A Traditionalist’s Year

More than a decade from the vintage, it’s clear that the best 2010 Brunellos are making good on the vintage’s enormous promise. As Antonio Galloni has written, they “show just how compelling Sangiovese can be here.” Purely expressive of their variety and terroir, and refined in both aromatics and structure, they have it all.

But capturing all of Brunello’s magic in 2010 wasn’t a given. It required the understanding, born of long experience, of what sets Brunello apart.

One producer who did just that was the tiny estate of La Gerla. Through traditional methods, and the blending of two great Montalcino terroirs, La Gerla made the most of this historic year.

With a Galloni rating of 95, coupled with very reasonable pricing, La Gerla’s 2010 Brunello has largely disappeared from the market. We’ve snagged a parcel however, that includes not only bottles, but rare halves and a single magnum as well. If you’re at all passionate about Brunello, you’ll snag some yourself.

A Marriage of Terroirs
It was 40 years ago that La Gerla proprietor Silvio Rossi got his start in Montalcino, buying a tiny 6-hectare estate from none other than the grandfather of all Brunello producers, Biondi-Santi.

If anyone knows a great classic Montalcino vineyard site from the appellation’s heart, it’s Biondi-Santi, and the parcel that Rossi acquired is just that. This cool, high-altitude slope, located in the hallowed Canalicchio district just north of the town of Montalcino, produces archetypically perfumed and elegant Brunello.

Twenty years later, Rossi augmented his original holding with plantings in Castelnuovo dell’Abate to the south, which has subsequently emerged as one of Montalcino’s most exciting subzones. Prized for the power, richness and nuance of its wines, it proved Sergio a shrewd judge of terroir in his own right.

But, bucking the trend over the past three decades toward single-vineyard wines, Rossi married his Canalicchio and Castelnuovo dell’Abate fruit, following the traditional dictum that the most complete wines are made by blending from complementary terroirs.

It isn’t only the blending that makes La Gerla’s Brunello traditional. It’s also the methods used to make it: a cool, long fermentation and maceration, gently extracted, followed by long aging in neutral Slavonian oak botti.

A Great Vintage
In 2010, La Gerla ranks among the finest traditionally made Brunellos of this fantastic year. It’s rich, yet elegant, and it has the structure for long aging. Sadly, Sergio Rossi passed away the following year, before bringing what might have been his greatest wine to full maturity.

In recent years, Brunellos like this have become increasingly rare, as so many estates use methods that mask their classic nuance with extraction and new oak. This makes the 2010 La Gerla a bittersweet hommage to Brunello traditionalism, while also paying tribute to a dedicated and passionate grower.

And its very modest price makes it stand out even more in this sought-after vintage. Quantities are very limited, however.

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