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A Vertical Brunello Tasting Like No Other At Lisini Winery

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Following Sara Carmignola for a couple of years on social media, I only met her in person earlier this summer at the yearly Vignaioli di Radda event at the House of Chianti Classico in Radda. We hit it off straight away and had a lot of fun during the day. Going on the offroading together in the vineyards around Radda and then tasting wines together.

Some week after, she called me inviting me to a vertical Brunello tasting at Lisini winery in Montalcino with a few selected wine peeps invited. I must say I felt a bit stunned at first that she had thought of me but, of course, I said yes not wanting to miss such a tasting.

What was even more fabulous was that the owners Carlo Lisini and his cousin Ludovica Lisini would pick us up and bring us with them to Montalcino. It felt like full VIP treatment.

Then a funny thing happened when Carlo Lisini called me to ask which part of town I live in so he could come and pick me up. It turns out we live right next door to each other and that he often parks his car in the small street where I live. So, I only had to walk down the stairs and there his car was. LOL

We arrived at their farmhouse in Montalcino around 11 ready to discover more about their Brunello wines, with various vintages from 1970 to 2009. I admit I am no expert on Brunello di Montalcino producers and their wines. It is still an area I need to learn a lot about. Anyway, I should not have worried because stepping out of the car I saw that my friend Riccardo Silla Viscardi was there. When he is at a tasting I learn a lot from his experience. 😊

We were a fun group of wine friends tasting the older Brunello vintages that day, namely Carlo and Ludovica, Riccardo Silla Viscardi, Lorenza Vitali, Luigi Cremona, Marco Bechi, Filippo Paoletti, Aldo Fiordelli, and Sara Carmignola. Well, and moi, of course. 😊

Azienda Agricola Lisini – A family winery with a long history

The owners of today stem from the Clementi-Lisini family that is of noble origin. The estate in Montalcino was in the Clementi family’s hands since the early 17th century when they started buying up land in Sant’Angelo in Colle in Montalcino. The Lisini family, on the other hand, owned land in the Radda area. It was only later on, in the mid-19th century that the two families came together with the marriage between the ancestors Francesca Clementi and Lodovico Lisini.


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A VINEYARD DRIVE THROUGH, GUESS WHERE? 〰️〰️〰️ So, all right, don’t pay attention to the seat belt signal beeping in the background. 😉😂 🍇 Apart from that, aren’t these #vines just beautiful…?… even if the weather was a bit gloomy. 🍇 These are the vineyard lots of the #Ugolaia cru of @aziendalisini. They came out with the first Ugolaia #Brunello di Montalcino in 1990. 🍇 Ludovica and Carlo were taking me and to have a peek at their vineyards after the vertical tasting in June. Carlo was driving and Ludovica was acting like the gate opener. 😁 … #grapevineadventures * * * * #allabouttuscany #Montalcino #aziendaagricolalisini #BrunellodiMontalcino #sangiovesegrosso #winery #verticaltasting #igersmontalcino #motivation #vineyard #oldvintages #vecchieannate #motivational #saturday #italianwine #italy #livevideo #wineo #winelovers #luxurytravels #wineoclock #winewriter #topwine #winetrail #bestofday * * @rosso_di_sara @winestudiotina @ludo.lys @thewininghour

Un post condiviso da Katarina Andersson (@grapevineadventures) in data:

The estate seems to have been a bit overlooked at the beginning of the 20th century, but with the grandfather of Carlo, the family started to dedicate their time to it again. He started planting vines in 1929 after the hit of the phylloxera and decided to dedicate himself to wine production. During WWII, the estate then became a headquarter for the Germans and they also enjoyed a lot of their wines. After the war, they slowly started to get back on track but it was only at the beginning of the 1960s that they really got their upswing. Among other things, they managed to plant around 5 ha of new Brunello vines thanks to EU funding.

It was Elina, Carlo’s and Ludovica’s aunt, who took over the management of the family estate in the 1960s. She was very much involved in the founding of the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino in 1967 together with 24 other wineries in Montalcino. In 2009, it was Carlo and Ludovica who took over the reigns.

The estate

After the very brief historical overview, I wanted to also give you some few details about the extent of the Lisini estate. The farm itself is located in the southern parts of the Montalcino area, close to Sant’Angelo in Colle. It comprises about 150 ha of land, of which 24 ha are vineyards. There is apparently a special micro-climate in this part of Montalcino with southern exposition, also due to the winds blowing in from Maremma and the sea. This favours very much the Brunello wines produced in this area.

Tasting older vintages of Brunello di Montalcino from Lisini

BrunelloThey told us that they recently had cleaned up and put their old wine cellar in order at their family house in the village Sant’Angelo in Colle. While doing so they had a better look at the older vintages of Brunello they still have in storage. Therefore, they decided to gather some wine friends and writers for this informal tasting. Am I not lucky to have been included in this amazing group…?

We could have a peek down in the lower and oldest part of the cellar where they still have bottles going back to the 1960s. Of course, I snapped a couple of photos while carefully walking around among the bottles…really feeling the winds of history blowing around me.

Before and After 1990

We can divide the vintages in Lisini Brunello wines from before and after 1990, i.e. the first year of their cru Ugolaia. The Ugolaia is a single vineyard where they produce the grapes for their Brunello wine with the same name.  The Brunello wines before 1990 are not precisely ‘wilder’ or more untamed but have a richer character. The Ugolaia cru gives rise to a type of wine that is more elegant.

Before 1990

The first vintage that their oenologist Filippo Paoletti opened was a bottle from 1970. It is considered to have been a great vintage and I really liked it. The 1970 was still fresh and had notes of ripe fruit, especially cherry, spices, with a bit smoky touch.

The Riserva 1975 was Filippo Paoletti’s favourite. And I liked this one too, all right, let’s face it…it would have been difficult to say you don’t like these wines unless there would have been any real defect. LOL It was still astonishingly fresh, with a more green and herby, or balsamic, touch, green tannins, floral, with notes of ripe fruit coming out after a while.

They said that 1983 was a warm year and, in fact, you could feel the ripe fruit and it was perhaps not as fresh or persistent as the 1975. The 1985 also had the fruity ripeness and a sweet character, spicy notes, and with a noticeable alcohol level. Both were quite smooth and with some herby undertones.

After 1990

As mentioned above, 1990 was the first year of the Ugolaia wine that is a more elegant, dry wine with smooth notes of fruit and green tannins. We also tasted 2004 and 2009 of their Ugolaia. The 2004 had notes of hazelnut in the beginning, turning into a beautiful nose with a mix of fruity, spicy, and some herby notes. A fresh and elegant wine with smooth tannins. The 2009 was also very smooth but was a bit closed at the nose in the beginning. It had slightly more floral and greener notes than the 2004 and still lacked some in complexity.

We also tasted a bottle from 1995 that was still fairly fruit driven, spicy, with a sweet touch of vanilla. A bit racy, I am not sure how to explain it, not really nervous, perhaps intense or vivid, tannic, however, quite smooth as a whole.


Brunello makes you happy…

Well, that is really true that after this tasting of older Brunello vintages at Lisini winery, we all felt very happy. The longevity of these Brunello wines was indeed fantastic and it was so interesting to be there and taste and learn about the different vintages.

The perfect continuation of this vertical tasting was the lunch at Trattoria Il Pozzo.

Katarina Andersson

Seen often at wine events streaming live, Katarina is a wine writer, wine educator, social media strategist, and translator. She is the founder of WinesOfItaly LiveStream. She has been a guest at The Cellar, hosted by Richard Glover, at Wine Two Five, a podcast hosted by Stephanie Davis and Valerie Caruso, and at the Twitter chat #WiningHourChat founded by Li Valentine.

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