'94 Banfi Brunello - Printable Version

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- ddf68 - 08-27-2001 09:58 AM

'94 Banfi Brunello

I've had this several times in the last couple of years and it never fails to disappoint. Ruby color, berry nose, a very smooth texture and a nice mix of berry, leather, and earth on the palate. Not much in the way of tannin.

I don't know if this is the bottle or the wine evolving, but I found this bottle to have more fruit and less tobacco and earth than previous bottles. Wine Spectator gave 90 points two years ago. I might knock off a point or two for density and finish, but the WS is not far off, particularly if you give credit for 1) performance in a lesser vintage 2) price ($28) and 3) widespread availability (production was 45,000 cases).


- Innkeeper - 08-27-2001 10:10 AM

According my Brunello rule of thumb you were about eight years early.

- Botafogo - 08-27-2001 11:14 AM

Another rule of thumb: the largest (by a factor of ten!) producer in the zone is RARELY the guy with the good juice. And, if he is also one of the top five advertizers in the wine rags, BUYER BEWARE of ratings. These guys give new definition to the word "carpetbagger": they made their money in booze (they are Americans), bought huge tracts of unplanted land in the DOCG zona (perhaps unplanted for a reason?), built a showcase Mondavi meets Sterling California style winery and immediately increased the production of the zona by several orders of magnitude. They are probably lobbying behind the scenes at consorzium meetings to lower the mandatory age limits while we speak (free up all that capital, you know) and to allow Merlot in the Brunello ....

But other than that I have no opinion, Roberto

[This message has been edited by Botafogo (edited 08-27-2001).]

- ddf68 - 08-27-2001 11:15 AM

Geez, IK, that's a pretty stern rule. You really think '94 Brunello needs that long? This one's drinking pretty well now.


- Botafogo - 08-27-2001 11:20 AM

Yes, Dan, if you want to taste what made Brunello (and Barolo and Taurasi and quite a few others) famous, you need to wait a good fifteen years from the vintage. The fact that the Banfi is showing OK now (although that seems to be in dispute here) is a good indication of "shortcut" winemaking based on the marketing department's knowledge that most of it will be consumed young (an enormous amount goes to restaurants in the US) anyway.

don't get started, it's too early in the morning, Roberto

- Innkeeper - 08-27-2001 11:36 AM

As I've stated here before, the one thing I would do differently if I had my life to live over, it would be to lay down one or two fine Brunellos every year. After fifteen years, would be able to enjoy them once or twice a year for every year thence. The '78 that we opened six years ago, was the best bottle of wine I've ever had. Unfortunately, we only have two rocking away right now.

- ddf68 - 08-27-2001 11:42 AM

Roberto, this Banfi history is all news to me. I agree that bigger is seldom better in the wine biz but, as they say, the proof is in the pudding and this is a solid bottle at a good price. It's by no means the finest expression of Brunello, but stylistically it's true to the appellation-- it's not a fruit bomb, it's not overoaked, it's made from the indigenous varietals--and it sells for a lot less than the stars of the appellation. I generally agree with your crusade against nouveau Italian wines which fail on these points. This one doesn't. The fact that it is relatively forward and not likely to improve for fifteen years doesn't concern me too much. How many other '94 Brunellos are going to do that?

If quality is good and style appropriate I don't see why the producer's heritage or the production levels are grounds for criticism. Unless you're suggesting that they should be avoided because of Summus, Excelsus, Tavernelle, etc? When they start adding Merlot to the blend, I'll stop buying.


[This message has been edited by ddf68 (edited 08-27-2001).]

[This message has been edited by ddf68 (edited 08-27-2001).]

- Botafogo - 08-27-2001 12:04 PM

>>How many other '94 Brunellos are going to do that?<<<

Cerbaiona, Salvioni, Canalicchio di Sopra, ect...

Dan, did you mis-speak (or mistype) when you said "this never fails to dissapoint"????

As to discriminating against producers with unclean morals and voracious marketing departments and towards those holy crusaders of the One True Faith, what's the problem with that? Surely if McDonalds somehow started serving actual food tomorrow one would still want to support quality restaurants instead just on karmic grounds, yes?

You know, when the Gallo shock troops make their annual assault on our store we have one thing to say to them: "In the Old Testament it says 'The sins of the fathers shall be revisited unto the sons, yeah even unto seven generations', come back in six! There are way too many nice people making great wine to give money to the Evil Empire."


[This message has been edited by Botafogo (edited 08-27-2001).]

- Botafogo - 08-27-2001 12:15 PM

>>The fact that it is relatively forward and not likely to improve for fifteen years doesn't concern me too much. <<

The fact that that is the DEFINITION of a Rosso di Montalcino and that these guys palmed it off as a Brunello instead should concern all of us. The acid test of this zone in iffy vintages (but '94 is not "iffy", it is a typical vintage for classically Italian styled Brunelli, not overripe California styled ones) is this:

"What is the proportion of Rosso to Brunello, assuming you made any Brunello at all?"

Quality producers perform a merciless triage and often make NO Brunello or as little as 10% of normal (which is often STELLAR as in the case of the 94 Cerbaiona), releasing the rest as Rosso or even IGT Toscana while hacks crank it all out as Brunello and give you a "deal" by reducing the price to 150-200% of the price of a top class Rosso.

Banfi has become a "brand" and a mainstay in restaurants and thus "cannot" skip a vintage....

La guerra continua, Roberto

- ddf68 - 08-27-2001 12:41 PM

Ok, I concede the point on not supporting the the evil corporate marketing departments.

As I started this reply I'm thinking to myself that your argument sounds a lot like "this wine should be art and it's not" and I wonder where's the Roberto who wants us to remember wine is groceries. As I read your latest post I suppose the answer to that is if it's groceries it should be Rosso. I guess I can't argue with that. So, I hereby amend my note to read, it's not Brunello, but it's a damn fine Rosso.

Also, delete "disappoint" and replace with "satisfy".

See you in Japan (if Brazil qualify)


I don't suppose you've got Salvioni et. al. available under the half century mark?

- Botafogo - 08-27-2001 02:34 PM

Dan, what we say is "MOST wine is not Art with a capital "A", it's groceries" but in the cases of Brunello, yes, it is supposed to be ART: terroir driven, very long lived and not showy when young.

As to the attempt at comedy "If Brasil qualifies", don't quit your day job...there would be the largest mass suicide in history if that happened.


- Thomas - 08-27-2001 03:31 PM

I am breathless. Is this one at an end?

Glad Roberto mentioned that Banfi is an AMERICAN company because far too many people are not aware of that small, but SALIENT fact.

- winecollector - 08-27-2001 05:02 PM

Can't remember whether I've had the Banfi Brunello in the past, but I have had their Chianti Classico Riserva on many an occasion, especially the 94'. I'm not all that concerned about the politics of how they make it, or how much of it they make. As long as I like the taste of it, I'll continue to buy it and drink it. In my humble opinion, Banfi puts out a decent wine for the money.

- Botafogo - 09-06-2001 12:56 PM

It's happened:

The Brunello consorzium (which is effectively Banfi in the same way that the Wine Institute is effectively Gallo, influence weighted by relative size) has petitioned the government to reduce the barrel aging requirement of Brunello from three to ONE year to "make a rounder, fruitier, more marketable wine" while claiming this will not effect the aging potential........

Hang them from the lamposts like Il Duce! Roberto

- ddf68 - 09-06-2001 01:49 PM

Oh dear. Any chance that this isn't a situation where the lawmakers more or less do what the Consorzio requests? And didn't the barrel aging requirements used to be four years?


- cpurvis - 09-06-2001 05:14 PM

Oooo! That's ugly...say hello to Brunello 'California style' Sangiovese [img][/img]

- Botafogo - 09-06-2001 06:54 PM

The current flyer from one of our "competitors" features all the Banfi wines and, guess what, there IS NO ROSSO DI MONTALCINO only Brunello and a bunch of vini da tavola. AND, the flyer has the nerve to say that "Italian wine owes a debt to California for introducing 'International Style' Cal / Ital blends"....then has a picture of a vespa and la Sophia (as in Loren) on the back cover with a tag line of Life is better Italian Style while recommending Falesco Merlot from un-indicted co-conspiritor Ricardo Cottarella.