The Best Brunelli! Vinous On San Carlo, Pietroso, Solaria

Apr 17, 2021

Our partners in Brunello di Montalcino are on a roll. From Eric Guido’s Nov 2020 report at Vinous, here are new Sangiovese wines from the landmark 2016 vintage!

First, San Carlo. Eric has some great things to say about our micro-producer and partner near Tavernelle, and it’s clear that this third-generation estate is at the top of its game today!


“Third-generation winemaker Gemma Marcucci tends to less than three-and-a-half hectares of vines, many of which were planted by her grandfather in 1974 … Although very small in production, these wines are big in character. They are evidence that small yet high-quality, under-the-radar winemaking is still alive and well in Montalcino.”


2018 San Carlo Rosso di Montalcino
The 2018 Rosso di Montalcino has an old-school and earthy appeal that keeps you at the edge of the glass. Crushed black cherries mix with brown spice, sage, leather and hints of animal musk, making for a slightly rustic yet captivating bouquet. It’s silky with ripe black and red fruits before giving way to salty minerals, all framed nicely by juicy acids with just a hint of gentle tannins. Purple florals resonate through the long finish, cast over a subtle twang of spiced citrus. San Carlo packed a ton of character into their 2018 Rosso di Montalcino. — Eric Guido


2016 San Carlo Brunello di Montalcino
The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is savory, dark and almost animalistic, with blackberries and currants giving way to crushed stone, licorice and smoked meats. It’s silky in texture, with depths of spicy black fruits complemented by hints of sour citrus and stimulating acids. There’s so much to like here, as residual acids keep the experience fresh in spite of grippy tannins and youthful restraint. It’s briary at times yet sapid, salty and unbelievably persistent. San Carlo really knocked this one out of the park. The 2016 spent three years in 30-hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle before release. — Eric Guido


2015 San Carlo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
The 2015 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is spicy and intense with a wave of crushed black cherries, minty herbs, shaved cedar, leather and hints of animal musk. The textures are silky, almost fleshy at first; yet tension builds quickly, with tart red and black berries giving way to salty minerals and a layer of grippy tannin. Structured and youthfully dry, with a cooling freshness that lends early appeal, as this finishes savory with a hint of salted licorice. The Riserva is always released late, following three and a half years of refining in five-hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels and another year in bottle. — Eric Guido

Next up is the talented Patrizia Cencioni at Solaria. Female owned and run, Solaria represents two generations of talent in Patrizia and her daughters, whose natural talents have turned this small estate into an up-and-coming star.

Just how good is 2016 in Montalcino? From Eric Guido at Vinous :

“These are wines that capture your imagination; and no matter how youthfully tense they are today, you simply can’t help but revisit a glass over and over again; because in many cases, the aromatics alone are intoxicating. I frankly cannot remember the last time I tasted young wines from Montalcino that possessed such symmetry from start to finish.”



2019 Patrizia Cencioni – Solaria Rosso di Montalcino
The 2019 Rosso di Montalcino is understated and coy. With swirling the wine releases dried strawberry and rose nuances and hints of cedary spice. Its silky textures soothe, contrasted by tart red and black wild berries, savory herbs and brisk, almost-salty acids. Structured, concentrated and sapid, there’s simply so much going on here, yet all the while this remains wonderfully harmonious. This reminds me more of a young Brunello than a Rosso. Short-term cellaring should help unlock further aromatic depths, at which point the 2019 will be the total package. — Eric Guido


2018 Patrizia Cencioni – Solaria Rosso di Montalcino
The 2018 Rosso di Montalcino takes some time to open up in the glass, slowly evolving to show floral-laced cherry, sage and white smoke. It’s a soft and pliant expression, boasting a pure display of red fruits and herbs, as salty minerals and hints of tannin settle upon the senses. Inner violet tones resonate through the lightly structured finale … incredibly pretty and balanced … — Eric Guido


2016 Patrizia Cencioni – Solaria Brunello di Montalcino
The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino holds your attention with a gorgeous bouquet of lavender giving way to cherry, blackberries, earthy minerals and white smoke. This is dark in character and silky in feel with a savory, almost-salty display of polished black fruits and minerals. Brisk acids provide grip and lend a cheek-puckering tension. Fine tannins add to the 2016’s already-youthful poise, yet they don’t get in the way. A mix of sweet violet florals and lingering ripe fruit satiate the palate. I love the balance here. The 2016 almost tricks you into thinking that it doesn’t need time in the cellar to show its best. But don’t be fooled; this will only get better with time.– Eric Guido


2015 Patrizia Cencioni – Solaria Brunello di Montalcino
Dark bright red. Red cherry, medicinal herbs, chamomile greet the nose. Then rich round and suave, but with mounting youthfully peppery tannins and spicy, savory and red fruit flavors on the long chewy finish. — Ian D’Agata

And here are reviews for our partners Pietroso, yet another family Brunello micro-domaine turning out suave and seductive Sangiovese wines.



2018 Pietroso Rosso di Montalcino
Bright medium red. Cherry, flowers and flint aromas are complicated by notes of iron and herbs. A touch austere on entry but develops sweet red berry character in the middle palate and offers good clarity and cut. Finishes with rising sweetness and a note of welcomed smoky minerality. – Ian d’Agata


2016 Pietroso Brunello di Montalcino
The bouquet of 2016 Pietroso Brunello di Montalcino is seductive, blending ripe cherries with autumnal spices, hints of rosemary and white smoke. It’s soft and enveloping, with a fleshy feel to its ripe red berries, offset by cooling minerals and a twang of sour citrus. This finishes structured yet energetic, with pretty inner florals resonating over a tug of grippy tannins. — Eric Guido

vinous logo