Il Palazzone Brunello di Montalcino 2004

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The pleasure of collecting derives from the intersection between personality and object. A great cellar speaks of the history of relations between object and individual, telling a story of a life lived while transporting historical life moments into the present. In this way, a collector gets to interact with her or his previous self. A great collection, then, does not require all the wines to be loved at any given moment nor does it require a bevy of prized trophy wines.

I am a strange collector. What does that say about me? I rarely buy multiples of a wine for cellaring. When I do it is for special reasons. I prefer to collate intellectual breadth and live a little dangerously. When I cellar a wine it is intended to be consumed at one choice moment, an instant, brief encounter, a learning, and then a memory. Some wines I always intend to share with certain people. Others for a whim of historical preference. Some to reignite an important moment, often a trip. And still others out of sheer curiosity (how would 20 year old Mentrida Grenache taste?).

I have cellared this 2004 Brunello for about 6 years. 2004 is a vintage that I felt the need to check in to as a matter of historical intrigue. The vintage got good press at the time but is now often written about as a good but not truly great vintage. I have some special wines from Brunello in 2004 and felt this wine, acquired in Vancouver rather than elsewhere, would be a good measure. It showed stunningly well.

The wine was elegant with integrated but still potent tannins. A savory wine with bitter cherry fruit and earth. It was extremely expressive, balanced and beautifully mid-weight in a style that I think suits Sangiovese perfectly: aromatic, structured but not rich. 13.5% ABV – an alcohol level rarely seen these days with global warming pushing Brunello regularly into 14.5 to 15.5% ABV territory.

I paired this with thinly sliced grilled flat-iron steak seasoned with slovenian sea salt and a deliciously spicy olive oil from the estate. My conclusion is that 2004 is a Brunello vintage I will be loving and opening from my collection over the next 10 years.

Excellent to Excellent+
$75 at Kits Wine (current vintages are around $100 at private stores or $75 + tax for case orders direct from the importer, International Cellars)


  1. Brad
    February 19, 2017

    Hi Shea,

    I can relate to many of the same reasons and ways you collect wine.

    Question for you: I have 2 bottles of this same wine, same vintage, but the riserva version of it. I’m curious if you’ve tried the reserva and if you would estimate a good drinking window for them, considering it should have a bit more structure and staying power than the regular one you reviewed. My ideal preference for good wines such as these are when they have the secondary and tertiary savoury flavours coming through but still haven’t lost the fruit. I’m guessing that should be in the next year or two, but I’d like to hear your opinion.


  2. Shea
    February 19, 2017

    Brad, while I haven’t had the 2004 Riserva, if I were you I’d wait a minimum of 5 years. This regular Brunello could easily improve for another 5+.

  3. Brad
    February 19, 2017

    Terrific! Thanks for the tip Shea. I’ll hold onto them for a while longer then.

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