2011 was the first full calendar year my family and I lived in Italy after relocating from New York City in the fall of 2010. I remember the 2011 winter in the small Ligurian town where I had moved my family was long, cold, damp and icy, and the wind whipped viciously. Spring, as Carl Sandburg said of fog, crept in on little cat feet. At first I couldn't believe the winter was ending. Soon, though, it was clear that spring had sprung and the terraced garden below the villa was a riot of flowers. Summer hit like a hot sledgehammer, even on the Mediterranean. All over Italy, the summer of 2011 felt like a blanket had settled on our shoulders; neither no one nor nothing could remove it.
July was hot and dry; August was hotter and drier; September was still hot--and it was dry. As I travelled across Italy, my winemaker friends held their breaths, nervously. It was good to stress the grapes, but too much heat could cause over-ripe grapes that lacked freshness and verve, while too much dryness could cause them to wither on the vine. All of a sudden, pressed close with that heat and parched from that dryness, a vineyard's microclimate, a producer's skill, even the possibility of rain at an inopportune moment, became crucial. If 2010 was a gift to winemakers in Toscana, especially Montalcino, then 2011 was a challenge. The good ones would rise to it.
Today, I'm very proud to bring you the very first of the 2011 Brunello di Montalcino--this one from our friends at Canalicchio di Sopra. This estate sits at a high altitude, and that helps in a warm year like 2011; this wine wants you to drink it, but you can wait awhile too. It's not going anywhere soon. But the '11 Brunello isn't the only Canalicchio offering today; I'm also very pleased to present the newly released 2010 Brunello Riserva, a giant of a wine, and the 2014 Rosso di Montalcino, a sprightly bottle that's jumping up and down for you to enjoy it. These are three fairytale bottles that give you a three-dimensional view of one of IWM's favorite winemakers.