Monday, May 08, 2006

Tasted at Vintialy: Il Cavallone

One of the nice things about Vinitaly is the range of producers, from enormous organizations that sell millions of cases per year through vintners with just a few hectares under vine and production in the thousands of bottles. Francesco Nardi's Azienda Agricola Il Cavallone places in the latter end of the scale; he has a few hectares of vineyards overlooking the Valdarno in the Chianti Colli Fiorentini production area, and though he does make a few other wines as well, devotes most of his energy to his Chianti Colli Fiorentini -- "Abandoning one's traditions is a huge mistake."

The wines are all single lot bottlings.

I began with Settelune IGT Toscano 2005, a white made from Malvasia del Chianti and Trebbiano; the name, Seven Moons, comes from the fact that seven moons must pass before the bouquet develops and it's ready to drink. It's bright brassy gold with apricot highlights and has an elegant bouquet with deft floral notes mingled with some honeysuckle, sage, and underlying sea salt. On the palate it's full, with bright white berry fruit supported by warm lively acidity and some peppery spice, and flows into a clean fresh finish that's quite long. Deft, and pleasant in an up front key; the Malvasia adds grace but the Trebbiano does quite well too. It will work nicely as an aperitif or with rich hearty soups, flavorful fish, or delicately cooked white meats, and the bottle will go quickly.
1 star

Il Cavallone Chianti Colli Fiorentini 2003
This is a classic Chianti with the traditional blend. It's lively almandine ruby with black reflections ands has a rich bouquet with bright berry fruit that's somewhat jammy (the effects of the 2003 vintage) but isn't overripe, and gains definition from some black graphite shaving bitterness. Quite nice, and brings back positive memories. The palate is equally traditional, with rich red berry fruit supported by deft slightly brambly acidity and by tannins that have a warm slightly greenish burr and flow into a clean fruit laced finish. This is Chianti as it once was, and if you have been drinking Chianti for a while it will bring back memories; the ideal accompaniment is a platter of mixed grilled meats.
2 stars

Libènter Rosso Toscano IGT 2004
This is a blend of Malvasia Nera and Cabernet Sauvignon; it's deep black cherry ruby with pale rim, and has a fresh bouquet with pleasing floral accents, violets and irises mingled with cherry blossoms and underlying rich berry fruit that gains direction from strawberry acidity and pleasing spice. Quite a bit going on in considerable harmony. On the palate it's deft, in a lively, rather aggressive key, with deft red berry fruit supported by pleasing slightly sour acidity, and by tannins that are tightly woven and have a slightly greenish burr, and flow into a clean berry fruit finish with tart brambly notes and some sea salt. Pleasant, in a slightly more direct key than the Chianti, and will drink very well with grilled meats -- expect the bottle to go quickly.
2 stars.

Where to find the wines? Alas, Francesco doesn't export (yet). This isn't as serious as it sounds, however, because Il Cavallone is not far from Florence -- a pretty half-hour drive -- and once you get there is pleasant. Quite, and if you decide you'd like to stay for a few days, they also have a couple of apartments they let. Check the Il Cavallone site for further contact information and views of the area..

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