Although our propensity to tie every year up with a bow by compiling year-end “best of” lists gets a little out of hand (“20 best handshakes of 2017”, “The Year in Chopsticks”, or “Pancakes: A 2017 Retrospective”), the Top 100 lists from magazines like Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast are a nice way to discover – or rediscover – some recommended wines that may have slipped past your radar.
Wine Spectator tilted the scales and crowned a Napa Merlot (Duckhorn Three Palms 2014) as its top wine of 2017, a trend-bending move that sought to undo the damage wrought by the movie Sideways and bring honour back to that unfairly maligned grape (a move I emphatically support), but Wine Enthusiast chose to fête the stellar 2012 Brunello di Montalcino release by exalting one of the village’s most traditional wines, Costi Costanti.
When the lists get published, however, yoinks. The Hunger Games begin, and Vancouver retailers like me scramble to obtain a fraction of those rare champions that manage to find their way into B.C., and believe me, not many do. I have used flattery, profanity, feats of strength and rock-paper-scissors to procure the #1 wines like Conti Costanti. I have not yet used swordplay, but it’s not because I haven’t studied it…
Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino 2012, Tuscany.
Ever since the 2012 Brunellos jumped into the pool and displaced everybody’s tub toys, I’ve been eagerly waiting for this beast to emerge from its cave. The Costanti family dates back to the 15th century, and their contributions towards establishing the 1555 Republic of Siena gave them huge endowments of land around Montalcino, where the vineyards still lie today (amongst Etruscan archeological remains). Having traded politics for farming in the 1700s, the Costantis, along with local legend (and National Geographic Cover Star) Biondi Santi, helped to move the emerging Sangiovese-based “Brunello” wines from smelly-brown-happy-juice towards cellar-worthy fine wines. As Costanti is widely considered to be second only to Biondi Santi in championing traditional Brunello, this 2012 needs a couple of years to learn who not to bite, but the ingredients for dynamite are all here. Cherries, cinnamon hearts and black Twizzlers beaten by stones and giant oranges.
#1 – Wine Enthusiast Top 100 2017. 98 points Wine Enthusiast, 94 points Vinous, $114.99 +tax
Written by Jordan Carrier, Vintage Room Consultant at Everything Wine – River District.