Friday, February 25, 2011

Wines From the IX Selezione Vini di Toscana

This fall the Regione Toscana held its annual wine competition -- several days in the Fortezza Medicea in Siena, with several tasting commissions tasting flights of wines and scoring them using standardized forms. I have been in the past, and it's a pleasant exercise because one tastes quickly (no notes to take), and is exposed to a variety of wines one would likely not have occasion to taste otherwise.

This year they then gathered the wines that had achieved to top scores, and invited the winemakers to present them at the Stazione Leoplda in Florence. It was an excellent idea, though the organization was a little rocky: the organizers were interested primarily in attracting buyers, and didn't make much of an effort to reach wine writers -- I found out about it because it was mentioned in the press release dedicated to the competition held in Siena's Fortezza Medicea, and when I told them I had no interest in the press conference they had scheduled at noon, but simply wanted to taste the wines, they looked mystified. But they did give me a table, and goblets, and I walked from producer to producer, concentrating primarily on wineries I was unfamiliar with.

And indeed, this was the best thing about the event: it offered a nice window for relatively unknown wineries with good wines, and I made some interesting discoveries. Drawbacks? Time; I would have been happy to taste many more wines that I was able to.




Fattoria delle Ripalte

Piermario Meletti Cavallari founded Grattamacco, one of the better Bolgheri estates, a number of years ago, and then got bored. So he handed it over to someone else, and after thinking about it for a while set up shop in the southernmost part of the island of Elba, in an area of extremely granitic soils that produce very mineral wines. A beautiful place in the summer, he says, though he lives on the mainland during the winter.

Three wines so far:

Tenute Ripalte Bianco IGT Toscana 2009
From next year it will be IGT Costa Toscana. Primarily Vermentino with a little Petit Manseng, which gives acidity and spice. Pale brassy white with greenish accents and brilliant brassy reflections. The bouquet is elegant, and crisp, with greenish accents and bitter almond peel supported by lively almost brambly acidity and some sour (very sour) lemon. Quite nice. On the palate it's bright, with lively lemony loquat fruit supported by deft mineral acidity and some tannic accents as well that resolve into oak leaves, adding depth, while the finish is long and mineral, with just enough sweetness to balance the minerality. Very nice, and will drink extremely well with grilled fish, or even fried fish. Expect it to go quite fast.
88-90

Tenuta Ripalte Rosso IGT Toscana 2009
Piergiorgio decided to use Grenache, which is a Mediterranean varietal, fermented briefly -- not Sangiovese because Elba is too dry, and not the cab-Merlot blend because there's too much of it. To add color some Carignano. It spent 6 months on old barriques, mostly to oxygenate it. It's lively ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is quite fresh and rich, with cherry and blackberry fruit supported by intriguing hints of black truffle and some brambly acidity. Quite pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's medium bodied, with bright sour cherry fruit that gains direction from currant raspberry acidity and is supported by moderately intense smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly tart finish with some bitter accents. Graceful, and a lark of a wine; if you want complexity it's there, but if you want to just drink it with your meal it well also be very good in that setting. A delightful discovery.
90-92

Tenuta Ripalte Aleatico dell'Elba DOC 2007
Elegant almandine with almandine rim. Looks exotic somehow. The bouquet is rich,a nd sweet, with powerful sandalwood and nutmeg mingled with floral accents -- violet flowers -- and berry fruit. A great lot going on, and very interesting, it's one of those wines you can simply swish and sniff. On the palate it's full, and rich, and sweet, with rich black cherry fruit supported by sweetness and sandalwood laced tannins that gain depth from deft acidity, and flow into a fairly long dried prune/date and berry fruit finish with savory sandalwood tannic underpinning. A beautiful expression of Aleatico, and if you like sweeter wines it is one you will treasure. It will be perfect with rich, slightly piquant cheese, for example blue cheeses including Gorgonzola. The other option would be chocolate.
92-3

Azienda Agricola Giorgio Meletti Cavallari

Piermario's son instead is in Bolgheri, and this was a pleasant discovery indeed.

Giorgio Meletti Cavallari Borgeri Bolgheri DOC 2008
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, in a decidedly mineral key with Inida ink bitterness and graphite shavings mingled with currants and red berry fruit. Deft, in a light key. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich mineral laced berry fruit supported by a nice mixture of mineral acidity and bitterness, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fruit laced finish with tannic underpinning. Pleasant, in a lithe and athletic key; it's not at all overripe, a problem one often encounters in Bolgheri and will drink quite well with foods, especially simple grilled meats or light stews, and will go quickly.
88-90

Giorgio Meletti Cavallari Impronte Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, with India ink and quinine mingled with graphite shavings and savory notes, with underlying red berry fruit; it revolves more around minerality than fruit, and gives an impression of tight control. Interesting, too. On the palate it's quite mineral, with graphite shavings and bitterness supported by mineral acidity and by clean sweet tannins; it's a fairly austere interpretation of Bolgheri, and in keeping with the 2007 vintage. It's also pleasant because there are no hints of overripeness to it, and at the same time there are none of the greenish vegetal accents that Cabernet can have. It will drink very well with succulent grilled meats, along the lines of a porterhouse steak, and will also age nicely for 8-10 years at least. If you like more fruit driven wines it may not grab you as much, but if you like the style you will enjoy it.
90-92

Montenidoli

Montenidoli needs no introduction; Elisabetta Fagioli's wines are among the finest made in San Gimignano, and her Vernaccia sets the standard, at least for me.

Montenidoli Vin Brusco IGT Toscana 2005
Pale brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections. The bouquet is bright, with lively brambly acidity and considerable minerality laced with some sour lemon acidity and hints of loquat that confer a degree of sunniness. Very pleasant to sniff, and bracingly young. On the palate it's bright, with rich lemony mineral fruit supported by light white grape tannins that have a slight mineral burr and by deft acidity that carries into a long clean mineral finish. Very pleasant to drink, and will work quite well with grilled or roasted fish, and also fried fish, and because of its power will also be nice with creamy white meats. It's one of those wines one hates to pour out at a tasting.
90-92

Montenidoli Vernaccia di Carato Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2006
Brassy gold with golden reflections. The bouquet is powerful with considerable butterscotch laced with cedar and bright mineral acidity with some greenish berry fruit accents and also hints of almond bitterness. Great depth and elegance, and also very young. On the palate it's ample, and very smooth, with rich minerality supported by mineral spice that gains roundness and depth from very slight butterscotch sweetness, and it all continues at length, gradually becoming more mineral as the butterscotch fades, but without deviating at all from the path. Perfect balance and an absolutely beautiful wine that is going to be long lived, and could be worth waiting for -- if you have several bottles and patience, because it's quite nice now. I generally prefer Carato from cooler vintages, but this is showing very well.
93

Montenidoli Vernaccia Fiore Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2007
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is deft, with floral accents and white berry fruit supported by lemony mineral acidity that is almost granitic in texture. Quite young, but has a lot to say. On the palate it's rich, with powerful rather languid lemony fruit supported by deft sour lemon mineral acidity that flows into a clean bright citric finish. It's graceful, though a little up in the air and needs time to really pull together. As Albert Collins said to Stevie Ray Vaughn, "You're good now but you're gonna be better."
2 stars

Montenidoli Il Garrulo Chianti Colli Senesi DOC 2007
Lively pale cherry ruby. The bouquet is moderately intense, with delicate violets and cherry fruit supported by slight mentholated spice and some balsamic accents. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by deft sour cherry acidity and by tannins that though smooth do have a slight burr, and flow into a clean fresh cherry finish with tannic underpinning that gains depth from slight vegetal acidity. It's deceptive, because it comes across as quite simple though there's a lot going on if one cares to look. And it will go very fast, it's one of those bottles that will empty by itself while your back is turned. And this, for me, is one of the most important measures of a good wine.
88-90

I Balzini

Vincenzo and Antonella have a very pretty estate in Barberino Val D'esa, the heart of Chianti. But they decided to plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in addition to Sangiovese and go their own way, with the help of Giulio Gambelli. A wise decision, because they have done some extraordinary things.

I Balzini Green Label Rosso dei Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT 2008
This is a blend of Mammolo and Sangiovese, and is sealed with a glass stopper, which (in my experience) preserves the freshness of the wine. Pale ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with floral accents mingled with berry fruit and brambly spice, and some cedar as well mingled with menthol. Young. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by cedary graphite shaving bitterness and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly long finish that gradually reveals smoky jammy accents that come as a surprise, as does the greenish warmth that emerges. Because of these facets I wouldn't drink it by the glass far from the table, though it will drink quite nicely with grilled meats or light stews, including more flavorful options such as lamb or game.
2 stars

I Blazini White Label Rosso dei Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT 2007
This is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by bitter India ink accents with hints of quinine, and underlying savory mineral spice. Nice balance, and quite young. On the palate it's fairly rich, with lively cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and a fair amount of warmth, while the tannins are elegant, with pencil shavings and graphite mingled with slightly smoky cedar, and it all flows into a long rather haunting finish. Quite pleasant, though it needs another year to come together, and will drink very well with succulent red meats. If you like the style, which isn't overripe and revolves around minerality as much as fruit, you will enjoy it.
88-90

I Balzini Black Label Rosso dei Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT 2007
This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Merlot. It's lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up red berry fruit supported by minerality and graphite shavings. It's clearly developing, but is also promising. On the palate it's deft, with rich cherry black currant fruit supported by mineral laced acidity and by smooth dusky tannins that have some graphite shaving bitterness to them, and flow into a clean rather warm savory finish with underlying tannic bitterness. Pleasant though it does need time, a year at least, co really come into its own. With time it may surpass the White Label, but that's for the future.
2 stars

Vignamaggio

Vignamaggio is said to have been the home of Monna Lisa, and it is possible -- the villa is old enough, and has a remarkably peaceful feel, rather like the painting. The estate is now owned by Gianni Nunziante, who said, a number of years ago, that dealing with wine people (if I remember right he started out as a lawyer) required a shift in prospective: whenever he got together with fellow Tuscan winemakers, the usual topics of male conversation -- women, soccer and so on -- were useless. All they were interested in talking about was wine. Hence his IGT, Wine Obsession.

Vignamaggio Monna Lisa Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2007
Lively pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and hints of almandine at the rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with brambly berry fruit supported by a fair amount of warmth, alcohol, bright spicy vegetal acidity, and some underlying cedar. It's quite young, and decidedly brash. On the palate it's deft, with lively cherry fruit supported by brisk sour cherry acidity and by tannins that have a slight burr and flow into a clean warm cherry laced finish with underlying minerality and tannins. Quite pleasant, in a rather lithe tomboyish key, and will drink very well with roasts or stews. If you like smoother softer reds it won't work as well for you, but if you like the brashness of more traditional Italian wines you will enjoy it very much.
90-92

Vignamaggio Wine Obsession Toscana IGT 2006
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and slight hints of orange in the rim. The bouquet is deft, with cherry and currant fruit supported by delicate peppery spice and slight vegetal accents that confer a certain languidity, with underlying hints of graphite shavings that gradually emerge, On the palate it's deft, and medium bodied, with fairly rich cherry prune fruit supported by minerality and graphite shavings more than bright acidity, and they do a fine job of providing direction, while the tannins are smooth and again have a mineral underpinning to them, and flow into a clean savory finish with bitterness and warmth. Quite pleasant, in a deft fairly international key, and will drink very well with mixed grilled meats or a lighter roast, along the lines of roast turkey. It will also age nicely for 5-8 years.
90

Vignamaggio Cabernet Franc Toscana IGT 2007
Lively pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and paler rim. The bouquet is elegant, and quite classic, with smoky vegetal accents mingled with bell pepper and graphite shavings, and also some hints of chalk. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's deft, with bright forest berry fruit supported by slight vegetal accents and by moderate brambly balsamic acidity, and by tannins that are fairly smooth, but do have a textured burr, and flow into a clean deft slightly vegetal finish. Very pleasant, and though it is still quite young it will drink nicely with grilled red meats now -- more important cuts, including the Porterhouse -- and will also age nicely for a decade or more.
90-91

Vignamaggio Vinsanto del Chianti DOCG 2003
Tawny amber with brilliant apricot gold reflections and slight greenish notes on the rim. The bouquet is quite sweet, with dark brown sugar and some oatmeal mingled with dried dates, walnut skins, and a fair amount of warmth. Gives an impression of great sweetness, and also considerable ripeness, which would be in keeping with the vintage. On the palate it's sweet, with dried dates and prunes supported by warmth and sour plum acidity, while there is also walnut skin bitterness that provides contrast, and gradually emerges to balance the sweetness in the finish. Pleasant, and will drink nicely with cheeses or with like minded friends far from the table. It's too good for biscotti.
2 stars

Bindella

I confess that Montepulciano is something of an enigma to me. Every year at the Tuscan vintage presentation I find it to be the weakest of the three Appellations -- the other two are Chianti Classico and Brunello -- but if the wines are given a little more time, they emerge much better than they did during the presentation. Bindella provides an excellent example.

Fossolupaie Rosso di Montepulciano 2009
This is Sangiovese with 10% Syrah; it's cherry ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is quite fresh, with deft cherry and raspberry fruit supported by violets and some lavender, and also by pleasant spice, with slight alcohol and hints of underbrush. On the palate it's light, fruity, and fresh, with bright cherry currant fruit supported by mineral acidity and by tannins that have a brambly burr with hints of underbrush, and flow into a fairly long clean ripe cherry finish with tannic underpinning. A lark of a wine that will drink very well with the simple grilled meats of a cookout, or with thick legume based soups and other dishes (fagioli all'uccelletto come to mind), and will go quickly. Expect to need a second bottle.
2 stars

Bindella Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2007
This is 85% Sangiovese, with the remainder a mix of Colorino, Canaiolo and Mammolo, and ages in botte. It's deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fresh, and vinous, with red berry fruit and some spice, and also slight vegetal accents. It's still coming together. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by dusky bitterness laced with some brambly acidity, and by tannins that have a clean rather dusky burr, and flow into a fairly long bitter finish. Pleasant in a fairly traditional key, and will drink nicely with hearty grilled meats or roasts; including fattier meats that will need something to clear the palate between bites. If you like the style you will enjoy it very much.
2 stars

Bindella I Quadri Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2007
This is Sangiovese, and ages for 18 months in barriques. It's deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and lively cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with sour berry fruit balanced by spice and cedar, and supported by some brambly acidity, though not that much. With respect to the Bindella it's a bit behind, but this is because it has had more oak. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with fairly rich sour cherry fruit supported by berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a dusky cedary imprint that dips into graphite shavings in the finish, which is rather bitter and quite long. It's quite different from the Bindella, smoother and richer (it's a selection of the best grapes on the Estate), more polished, and frankly more international. If you prefer smoother more polished wines you will prefer it; if you prefer the greater aggressiveness of that more traditional style you will prefer the Bindella.
88-90

Bindella Vallocaia Toscana IGT 2007
This is 45% syrah, with the remainder Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it spends 18 months in barriques. Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with ripe but not jammy cherry and forest berry fruit supported by underbrush and mentholated spice, with slight graphite shavings too. Deft, in a rich and fruit driven key. On the palate it's full and quite smooth, with rich cherry prune fruit with some forest berry fruit as well, supported by mineral acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that have some underbrush accents as they flow into the finish, which is clean and mineral, with some vegetal notes as well. Quite pleasant in an international key and very approachable; it will drink well with succulent not too fatty roasts -- roast beef cut thick comes to mind -- and if you like the style you will enjoy it considerably.
88-90

Muralia

This was my first experience with this winery, and in these cases it's best to let the wines do the talking:

Muralia Corbizzo Rosato di Maremma IGT Maremma Toscana 2009
This is from syrah; it's pale pink with some salmon accents. The bouquet is fresh, with rich fairly sweet not jammy raspberry fruit that gains depth from brambly notes and hints of mentholated spice, also slight vegetal notes. Welcoming. On the palate it's light, with fairly rich brambly berry fruit supported by moderate acidity and light tannins that have a mineral burr and flow into a clean rather mineral finish with underlying vegetal notes that continues at length. It's more of a sipping wine than a food wine -- the acidity is a touch low for the foods one usually serves a rose with -- but will be nice sipped with friends, perhaps with a platter of mixed antipasti.
2 stars

Murlaia Babone IGT Maremma Toscana 2007
This is from the Babone vineyard, and is a blend of Sangiovese, Syrah and Merlot. It's Lively cherry ruby with black reflections, and has a fairly intense bouquet with berry fruit laced with graphite and some spice with some underbrush as well. Nice depth and balance. On the palate it's medium bodied, with moderately intense berry fruit supported by minerality and some vegetal notes, while the tannins are fairly smooth. It's pleasant, though not quite as tight as I might have hoped, and will drink well with grilled red meats.
2 stars

Muralia Muralia IGT Maremma Toscana 2007
This is 50% syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese, and ferments in steel followed by 18 months in barriques. It's lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with underbrush mingled with berry fruit and some spice, supported by moderate alcohol as well. On the palate it's ample and quote smooth, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by dusky tannins that have slight vegetal accents, and by moderate mineral acidity that does a good job of providing direction without getting in the way. Pleasant in a decidedly international fruit driven key, but not overripe, and the tannins that back up the fruit are nice. It will drink nicely with grilled meats or roasts -- red meats, but not really heavy things such as lamb -- and even if you're more traditionally minded you'll find things to enjoy with it.
88-90

Gualdo Del Re

Gualdo del Re is one of the most prominent wineries in the Val di Cornia, just south of Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast, and justly so. Very nice wines.

Gualdo del Re Valentina Val di Cornia Suvereto DOC 2009
This is a Vermentino. It's pale brassy yellow with brilliant brassy highlights. The bouquet is rich, with powerful loquat fruit mingled with slight passion fruit supported by some heather and slight bitter almond skin accents. Pleasant and rather graceful. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich lemony loquat fruit supported by bright loquat lemon acidity that keeps the wine nicely on its toes, and it flows into a clean, bright rather tart finish. Graceful, and will drink quite well with fish based pasta dishes or risotti, grilled or roasted fattier fish, and also has the acidity necessary for a nice platter of fried fish.
2 stars

Gualdo del Re I'Rennero Val di Cornia Suvereto DOC 2007
This is a Merlot. Deep pigeon blood ruby with purple reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, and jammy, with black currant fruit supported by slight balsamic accents and hints of sandalwood more than cedar, and by some mentholated spice. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich black currant fruit supported by mineral acidity and by dusky tannins that have a very smooth framework, but also have a slight youthful burr that draws from cedar -- the oak tannins are rougher than the grape tannins -- and flows into a clean cedar-laced black currant finish. It's quite young, and needs another year for the tannins to fold in, at which point it will be pleasant in a rather international fruit driven key, and drink well with drier roasts, for example turkey or pork.
2 stars

Gualdo del Re Federico Primo Val di Cornia Suvereto DOC 2007
This is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep black almandine with black reflections and hints of almandine in the rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some bell peppers and slight vegetal accents mingled with slight berry fruit- Needs time. On the palate it's full, and fairly vegetal, with pleasant mineral acidity and tannins that have graphite shaving bitterness and some minerality, and flow into a clean vegetal finish. Quite pleasant, and a nice rendition of cabernet that ripened well, but is not overripe. It's young, and the nose needs another year, but it will drink well with hearty roasts.
2 stars

Gualdo del Re Val di Cornia Suvereto DOC 2007
This is Sangiovese. It's deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is young, but developing, with fairly bright cherry fruit supported by sour cherry acidity and hints of lemon acidity as well, and there is also slight cedar that adds depth. Gives an impression of tartness. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by brambly berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are fairly smooth, but do have a dry Sangiovese burr, and flow into a clean rather sour finish with tannic underpinning. Pleasant, and will drink very well with mixed grilled meats or roasts, and will also be nice with a hearty stew.
88-90

La Canonica

The Val D'Orcia is between the Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino production zones. Beautiful rolling countryside that is tremendously open, and gives an impression of airy freedom. They were behind with respect to both of the more famed appellations, but are working hard and the wines have improved considerably in recent years.

La Canonica Terre dell'Asso Orcia Rosso Doc 2009
Tis is usually a 70-30 blend of Sangiovese and Malvasia Nera, but in this vintage the Malvasia Nera didn't produce, and they instead added 20% Merlot. It's lively almandine ruby with almandine rim. The bouquet is welcoming, with fairly rich slightly jammy cherry black currant fruit supported by slight menthol and eucalyptus, and some tart acidity. On the palate it's fairly light, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by slightly brambly acidity and tannins that have a distinct burr, and flow into a decidedly tannic finish with lasting warmth. I wouldn't have guessed there was Merlot in it if they hadn't told me; it has a tart rusticity to it that is decidedly invigorating, and will make it a fine bet with a platter of grilled or fried meats. If you like the style, which is far removed from polished smoothness, you will enjoy it considerably, but you have to like the style.
2 stars

Amiata

This is a new winery from Montecucco, whose vineyards are at elevations between 4 and 500 meters, on the flanks of Monte Amiata in the Comune of Castel del Piano. It's small, three hectares, and works primarily with Sangiovese, though they do add a little Cabernet to their basic wine.

Amiata Lapillo Montecucco Rosso DOC 2007
This was their first vintage of the wine, and is a 70-30 blend of Sangiovese and cabernet. It's lively cherry ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with mentholated cherry fruit supported by spice and some acidity, though not too much, and some vegetal accents. The palate is fairly bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are quite dry, and flow into a dry tart finish with some hints of cedar. It's not a sipping wine, and will instead work well with grilled meats, including fattier cuts, and also fried meats, including flavorful cuts such as breaded lamb chops. It's aggressive, and you have to like the style; if you do you will enjoy it.
2 stars

Amiata Lapillo Montecucco Rosso DOC 2008
Here the Sangiovese-Cabernet blend is 90-10; the wine is deep cherry ruby with black reflections. the bouquet is intense, and rather vegetal, with greenish accents mingled with bright acidity and sour berry fruit, with some sandalwood spice as well. On the palate it's smoother than the 07, with fairly bright sour cherry fruit supported by lively berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a long tart sour cherry finish. Pleasant, in an aggressive key, and if you like the style it will work very well with a platter of mixed grilled or fried meats. If you prefer smoother softer wines it simply won't work for you, and in this it's a wine that takes no quarter. But is definitely worth looking for if you like the style.
2 stars

Amiata Lavico Montecucco Sangiovese DOC 2006
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections. the bouquet is moderately intense, with menthol and some vegetal accents mingled with berry fruit and slight cedar. On the palate it's quite pleasant, with rich sour cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a slight burr, though they are smooth overall, and it flows into a clean rather tart finish. Graceful, and quite pleasant, though the nose needs a little more time; I would give it another year. It will work nicely with grilled meats or roasts, and also has the acidity necessary to work with fried meats and vegetables. With respect to the Montecucco base it is smoother and more polished, and therefore less extreme; even if you generally prefer smoother softer reds it will, with the proper foods, please you. Expect the bottle to go quickly.
2 stars

Amiata Lavico Montecucco Sangiovese DOC 2007
Lively almandine ruby with black reflections and white rim. This was just bottled, and the bouquet is still up in the air, revealing fairly intense cedar that will certainly fold in with time, coupled with red berry fruit. On the palate it's much more similar overtones the 2006, though a touch smoother, with bright cherry fruit supported by lively tart cherry acidity and by tannins that have a slight hint of cedar to them, and flow into a clean rather tannic finish that settles into dryness. Pleasant, but needs at least a year; it terms of accompaniments it will work well with hearty grilled or fried meats.
2 stars

Amiata Cenere Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva DOC 2006
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with sour cherry fruit supported by some vegetal accents and spice, including black pepper, sea salt, and slight cedar as well. On the palate it's medium bodied, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by brisk sour berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that are fairly smooth, though they do reveal a dusky Sangiovese burr in the finish, which is fairly long, and settles into sour cherry fruit with slight balsamic accents as well. It's pleasant in a high altitude key; the grapes ripened but didn't overripen, and maintain lively acidity that gives the wine a pleasing aggressiveness as well. If you like the style it will work quite well with fattier grilled or roasted meats, including lamb, and it will also age nicely for 3-5 years.
2 stars

The winery is clearly new; there is a distinct change form the fist to the second vintage of all the wines, in a direction of greater refinement and elegance, and it will be interesting to follow future vintages.


Dreolino

This is one of the smaller wineries in the Chianti Rufina zone. I have always enjoyed their wines, and was happy to come across them here.

Dreolino Petroio Chianti DOCG 2009
This is from a podere on the edge of the Chianti Rufina zone, and is a 90-10 Sangiovese Cabernet blend. It's lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fresh, with sour cherry fruit supported by lemony acidity and some mentholated floral accents with a fair amount of warmth as well. On the palate it's light, and scrappy, with tart berry fruit supported by lively tannins that have a warm Sangiovese burr and flow into a tart berry fruit finish with lively tannic underpinning. It's quite fresh in an aggressive key, and will work very well with grilled or fried meats; if you like the style you will enjoy it. If you prefer smoother softer wines you may find it a bit much.
2 stars

Dreolino Lieto Evento Rosso di Toscana IGT 2009
This is Sangiovese; it's lively cherry ruby with cherry reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with brambly berry fruit supported by brambly acidity and some berry fruit spice. Lively. On the palate it's medium bodied, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a slightly greenish sour cherry fruit finish. Quite smooth, and graceful in a willowy tomboyish key; it will drink very well with simple grilled or fired meats and vegetables, and is considerably more approachable than the Chianti, in a light deft key; it doesn't have the aggressiveness but does have the acidity, and will work very well with foods.
2 stars

Dreolino Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2005
They didn't make a 2006 Riserva, and the 2007 isn't ready yet, so here we are. The wine is lively almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim paling to garnet. The bouquet is intense, with elegant slightly brandied cherries that have hints of caramel to them supported by dark leather, some cedar and some greenish mineral squash accents. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich berry fruit supported by warm balsamic notes and balsamic acidity, while the tannins are dusky, with savory bitter accents, and flow into a clean warm slightly greenish tannic finish that resolves into savory tannic warmth. It's powerful, and a nice expression of the vintage, which was cooler and wetter, with a certain degree of austerity. It will drink well with hearty grilled meats or roasts, for example a thick steak.
2 stars

Bindi Sergardi Fattoria I Colli
Bindi Sergardi is a historic Tuscan family, of the sort that once marshaled armies and went victoriously to war. In other words, serious people. And they're still serious, though they have changed their focus some -- to wine, and I liked what I found.

Bindi Sergardi Fattoria I Colli L'Oriolus Bianco di Toscana IGT 2009
This is the classic blend, Trebbiano and Malvasia with a little Chardonnay added. It's brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with initial hints of scalded milk that give way to floral accents mingled with white berry fruit and slight tropical fruit, and some heather. On the palate it's fairly rich, with savory white berry fruit supported by savory mineral acidity that flows into a fairly long mineral finish with some savory bitterness. A classic, very simple white wine that will work well with vegetable soups and pasta dishes, and also with simple fish dishes.
1 star

Bindi Sergardi Fattoria I Colli Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2009
Pale almandine with white rim. Lively looking. The bouquet is fresh and quite young with lively sour berry fruit supported by sea salt and some greenish spicy notes, mingled with hints of squash. Lively and bright. On the palate it's light, with fresh sour cherry fruit supported by lively cherry acidity and by light tannins that have a slight burr, but are overall smooth. Very fresh, a perfect wine for a picnic or cookout, and one that will also work quite well with red sauced pasta dishes, or hearty soups, and if you like the style, which is classic Chianti with a fair amount of acidity i.e. a food wine, you may even want to drink it when you feel like a glass of undemanding wine. Expect the bottle to go quickly.
2 stars

Bindi Sergardi Fattoria I Colli Chianti Classico DOCG 2008
Lively almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is more powerful than that of the Chianti Colli Senesi, with brambly red berry fruit supported by heather and some menthol, with hints of leather as well. Nice balance. On the palate it's ample, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by deft slightly greenish berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are quite smooth, with barest balsamic accents, and flow into a clean fresh sour cherry finish. Pleasant in a slightly scrappy key, and a sunny wine that will work nicely with simple grilled meats or light stews, and also has the acidity necessary to stand up to a platter of fried meats, including richer fare such as lamb chops. A pleasant food wine that will go quickly.
2 stars

Bindi Sergardi Fattoria I Colli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up berry fruit mingled with some spice, and also greenish heather and slight cedar. Nice balance, but still coming together. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity, and by tannins that still have a cedary element and flow into a dusky finish. It's in mid stride, and needs time, at least a year, to come together and get its bearings. When it does it will be pleasant in a middle of the road key, and drink nicely with succulent, not too fatty roasts or stews.
2 stars

Bindi Sergardi Fattoria I Colli Climax IGT 2007
This is a 60-40 Merlot Cabernet blend. Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, with lively slightly jammy cherry and forest berry fruit supported by some underbrush and hints of leather and leafy accents with underlying graphite shavings. Nice balance and rather cheeky. On the palate it's fairly light, with rich ripe cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that have a warm slightly greenish burr and flow into a clean tannic finish that flows into lasting warmth. To be honest, I would not have guessed it has as much Merlot as it does from the tannins, which are rather dry and much more in keeping with Cabernet. This said, it will work very well with foods, ranging from hearty pasta dishes -- northern lasagna with béchamel and meat sauce comes to mind -- to grilled meats and roasts. The tannins are a little too rough to drink by the glass far from the table now, though it does have nice aging capacity too.
2 stars


A Brief Aside: Shortly before this tasting, I was tasting Barolo and Barbaresco with Carlo Macchi, who asked me to taste a couple of Bindi Sergardi wines, which were, he said, being made with the goal of emphasizing the varietal characteristics of the grapes:

Bindi Sergardi Numero 89 Mocenni Toscana IGT 2006
This is a Sangiovese in purezza; it's lively ruby with black reflections and cherry rim tending towards almandine. The bouquet is fairly intense, tart, and vinous, with bright berry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and some alcohol, and underlying India ink bitterness supported by quite a bit of spice. Nice balance in an international key. On the palate it's medium bodied with fairly intense rather sour cherry fruit supported by cedar-laced berry fruit acidity and tannins that have a warm cedary burr and flow into a fairly bitter finish. It's fairy agile, though the oak is apparent, and because of it I wouldn't drink it far from the table. That same tannic dryness, however, will make it a good bet with fattier meats, for example roast leg of lamb, or a porterhouse steak.
2 stars

Bindi Sergardi Numero 91 Mocenni Toscana IGT 2006
This is Cabernet Sauvignon in Purezza. Deep pyrope ruby with black reflections and cherry rim paling to white. Looks charged. The bouquet is powerful, and rather blocky, with forest berry fruit supported by wood shavings and hints of green banana, which are again fresh oak, in considerable abundance, which overshadows the fruit. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich black currant fruit with some blackberry overtones, supported by warm mineral acidity and smooth tannins that have a dry cedary overlay and flow into a fairly dry tannic finish with bitter undertones. As was the case with the Sangiovese, it's a bit dry to be drunk far from the table, whereas the dry aggressiveness of the tannins will make it work well with fattier meats especially succulent roasts.
2 stars

Both are quite concentrated, and heavily oaked; as Carlo points out, if the goal is to highlight the characteristics of the vineyards, why oak the wines up this much? It might make them appealing to a certain segment of the International wine press and their followers, but obscures what was supposed to be brought out.

Sasso Di Sole

This is one of the more traditional Brunello producers -- no small wood, just botti. They also make a wine from the Vla D'Orcia, and I started with it:

Sasso di Sole Orcia DOC 2008
Though the Orcia appellation allows blending, this is 100% Sangiovese. It's almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is delicate, with leathery berry fruit supported by moderately intense acidity and some balsamic notes, and also by dusky spice from grapes. Harmonious and pleasant in a traditional key. On the palate it's medium bodied, with bright sour berry fruit supported by considerable sea salt and bright berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that have a warm greenish burr and flow into a clean bright sour cherry finish with powerful tannic underpinning that goes on at length. It's pleasant in an austere, traditional key, and also fairly aggressive; it's a wine that will work quite well with grilled or fired meats, and also with hearty pasta dishes in the short term, and will also mellow nicely for 5-8 years. Worth seeking out. If you like the style.
2 stars

Sasso di Sole Rosso di Montalcino DOCG 2008
Almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is fairly rich, with leathery red berry fruit supported by spice, balsamic notes and green leather, with as it opens intriguing vegetal accents. Harmonious and complex. It's a little richer than the Orcia, though the two are stylistically quite similar. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rich slightly balsamic cherry fruit supported by hints of sweetness, balsamic berry fruit acidity, and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean slightly balsamic cherry finish with savory underpinning. Quite pleasant in a traditional key, and will drink very well with succulent red meats. If you prefer the more traditional style, you will enjoy it very much, and even a modernist will find things to think about.
2 stars

Sasso di Sole Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004
This spent three years in wood, and then went into glass. It's a brooding almandine that's a bit darker than the Rosso, and pales to garnet in the irm. The bouquet is elegant, with rich delicate spice and berry fruit that has slight sweetish accents, and hints of menthol. Quite harmonious, and also very young. On the palate it's full and smooth, with powerful, elegant cherry fruit supported by clean slightly sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are quite smooth, though not yet silky -- they will be with time -- and flow into a clean rich berry fruit finish. Beautiful wine, and though one could drink it now with a steak or a roast -- a crown roast would be about right -- it will richly reward those with the patience to give it time. Up to 20 years or more.
90-92

Sasso di Sole Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2004
This spent 4 years in wood, and therefore has a year less in bottle under its belt. It's a slightly rich, slightly brighter almandine than the 2004 Brunello. The bouquet is not as far along as the Base's though what emerges is elegant, with leathery berry fruit mingled with spice and alcohol; it's still developing but promises well. On the palate it's fuller and richer than the base, with powerful cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and slight smoky balsamic accents, while the tannins are ample and quite smooth, and flow into a clean bright fairly rich tannic finish with bitter underpinning. It's quite elegant but needs another 2-3 years to come into its own. Not quite a work in progress, but destined to improve.
2 stars


Panzanello

This is a new winery not far from Panzano in Chianti

Panzanello Chianti Classico DOCG 2008
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with jammy berry fruit that has slight balsamic mentholated accents and is supported by underbrush and vegetal spice. Nice depth, and has a chewy feel to it. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by deft cherry acidity and by tannins that are nicely polished, but gain definition from a slight burr and flow into a clean slightly sour, sweetish berry fruit finish. It has a bit of a hot weather feel to it, thanks to the jamminess of the fruit and the warmth of the tannins, and will drink nicely with grilled meats or light roasts.
2 stars

Panzanello Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2004
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with considerable underbrush and some wet leather mingled with minerality; it has a mature feel to it and there's not that much fruit, more the tertiary elements. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite smooth, with rich slightly sour cherry fruit supported by dusky acidity that has slight balsamic brown sugar accents and by tannins that are quite smooth, and flow into a clean rather tannic finish with dusky graphite bitterness. Pleasant in a slightly scrappy key, and is something to consider if you like wines that have a bit of austerity to them; it will drink nicely with roasts or stews and will also age nicely for another 8-10 years.
2 stars

Panzanello Il Manunzio IGT Toscana 2004
This is a Sangiovese-Merlot blend; it's deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with savory balsamic accents mingled with wood smoke and slight animal tang; it's pleasant, in a slightly rustic key. On the palate it's full and quite smooth, with fairly rich cherry cassis fruit supported by moderate acidity and warmth, and by tannins that are quite smooth and flow into a clean cassis laced finish with warm tannic underpinning. Pleasant in a traditional key, with acidity that keeps it on its toes and tannins that have a balsamic feel to them, and if you like the more traditional style and want to see it applied to an Igt, this is a good place to start. In terms of accompaniments, I would think of a porterhouse steak.
2 stars

Paterna

This is a cooperative winery in the Colli Aretini, and I was happy to see it, also because of the four great winemaking areas recognized by Duke Cosimo III de'Medici in 1716, the Colli Aretini is the one that has fared least well over time. With any luck this is the tip of an iceberg.


Paterna Chianti Colli Aretini 2008
Pal almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fresh, and lively, with violets and red berry fruit supported by spice and a fair amount of alcohol. Graceful, and harmonious in a young ripe but not overripe fruit driven key. On the palate it's slightly riper than I expected, and medium bodied, with bright cherry plum fruit supported by dusky tannins that have a warm graphite burr and by a fair amount of alcohol, and it all flows into a clean prune laced finish with underlying bitterness. It's pleasant in a fairly direct key and will drink very well with simple grilled meats or roasts. Expect it to go quickly.
2 stars

Paterna Vignanuova IGT Toscana 2005
Deep pyrope ruby with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is moderately intense,with ith jammy balsamic notes -- prune jam -- supported by hints of cassis and graphite shavings, and some greenish vegetal notes as well. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich berry fruit supported by mineral acidity and by clean graphite laced tannins that flow into a fairly long tannic finish with dry savory underpinning. Because of the dryness of the finish it won't work well by the glass, though it will work well with a hearty roast or stew.
1 star

2 comments:

Katherine Josh said...

Loquat is for cough and lung in Chinese medicine. Sometimes i would take the Ninjiom Pei Pa Koa which is an extract of loquat when got sore throat.

You can access info online @
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nin_Jiom_Pei_Pa_Koa
ninjiom.50webs.com

Kyle Phillips said...

I didn't know that. Yet another reason to eat loquats, which I very much like. They are popular trees in Italy, and people do harvest the fruit.