Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Wines of Campriano: Fine Chianti Colli Senesi

I have known Ranuccio Neri for quite a while; his family's estate, Campriano, is on the old dirt road from Siena to Murlo, where my father directed an excavation starting in 1966, and I remember going to visit them when I was a child.

Ranuccio has a no-nonsense approach to winemaking: He firmly believes in the value of Tuscan varietals and sees no reason to plant things from elsewhere. Nor does he see any reason to adopt radical, innovative practices in the cellar. Simply grow the best grapes possible, with great attention to detail, and then make the wines with equal care using the old techniques.

The results are well worth noting: Deft, clean fruit, with acidity sufficient to keep the wine on its toes, smooth varietal tannins, and what wood there is keeping a low profile, rather than trying to hog the limelight. In short, traditional wines made well, and if you like this style keep an eye out for them.

Campriano Bianco Toscana IGT 2006
Lot 7207
This wine was a Bianco della Val D'Arbia DOC, until those responsible for the Appellation decided to ingentilirlo ("make it more refined" might be a good translation) by adding some Chardonnay to the predominately Trebbiano blend. "I didn't have any and wasn't about to plant it," says Ranuccio, who therefore decided to bottle the wine as an IGT. It's pale green with brassy highlights, and has a bright bouquet with elegant floral accents, the flowers of a Tuscan field laced with some slight vegetal citrus accents and hints of gunflint. On the palate it's light, and bright, with pleasing bitter minerality that flows into a clean fairly long bitter finish. It's direct, and up front, one of those wines that will complement what it's served with, rather than fight for center stage; it will drink well with soups, vegetable-based pasta dishes and risotto, and will also work well with fish or white meats. Expect it to go quickly.
2 stars

Campriano Rosato Toscana IGT 2006
Lot 7207
Bright rose with slight hints of orange. The bouquet is fairly rich, with vegetal accents and some rasberry fruit with slight acidity as well. On the palate it's bright, with livelt red berry fruit supported by a mixture of red currant and slight raspberry acidity, and by light tannins that flow into a bright, distinctly acidic finish with some brambly accents. It's light and direct, an ideal wine for a cookout or picnic, or to enjoy with quickly grilled meats or hearty pasta dishes, and because of its acidity, it will also drink nicely with fried meats and vegetables. Expect the bottle to go quickly.
1 star

Campriano Chianti Colli Senesi 2005
Lot not apparent
Lively ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is clean and bright, with slightly sour red berry fruit supported by brambly accents, vegetal notes, and some heather. Inviting, in a traditional key. On the palate it's bright, with lively red berry fruit supported by clean cherry acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly long slightly greenish bitter finish with sour brambly accents. To be honest, this wine won't stand out at a tasting. However, if you hold a dinner after the tasting and set the bottles out, it will be one of those that goes fastest, because it will complement what it's served with, rather than hog the limelight. Enjoy it with hearty pasta sauces, simple grilled meats, or light stews. It would be nice as a day-to-day wine too.
2 stars

Campriano Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva 2003
Lot 54 05
Deep ruby with almandine accents and rim. The bouquet is rather languid, with red berry fruit that has some sweet accents mingled with slight wet green leather and hints of balsam; it comes across as a bit softer than usual and more mature -- there's not much acidity -- and this is attributable to its being a 2003. On the palate it's fairly bright, with soft red berry fruit that has unusual savory accents and frankly balsamic overtones, supported by brambly acidity that's more intense than I expected from the nose, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean rather bitter balsamic savory finish. It's a bit unusual for Ranuccio, whose wines are usually brighter and more fruit driven, and this is clearly the vintage at work. This said, it will drink well with succulent red meats off the grill or roasts, for example a fairly rare roast beef sliced thick.
2 stars

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