Campo alla Sughera is a relatively new winery in Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast -- they planted their first vineyards, which are located not far from Ornellaia's, in the mid-1990s and produced the first vintage of Arnione, their flagship wine, in 2001. This year at Vinitaly they invited a number of journalists to taste though the various vintages of Arnione, and I was quite pleased to be included.
Arnione is a Bolgheri Rosso Superiore, and was initially a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with some Petit Verdot; since 2006 has also contained Cabernet Franc.
Campo Alla Sughera Arnione Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2001
This is their first vintage, from very young vineyards. Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with slightly candied berry fruit laced with greenish accents and a fair amount of underbrush, also a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich cherry prune fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have some graphite bitterness, and also by smooth sweet acidity that flows into a clean fresh cherry prune fruit finish with dusky overtones that fades rather quickly into lasting warmth. It's pleasant, and though clearly from a young vineyard -- it's a bit short and lacking in complexity -- shows considerable potential, and is still very much alive and will drink quite well with roasts (including things such as leg of lamb) and stews, including game. Castagneto's testina di cinghiale, stewed wild boar's head, would be good with this.
Campo Alla Sughera Arnione Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2002
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. This was a difficult, very wet cool vintage for Tuscany, and Bolgheri was no exception. The bouquet is considerably less ripe than a more normal year would be, and it is also more mature, with wet leather and savory accents mingled with some brambles, and not much fruit. Some menthol though. On the palate it's ample and fairly soft, with cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that are lighter than they would be in a more normal year, and by warm savory acidity that flows into a fairly long clean prune cherry finish. It's interesting, and displays more richenss of fruit than many 2002 Tuscan wines do. Surprisingly successful, though in a lesser vintage key that translates primarily into a lightness of the tannins.
Campo Alla Sughera Arnione Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2003
Impenetrable black almandine ruby with slightly brownish rim. 2003 was as hot and dry as 2002 was cold and wet, and the wine does reveal an intensity of color that's a bit unusual. The bouquet is ample and rich, with slightly greenish berry fruit supported by green leather and underbrush, and by clean spice; there's also a hint of sweetness to it, and as it opens petroleum aromas also emerge. On the palate it's ample and rich, with powerful jammy plum fruit supported by moderate acidity -- less than in the 2002, which is to be expected, but also than the 2001 -- and by tannins that are warm and rather aggressive, flowing into a warm tannic finish. It's clearly the child of a hot vintage, one whose heat interfered with the ripening of the grapes, but is pleasant and has a story to tell.
Campo Alla Sughera Arnione Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2004
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry rim, looks a little younger than the 03. The bouquet is elegant, with rich plum cherry fruit supported by slight jammy accents and clean mentholated spice. Considerable depth and very pleasant to sniff; it's also still quite young and still developing. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean prune laced finish. Quite pleasant in an international fruit driven key, and will drink nicely with succulent, not too fatty roasts. A very pleasant fruit forward wine, and if you like the style, which is decidedly in the direction of elegance and polish, you will enjoy it very much. If you prefer more aggressive wines it won't work for you, but if you like the style it is impressive.
Campo Alla Sughera Arnione Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2005
Impenetrable black cherry ruby with violet reflections and cherry rim that has hints of black garnet. This was again a difficult vintage, with considerable rain from mid-August on. The bouquet is fairly intense, but nowhere near as rich nor as fruit driven as the 2004; it's rich with minerality and underbrush laced with some prune fruit and cassis, and also underbrush laced with spice. Pleasant in a cooler weather key. On the palate it's ample and quite smooth, with soft moderately intense prune fruit supported by fairly bright brambly acidity and by tannins that have a more distinct cedar underpinning than the 2004, and flo9w into a key prune finish. It's elegant, in a clearly lesser vintage key, and though it doesn't have the voluptuous fruit driven smoothness of the 2004, it does have a story to tell, and will age nicely for at least 5-10 years more.
With the 2006 vintage a new vineyard came into production that made Cabernet Franc available. They liked the quality, and decided to add it to the Arnione from the outset.
Campo Alla Sughera Arnione Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2006
This is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot. Deep black cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, and powerfully fruit driven with rich prune fruit supported by spice and some cedary sweet slightly balsamic accents. Very young in a frankly voluptuous key, and brings to mind a starlet of the Jane Mansfield sort in a glass. On the palate it's ample and very smooth, with rich cherry plum fruit that gains direction from deft slightly dusky tannins and slight mineral acidity that doesn't impinge but whose absence would be noted, and flows into a clean prune plum finish. It's quite young, and will develop further, but the style is by now set. If you like this sort of voluptuous fruit forward wine you will like it very much, but you have to like the style. If you prefer more tannic, aggressive wines, it simply won't work for you.
Campo Alla Sughera Arnione Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC 2007
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Petit Verdot. Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, and fruit driven but less ripe than the 2006, with redder fruit and some yellow peach as well. On the palate it's ample, but again not as rich as the 2006; the acidity is more marked, and a combination of mineral and sour berry, and the tannins are slightly more splintery, and while this is in part youth, it's also vintage variation. A fellow taster was saying that he found the 2007 readier than the 2006 and I'm not sure I would say that; it may be longer lived however because the tannins are more aggressive and the acidity is brighter. It's also frankly young, and will show much better in a year or two, whereas the 2006 is drinkable now. I also think that, because of its greater acidity, it will work better with foods with respect to the 2006, which is more a wine to drink by the glass far from the table.
The vertical was quite interesting; If one takes into account the immaturity of the vineyards with the first couple of vintages, and vintage variations, the wines are clearly cut from the same cloth, following a fairly precise voluptuous fruit driven style in which rich ripe power and smoothness are fundamental components; I generally think of wines of this sort as starlets in a glass, and Arnione takes this to an extreme, especially in the more recent vintages in which the vineyards are more mature. As such Arnione is fairly particular: some people will enjoy it very much, while others will simply find it abhorrent. If you like the style, by all means seek it out. If you prefer more aggressive wines with more marked acidities there are others you will like better.
After the vertical, I took advantage of the opportunity to taste through Campo alla Sughera's other wines
Campo alla Sughera Arioso Toscana IGT Bianco 2009
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is bright and fresh, with considerable gooseberry mingled with honeydew melon and -- casting PC aside -- sweaty blonde, an aroma I occasionally find in wines that have Sauvignon; here there are also some dusky underbrush accents. On the palate it's ample and rather languid, with soft gooseberry laced honeydew melon supported by fairly bright gooseberry acidity and by moderate tannins that flow into a fairly bright tart finish. Pleasant, though the palate has a slightly dilute feel to it, and will drink well as an aperitif or with simple fish dishes.
Campo alla Sughera Achenio Bolgheri DOCG 2009
This is a blend of Vermentino, which ferments in steel, and Sauvignon and Chardonnay, which ferment in wood. It's brassy white with pale brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is powerful, with considerable crushed sage mingled with the hops one put into beer (I don't know them well enough to say which) -- one writes what one smells -- and some greenish accents. Particular. On the palate it's ample and rather soft, with languid honeydew melon and tropical fruit supported by moderate savory hop-laced acidity that flows into a clean slightly greenish finish. I'd have liked a little more brightness and tightness to the fruit, which I found rather soft.
Campo alla Sughera Adèo Bolgheri DOC 2008
This is a taglio Bordolese, 60-40 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that spends a year in small oak. The bouquet is bright and fresh, with considerable cassis mingled with violets and some spice, and also slight underpinning vanilla, and as it opens ripe sweet yellow peaches, which do emerge in the wines of Bolgheri. Harmonious. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cassis and forest berry fruit supported by dusky acidity and some pencil shaving bitterness, while the tannins are smooth and sweet, and flow into a clean bright berry cassis laced finish. Elegant in a bright fruit driven key that isn't as soft as the Arnione, and will therefore be easier to pair with foods; since we're in spring as of this writing I would be tempted to serve it with something along the lines of lamb chops scottadito, grilled lamb chops. Expect it to go quickly.
Campo Alla Sughera Campo alla Sughera Toscana IGT Rosso 2006
This is a new wine, a blend of Petit Verdot and Merlot, and is impenetrable pyrope ruby with back cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is powerful, with India ink and ripe plum fruit laced with green leather acidity and spice; it's quick to write but quite harmonious in a very international key. On the palate it's ample and very smooth, with rich dusky prune fruit supported by moderate India ink acidity and bitterness, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a long prune laced finish that gradually fades, with the fruit gradually giving way to youthful warmth and cedar. Impressive in a very international key, and -- as was the case with the Arnione -- if you like the style you will like it very much. Again, as with the 2006 Arnione, because of its voluptuously rich softness it's more a wine to drink by the glass than a wine to set out at the table. Something to seek out, but only if you like the style, which takes fruit forward smoothness as far as it can go without going over the edge.
Want to know more about Campo alla Sughera? Check their site.
Almost Wordless Wednesday: Between Here And There - I took this shot during the Pelleginaggio Artusiano in the spring of 2011. The mirror is somewhere between Castrocaro Terme and Portico di Romagna (on the ...
4 years ago