The last time we compared bottles of Rosso di Montalcino back in April 2015, the winner was a ripe, dark example that exhibited some oak treatment. This time, our champion had some bottle age, with less primary fruit, and was more evolved, showing more nuance and tertiary qualities.

All six tasters voted for it as their favorite, earning the maximum 36 points, something that has become more rare lately. Still, this was an outstanding tasting, and even though one bottle received no points, there was agreement that these were very good to excellent bottles, showing well on their own as well as with food.

Photography by Andy.

First Place:  Fattoria del Pino Rosso di Montalcino 2018. Not super dark in color, with hint of orange or brick. Striking nose of tobacco, red berries, wet pine, autumn leaves, tar, mushroom, smoke, and forest floor. Pretty. Ali detected "blueberry muffin." Delicious and very balanced, offering flavors of fig and burnt caramel on the attack, then notions of pine forest, bay leaf, dried herbs, and celery. Takes you on a journey. Solid tannins. Not simple.  Resa noted that "the wine is definitely a friend." The finish was expansive, long, and textural. Everyone's favorite of the night, for 36 total points. Andy P's bottle. About $30.

Second Place: Poggio Antico Rosso di Montalcino 2020. The nose reminded Andy of "the stem of a flower that's been in the water for a little while", while Kristin found it like "wet wool." A hint of rubber, but also some fruit hidden underneath it, like dark plum, dates, and a little bit of a caramel quality. More fruity on the palate, plus a nutty quality, like almonds, then figs, black cherry, and a savory, long finish, where some slightly charred caramel flavors peek out. Tannic. Received 16 points. David's bottle. About $37.

Third Place:  Paradisone Rosso di Montalcino 2017. Smells bolder, aggressive, and more masculine, with a musky note, along with dried herbs and dried spices, like opening a spice drawer. Tasters also found scents of grape jelly, cigar smoke, smoldering fire. Ali was reminded of an "interesting European person" that perhaps needs a shower, while others thought that he smelled intriguing. Juicy in the mouth, having flavors of apples, black tea, red fruit, tobacco, and shoe polish. Perhaps a little hot. Improved a lot with air.  Ali decided that "I don't like the visuals it's giving me." 15 points. Kristin's bottle. About $30.

La Lecciaia Rosso di Montalcino 2018. Tasters found scents of caramel, eucalyptus, cedar, honey, toy store, candied apple, blueberries, and crème brûlée. Resa was reminded of Lego Land. Riper than many wines of the night, with lots of primary fruit, but also leather and tobacco, with a tooth-coating texture. Andy P found "tinned sardine on the finish." 11 points. Andy R's bottle. About $19.

San Guglielmo Rosso di Montalcinoi 2020. Some hints of acetone on the nose, but otherwise dusty, with dark, savory mushroom notes, but also shows freshness and a saline quality. Not super complex, but tasty, and rather high in acidity. Ali summarized with, "It's simple, but it does simple well." 6 points. Resa's bottle. About $30.

Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montalcino 2021. The most youthful in color of the night, showing the blue end of the spectrum of red, and was the most opaque. Scents of vanilla, raisin, blackberries, lemon drop, mac nut, and freshly brewed coffee. Juicy. Youthful on the palate, and riper than all others, with lots of primary fruit and rounder texture. The finish was not long, but had dried herb and cranberry notes. No points. Ali's bottle. About $14.

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