Head Over Heels in Brunelli

Have you ever been in love? I mean head over heels, stomach turning, butterflies-type love? I’m not sure if I have, but this week I can promise you I’m one step closer to knowing what it feels like. Her name was Brunello and she came from the small, charming town, of Montalcino in Tuscany. She walked with a farmer’s daughter-type innocence and spoke quietly as to not attract too much attention. But I wish you could have seen her dance—dressed in black and ready for the world. My heart melted when she walked in and only dug its hole deeper as she told the story of her past.   Unfortunately, as quickly as she entered my life, she left in the same dramatic fashion, leaving only a memory.  The woes of young love, I suppose, but an experience and an evening I’ll never soon forget. Yet away from the tragic romantic I seem to be becoming and into something a bit more serious…

This Saturday, at the dinner New York Vintners event An Evening of Canalicchio di Sopra, I got to taste my first serious Brunello. And not only one, mind you, rather 12 different vintages of Canalicchio di Sopra dating from 1995 to the most recent 2005 release. And in that regard, the introduction is very much true. Canalicchio Di Sopra, for those not familiar, is a small family operated winery whose history dates back to the sixties. Founded by Primo Pacenti, (an unquestionable dreamer and influential figure when it comes to the quality of Italian wine over the past 50 years) the family has been producing exceptional terroir driven wine for decades. The winemaking responsibilities have now been handed over to Primo’s grandson, Francesco Ripaccioli, who traveled over 4,500 miles from his home in Italy to join us for the evening. He was slightly soft-spoken, however, as his introduction reminded, wished the wine to do a majority of his talking. And that my friends, I can promise, was most certainly the case.

Starting young, we tasted a vertical flight from 2000 – 2004 in slow progression as Francesco led us through the intricacies of each vintage. Getting across in very few words how important the 2000 vintage was to him and his family, due in part to the difficult growing season that year–only 350 cases were produced! Which, coming from the production side of the industry, is absolutely amazing. Can you imagine the dedication?!?  An entire YEAR of work for such little return—truly remarkable. As he told the story I honestly got chills, and for that reason I’ll never forget the vintage. From here, we moved on to a side-by-side, blind tasting of the 99 and 99 Riserva. The wines were paired with a spicy, tomato based pasta, prepared by Vintners’ Executive Chef Christopher Meeker. Who, for the quality of the Authentic Tuscan dish did our Italian Guest, instantly complement. The atmosphere was truly special and wonderful conversation was found at every table—from dream trips across the Italian Countryside and nights drinking wine in Tuscany to loud discussion on the best pasta dish ever tasted. Music played and the wine became more special with every sip, as she began to breathe and show the true complexity of her aging beauty (sorry for the romantic spin, but felt it necessary… we’re talking Tuscany!).

The wines to follow were the 98 and 96 bottling. This time paired with chicken thighs so tender and well marinated, they themselves stand worthy of an entire post! Chris’s philosophy behind the evening’s fare was to compliment the wine with a subtle, tradition-based menu. Served on top of broccoli rabe, the plate offered the perfect marriage of protein and produce, style and grace. The room continued to grow increasingly vibrant, Francisco’s Italian stories started to feel closer to home, and our friend Miss Brunello officially stole the show… as I said before, if you could have only seen her dance.

The night, amazingly, was far from dead and, for our grand finale, Francisco poured his 95 and 95 Riserva. I won’t even attempt to put these two wines in words… for I fear I would do their quality little justice. Truly special. Remarkably vibrant. Undoubtedly pure.

His final words were those of thanks and blessings. He has promised to return… and swore to put in a good word with the lady.

Another tale from the table.



New events coming soon!  Be on the look out.

Call us at 212.812.3999 for more information on any of the above wines.


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