Since the 1990s, Casanova di Neri has been among the most impressive of Brunello producers. The estate was founded in 1971 by Giovanni Neri. Even back then, vineyard land around Montalcino was expensive and hard to find, but Neri was able to purchase a plot called Cerretalto that was less desirable because the area was considered too cool for proper ripening. Understanding the limitations of the location, Neri employed resourceful viticultural practices, including accepting a lower yield, in order to achieve top quality grapes. Over time, climate change has worked in the estate’s favor, as the Cerretalto vineyard with its natural amphitheater overlooking the Asso River now has no problem reaching optimal ripeness. Operation was passed on to son Giacomo in 1991. Currently the estate covers around 500 hectares of which 63 are vineyards, 20 olive groves and the rest arable land and forest.
The wines of Casanova di Neri are known for their elegant, modern style. Antonio Galloni of Vinous says this: “Proprietor Giacomo Neri makes some of the richest, most textured Brunellos readers will come across. The house style favors a lush expression of fruit with a softness that makes the wines very appealing upon release. In recent years the wines have become more elegant." Here is Robert Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide: "Giacomo Neri makes some of the most exciting modern-styled Brunellos in the zone. Neri is a fervent believer in low yields, and while his wines boast notable concentration, they also show remarkable elegance and expressiveness.”
The 2016 vintage in Brunello is turning out to be one for the ages, possibly better than the outstanding 2015, though different may be a better word. 2015 was somewhat warmer making for wines a little more approachable when young. The 2016s, though drinking well now, have even greater aging potential than the also cellar-worthy 2015s. James Sucking, in his Brunello vintage report says this: “The 2016 vintage marks the second great year in a row for Brunello di Montalcino following the sensational 2015 . . . I like to say that 2016 would be the greatest vintage ever for Brunello if it weren’t for the stupendous 2015 . . . plan on aging them much longer than the 2015s.” Suckling, btw, has four times given Casanova di Neri wines 100pts. The Tenuta Nuova is considered the estate’s flagship release and the ‘basic’ Brunello is an outstanding value. Both should drink nicely now with decanting and both should amply reward cellaring.
Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino 2016
Sale Price: $119.97
James Suckling, 99pts. - “Aromas of blackberries, cherries, violets and bark with mahogany. It’s full-bodied and chewy with intense tannins that are layered and focused. The fruit is pure and purposeful, yet not over done. Wonderful strength and purity to this. Class is the word.” (11/2020)
Wine Advocate, 97+pts. – “This is one of my sweetheart wines from Montalcino. The Casanova di Neri 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova offers a long list of aromas on an ever-shifting and fluid bouquet. You get bright cherry, rose potpourri, black truffle, caramel, butterscotch, sandalwood, road pavement and chalky mineral. In fact, each time I come back to this wine, that mineral element seemed to grow in intensity and scope. The wine offers a grounded fruit side that is contrasted nicely against a grounded oak component. The mouthfeel is creamy and long, and the wine shows terrific tannic integration. When you come back hours later, you might find black olive, bresaola and licorice.” (11/2020)
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2016
Sale Price: 59.97
Wine Advocate, 94pts. – “The Casanova di Neri 2016 Brunello di Montalcino (or the so-called "white label" Brunello) takes a minute or two to open, and like all these new releases from the Neri family, you're best off opening your bottle five hours before serving them. This classic expression displays raspberry, tar, hazelnut, dried fig, asphalt and some crushed chalk. The wine is streamlined and compact in terms of mouthfeel, giving us an accessible Brunello from a benchmark Montalcino estate.” (11/2020)
Vinous, 94pts. – “Casanova di Neri's 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is a wine of pleasurable contrasts but also massive structure. Ripe dark fruits and autumnal spices offset savory herbs and hints of animal musk. It enters the mouth silky, cooling and lifted, with a noticeable inner sweetness to its polished cherry/berry flavors, but it then sways more toward inner earth, minerals and grippy tannins. The 2016 urges you to take another sip, as there’s so much upfront appeal; yet each time you do, it reminds you once again that it’s a painfully young Brunello in need of cellaring. That said, the potential here is incredibly high.” (11/2020)
Past Cellar Selections:
Ducru-Beaucaillou 2015 – Super Second
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Beringer Private Reserve 2015 – 99 points!
Huët Clos du Bourg 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Heitz, Dunn, Continuum . . . What is a Cult Cali Red?
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Magnum Bottles from CVNE Imperial
Beaux Freres Pinot Noir 2018
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
Domaine du Pelican – Burgundy Meets Jura
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet