Local Brunello producers in the tiny town of Montalcino near Siena today officially present their 1998 vintage, and the eagerly-awaited 1997 Riservas, both to be released this year.

Benvenuto Brunello (‘Welcome Brunello’), is held in the town centre at the imposing medieval Fortress of Montalcino, and takes place today and tomorrow

The focus will be on the 1997 Riservas from what is widely considered the best vintage of the 20th century in Italy. At same time the Brunello consorzio is expected to give an official two stars to the 2002 vintage – generally reckoned dismal.

According to Rudolfo Maralli of the highly-respected Montalcino producer Banfi, the 1997 Riservas deserve the spotlight.

‘The ’97 Brunellos and especially the Riservas, are both elegant and powerful with incredible structure and perfect balance’, he told decanter.com. ‘The Brunellos from the 4 star ’98 vintage, while still great, are more elegant than powerful.’

2002 saw a 10% sales increase on 2001 for Brunello, which Maralli attributes to the now sold-out ’97s released last year.

The ’97 Riservas will be released throughout this year. Most have already been bought in advance by importers around the world.

Written by Kerin O’Keefe14 February 2003