Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ranuccio Neri's Campriano: A Couple of Chiantis the way they used to be

I'm usually wary when someone hands me a wine and says "this is the way it used to be," because all too often what I get are the unpleasant smells of overly old wood and poor cellar technique, problems that were much more common in the past than they are now.

However, you occasionally get something that makes you sit up and take notice: Deft, clean fruit, with acidity sufficient to keep the wine on its toes, and what wood there is keeping a low profile, rather than trying to hog the limelight. In other words, the old style done well.

This is what you'll find in Ranuccio Neri's wines, which he makes at Campriano, a pretty estate located between Siena and Montalcino; it's far enough from Siena to be outside Chianti Classico, and therefore Ranuccio bottles his wines as Chianti Colli Senesi. He used to have a white too, but stopped calling it Bianco Val D'Arbia when the local Consortium decreed that Bianco Val D'Arbia should also contain some Chardonnay to give it grace -- "I don't have any, and I'm not planting it," was his reply.

His wines:

Campriano Chianti Colli Senesi 2004
Lot 13/06
Delicate ruby with ruby rim. The bouquet is deft, with bright berry fruit supported by clean slightly greenish spice and some brambly underbrush. Pleasant. On the palate it's light, and deft, with bright red berry fruit supported by lively raspberry acidity, and by bright sweet tannins that flow into a long clean raspberry finish. Quite pleasant and will drink very well with succulent grilled meats or light stews. Well worth seeking out, and a second bottle will come in handy.
2 stars

Campriano Chianti Colli Senesi 2003
Lot 16.04
Deep ruby. The bouquet is fairly intense, with bright berry fruit laced with underbrush, floral notes, menthol, and some spice; by comparison with a cooler vintage it's bigger and not as deft, but it isn't at all cooked, and that's nice given the year. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful berry fruit supported by moderate acidity -- less than in a normal year -- and very smooth sweet tannins whose softness again reveals heat. It's bigger and softer than normal, but not unpleasant, and will drink well with drier meats. Ranuccio says he had a heavy rain in July, and it made a world of difference.
2 stars

Campriano Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva 2001
Lot 52.03
Lively cherry ruby with almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with strong berry fruit supported by cedar and berry fruit jam with moderate underlying acidity. On the palate it's full, and fairly rich, with plum-laced berry fruit supported by clean acidity and deft tannins that display a slight splintery burr and flow into a clean finish with tannic underpinning. It's pleasant, and graceful, though I'd have liked it a little lighter on its feet. It will work well with succulent red meats.
2 stars.

Want to know more? Campriano's Website
Ranuccio's US agent is Marc De Grazia

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