Friday, September 17, 2010

Tasted in Greve: Chianti, and a Little More

Greve in Chianti's annual winefest is the second weekend in September, and it offers a nice opportunity to to stroll the stalls, taste and talk. Which I did, being told by several people that the decision to eliminate white grapes from the Chianti blend was a mistake, and that though they didn't want to go back to a mandatory 30% white grapes (in the vineyard, which means a higher percentage of white grapes in the wine if one has productive Trebbiano in the vineyard), they would like to include some white grapes in their zestier vino d'annata wines, because the white grapes do perk up the wine.

One even said there may be a change in the Disciplinare soon -- we shall see, though to be honest I'm not holding my breath. Nor are they; what they are instead doing is bottling light white-grape-including red quaffing wines as IGT wines, and I did enjoy them.

Castellinuzza is a small family-owned winery not far from Lamole, overlooking Greve; in the early 1960s Paolo Coccia's father Gino used his life's savings to purchase the land he had worked as a mezzadro, or tenant farmer, and now Paolo farms the land with his wife and daughters. Their vineyards are fairly high up, at an elevation of 500 M, which makes for good day-night temperature excursions, and they don't use wood -- Primarily cement, for fermentation and storage, and some steel too.

The Wines:

Castellinuzza Rosso Toscano IGT 2008

This is the old blend, with some white grapes. It's pale ruby with cherry rim, and has a vinous, brambly bouquet with greenish vegetal accents and lively sour cherry fruit. Quite approachable. On the palate it's light, and zesty, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by tannins that have a warm savory bite and flow into a clean rather bitter finish. It's an excellent cookout wine that will also work well with meat-based pasta sauces, and could be nice with hearty bread based soups, such as ribollita.
2 stars

Castellinuzza Chianti Classico 2007
Rich ruby with deep black cherry reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by dusky shadows and some vegetal accents. Pleasant, and zesty. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich bright cherry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins. Graceful in a slightly scrappy tomboyish key, and will drink quite well with hearty pasta dishes or grilled meats. Expect it to go quickly, and you will want a second bottle.

Castellinuzza Chianti Classico 2006
Ruby with fairly bright reflections. The nose is duskier than that of the 2007, and more charged, with the fruit (red berry) a little riper; there are also some vegetal notes that evolve into yellow peach as the wine opens. By comparison, the 07 feels more nervous. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite smooth, with fresh zesty cherry fruit supported by clean bright sweet tannins. It's softer than the 07, and will work nicely with succulent, not too fatty red meats -- steak, as opposed to grilled lamb chops.
2 stars

Castellinuzza Chianti Classico Riserva 2007
Deep cherry ruby. The bouquet is a bit richer than that of the Chianti d'Annata, though cut from the same cloth, with berry fruit and some greenish vegetal accents mingled with spice from the grapes. Quite young, and with pleasant finesse. On the palate it's medium bodied and graceful, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that gain depth from savory accents and flow into a clean fresh finish. Quick to write, but nice, and will work quite well with red meats; though one could drink it now, it will age well for 5-8 years.

Castellinuzza e Piuca
Castellinuzza e Piuca is another small winery in the town of Lamole, overlooking Greve. Giuliano Coccia and his sons farm a few hectares of Sangiovese and Canaiolo. The winemaking is traditional, and the wines are quite pleasant, displaying rich fruit but not the charged and rather off-putting exuberance one sometimes finds.

The Wines

Castellinuzza e Piuca Toscana IGT 2009
This is the traditional blend, fermented in cement vats and then bottled. It's deep black cherry ruby with violet reflections and has a rich bouquet with lively cherry fruit supported by some greenish brambly notes and savory spice. Quite pleasant, displaying nice balance. On the palate it's rich, and smooth with powerful fruit with pleasant vinous accents supported by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean rather bitter savory finish. Quite pleasant, and will work well with succulent not too fatty grilled meats -- the acidity is held slightly in check, which makes it more approachable by the glass, as does the ripeness of the fruit. Worth seeking out.
2 stars.

Castellinuzza e Piuca Chianti Classico 2008
Deep cherry ruby. Elegant nose, with rich ripe berry fruit supported by greenish accents and clean mentholated spice; there are also cool accents that bring dappled shade to mind. On the palate it's it's rich and very smooth, with powerful red berry and cherry fruit that gain defintion and depth from sour cherry acidity, while support comes from smooth sweet tannins that do have some greenish vegetal accents, and flow into a clean fresh finish. Very pleasant and eminently approachable; it will be beautiful with roasts or flavorful, not too fatty grilled meats.

A nice writeup of the 2008 Castellinuzza e Piuca Chianti Classico (in Italian), by Roberto Giuliani.

La Camporena
This is a new winery -- their first vintage was 2006. They have 7 hectares of vineyards, 6 1/2 Sangiovese, and the last half Merlot that they don't include in their Chianti, and are thinking about replanting, perhaps to Canaiolo. They do use oak, a mixture of barriques, tonneaux and botti.

The wines:

La Camporena Chianti Classico 2006

The first vintage: It's deep cherry ruby with some almandine reflections, and has a fairly intense bouquet with slightly jammy cherry fruit supported by savory accents and some cedar. On the palate it's it's ample and soft, with smooth sweet tannins and dusky slightly jammy berry fruit that flows into a clean bitter finish with some greenish accents. It's fairly approachable, in a middle-of-the-road key; there isn't quite as much finesse as I might have liked, and the oak is apparent, at least far from the table.
1 star

La Camporena Chianti Classico 2007
Deep cherry ruby with cherry reflections. The nose is defter than that of the 06, with more brambly berry fruit and some mentholated vegetal accents; the oak doesn't stand out the way it did in the 06, and one has an impression of defter balance. On the palate it's more pleasant than the 06, with brambly berry fruit supported by greenish acidity and tannins that have a brambly Sangiovese burr. A very drinkable wine, that will work well with grilled meats, light stews, and simple roasts.
2 stars

La Camporena Chianti Classico 2008
Cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly bright and decidedly greenish, with some cedar-leaf tobacco mingled with greenish forest berry fruit and cherries. Not as ripe as the 07, and this is vintage variation. On the palate it's neither as bright nor as rich as the 07 -- it's duskier, and gives an impression of being from a cooler vintage, with more brambly notes and acidity, and more tannic bite. It will drink well with succulent grilled meats or hearty legume-based dishes (ribollita and fagioli all'uccelleto, tomatoey beans with sausages, both come to mind), but isn't something to drink by the glass far from the table.
2 stars

La Camporena Chianti Classico Riserva 2006
Deeper cherry ruby with violet rim than the 2006 Chianti; it's close to poured ink. Powerful bouquet, with India ink bitterness and savory notes mingled with spice and bell pepper, slight berry fruit, and a fair amount of underbrush. On the palate it's full, smooth, and dusky, with cherry fruit supported by underbrush and fairly deft cedar, and by moderate cedar-laced acidity that flows into a clean slightly bitter finish. There's more depth than the 2006 Chianti Classico, but it is cut from the same cloth, and lacking in brightness. The 2007 vintage will be more interesting.
1 star

A general impression: They are starting out, but have chosen their path, and are following it; there is a distinct progression from 2006 onwards.

Podere Campriano
Camrpiano is an Etruscan word that indicates a fertile spot, and this is why there are several wineries in Tuscany whose names include Campriano. This particular estate is small, with 3 hectares of vineyards planted primarily to Sangiovese, and since the terroirs vary considerably, they make three wines.

The Wines:

Podere Campriano Chianti Classico 2007
Deep cherry ruby with some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, and greenish, with berry fruit supported by leaf tobacco and spice. Nice balance and zesty. On the palate it's full, with rich lively sour berry fruit supported by brisk sour cherry acidity and by smooth tannins that have a warm burr and flow into a fairly long warm savory finish. Pleasant in a fairly aggressive key, and will work quite well with grilled meats or light stews. Worth seeking out.
2 stars

Podere Campriano Chianti Classico Riserva Le Balze di Montefioralle 2007
This is from a vineyard that had been abandoned, returning to woodland, and that they reclaimed. It's deep cherry ruby, and has a delicate bouquet that's quite particular and very savory, with hints of bt and greenish notes supporting berry fruit that again comes across as salty. Intriguing and particular; it revolves more around minerality and sea salt than ripeness. The palate is quite deft, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by smooth savory tannins that flow into a clean savory finish. Quite graceful and pleasant to drink, displaying great finesse in a lighter style that is worth seeking out if you like this sort of thing (and I do).

Podere Campriano Alta Valle della Greve IGT 2006
This is Sangiovese, from a 50-year-old vineyard, and is rich deep ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is deft, with underbrush, savory notes, and spice; it's quite pleasant, with a lot going on, and displays considerable depth. On the palate it's full and rich with powerful sour cherry fruit supported by smooth dusky tannins and clean savory acidity that flow into a warm clean savory finish with underlying bitterness. Quite nice, and is one of those wines one can converse with, though I would be much more interested in opening a bottle with a porterhouse steak.

A nice afternoon!

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