Monday, September 17, 2012

2004 Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello

The arugula is really hitting its stride in the garden, and I wanted to do something to feature it in tonight's meal. So I grilled a couple of extra thick ribeyes to medium-rare and fanned the slices over arugula dressed with kosher salt, black pepper, lemon-infused olive oil and shaved Parmesan. Simple. Beautiful. Perfect. It should've been the perfect foil for a Brunello di Montalcino.

The 2004 Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino shows pretty typical Brunello color with its washed-out, slightly brownish hue. Nose is initially inviting with classic notes of sweet cherry, dusty earth and fennel seed before taking a turn for the worse with odd soy/Asian spice notes and more than a hint of chili powder. But the most disturbing aspect of this wine is the strange tongue-numbing flavors on the palate reminiscent of camphor-like Szechuan peppercorns. Moderate tannins. The acidity is nicely balanced with what else there is in the bottle. A really bizarre showing for this normally consistent and excellent wine. Sadly, my last of three bottles so there probably won't be any more data points. About $40.


  1. Bummer! I loved the 2005, but my son picked-up on a hint of chipotle on the finish, which he liked!

  2. I have found the asian spice thing before in Ciacci's wines. I recently reviewed the 2006/2007 and while they were good, they were not up to the levels of other producers in those years. Their style is always rustic and strikes me as borderline "dirty". I don't know if you can see that by what you tasted. 2004 was a good year though, there shouldn't be any abberrations here.

  3. Well then, maybe I wasn't insane with the chile pepper and Asian spice notes!

  4. Bill, were beginning to think the insanity thing;-)
    I've been feeling the same way over the three or four white wines which have given me the impression of tomato.

    1. I frequently get that herbaceous "tomato leaf" aroma from whites, particularly Sauvignon Blancs. One of those odd descriptors you can't really explain. But if you've spent any time in a garden, particularly in the morning, you know exactly what is smells like.