You're probably more used to seeing Brunello releases in February. We are too, but we managed to secure our allocation with Sassetti a little earlier this year — early Christmas! Don't forget: this is the winery whose Brunello James Suckling named the 2016 vintage his No. 1 Italian wine of the year and No. 3 wine globally for 2020.

These are at some very sharp prices even for Brunello generally, but especially for the quality level that Sassetti works at. And this for a vintage of severely mixed reactions: we hear Valdicava won't bottle any 2018 Brunello at all…2018 will be an interesting vintage for Montalcino and will probably be ready to drink before the 2015s or 2016s, but will still reward medium-term ageing. Some producers, like Valdicava, opted not to bottle a Brunello at all, yet others — like Sassetti — have received very high praise. Choice of producer is critical here and, curiously, it's not even enough this time just to go for those with the most established reputation: few would question Valdicava's standing, and arguably fewer have heard of Sassetti, yet the choice in this vintage is pretty obvious.

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Why we like it:

• All direct from the winery — months ahead of schedule!
• James Suckling named the 2016 Brunello his No. 1 Italian wine of the year and No. 3 wine globally for 2020.
• A favourite in the team and one of Robert Parker's candidates for a desert island Brunello.
• 2018 was a great, classical vintage giving medium-term Brunellos — a change from the bigger 2017s — though choice of producer is critical.
• The Mulino Brunello is fuller and richer, made from lower-altitude plots, in contrast to the more floral, ethereal style of Sassetti's regular Brunello — our allocation is 1/4 that of the regular!

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