Brunello is complex, but breaking Montalcino's production zones into a range of subzones to help understand them. Within each there are variations in altitude, soil composition, and weather patterns--it's a lot to keep in your head. North of Montalcino itself, where you'll find the subzones of Canalicchio, Pianelli, and Montisoli, the high elevation of the central region begins to taper off and flatten out, forming a kind of plain studded with hills. These subzones have a moderate share in the warm, dry Mediterranean climate and high altitude of their neighbors to the south, but the slight differences in temperature, humidity, and elevation makes wine that own both ripeness and structure.
These traits show in the wines of Livio Sassetti Pertimali, which combine serious aromas and elegance with power and fruit. Sassetti's Brunello di Montalcino is riper, richer, darker and more brooding than most others, and in a warm year like 2011, it drinks like dark velvet. This '11 Brunello shows what a producer can do with a warm year, and it gives also a taste of the northern Brunello zone, the same one that Valdicava calls home. Best of all, it's under $50, so there's no reason not to enjoy it now--and later, after it's mellowed in your cellar.
Along with this delicious Italian wine, I'm delighted to bring a collector bottle. Some wines deserve epic proportions, and Le Pergole Torte, Montevertine's mono-varietal Sangiovese Super Tuscan, is one of them. There's a double magnum of 1988 Pergole Torte just waiting for serious wine-lovers, and this overlooked vintage needs to be enjoyed. Finally, Didier Dageuneau's estate makes some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc wines on earth, and its '11 Pouilly-Fumé is not to be missed. Drink it with a plate of raw oysters and thank me later!