"I have long felt Cupano was on the brink of realizing its full potential, and the 2005 Brunello may just be the wine with which the estate makes that important step." - Robert Parker's 'Wine Advocate'
- Top rated Brunello 2005 in Wine Enthusiast Magazine
- Top rated Brunello 2005 in La Repubblica
- 'A wonderful effort' : The Wine Advocate
“This is the single best up and coming producer in Brunello today. It is one of the most exciting discoveries I have made in the last ten years. Ian d’Agata, Ecco Guide, and top 150 wines from Italy”
One of the things that demonstrates the great attention to detail shown by Cupano is that owner & winemaker, Lionel Cousin, walks through his vineyard every day removing individual berries with a pair of nail scissors. It is winemaking on a miniaturist scale. Compare that to the infamous story about one of Australia's huge wineries, where the double-width mechanical harvesters went through the vineyards with such indiscriminate disregard that when they went to press the grapes, one of the workers found a bicycle in the crusher. At Cupano, perched on a beautiful ridge near Camigliano that slopes down to the Ombrone river, they harvest everything by hand and use a horse and plough to tend the soil. If you were a grape, this would be where you went on your holidays.
If you already have a romantic image of the artisan winemaker, then you need to recast your leading player with Lionel Cousin (see photo above), an extraordinary soul who, after a life full of wayfaring adventure, settled in Tuscany and converted a ramshackle farm into the most exciting estate in Montalcino. We realise that you don't buy wine simply because it is made by nice people, but wine tells a story and if all that interested us were the liquid in the bottle, then we might as well sell fizzy pop. In any case, the winemakers are part of that nebulous term 'terroir', and a wine succeeds or fails according to the creativity, diligence and integrity of its makers. Lionel Cousin lives on the estate with his wife, Ornella, and everything they do is focused towards their vineyards. They work the farm organically and have an intimate knowledge of the land, having planted every single vine by hand. To give you some idea, that's about 18,700 vines! When we met Lionel recently, he told us how he had just killed a rampaging wild boar with a bow and arrow, before it could damage any of his vines. He was dying to get back to Italy to roast it.
Since the day we found Cupano, we have known that they were exceptional people making exceptional wine. The trouble is, with a few notable exceptions, the wine press are a slow, galumphing, bovine herd and it has taken a while for most to catch on, which has made us sound like a lone voice in the wilderness until now, because the corroboration is finally starting to arrive. It has topped a number of polls, including Wine Enthusiast Magazine, La Repubblica and the 2002 vintage came top at Italy's prestigious Merano Wine Festival where it received 99/100 points.
Tasting note for the 2005 vintage: "This has all the qualities of a First Growth, complexity, finesse and immaculate balance, of course, but something intangible that defies translation and stimulates intrigue. The aromas don't so much leap from the glass as weave their way into your senses, many ribbons at a time. Opulence on the nose leads to richness, inner perfume and succulence on the palate. Mouthwatering cherries, sweetened by creamy vanilla and French oak swirl amidst violets, sautéed plums and subtle, exotic spices. The structure exerts no more pressure than is necessary to carry the wine's weight, which is deceptively powerful, and allows the flavours their free expression. It has a natural insouciance, which comes from working hard in the vineyards and doing less in the winery, so that the quality of the fruit shines through. Prepare to be dazzled! 14% alc. Drink now-2025."
Top of all Brunello 2005s in 'Wine Enthusiast' tasting
La Repubblica: "Simply the best of all the 2005 Brunellos tasted. And this umpteenth achievement of Cupano and Lionel Cousin, who minds his vines and wines daily, has catapulted this small estate, nestled amongst some of the most
moving sceneries of Montalcino, to the pinnacle of absolute value. This Brunello, fruit of a difficult harvest, has everything to enthuse about, depth of colour, prized scents that are a refined inlay of ripe berries and spiced gems, the pure elegance of its soft balsamic bouquet that gently fades into truffle."
"Cupano’s 2005 Brunello di Montalcino is one of the unqualified successes of the vintage. A richly-textured core of perfumed red fruit flows from the glass, along with suggestions of French oak, tar and smoke. The oak seems more measured than it has been in the past, and what emerges is a transparent yet deeply expressive personality. The wine’s inner perfume and expansive fruit follow through to the long, caressing finish. The 2005 is a wonderful effort from Cupano. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2023." 93 points. Antonio Galloni, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.
I still remember the first Brunello I tasted from Cupano, where I was and what I was doing. It was the 2001, and I was floored by the promise of this young winery, only in its second vintage at the time. Inspired by Henri Jayer, proprietors Ornella and Lionel Cousin follow an approach of low yields, full phenolic ripeness, natural yeasts and malolactic fermentation in French oak. I have long felt Cupano was on the brink of realizing its full potential, and the 2005 Brunello may just be the wine with which the estate makes that important step.
"A true cult-wine, the Brunello made by Lionel Cousin and Ornella Tondini following biodynamic principles is sold for huge prices in the finest restaurants all over the world. These are two remarkably talented and passionate individuals who make simply excellent wines even off years (don’t miss out on the ’02 Brunello, an amazing wine from a rainy yeas). The ’05 Brunello, also from a so-so years but one that gave much better wines that people expected, has hints of marjoram, graphite, red currant, and dark cherries. A classy wine, like its owners." I50 Best Wines from Italy", Ian D’Agata & Massimo Comparini
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, Jul 10 Ian D'Agata's note
"Good full, deep red. Highly perfumed nose displays rather Burgundian aromas of dark berries, strawberry, licorice, spices and earth. Very suave, juicy and fresh, with lovely definition and vinosity giving shape and lift to the red cherry, black plum and cinnamon flavors. This nicely balanced midweight finishes very long and clean, with a fine dusting of tannins and a pristine quality. I like the fact that it's also very faithful to the vintage, displaying less density and superripeness than wines from the warmer '04 vintage. Cupano is a relatively young estate that has rapidly risen to the top tier of the Brunello hierarchy."