• Baby Brunello Bullseye

    Baby Brunello Bullseye

    Summer 2017's extensive visits to Tuscany left so many indelible marks. One of the highlights was the in-depth visit atop Montalcino with La Gerla's winemaker, Alberto Passeri. While Passeri's Brunello and Brunello Riserva fetch the most attention by critics and collectors alike, they aren't necessarily the estate's true crown jewel.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2018 La Gerla Rosso di Montalcino and 2015 Brunello.

    Much like de-classification in Burgundy, where you can buy Grand Cru bottlings labeled with a more humbled appellation, a similar practice is done here. If there's one wine in Montalcino that delivers the greatest value it's certain to be La Gerla's Rosso di Montalcino, sourced exclusively from vines in the official Brunello zone. In 2018, with its warm growing season, the moniker Baby Brunello couldn't be more fitting. At $29 per bottle this is the best deal in traditional Montalcino.

    At La Gerla, wines in botti that show more approachability in their youth are bottled as Rosso di Montalcino. These come from the same organic, estate-farmed vineyards that supply the two Brunello bottlings, but are released much earlier. When I sat down for lunch over and over again in Montalcino it was a 2015 La Gerla served by the glass that I kept coming back to each day. I did my best to taste through a range of producers and styles, but nothing came close to delivering the total package like the La Gerla Rosso.

    On Montalcino's north side, La Gerla was originally owned by the pioneering Biondi-Santi winery, who created the first "Brunello di Montalcino." The story behind the sale is an amusing one, with Franco Biond-Santi's disgruntled sister selling this small slice to Sergio Rosso in 1976. Sergio made immediate changes to the farming and cellar practices to upgrade everything and two years later, in 1978, the first commercial La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino was released. Today the estate encompasses 12 hectares, all of which are organically farmed. Aging takes place in botti for the Rosso and the Brunello.

    *The name La Gerla refers to the historic small wooden picking bins that vineyard workers would wear on their backs. The name is an hommage to the sacrifice made by the men and the women in the vineyards who worked tirelessly to ensure the best raw materials were brought into the cuverie. It's this warm reflection on the efforts in viticulture that became abundantly clear visiting with winemaker, Alberto Passeri.

    Posted by Max Kogod