O.K. I realize that the title is a mouthful. If you go to a wine shop, you can just ask for the Castelgiocondo Brunello, and they will know what you want. “Marchesi de Frescobaldi” is the name of the Company, and is Italian for Marquis of Frescobaldi. Castelgiocondo is the name of the vineyard estate where the grapes are grown, and Brunello di Montalcino, of course, is the type of wine (and region).
The Frescobaldi family has been making wine in Italy since the year 1300. They have had some practice at this. The Castelgiocondo estate has been producing wine grapes for about the same length of time. The vineyards at Castelgiocondo were planted with Brunello vines over 100 years ago (originally, a variety of other indigenous grapes were grown on the site.). The vineyards were re-planted with new vines in 1975. The estate was not always owned by the Frescobaldi’s, and in fact they did not acquire ownership of this prized estate until 1989. The quality of the wines has been getting better every year, and Castelgiocondo is now considered one of the top Brunello estates.
Wine Spectator had a lot of nice things to say about this wine, but recommended that it not be drunk until after 2007. Based on my experience this weekend, I could not disagree more. The wine is drinking beautifully right now. It has a wonderfully earthy, mineral-like bouquet, with hints of tobacco and truffles coming out of the glass. The fruit is sweet, and the tannins are soft and velvety. The typical spiciness of Brunello is clearly present, but not overpowering. The oak is well integrated. The winery uses both large Slovenian casks and small French oak barriques to age the wine. The combination works. Robust dried cherry and plum flavors hit the palate with a vengeance! It has a nice long finish. I was drinking it with a variety of cheeses and robust appetizers. I thought it was perfect right out of the bottle (without decanting), but I like most wines this way, when the bouquet is at its maximum. I give this wine my highest ranking, 5 stars!
This wine was widely available several months ago, and retailed for about 50 dollars if you got a good deal. I got several bottles from the Wine Exchange up in Orange County. Unfortunately, all the good press has led to depleted stocks, and it is getting hard to find. It shows up frequently on the on-line wine auctions, or can be ordered from some of the reputable on-line wine retailers. Last I checked, they still had it at knightsbridgewine.com (based in Chicago), and at grapesthewineco.com (in New York). I drank it at the Clubhouse at the Crosby Rancho Santa Fe, for the very reasonable restaurant price of $65.00. Kudos to restaurant manager Greg Harris for putting interesting wines on the menu at a fair price.
* Prior Wine of the Week Winner!