Pian dell’Orino Brunello di Montalcino Vigneti del Versante 2017


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“While some in Montalcino don’t agree with the mix of love, passion, science, nature’s rhythm and a bit of jazz that inspires Caroline Pobitzer and Jan Erbach to create the wines that they do, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t respect them for it. During my recent visit to Pian dell’Orino, located on the southern hill of Montalcino and practically a stone’s throw from Biondi-Santi, I found myself digging through biodynamic preparations, insect repellent plants, witnessing vine training inspired by ancient Roman texts and tiptoeing through their silent cellar. What this couple is accomplishing in Montalcino seems more evolutionary instead of revolutionary to me. However, such practices come at a cost. For one thing, to remain as loyal to Mother Nature as they do, it means constant work in the vineyards to counteract the various vine diseases, insects and vintage conditions. But trust me, they’re up to it. All you need to do is watch Jan Erbach, with the endurance of a long-distance runner, move his way through the vineyards, quickly stopping to nurse an Esca-infected vine or work a canopy to properly catch the morning light. Once in the winery, you find yourself in a space that resembles more of a meditative chamber than a barrel aging room, as Jan Erbach begs you to “please do not touch the barrels”. It might seem odd at face value, but this couple believes just as much in the natural rhythms and vibrations of the cellar as they do in the scrutinous definition of Montalcino’s terroir–a project that they have worked hard to publicize, yet have had much opposition in doing so. As for the wines, and due to the later-release schedule, this visit gave me my first opportunity to taste the 2016 Vigneti del Versante and 2015 Bassolino di Sopra. These two single-vineyard expressions of terroir take all of the best qualities of their respective vintages and marry them perfectly to the Pian dell’Orino style of grace, elegance and radiance. I was able to taste from both freshly-opened bottles and those that had been open for over a day, which is always such an insightful study. There was also a cask sample of the 2017 Bassolino di Sopra, which, out of respect for their wishes, I chose not to publish; but I can say that it is a perfect follow-up to the 2017 Rosso tasted earlier this year. Pian dell’Orino continues to be one of the most progressive and experimental wineries in all of Montalcino, yet also one of its best.”

Eric Guido, Vinous (10/21)