2013 Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino Selezione Madonna delle Grazie Riserva 1.5 L

Year: 2013
Appellation: Tuscany
Country: Italy
Wine Spectator: 93
Wine Advocate: 99
Wine Enthusiast: 98
Decanter: 96
Red Wine
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"Aromas of plum, pomegranate and wild rosemary highlight this rich, beefy red. Powerful, if monolithic, with accents of leather, tobacco and iron gracing the tannic finish. Best from 2022 through 2038. 141 cases made, 16 cases imported. -BS" (WS)

"The stunning 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna Delle Grazie is a protagonist of the vintage. This growing season has produced a collection of iconic wines, and to my palate none is more impressive than this. This is the first time Alessandro Mori has produced a riserva. He did so because he "fell in love with a single barrel" as he puts it. That botte was left to age for an additional year (for a total of 41 months) and once bottled, it produced 1,700 magnums and 66 750-milliliter bottles. I had preview tasted this wine from botte last year, and this review is based on a tasting of one of those 750-milliliter samples. This unique riserva opens to a beautifully saturated and dark ruby hue. The wine presents an even sequence of aromas that segues from dark forest fruit to balsam herb and crushed rock. The careful balance of aromas is impeccable. The wine is robust and firmly textured, with a bright culmination of Sangiovese acidity that adds overall radiance and brilliance. It has all the criteria necessary for a long and successful aging trajectory. I struggled to score this wine and the only reason it fell short of a perfect score is because I have the memory of the stunning 2010 vintage so clear in my mind.

Alessandro Mori of Il Marroneto has been on a roll of late, producing some of the finest wines to emerge from Montalcino in recent years. I became a believer when I fell in love with his 2010 Brunello di Montalcino Madonna delle Grazie. I still vividly remember the impact that wine made on me. To my mind, it achieves absolute Sangiovese perfection and I awarded it a confident 100 points. The 2012 vintage of that same wine earned 99 points and was my highest scoring wine among the new releases from Montalcino that year. The 2012 vintage has never been among my favorites (I prefer 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2013). But Il Marroneto's 2012 Brunello di Montalcino Madonna delle Grazie stood tall among its peers and won my heart just like the 2010 had done.

We are now on round three of my Il Marroneto infatuation. Alessandro Mori has opted to make his very first riserva release one year later than the "selezione" that bears the same vineyard designation. The inaugural vintage of this new project is the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna delle Grazie that you will find reviewed here. Alessandro tells me he was inspired by Martino Manetti of Montevertine in Radda in Chianti, who only once made a riserva: the 1990 Le Pergola Torte Riserva. My impression was that Il Marroneto's riserva production would also be limited to just one vintage. I confess to being a little disappointed to read in a subsequent press release that this is not the case. "My idea," Alesssandro is quoted as saying, "is not to make an annual production of a riserva, but to confirm year to year, whether I feel these same emotions that I get from 2013." That wording suggests that future riserva production is definitely not off the table. Rationally, I should not feel upset because great wine is great wine and no one knows what the future will bring. Since winemaking started in 1980, this is the estate's sole riserva and production was limited to a single oak cask that produced 1,700 magnums (of which 200 will be held back at the winery in the historic library)." (WA)

"Enticing scents of rose, iris, aromatic herb and perfumed berry mingle with an earthy whiff of new leather on this stunning wine. It's a classically styled, focused Brunello that boasts elegance and structure, delivering dried black-cherry, raspberry compote, tobacco and black-tea flavors. It's still youthfully austere, with taut, noble tannins and vibrant acidity that bestow tension and an ageworthy structure. Drink 2025–2038." (WE)

Winery Notes:
Launching our first Madonna delle Grazie Riserva, from the 2013 vintage

It was love at first tasting. I realized right away that that barrel was something unique. That’s how Alessandro Mori, owner and vigneron of Il Marroneto, describes the genesis of the estate’s first Riserva version of Madonna delle Grazie (and the company’s very first Riserva wine), the produce of a single, carefully chosen barrel. Madonna delle Grazie is a special selection of Brunello di Montalcino, the pride of this six-hectare estate just a short distance away from the walls of the little town.

In my conception as a vintner, says Alessandro Mori, a Riserva is a barrel which, thanks to its very nature and in particular vintages, takes on unusual characteristics that make it different and superior in many ways to the other wines, such as its capacity for aging. I don’t know why or how this happens: I think it’s just naturally blessed. And that is why this Riserva is a totally exceptional wine, one that can’t be repeated year after year. It is nature that decides when to give it to you.

The 2013 vintage (of which the Brunello and Selezione versions have already been released) has shown itself to be of great interest ever since the time of the harvest and has displayed excellent potential from when it was first tasted in barrel.

That particular barrel, repeats Mori, had something about it that was unique and special. In fact, I immediately had a feeling that it could express something particular. For this reason, I started “listening to it” on a daily basis, exchanging my sensations with my colleagues and some friends in the trade, as well as with our distributors and importers. I wanted to understand whether my “feeling” was correct or not.

He took some time over his decision, but in the end Mori resolved that he would produce a Riserva version from the 2013 vintage.

This will be in 1,700 magnums, which will be released onto the market in January 2019, with a simple label that features the term “Riserva” in red below the usual wording to be found on Madonna delle Grazie.

My idea, explains Mori, is not to start producing Riserva on an annual basis, but to verify each year if I feel the same emotions I experienced with this 2013.

And what does the future hold, then? We are now vinifying the 2018, a year that seems to be offering good prospects. It may be that there is also another recent vintage of Riserva quality, but I don’t want to rush anything, concludes Alessandro Mori.

Il Marroneto was founded in 1974 by Giuseppe Mori. Son Alessandro Mori joined the estate immediately, creating the first vintage in 1980. The estate is located in the higher elevations of the cooler northern zone of Montalcino, and is one of the older estates in the appellation. Traditional in style and adhering to a philosophy of minimal intervention in the vineyard and cellar, Il Marroneto foregoes conventional methods. Focusing on the health of the vine through spacing and nutrient-rich topsoil, Mori eschews the use of chemicals, allows only native ferments and ages in large oak cask.

Alessandro Mori’s Brunellos are some of the most long-lived in Montalcino. Madonna delle Grazie is the 13th century church on the estate for which it takes its name. The estate’s 5.8 hectares have been planted in stages: The first 10% in the 1975, an additional 10% in the 1977, and the rest in the winter between 1982-1983.

This wine is produced from a special selection of Sangiovese to create the estate’s “grand cru” Brunello.