Friday, March 25, 2011

Montenidoli: Canaiuolo, Other Current Releases, and Some Much Older Wines

When Elisabetta Fagiuoli was starting out at Montenidoli, Giacomo Tachis told her that to make good wine you must also know how to cook. I don't know if she was already handy in front of a stove when he gave his advice, but she certainly is now, and invitations from her are to be regarded with a mixture of expectation and worry:

Expectation, because you will eat well, and worry, because you will eat much more than you should, and the meal will take longer than you expect, both because of the conversation and because of the number of courses.

The other thing Elisabetta likes to do is break out older vintages, and because of this, not only do you eat well, but you also learn something: We all know that Tuscan reds can age very well -- look at Brunello -- but few consider Tuscan whites to be ageworthy. A mistake, because they can perform most impressively if given time, and here Elisabetta is a pioneer, because she releases her wines when she thinks they're ready, not when those who only want whites bottled yesterday would prefer.

In the course of this lunch, which Elisabetta held in January, we tasted current and older vintages of a number of her wines, and finished up with a Burgundy she happened to have.

Montenidoli Canaiuolo IGT 2010
This had just been bottled; it's pale salmon pink paling to white at the rim, with some onionskin. The bouquet is quite fresh, with greenish vegetal notes and hints of gunflint supported by intense sea salt. Quite young, and very zesty. On the palate it's rich, with intense savory ripe but not overripe berry fruit supported by raspberry acidity and a gentle burr that has greenish notes of youth. Very pleasant, and will be nice as an aperitif in the immediate future, and be perfect in the summer months too, when you want something cool and refreshing.

Vinbrusco is a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca:

Montenidoli Vinbrusco IGT Toscana 2000
Elegant ambery gold with brilliant tawny reflections and greenish highlights. Elegant bouquet with honey and deft minerality supported by rather languid acidity and slight butterscotch. Very nice, in a hot weather key,a nd beautifully balanced. The palate reflects the nose, with deft honey-laced minerality supported by pleasant languidity and minerality. Great depth and elegance, and will drink very well with greens and salads, or light soups, or simple fish. It has a great deal to say and one would never guess its age.

Montenidoli Vinbrusco Toscana IGT 2005
Lively brassy gold with amber highlights. The bouquet is rich, with vegetal notes and butterscotch supported by sea salt and some gunflint. Tremendous depth and elegance, with just the right amount of bitter acidity to provide direction and interest. On the palate it's extremely elegant, with bright minerality supported by savory acidity and some dusky tannins from grapes, flowing into a clean finish with lasting minerality and some bitterness. Beautiful, and a delightful expression of a cooler wetter vintage in which acidity comes more to the fore; it will bring greta joy to the table, and wiol drink very well with fish or white meats.

Il Templare is a blend of Vernaccia, Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca:

Il Templare IGT Toscana 1999
Brassy gold with tawny greenish highlights. The bouquet is rich, with brambly honey and butterscotch supported by savory acidity and sea salt, It's clearly mature but very fresh, with lively savory lemon acidity and some bitter minerality with tannins as well, and flows into a clean bright finish with lively savory notes. A beautiful wine that has a great deal to say and is still very young, with the capacity to continue to climb for many more years. A fellow taster says the nose reminds him of fine Champagne.

Il Templare IGT Toscana 2001
Deep tawny gold with golden reflections. Extraordinary nose with vegetal accents and dry hay mingled with sea salt, eucalyptus, hardwood ash, and bitter honey; it comes across as simpler than it is because of its harmony. On the palate it's rich and full, with bright lively acidity supported by greenish minerality and deft savory accents that flow into a long savory finish with some bitter notes, which gradually fade. Beautiful, and is one of those wines that you will remember for decades.

Il Templare IGT Toscana 2007
Brassy gold with brilliant brassy reflections. the bouquet is rich and mineral, with deft hardwood ash and savory accents supported by gunflint and some sea salt. Very young, and very promising. On the palate it's deft and bright, with rich lemony minerality supported by clean bright savory tannins that flow into a clean savory finish. Beautiful and very pleasant to drink; it has great depth and if you want to seek facets you will find them, while your companions who are simply drinking the wine will drink it even faster. And it does have a considerable future, too.

Il Garrulo is the traditional Chianti blend, with white grapes.

Montenidoli Il Garrulo Chianti Colli Senesi 2008
This is unfiltered; it's lively pale ruby with black reflections and whitish rim, and has bright lively cherry fruit on the bouquet, supported by some graphite shavings and raspberry acidity. Quite fresh and still developing. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by savory tannins that have a warm burr and flow into a clean savory berry fruit finish with underlying bitterness. Quite pleasant, and will be perfect with grilled meats fried meats, and will also work well with hearty pasta dishes and similar. Expect it to go quickly.

Triassico is Sangiovese

Montenidoli Triassico IGT 2007
This is something new, a Sangiovese in Purezza from the new vineyards planted on Triassic red earth soils, and it's still a work in progress (Elisabetta was able to procure barriques that are usually destined to Burgundy for it); production was low, in part because critters got into the vineyard and are much of the harvest, and Elisabetta has decided not to release this vintage. But it is quite promising: impenetrable pyrope with violet rim, and its darkness is also because it's unfiltered. The bouquet is elegant, with rich berry fruit supported by bramble and wet leaves with some tannic acidity, and underlying savory minerality, while a fellow taster finds fireplace, which can emerge in Sangiovese. Very young, and promising. On the palate it's full, rich, and quite mineral, with lively savory acidity and tannins that have a slight youthful greenish burr and flow into a long bright savory finish. It's a toddler stumbling about, but will be most impressive when it all comes together, in 3-5 years.
2 stars

Sono Montenidoli is Elisabetta's Flagship Red

Sono Montenidoli 1985
This was made from Sangiovese and Malvasia nera, employing the Governo Toscano technique. It's rich almandine brick with brownish reflections and some brick in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich leaf tobacco and underbrush supported by savory accents and wood smoke. Fully mature and beautiful to sniff. On the palate it's rich, with deft savory minerality supported by savory notes and sloightly leathery accents, with pleasant herbal overtones and savory tannins flowing into a clean savory finish. Tremendous depth and elegance, and it ahs a wonderful story to tell. A stunning expression of one of the great vintages of the second half of the last century.

Sono Montenidoli IGT Toscana 2004
This is Sangiovese; it's black cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is quite elegant, with rich berry fruit supported by slight leathery notes and hints of smoke and fireplace, and underlying acidity and bramble. Fantastic depth and elegance, a wine that is quite young but that has a great deal to say. On the palate it's rich and full, with powerful berry fruit supported by lively berry fruit acidity and smooth dusky tannins that do have a youthful burr and flow into a clean savory sour cherry finish with underlying bitter accents. Beautiful though still very young, and though one could drink it now with a steak, it will very richly reward those blessed with patience.

Vernaccia di Carato is Elisabetta's barrel-fermented Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Carato Varnaccia Di San Gimignano DOC 1997
Brassy gold with greenish highlights. The bouquet is rich, with savory minerality and some spice and underlying vegetal accents shot with hints of butterscotch. Tremendous depth. On the palate it's ample, and fairly rich, with delicate languidity that flows into a clean rich, almost chewy finish. It's from an over-the-top vintage, and has a richness to it that derives form this. Quite pleasant, and will age well for another decade.

Carato Varnaccia Di San Gimignano DOC 2002
This was from a cooler, wetter vintage; it's elegant brassy gold with brassy reflections, and has a powerful bouquet with rich savory minerality supported by deft bitterness and acidity with some butterscotch, and hints of petroleum too. It's extremely fresh, and quite beautiful. On the palate it's rich, powerful, and bright, with rich minerality supported by gunflint bitterness and butterscotch that flow into a clean rather bitter savory finish that lasts and lasts. Stunning, and a beautiful expression of the 02 vintage, which was horrible for reds in Tuscany, but much better for whites than people realize.

Chateau de la Maltroye is an interloper from afar:

Chateau de la Maltroye Batard - Montracet Grand Cru 2002
This is a grand Cru de Bourgogne Cuvée Exceptionelle; it's elegant golden yellow with brilliant greenish highlights and brassy reflections. The bouquet is rich, with powerful gunflint and savory notes mingled with sea salt and some bitterness. Beautiful depth and elegance, and a joy to sniff. On the palate it's rich, with lively sour white berry fruit supported by clean sea salt, and bitterness with considerable minerality that has some sweetness woven into it, and flows into a clean savory finish with some bitterness. Quite elegant and with great depth, but with respect to the 2002 Carato it is coarser, and a fellow taster is more drastic, saying it's acidic and sweet. This is a judgment of today but does tell; I found the sweetness less problematic, but can see where he is coming from, because the sweetness does reduce finesse.
2 stars

1 comment:

buonsangue said...

Wonderful report. I'm lucky to have tasted most of the wines that were poured here and I share your enthusiasm. To my mind, Canaiuolo is, year-in year-out, hands down the best Italian rose'. Vinbrusco may be less well-known that some of Elisabetta's other wines but is every bit as impressive as the best of them. Yes, and that 2001 Templare is just... extraordinary. The way Elisabetta's charisma and wisdom translate into her wines is a marvel. Both she and her wines are in a league of their own.