In January each year, the Brunellos made four years earlier are released. So, here we are, waiting with bated breath on our new Cupano samples to arrive. To say we're excited is an understatement, and in advance of our tastings, we thought we’d share this wonderful write up by Eric Guido of Vinous.com.
'This year, the Cupano estate has turned out another stunning set of new releases with the 2017 Brunello and 2016 Riserva. Sadly, its visionary founder, Lionel Cousin, passed away this year in April of 2021. If you’ve never indulged in a mature bottle of Cupano Brunello, then you may not realize just how much of a visionary and trailblazer he really was. The Cupano winery is located near the town of Camigliano, in the warm western-most reaches of Montalcino. The elevations here are much lower than most of the region, between 180 to 200 meters, with well-draining sedimentary soils that are unique, consisting of sandy clay, fossils and stones. Many producers think of this zone for creating dark-fruited, forward, plush Brunello that doesn’t stand the test of time. However, Lionel Cousin saw it as virgin land, untouched by chemicals or even man for that matter, and with its own unique terroir which, when combined with his Burgundian-inspired winemaking techniques, could create something exceptional. He was right, as my recent tastings of the 2001 showed, which was only Cupano’s second vintage, and which was refined in 100% new 228-liter French oak.
Since those early days, new vineyards have been planted, and the estate has progressed from organic to biodynamic, as well as reducing the use of new oak in the winery to around 25%. The results are, quite frankly, stunning. While there’s a modern flair in their youth, these are not wines that hide the character of Sangiovese under a veil of oak. Instead, the Cupano wines find a balance between richness, elegance and poise. They are softer, deeper and fruitier than most Brunello upon release, yet with the underlying structure to mature beautifully over the medium term.
2017 Cupano Brunello di Montalcino
The 2017 Brunello di Montalcino draws you in with an intense display of black raspberries, dusty rose and crushed rocks. With further coaxing, notes of clove, allspice and mocha evolve in the glass. This is a pure pleasure on the palate, silky and refined, conveying a balanced inner sweetness contrasted by tart wild berries, plum skins and minerals that create a more tactile feel toward the close. Residual acids keep the expression remarkably fresh, as fine-grained tannins settle in, all under an air of tobacco and balsam herbs. This is a slightly heady yet balanced and thoroughly enjoyable expression of the 2017 vintage. I can’t wait to see what a year or two of cellaring will unlock. 92 points, drink 2024 - 2029, tasted Dec 2021
2016 Cupano Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Like forbidden fruit, the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva opens slowly in the glass, blowing off an initial whiff of sweet spice and pine shavings. Beneath the surface, there are grumbling depths of black cherries, tea leaves, dried roses, mocha and smoke. This fleshes out across the palate like pure silk, motivated by vibrant acidity, while potent mineral-tinged red and blue berries slowly saturate the senses. A web of fine-grained tannin remains as the 2016 flexes its structural muscle and wrangles its sweet vivid fruits. That said, nearly a minute goes by and you can still taste hints of blueberry skins and plums plus nuances of vanilla bean. Cupano made a marvelous Riserva in the 2016 vintage.
95 points, drink 2026 - 2036, tasted Dec 2021'