Second Place (tie):  Lisini Brunello di Montalcino 2014. Showed a little age around the edge of the glass, with aromas of dark mushrooms, dried roses, pine bark, cherries, fresh cranberries, truffles, eucalyptus, licorice, coffee, and a little of that blood/iodine quality. Beautiful, lovely texture, with plenty of acidity and nothing out of place. An almost saline note, like an energetic saltiness, plus rocks, beef blood, and blueberries. Licorice, tobacco, and toasted hazelnuts on the long finish. Would pair well with grilled meat. Ali noted that "it made me relax, it has a wise alpha female vibe", while David felt that it "makes you want to sit in silent reverence." Serious wine, though it appeared to decline as the night went along. Ali's favorite. 17 points. Kristin's bottle. About $90.

Third Place:  La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Manapetra 2016. Darker, with more consistent color closer to the edge. Tasters found scents of bacon, smoked meat, wild herbs, allspice, cloves, orange peel, and licorice. Soapy, in a fresh and pretty way, smelling clean, like fresh laundry or Ajax, but not unpleasant. Ali noted that it "reminds me of my Nana's house." Felt youthful in the mouth, with lots of primary fruit flavors marked by vanilla, licorice, and blood orange. Very accessible. Ali felt that "it finishes on the same place where it attacks", while Jamie noted the she would not have pegged it for a Sangiovese. Andy's favorite. 14 points. Andy's bottle. About $46.

Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2018. A nose of almost burnt caramel, raisins, dust, wormwood, coffee, wet cedar, fig, vanilla, graphite, and assorted dried fruits. Lots of energy on the nose, seeming exciting, with Andy noting, "Yeah, in a dried fruit kinda way." Primary fruit flavors (raspberries/cherries), but also more of that burnt caramel note or brown sugar. Tasted youthful and inviting, with gingerbread on the finish. 9 points. Josephine's bottle. About $52.

Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Nastagio 2015. A slight fecal note, but also scents of hay, peppermint Certs, root beer, tree bark, Moxie, prunes, wet leaves, and freshly cleaned barn. Josephine was reminded of "autumn after the rain." Prune showed up on the palate also, perhaps in its juiced form, plus flavors of licorice and cherries. Beautiful texture, having a silky quality, but also tooth-coating tannins. Would pair well with a braise. Andy found it reminiscent of "the pure physical properties of wine." This was a very good bottle, but garnered only a single point from David. Jamie's bottle. About $95.

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