Thursday, January 27, 2011

Welcome to IGP!

IGP, I Giovani Promettenti (The Promising Young Men) is a brainchild of Carlo Macchi, Luciano Pignataro and Franco Ziliani, all of whom have way too many ideas: Each week one of them would write an article, on a weekly rotation, and all three would post the articles simultaneously on their sites. Articles not necessarily strictly related to wine, but to topics they thought important.

In January Franco bowed out, and Luciano and Carlo asked Stefano Tesi and Roberto Giuliani to come aboard. Both accepted eagerly, and then they had the rash idea of asking me to join them. So now there are five Promising Young (we are, really!) Men. Here you will find the articles in English, and on their sites in Italian.

And to get to their sites, which are well worth wandering? You'll find links in the right-hand column.

This time the rotation falls to Luciano, who writes:






GARANTITO IGP. Elena Fucci, Marianna Vitale e Giovanna Voria: Stories of Southern Women

If there is one thing in which it is difficult to distinguish between North and South, it is enogastronomy. We can also see this from the fact that women do not need the help of affirmative action laws to emerge. Here are three stories, to tell, eat, and drink.

Elena Fucci is 28 years old. Her grandfather inherited a beautiful vineyard in Contrada Titolo a Barile, in the Vulture. He refused to sell, and still lives there now, well past the age of 90. In 2000 her father Salvatore, who worked as a teacher, decided to stop selling the grapes and begin bottling the wine in the small cellar not far from their home: An extremely difficult challenge considering the years that followed, with the attack on the Twin Towers and the Economic Crisis that rocks us still. Elena took a degree in winemaking at Pisa, and returned to the South to continue in her father's footsteps. With great success, seeing that for the second consecutive year her Aglianico del Vulture Titolo has garnered the most recognition. Her experience bucks the trend with respect to the flight from the South that continues in many other fields.

Marianna Vitale is 30 years old: After working with Lino Scarallo at Palazzo Petrucci she decided to open, with her husband Esposito, the Ristorante Sud at Quarto, in the northern suburbs of Naples. A tremendous challenge, in an out-of-the-way place that attracts no visitors at all. Marianna, however, is creative, innovative, and quick. In just a short time her restaurant became a success, initially primarily due to word of mouth on the Internet, though it has now been picked up by the restaurant guides too. Her story shows that the suburbs are not immune to beauty and hard work.

Giovanna Voria is 50 years old. From Cilento, she opened her agriturismo in a desolate valley not far from the temples of Paestum, tear the headwaters of the Alento river, which gave its name to the wild, bitter, uninhabited lands of the Cilento. Should have prepared the standard fusilli and grilled meats, but instead studied cooking, pastry making and canning year after year, and now her Agriturismo, Corbella, is both a repository for the local traditions and proof of the infinite possibilities that can spring from creative thought applied to the products of the land. Her story shows that even in the poorest rural areas it is possible to seek quality and grow.

Three stories of Southern women. Three reasons to be optimistic, despite everything.

Elena Fucci, Barile. Vulture.
Ristorante Sud, Quarto, Napoli.
Agriturismo Corbella Cicerale, Cilento.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bolgheri: the 2010 Vintage Presentation

Bolgheri is where it all began on the Tuscan Coast, and even though Sassicaia was already attracting international acclaim by the time the first Bolgheri DOC was established in 1983, the authorities chose to regulate the production of whites and rosés, leaving vintners to follow their whims when it came to reds, which were all classified as table wine. Though this was obviously a slight to the red wines, it wasn't as negative as it may seem, because it gave the vintners tremendous freedom to experiment. Some chose to use exclusively French varietals, and others various mixtures of Italian and French. The DOCG established in 1994 recognizes the reds, while maintaining the freedom:

  • Bolgheri Bianco can be made from: 20-70% Trebbiano Toscano 20-70% Vermentino 20-70% Sauvignon Blanc Up to 30% other varietlas authorized by the province of Livorno (e.g. Malvasia Bianca)
  • Bolgheri Vermentino must contain at least 85% Vermentino
  • Bolgheri Sauvignon must contain at least 85% Sauvignon
  • Bolgheri Rosato is made from Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot, plus other red varietals authorized by the Province of Livorno
  • Bolgheri Rosso and Bolgheri Rosso Superiore can be made from: 10-80% Cabernet Sauvignon Up to 70% Merlot Up to 70% Sangiovese Up to 30 % other grapes authorized by the Province of Livorno (e.g. Syrah)
  • Bolgheri Sassicaia must be made in the Sassicaia subzone (Marchese Niccolò Incisa della Rocchetta's vineyards) and contain at least 80% Cabernet Sauvignon.


Yields?
100 quintals/hectare for whites, 90 for Rossi, 80 for Rossi Superiori and 60 for Sassicaia. With the possible exception of Sassicaia these are high, at least with vineyards planted to moderate densities. However, a number of producers are planting to very high densities; if one has 9,000 vines per hectare each yielding a kilo of grapes, the quality should be quite good despite a high yield per hectare because the individual vines are producing small amounts.

Cellaring?
As you might expect, most of the whites are released the spring following the harvest, as are the rosés. Bolgheri Rosso can also be released the year following the harvest. Bolgheri Rosso Superiore must instead mature for at least two years from the January following the harvest, a minimum of 12 months in wood and 6 months in bottle. Sassicaia also has to be aged two years, 18 months of which in barriques.

Having said all this, the wines tasted at the Bolgheri DOCG presentation on May 28 2010. The order, after a couple of wineries that did not present reds, is that in which the Bolgheri Superiore was presented, because it was the wine I started with:

Serni Fulvio Luigi

Serni Fulvio Luigi Le Lame Bolgheri Bianco DOC 2009
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections, The bouquet is fairly intense, with deft greenish accents mingled with bitter almonds and some spice. Nice balance. On the palate it's bright, with rather languid bitter white fruit supported by minerality and mineral acidity, which flow into a clean rather mineral finish. It will be a pleasant aperitif and will also drink nicely with grilled fish or with white meats.
2 stars

Serni Fulvio Luigi Arcanto Bolgheri Rosato DOC 2009
Pale salmon with electric pink reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with dusky rather bitter berry fruit supported by greenish accents and some brambly notes that mingle with sour berry fruit. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's lively, with bright sour brambly berry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by brambly greenish tannins that flow into a fairly greenish finish. Quite direct, and zesty, an ideal wine for a cookout or picnic.
1 star

Poggio al Tesoro

Poggio al Tesoro Cassiopea Rosato IGT 2009

Pale pink with white rim. Quite pale, The bouquet is moderately intense, with greenish accents and some sour berry fruit laced with sour berry fruit acidity. On the palate it's bright, with rather languid sour berry fruit supported by greenish acidity that flows into a clean sour berry fruit finish. Fairly direct, and will drink nicely as an aperitif or at a cookout or picnic.
2 stars

Terre del Marchesato

Terre del Marchesato Nobilis Muffato IGT 2007

This is a muffato, or wine struck by noble rot, and is brassy gold with brilliant golden reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with the classic sweet bitter honey laced with herbals accents that is a hallmark of noble rot, and is supported by some sour apricot acidity as well, which helps keep it on its toes, while there is an underlying current of sweetness too. On the palate it's rich, and sweet, with powerful slightly candied apricot fruit supported by clean apricot acidity that flows into a long candied apricot finish. Quite pleasant, and if you like the style you will enjoy it very much; it's not a sauternes, and is brighter and perhaps more muscular than some sauternes, but very pleasant. Worth seeking out. If you like the style.
88

Giorgio Meletti Cavallari

Giorgio Meletti Cavallari Bolgheri Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry with cherry rim; poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, with berry fruit supported by wet leather and some savory accents; the impression is pleasantly languid. On the palate it's ample and quite smooth, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by clean greenish accents and mineral acidity, while the tannins are smooth and slightly vegetal, and flow into a clean rather bitter finish. Pleasant, though it needs another year to come together, and a little more acidity would have been nice; it will drink nicely with grilled meats or stews,
2 stars

Giorgio Meletti Cavallari Impronte Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, and vinous, with clean slightly jammy cherry fruit supported by brisk sour cherry acidity and some graphite shavings, with deft vegetal accents that gain in intensity as it opens, and some alcohol as well. Pleasant and harmonious, and very young. On the palate it's medium bodied, and a bit drier than I expected from the nose, with moderately rich berry fruit that quickly gives way to dry warm balsamic tannins that have a fair amount of cedar in them and flow into a warm balsamic cedar laced finish with bitter graphite undertones. It's still coming together, but has potential. I would give it a couple of years to get its bearings and come together, and expect it to age well for a decade.
2 stars

Donna Olimpia

Donna Olimpia Agoghè IGT 2009
Pale salmon with onionskin rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with greenish vegetal accents mingled with sea salt and savory spice. Fresh in a rather lively mineral key. On the palate it's savory, with considerable bitter minerality supported by savory notes and some spice. It's pleasant, but in a savory key and you have to like the style to like the wine. If you do it will drink nicely with antipasti, or frilled fish and similar, and also be a nice cookout wine.
2 stars

Donna Olimpia Millepassi Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim with hints of orange. The bouquet is quite fresh, with floral accents and violets mingled with jammy blackberry and forest berry fruit with slight hints of graphite shavings; it's quite fruit forward, and rather voluptuous but also fairly direct. On the palate it's ample and soft, with rich cherry and forest berry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have some cedar accents, and slight graphite shaving bitterness, and flow into a smooth cedar laced finish. It's pleasant in an ample, soft fruit forward key, and if you like the style you will enjoy it, though I would give it a year for the tannins to smooth in. It you prefer more aggressive, acidic wines you will like it less.
2 stars

Batzella

Batzella Pinksy Bolgheri Rosato DOC 2009
Pale brassy salmon with salmon reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, with rich ripe yellow peach mingled with some strawberries and a fair amount of alcohol, supported by some sweetish accents and slight acidity. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich rather languid berry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by light tannins; I'd have liked more acidity to hold it together and tie it up, because it's a bit lax, especially in the finish.
1 star

Batzella Digià Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2009
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is quite fresh, with cherry prune fruit supported by deft greenish accents and some floral notes, also graphite shaving bitterness. Fresh, and ripe. On the palate it's bright, with lively fresh plum fruit supported by some greenish accents and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh plum cherry finish. Up front and direct, it will drink nicely with quickly grilled meats, and be perfect at a cookout too. Expect it to go quickly.
1 star

Batzella Pean Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with ith greenish accents mingled with berry fruit and some dusky spice. On the palate it's ample, and soft, with fairly dry savory minerality more than berry fruit supported by savory accents and sweet savory tannins that flow into a sea salt finish. One can taste sea breezes, and while they are nice I would have liked more fresh fruit as well.
1 star

Batzella Tàm Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Impenetrable pyrope with cherry rim; poured ink. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up leafy underbrush mingled with some iodine and berry fruit and cassis; it's pleasant but still coming together, and quite international in feel. On the palate it's fairly rich, with moderately intense sour cherry fruit supported by more acidity than I expected -- though it's far from the aggressiveness of coastal Sangiovese -- and by silky smooth sweet tannins that have warm cedary accents and some underlying bitterness, and flow into a fairly bitter savory finish. Pleasant and harmonious, though I would give it another year for the cedar to fold in; you will enjoy it if you like ample smooth wines that are not overripe, and it will age nicely for a number of years, becoming rather ethereal with time.
2 stars

La Cipriana

Cipriana Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with dusky bitterness laced with smoke and some penetrating accents, but not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, and soft, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and by moderate acidity that flow into a clean rather soft prune cherry finish with some underlying acidity. I'd have liked greater tightness and depth; it comes across as fairly lax.
1 star

Cipriana San Martino Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and rather up front, with cherry fruit supported by some cedar and underbrush, with some vegetal accents as well. On the palate it's medium bodied, with moderately intense berry fruit supported by rather savory tannins that have some pencil shaving bitterness to them, and flow into a clean warm tannic finish with underlying bitterness. I'd have liked a little more richness to the fruit, though the tannins are smooth and the overall impression is harmonious.
1 star

Tenute Guicciardini-Strozzi

Tenute Guicciardini Strozzi Ocra Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful, with haunting greenish accents mingled with toasted coffee and spice, with underlying vegetal notes, but not much fruit. Quite young, however. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich rather chalky berry fruit supported by mineral acidity and some savory notes, while the tannins are smooth and greenish, flowing into a bitter vegetal finish. It's fairly direct, and still quite young; I would give it at least a year to get its bearings and some together.
1 star

Tenute Guicciardini-Strozzi Vignarè Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful and quite fresh, with jammy violets mingled with red berry fruit and some spice. Not quite a flower shop, but freshness (surprisingly so for a Superiore) in a glass. On the palate it's ample, smooth, and quite fruit driven, with jammy plum prune fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that aren't as broad as I might have expected, and by moderate mineral more than fruit driven acidity, which flow into a clean tannic finish. It centers around smoothness and fruit, and if you like the style you will enjoy it. I found it to be one-directional however, and as the tannins fold in this will I think become more apparent. In other words, a smooth fruit driven wine that is quite up front; what you see is what you get. Pleasant, seductive even, but it didn't make me think. At least now; it is also very young and needs to recover from being bottled; a fellow taster says it feels like it was bottled yesterday and he's right..
2 stars

I Greppi

I Greppi Greppicante Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with vegetal accents mingled with balsam and cedar, and some red berry fruit that provides support, and also smoky notes and a fair amount of alcohol. Nice depth, though very young. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by some mineral acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flo9w into a clean sour mineral finish with underlying sour berry fruit that has some savory greenish accents. Pleasant, and will drink well with grilled meats or light stews.
2 stars

I Greppi Greppicaia Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up berry fruit laced with graphite shavings and bitter accents. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with fairly rich sour plum cherry fruit supported by vegetal accents and graphite shaving bitterness, while the tannins are smooth and have some cassis to them; the finish is fairly long with clean cassis undertones and lasting bitterness. Pleasant in a smooth polished key, and with respect to some of the others has a little more acidity, which gives it more life, and makes it, for me, more interesting. It needs a couple of years at least to get its bearings and come together, and will age nicely for a decade or more.
2 stars

I Luoghi

I Luoghi Campo al Fico Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Impenetrable black garnet with black reflections. The bouquet is intense, with greenish vegetal accents mingled with sour berry fruit acidity and sour cherry fruit, with some leafy underbrush as well, and slight balsamic acidity. It's brighter than many. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich sour cherry fruit supported by moderate mineral more than fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean cherry plum finish with some savory tannic bitterness. Quite nice, though it needs another year to come completely together; it's like looking at a puzzle whose pieces are correctly placed but separated. It has considerable potential and I would give it the time, because it will be impressive in a lithe and graceful key.
2 stars

Michele Satta

Michele Satta Bolgheri Bianco DOC 2009
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is decidedly mineral, with considerable bitter gunflint and some spice as well. On the palate it's ample, and again mineral, with bright minerality supported by mineral acidity and by sour white berry fruit that has gunflint overtones, and flow into a decidedly mineral finish, It will drink nicely as an aperitif with fish (including oysters) and also with meatless dishes such as a frittata made with spinach. It's a little too crisp for sweeter dishes such as a frittata with onions, however. But it will go quickly. Nice savory minerality.
2 stars

Michele Satta Costa di Giulia IGT 2009
Brassy gold with brassy yellow reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with honeydew melon and sweet white fruit supported by some bitterness, though not really gunflint. Interesting and has a story to tell, though the nose suggests more an aperitif than a wine to be drunk with foods. On the palate it's ample, and rather languid, with clean mineral laced honeydew melon supported by mineral acidity and some savory accents, which flow into a fairly long languid honeydew melon finish with some savory honey overtones. Pleasant, though you have to like the style; if you prefer brighter, tighter whites it won't work as well for you. If you instead prefer the enological equivalent of a 1920s flapper reclining on a divan, you will like it very much.
2 stars

Michele Satta Giovin Re IGT 2009
Brassy yellow with greenish brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is powerful, with considerable spice, in particular freshly cracked black peppercorns mingled with some greenish sandalwood spice that's unusual in a white, but pleasant, and also some white berry fruit that contributes white berry fruit acidity. On the palate it's fairly rich, with savory minerality that I didn't expect from the nose supporting peppery spice that I did, and clean savory white fruit. Pleasant, though particular; if you like spicy whites you will enjoy it, but you have to like the style.
2 stars

Michele Satta Bolgheri Rosato DOC 2009
Pale salmon pink with onionskin in the rim. The bouquet is fairly right, with greenish accents and berry fruit supported by brambly notes and vegetal acidity. On the palate it's light, with bright rather green berry fruit supported by brambly acidity that has a greenish vegetal cast, and by sour cherry accents, while the tannins are light and savory, and flow into a clean sour berry fruit finish that flows into lasting bitterness. A zesty wine that will work well as a cookout wine or with quickly cooked summer dishes, ranging from pasta through simple grilled meats or fish.
1 star

Michele Satta Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep cherry ruby with brick reflections and brick rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish vegetal accents mingled with sour berry fruit and some greenish peach accents, which can happen in youth, and with pleasant spice. Interesting. On the palate it's bright, with fairly rich berry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and by fairly rich berry fruit acidity that flow into a clean fresh finish. Fresh, and will drink well in the short term with grilled meats or light stews, while it also has the capacity to age nicely for 8-10 years.
2 stars

Michele Satta Piastraia Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections. the bouquet is fresh, with deft floral accents and red berry fruit supported by clean greenish notes and spice with underbrush as well, and a fair amount of alcohol too. Nice balance. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with clean dusky rather bitter cherry fruit supported by sour balsamic acidity that flows into a decidedly bitter finish. It's more of a food wine than a wine to sip by the glass; if you like the style it will work very well with a hearty stew or with a porterhouse steak cooked rare and cut thick. But you do have to like the style; if you prefer smoother softer wines it won't work as well for you.
2 stars

Michele Satta Syrah IGT 2008
Deep pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim; it's close to poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, with jammy berry fruit supported by some spice; it's quite young and fairly direct. On the palate it's ample and smooth with languid cherry plum fruit supported by dusky bitter tannins and tannic bitterness dusty overlay, more than by acidity, and it all flows into a clean rather bitter finish. Elegant in an oak driven more than acidic key, and if you like the style, which is quite smooth, you will enjoy it. If you prefer more marked acidity you will kike it less.
2 stars

Michele Satta I Castagni Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Impenetrable pyrope with rim that mingles violet and garnet. The nose is extremely aromatic, with a mixture of floral accents, nutmeg and clove spice, and jammy berry fruit that almost brings a Ruché (an extraordinarily aromatic lesser Piemontese varietal) to mind. Quite unusual, and particular -- you will either like it or not. But it is voluptuous and rich, bringing to mind Jane Mansfield in a glass. On the palate it's ample, soft, and rather sweet, with jammy cherry plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that are again spicy, with a mixture of nutmeg and sandalwood, and flow into a clean spicy finish. A sexpot wine, and something of a fruit bomb as well, it's extreme in style and if you like the style you will like it very much.
2 stars

Collemassari Grattamacco

Collemassari Grattamacco Bianco Bolgheri Vermentino 2009
pale brassy white with brassy greenish reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with greenish accents mingled with minerality and spice, and pleasant brambly accents, On the palate it's more mineral and less bright than I had expected, with fairly rich mineral acidity and greenish accents, but less in the way of fruit, and flows into a clean rather bitter finish. It's fairly direct, and I'd have liked a little more depth than I found.
1 star

Collemassari Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black almandine with black reflections and rim paling to cherry-orange. The bouquet is fairly intense, with sour rather balsamic berry fruit supported by intense greenish vegetal accents and underlying spice. Young, but pleasant, and clearly developing. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich sour cherry plum fruit supported by deft acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight burr, and flow into a clean bright sour berry fruit finish. Young, but pleasant, and will already drink well with grilled meats or stews, and will also age nicely for a decade or more.
2 stars

Collemassari Grattamacco Grattamacco Rosso Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fialruy intense, and a bit rustic, with savory balsamic accents mingled with wet leather and some spice; as it opens vegetal accents emerge, but not much fruit. On the palate it's ample and smooth with moderately intense greenish fruit supported by mineral acidity and tannins that have a clean rather bitter mineral component, and flow into a rather mineral finish. It's very young, and needs at least a year to come together; at present it comes across as one directional but this is youth, and I think it will become quite interesting as it ages. It made me think, reflect, and reevaluate, something I like in a young wine.
2 stars

Collemassari Grattamacco L'Alberello Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Elegant ruby with brilliant reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fresh, with powerful cherry and cassis fruit supported by some vegetal accents and some wet leather, with sour berry fruit acidity as well. Harmonious. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with rich cherry and forest berry fruit supported by some sour berry fruit acidity and by slight greenish vegetal accents, while the tannins are silky and smooth, and flow into a clean rather bitter berry fruit finish. Deft, and though it needs a year to come together it is quite pleasant, and will also become graceful with time. I found it growing upon me.
2 stars

Campo al Mare

Campo al Mare Campo al Mare Rosso Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and cherry rim; it's close to being poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish yellow peach supported by hints of Sichuan preserved vegetable and some savory accents, On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich greenish berry fruit supported by savory notes and smooth sweet tannins that have a slight mineral underpinning and flow into a clean slightly greenish berry fruit finish with underlying graphite shaving bitterness and some savory accents. Pleasant, in a deft fairly scrappy key, and will drink nicely with grilled meats or light stews, or simple roasts. I would expect it to go quickly in the proper setting.
2 stars

Campo al Mare Baia al Vento Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is intense, and quite young, with wet plaster and some animal accents mingled with savory notes and some berry fruit. Nice balance, though still very young, and as it opens the plaster fades some, giving way to leather, while berry fruit increases, as do vegetal accents. On the palate it's ample, with moderately rich cherry plum fruit supported by moderate mineral acidity and, to a greater degree, bitter tannins that flow into a decidedly bitter graphite shaving finish. It needs another year at least to get its bearings, and will profit from further bottle age; I found it to be fairly direct, and would have liked greater ripeness to the fruit, which lets the tannins carry some of the show.
1 star

Argentiera

Argentiera Poggio ai Ginepri Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black almandine with black reflections and dusky rim tending towards almandine. The bouquet is moderately intense, with greenish unripe peach accents mingled with vegetal notes and hints of balsam, but not much fruit, though there are some balsamic accents. On the palate it's ample and soft, with moderate fruit supported by some balsamic acidity and a fair amount of cedar, which flow into a clean bitter finish. I'd have liked more fruit, which would have added grace.
1 star

Argentiera Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim -- poured ink. The bouquet is muted, with wet leather and savory accents mingled with some acidity, hints of menthol, and slight plum fruit. It gives an impression of being in mid stride, but I would have liked a little more richness to the fruit. On the palate it's richer, with ample plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have some graphite shaving bitterness to them, and by slight acidity that flow into a fairly long bitter plum prune finish. It's quite ripe, in an ample smooth soft fruit driven key, and if you like the style you will enjoy it, though I would give it a year to allow the nose to catch up with the palate. If you like tighter, more aggressive wines it won't work as well for you. I found it to be rather direct.
1 star

Aia Vecchia

Aia Vecchia Sorugo Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Impenetrable black cherry ruby with cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, and jammy, with some gum Arabic as well, and underlying balsamic bitterness and some wet leather, with greenish cedar as well. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with deft sour plum fruit supported by mineral acidity and some bitter accents, while the tannins are smooth and sweet, and flow into a clean rather bitter finish. It's quite young -- a toddler -- and still up in the air, but has nice potential and could be a wine to look out for. I would give it a couple of years at least, and expect it to do interesting things, because the fruit is there and it is harmonious.
2 stars

Giovanni Chiappini

Giovanni Chiappini Felciano Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections; it's almost poured ink. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some mentholated accents mingled with savory notes and some vegetal accents too; there's not much fruit, but this is also an effect of youth, because the wine is still developing. On the palate it's ample, with fairly bright cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. The palate is further along than the nose at present, and pleasant in a fairly direct key; it will drink nicely with simple grilled meats or light stews, and will also age nicely for 5 years at least. It grew upon me.
2 stars

Giovanni Chiappini Guado de'Gemoli Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, with slightly chalky cherry plum fruit; it's quite young and at present this is most of what's there, though more swishing brings up some vegetal accents and slight artichoke greenness. Opens nicely. On the palate it's ample and very smooth, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have a well polished cedary burr, and by warmth more than acidity, which flow into a dusty cedar-laced finish with lasting warmth. Pleasant, in a rich fruit driven key, though it needs another couple of years to get its bearings and come together; it will also age nicely for a decade at least. Nice depth, and good potential; I found it growing upon me.
2 stars

Campo alla Sughera

Campo alla Sughera di Knauf Adeo Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections; it's darker than many. The bouquet is intense, and fresh, with sour plum cherry fruit supported by savory vegetal accents and spice; it's pleasant to sniff in a fruit charged key and also quite young. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by deft sour plum acidity that has some cedar laced mentholic overtones, and is supported by smooth mentholated cedar-laced tannins that flow into a clean fairly rich plum finish with some cedary accents. Pleasant in a rather international style, though very young, and needs another year at least for the various components to come together. When they do it will drink nicely with grilled meats or roasts, and will also age nicely for 5-8 years at least.
2 stars

Campo alla Sughera di Knauf Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright and fresh, with cherry fruit supported by greenish vegetal accents and some spice with underlying jammy sweetness as well. Fairly direct, but also very young. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by deft mineral acidity and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean vegetal-prune finish with some cocoa accents from the wood, which is quite long. Very pleasant, in a decidedly youthful international key; I would give it 2-3 years to come together, and expect it to age well for 8-10.
2 stars

Tenuta San Guido

San Guido Guidalberto IGT 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by mineral bitterness and some vegetal notes, also bitter pencil shavings and minerality. Nice balance and depth in a fairly rich youthful key. On the palate it's bright, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight greenish overlay and flow into a fairly long savory finish with deft bitter fruit underpinning. Pleasant, and will drink quite well with grilled meats or light stews, and also has the capacity to age well for 8-10 years.
2 stars

San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC 2007
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is a bit more rustic than some, with barnyard tang mingled with some balsamic accents on first swish, followed by some greenish vegetal accents and some spice notes that bring green banana peel to mind. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with moderately intense sour plum fruit supported by warmth and smooth sweet tannins, which flow into a fairly long warm sour prune finish. It's fairly large, and fairly soft, but does have pleasing acidity, and I would give it 2-3 years to come together and develop. I would expect it to improve with time, because this wine is always weak on the outset, but I must comment on what is in the glass, not what will be; a fellow taster had a similar impression, though he scored it slightly higher -- 82 as opposed to my 79, and I do have to note that after a while in the glass -- I set it aside -- it had improved, something not all do, and this is a good sign. But it is really not ready yet, and I think too young to score.


Guado al Tasso

Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Vermentino DOC 2009
Pale brassy white with some greenish highlights and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with delicate greenish accents mingled with heather and some sweaty blonde that brings sauvignon to mind, though Vermentino can also display this aroma. Nice balance and fairly zesty. On the palate it's bright, with warm citric fruit laced with bitter greenish accents that flow into a clean sour mineral finish with underlying greenish bitterness, which carries at length. Pleasant, in a fairly rich fruit driven key, and will drink well as an aperitif or with grilled fish or meats.
2 stars

Guado al Tasso Scalabrone Bolgheri Rosato DOC 2009
pale pink with white reflections The bouquet is fairly rich, with sour berry fruit laced with strawberry acidity and supported by some herbal accents, and by some pungent underbrush that adds depth. Pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's deft, with fairly rich raspberry cherry fruit supported by lively raspberry acidity and some greenish accents that bring to mind the leaves of a strawberry, while there is pleasant underlying tart strawberry acidity, and it flows into a clean sour strawberry finish. It will be quite nice as an aperitif or with simple cheese or egg based antipasti, and will also be nice as a cookout wine, in which occasion you will want more than one bottle.
2 stars

Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections; it's poured ink. The bouquet is muted, of the shiut tight variety, and swishing doesn't bring up much at all. On the palate it's muted; swishing brings up some scalded milk and slight green leather, but not much lese, On the palate it's moderately intense, with slight berry fruit supported by some savory accents and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly long bright finish with slightly brambly accents that are, to be frank, unexpected given the segue. I would have like more fruit and more richness than I found.
75

Guado al Tasso Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense and quite mineral, with considerable graphite shavings mingled with vegetal notes and some savory accents, though there isn't much fruit. On the palate it's deft, with moderately rich plum fruit supported by considerable bitter graphite shaving minerality laced with artichoke greenish notes, and by smooth sweet savory tannins that flow into a clean fairly bitter finish. Pleasant, in a very varietal key -- the Cabernet stands up and waves -- and I found myself rather enjoying it, because though it's not particularly fruity it does have pleasing deft mineral complexity to it.
2 stars

Tenuta Dell'Ornellaia

Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections., the bouquet is fairly intense, with quite a bit of cedar mingled with some berry fruit and greenish spicy accents. Nice balance in an oaky key. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense berry fruit supported by considerable cedar and a fair amount of savory spice, which flow into a fairly long bitter finish. It's very young in a decidedly oaky key, and needs time, a year or two at least; to absorb the oak it has been fed, though it may never do so completely. If you like the style you will enjoy it, but you have to like decidedly oaked wines; it will work well with succulent red meats.
2 stars

Ornellaia Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some greenish accents and slight sea salt mingled with plum prune fruit. All of these wines are works in progress, but this more than many. On the palate it's ample and soft with moderate bitterness mingled with berry fruit, and supported by smooth cedar-laced tannins that flow into a fairly bitter cedar-laced finish. It's very young and needs to come together; this said I found the fruit duskier than I might have liked -- it's a brooding wine, which revolves around shadow and spice, with less in the way of acidity than I would have liked; I found myself wishing for more brightness and life to the fruit. To be quite frank it was a bit of a disappointment and I hope that it will perk up with time, though the smoothness and the hold the tannins have upon the acidity make me wonder if it will.
2 stars

Sapaio

Sapaio Volpolo Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep pyrope with black reflections and black cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, and cedar laced, with greenish vegetal accents but not much in the way of fruit, at least at present, On the palate it's ample and smooth, with fairly intense cedar laced warmth and some sour berry fruit. I'd have liked more fruit and less cedar.
1 star

Sapaio Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Impenetrable black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish accents and some coffee grounds mingled with berry fruit and hints of wet leather; it's quite young, and still developing. On the palate it's ample, with rich rather graceful cherry plum fruit supported by clean mineral acidity and by silky tannins that gain direction from a slight bitter component, and flow into a clean fresh plum finish with deft tannic underpinning also supported by mineral acidity. Quite pleasant, though it needs another year at least to grow, and will do very interesting things with time.
88-90

Castello di Bolgheri

Castello di Bolgheri Varvara Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2007

Deep ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, and quite vegetal, with pungent greenish spice mingled with cedar and artichokes, and supported by savory accents. Not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich minerality more than fruit supported by savory notes and some spice, and by clean sweet tannins that have dusky bitter accents and flow into a warm vegetal finish. It's pleasant if you like the style, which is fairly varietal (towards Cabernet), and will age nicely for a number of years as well.
2 stars

Castello di Bolgheri Castello di Bolgheri Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some cedar and slight greenish accents. Not much fruit. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense cherry plum fruit supported by greenish mentholated tannins and by savory notes, which flow into a fairly long finish with greenish accents and considerable alcoholic warmth. It's big, but I would have liked more fruit to fill out the house built by the tannins.
1 star


Santini Enrico

Santini Enrico Montepergoli Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2006

Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is powerful, with greenish accents mingled with graphite shavings and a fair amount of alcohol, supported by gum Arabic. Not much fruit, however. On the palate it's ample, with minerality and greenish accents more than fruit, and considerable bitterness as well. I'd have liked greater fruit than I found.
1 star

Caccia al Piano

Caccia al Piano Ruith Hora Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Impenetrable pyrope with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, and swishing brings up -- not much. It doesn't want to be disturbed. On the palate it's ample, with moderate fruit supported by savory tannins that have quite a bit of cedar to them. I'd have liked more fruit, because the wine revolves around the tannins, which owe much of their formation to oak, while the fruit is lacking.
1 star

Caccia al Piano Levia Gravia Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2006
Impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim; it's poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, with iodine and toffee (almost scalded milk) laced with cedar, but not much fruit, nor much acidity. The oak predominates. On the palate it's ample, with brighter than expected sour berry fruit supported by warm sour berry fruit acidity that has underlying graphite shaving bitterness and is supported by savory tannins with a cedar underpinning that flow into a clean fresh savory finish. It's disjointed due to youth, and I would give it a year or perhaps two, because the palate shows potential that the nose doesn't express at present. It's very much a work in progress, and too young to judge, though it may do very interesting things with time.

Casa di Terra

Casa di Terra Allegra Bolgheri Rosato DOC 2009
Pale salmon with brilliant reflections, the bouquet is greenish, with a fair amount of greenish acidity that brings dried hay to mind, supported by some greenish balsamic accents. On the palate it's fairly bitter, with less fruit and less acidity than I might have hoped, which flow into a decidedly bitter finish. I'd have liked more acidity and richness to the fruit.
1 star

Casa di Terra Mosaico Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim; it's poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, with smoky accents mingled with sour berry fruit and some barnyard tang, with underlying cedar. On the palate it's ample, and softer than I expected, with cedar laced berry fruit supported by a fair amount of warmth, and by smooth sweet tannins. It's quite young, and needs another year at least to get its bearings; when it does it will be pleasant in a fairly scrappy key, and will drink well with grilled meat or roasts.
2 stars

Casa di Terra Moreccio Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2009
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry ruby rim. The bouquet is fairly fresh, with chalky red berry fruit supported by menthol and some spice, with hints of petroleum and some greenish accents as well. On the palate it's ample, and soft, with less fruit than I might have expected - what there is is plum cherry -- supported by slightly balsamic acidity and by smooth sweet tannins. I would have liked more, and richer fruit.
1 star

Le Grascete

Le Grascete Grale Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is unusual, with red berry fruit supported by savory accents that bring Sichuan preserved vegetable to mind, and by some sweetish notes as well, and hints of cedar from grape. On the palate it's direct, with red berry fruit that displays the same vegetal accents combined with savory spice, and is supported by smooth rather green tannins that flow into a savory finish. It's direct, and fairly particular; if you like these greenish accents you will like the wine, but if you do not you won't. Assuming you do it will work nicely with quickly grilled meats or light stews.
1 star

Eucaliptus

Eucaliptus Clarice Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is quite fresh, and youthful, with violets mingled with plum fruit and some greenish vegetal accents, with slight candied notes too. On the palate it's bright, with moderately rich cherry fruit supported by mineral more than fruit driven acidity, and by dusky bitterness with graphite shaving overtones that flow into a clean fairly bright finish with some graphite shaving bitterness. Approachable, and will drink nicely with grilled meats or light roasts, and also with stews.
2 stars

Ferrari Iris

Ferrari Iris Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with brandied plum fruit supported by some greenish accents and some shellac; with more swishing finger paints of the sort I used as a child also come up. On the palate it's rather thin, with greenish fruit that has some petroleum accents and petroleum acidity, and is supported by tannins that flow into a rather tart finish. I'd have liked greater roundness and depth to the fruit.
1 star

Fornacelle

Fornacelle Zizzolo Vermentino IGT 2009
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections. The bouquet is rather languid, with slightly greenish white berry fruit supported by floral accents, sea salt and some alcohol. Nice balance and depth. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich greenish minerality supported by fairly deft savory acidity that flows into a clean slightly greenish savory finish. Pleasant, and will drink quite nicely as an aperitif or with grilled fish, also fried fish and fried meats in general, with fried veggies too. It grew upon me.
2 stars

Fornacelle Bianco IGT 2009
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections, The bouquet is intense, and quite aromatic, with greenish herbal notes mingled with spice and gunflint, and also fairly rich herbal accents, Nice depth and balance. On the palate it's fairly rich, with bitter minerality supported by mineral acidity that has some gunflint accents and is supported by considerable sea salt that flows into a clean savory finish. Pleasant, in a rather saucy key, and will drink quite well with fried fish or meats and vegetables, and also with flavorful grilled fish, though I'd be more tempted to pair it with fried foods. I especially liked the sea salt in the finish.
2 stars

Fornacelle Zizzolo Rosso Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, and decidedly greenish, with cedar and some spice supporting greenish berry fruit that has some plastery overtones. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense decidedly mentholated fruit supported by tannins that have milky accents and moderate balsamic acidity, with a fair amount of alcohol to support it all. It's not really settled, but does plod, and I found myself wishing for greater depth in the acidity, and more brightness in the fruit.
1 star

La Pineta

La Pineta Donne Fittipaldi Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is shut tight, of the nobody home sort; swishing brings up some vegetal notes but little else. On the palate it's ample, with moderate fruit supported by some but not too much berry fruit acidity, and by smooth sweet tannins. I'd have liked greater richness and verve to the fruit.
1 star

Greppi Cupi

Greppi Cupi Greppi Cupi Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fresh, with violets and blossoms, vegetal accents, and berry fruit mingled with hints of citrus, and some greenish vegetal notes. On the palate it's fresh, with fairly rich floral-laced berry fruit supported by mineral acidity and smooth savory tannins that flow into a clean tannic finish with some savory greenish accents and hints of balsam. Pleasant in a fresh, fairly aggressive scrappy key, and will be quite nice with quickly grilled meats or light stews, and also with hearty pasta dishes and similar.
2 stars

La Macchiole

Le Macchiole Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black cherry ruby rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with savory notes mingled with some savory berry fruit and some cedar, and also dusky greenish notes. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by smooth cherry plum acidity, and by deft smooth tannins that have slight greenish accents and flow into a clean cherry plum finish. It's quick to write, but pleasant, and will drink well with roasts or stews, and also has the capacity to age nicely for a decade or more.
2 stars

Le Macchiole Messorio IGT 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful with fairly intense cedar mingled with red berry fruit and spice; it's quite harmonious, though also very young and needs another year at least to come together. A nice interweave of fruit and oak. On the palate it's ample, and savory with dusky bitter fruit supported by savory notes and considerable cedar that flows into a decidedly savory cedar laced finish, oak in spades, and if you like the style you will like it. But you have to like heavily oaked wines, because even though wine can beg youth now, the oak will remain with time, and in future years will continue to emerge. I found it excessive, but I am not a fan of small oak barrels.
2 stars

Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso IGT 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is intense, with an initial rush of cedar that is balanced by berry fruit and spice; nice balance though at present it's very young and the oak is leading the dance. On the palate it's rich, with powerful dusky berry fruit supported by considerable pencil shaving and graphite shaving bitterness that flow into a clean bitter finish. It's quite elegant, in a dusky key, and if you prefer wines that revolve more around acidity than bitterness you will enjoy it, though you will find things overtones plumb even if you prefer more lively, aggressive wines. An excellent balance of oak and fruit.
2 stars

Antonino Tringali-Casanuova

Antonino Tringali-Casanuova Bolgheri Rosato DOC 2009
Pink with electric pink reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with dusky berry fruit laced with sweetness and underbrush; it has a languid slightly greenish feel to it and I might have liked a little more richness than I found. On the palate it's bright, however, with rich sour raspberry cherry fruit supported by lively sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are light and deft, but add depth; the overall impression is pleasant and it will drink nicely with cold cuts, mixed antipasti and similar, and will also be a nice cookout wine.
2 stars

Antonio Tringali-Casanuova Bolgheri Rosso Patrimonio Tringali Casanuova Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2008
Deep black almandine with black reflections and cherry ruby rim. The bouquet is powerful, and fairly fresh, with plum laced floral accents and violets mingled with underlying greenish notes and spice; though it's quite young it's pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's ample with rich slightly sour cherry plum fruit supported by savory slightly balsamic acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that have a slight cedary burr and flow into a dusky bitter finish. It will drink quite well with grilled meats, especially rare red meats such as a porterhouse steak, and I found it growing upon me.
2 stars

Antonino Trinagli Casanuova Renzo Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2006
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity, and by some spice with underlying sweetness; a fellow taster says it reminds him of Port, and as I resniff I realize he has a point. On the palate it's richer than the nose suggests, with bright rich cherry plum fruit supported by greenish vegetal accents and deft mineral acidity, while the tannins are quite smooth and flow into a clean fresh rather mineral berry fruit finish with graphite shaving bitterness and some underlying sweetness. I would give it 3-5 years, because it may become ethereal and rather lacy with time.
2 stars

Pianali

Pianali Biserno Coronato Bolgheri Rosso DOC 2007
Deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fresh, with considerable nutmeg spice aced with sandalwood and some sweetish berry fruit; it's pleasant in a spicy international key. On the palate it's ample and fairly rich, with clean spicy berry fruit supported by moderate mineral intensity and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. I'd have liked a little more freshness and drive to the fruit, but enjoyed it, and it will drink nicely with simple grilled meats or light strews, Finish warm and plum laced with balsamic accents.
2 stars

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Capitel Monte Olmi & More: A Tedeschi Vertical

When I first tasted systematically through the Valpolicella region a number of years ago, Tedeschi's wines were among those that impressed me the most, and since then I have made it a point to visit Tedeschi's stand at Vinitaly (usually the first day, and it's usually my last stop), both to taste the wines and to chat, because the family is delightful. This year Sabrina and her brother Riccardo instead came to Florence, bringing a number of vintages of Capitel Monte Olmi, their flagship Amarone, which is from a single vineyard, and also of their basic Amarone Classico della Valpolicella, which is instead a selection of the best grapes from their other vineyards.

The Capitel Monte Olmi is intentionally a more substantial wine, one that tends to take center stage when it is placed at the table, whereas the Amarone Classico is intentionally a more approachable wine, one that one can set out and drink -- if one can imagine setting out and drinking an Amarone.

In terms of technique, the Tedeschi Family is quite traditional -- they do have a drying hall, in which they simply dehumidify the air without warming it to quicken the pace at which it sucks moisture from the grapes, and once the grapes have dried ferment the bunches whole rather than destem them, because they find that destemming damages the grapes, and this has a negative impact upon the wines. Fermentation is, unless the sugar content of the must is extremely high, with natural yeasts, and Riccardo, who is the winemaker, lets it start at its own pace; because of the high sugar content of the must it can take up to a month for the fermentation to get going, during which time the must macerates on the skins. The subsequent alcoholic fermentation can take up to another month and a half. They rack the wine when it begins to seem dry, he said, and put it into botti, where it finishes fermentation, while the vinacce, or wine marks, which still have something to give, go into the Valpolicella Superiore following the traditional ripasso technique.

The Wines, tasted January 18 2011

Capitel Monte Olmi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1995
Elegant almandine with pale orange nail. The bouquet is powerful, with elegant sour berry fruit supported by dried orange peel, spice, and leafy underbrush mingled with leaf tobacco and savory spice. Beautiful, and it opens delightfully. Most impressive, inviting sniff after sniff. On the palate it's full, with rich cherry plum fruit that has the slight sweetness one associates with Amarone, and supported by silky tannins that have slight dried plum accents and are supported by deft acidity and savory underpinning that goes on and on. An extremely impressive wine that revolves around grace and finesse, though there is also steely power, in abundance. Amarone needs time to come together, and this has; it will age beautifully for many more years too.
95

A note: with this vintage they tried aging Capitel Monte Olmi in tonneaux (500 liter barrels), but decided that botti work better and returned to them.

Capitel Monte Olmi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998
Pale almandine with brilliant reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich, with powerful fairly sweet cherry prune fruit supported by savory spice and some underbrush, though not so much leaf tobacco; it's still very fresh, and as it opens intriguing brown sugar sweetness that is perfectly integrated with the fruit also emerges. It has a lot to say. On the palate it's ample, and fairly sweet, with rich cherry prune fruit supported by silky tannins and deft acidity, while the hints of brown sugar present in the nose also comes through on the palate. Very nice, in a slightly richer key than the 95, and this is because it was a hotter vintage. It's not quite as lithe as the 95 -- rather slightly more voluptuous -- and again quite young, and will age beautifully for many more years, though it will drink nicely now too.
93-5

Capitel Monte Olmi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2001
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim; it's significantly darker than the older vintages. The bouquet is powerful, with cherry and prune fruit supported by spice and slight sandalwood, and also by hints of gum Arabic and alcohol. It's quite elegant, and still very young, needs more time to express its best, though what it shows is pretty nice already. On the palate it's ample and rich, with nice cherry plum fruit supported by moderate acidity and smooth sweet tannins that have slight vanilla accents, and flow into a clean fresh smooth finish. It's an ample, powerful wine that is also quite approachable, and will drink very well with roasts or spicy hearty stews along the lines of goulash or pastissada, and will also work well with rich boiled dinner of North Italian tradition.
92-4

Capitel Monte Olmi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and ruby rim. The bouquet is intense, and much younger than the 2001, and also more aromatic, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by spice and some leathery accents, and also by some greenish vegetal notes. It's not quite a work in progress, but still quite young. On the palate it's ample, rich, and fairly sweet, with bright berry fruit -- a mix of cherry and prune with dark brown sugar sweetness -- supported by alcoholic warmth and tannins that have a dry cedary underlay and flow into a clean rather dry tannic finish that is balanced by some sweetness and voluptuous barely ripe yellow peach accents. We're tasting a toddler here, and it doesn't feel quite right; the wine will be beautiful and fully deserves a very high score, but it's not something that should be drunk any time soon; if you have a bottle set it aside 8until 2020 at least), because it will reward you.
92

The 2005 and 2006 Monte Olmi have a little Osoleta, a lesser varietal of Veronese tradition, which confers structure, acidity and color. Just a little, says Sabrina, adding that it has to be used with caution.

Capitel Monte Olmi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2005
Cherry ruby with black reflections and ruby impenetrable; it's not quite as charged as the 04. The bouquet is quite young, with cherry fruit supported by greenish spice with some sandalwood and some of sweetness, with scrappy brambly accents as well and some sea salt and fairly intense vegetal notes. On the palate it's lighter than the 2004, considerably, and this is due to the vintage, which was much cooler; there's moderately intense cherry fruit supported by brambly acidity and by tannins that are smooth, with slight hints of dark brown sugar sweetness and some cedar, but less than in the 2004, and it flows into a clean rather tart finish. It's a much scrappier wine than the 2004, and has a pleasing lithe grace to it; it's a beautiful interpretation of a lesser vintage and it is very nice to find a winemaker who accepted what Nature gave and worked with it rather than try to "improve" it. It's more similar in some ways to the older vintages of Capitel Monte Olmi, with less concentration, and is a wine that I think will age quite nicely for many years, becoming lacy and ethereal with time, because the necessary acidity is there. If you like cooler vintage wines, seek it out.
93

Capitel Monte Olmi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2006
Lively black cherry ruby with slight orange in the rim; it's slightly darker than the 05 but not quite as dark as the 04. The bouquet is fresh and quite young, with sour cherry and forest berry fruit supported by some sandalwood -- it's not as intense as the 04 but in that cast -- with pleasant greenish vegetal notes and some sandalwood too. On the palate it's ample and rich, with fairly sweet cherry plum fruit supported by dark brown sugar sweetness, moderate vegetal acidity, and smooth sweet tannins that have slight vanilla accents to them. Though it's younger than the 04 it's further along, and I didn't have the same peeping into a nursery feeling I had with the 04, though here again we are dealing with a very young wine that has a number of years to go before it begins to come into its own. I would give it at least six years before I even thought about drinking it. But it is nice even now, and if you feel you must, you could drink it with a rich, flavorful stew or with a boiled dinner Veronese style.
91

We followed Capitel Monte Olmi with the basic Amarone della Vapolicella Classico, which isn't at all basic:

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 1997
Deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is powerful and rather sweet, with cherry and sour berry fruit supported by sweetish notes that are balanced by fairly bright acidity too. It's quite powerful, in a charged key, and as it opens intriguing vegetal accents also emerge. Considerable depth. On the palate it's full, with rich slightly sour cherry fruit supported by clean vegetal-laced tannins and fairly bright acidity that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. It's a big wine that nicely reflects the 97 vintage, which was long, hot, and led to very ripe grapes that resulted in wines that are muscular but with slightly less acidity (and therefore definition); it is mature and will drink nicely now with hearty roasts or stews.
2 stars

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 1998
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and very different from that of the 97, with bright almost minty vegetal accents and hints of chocolate that bring to mind an After Eight mint, with underlying cherry and forest berry fruit and some spice. On the palate it's rich, with fairly powerful cherry fruit laced with slight plums more than prunes, and supported by pleasant slightly greenish acidity and smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean bright sour plum-prune finish with lasting warmth. It's quite pleasant, in a much more balanced key than the 97; it's still a big wine, and does have the sweetness to it that is a hallmark of Amarone, but isn't over the top, and is quite ready to be drink now, with hearty roasts or grilled meats, and will also work very well with a stew or boiled dinner. It's a bit deceptive, because there is more depth to it than one realizes with the first sip; if you want to follow a simple path it will oblige you, but if you want more facets it has them.
90

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2001
Deep black almandine with black reflections and some almandine in the rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up berry fruit supported by slight brown sugar and by some dried raisins, and also by delicate vegetal accents. Quite a bit going on, and it opens quite nicely. On the palate it's full, rich, and fairly sweet, with elegant prune fruit that has some date fruit overtones, and is supported by moderate acidity and tannins that have slight leafy accents and flow into a clean fresh finish that brings to mind dried leaves. It's quite pleasant and extremely approachable, a wine that will dink nicely now with hearty stews or boiled meats, but that will also age well for many years. It will bring joy to the table, and is a wine that will support what it is served with superlatively, offering you all sorts of things to think about, if you want to, but not taking center stage the way Capitel Olmi would.
92

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2006
Lively black cherry with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is intense and rather young, with greenish vegetal accents that bring to mind those of the 06 Monte Olmi, though they are not quite as intense, and yellow peach fuzz too, as well as berry fruit. It makes one feel as if one has walked in upon a girl who was dressing, and though she is presentable isn't quite ready yet. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by date and brown sugar sweetness, and supported by tannins that have a warm greenish burr and flow into a clean bright slightly greenish prune plum finish with savory tannic underpinning. It's surprisingly scrappy for a big wine, and brings to mind the well muscled grace of a classical dancer; one could drink it now with a steak or a roast, but to do so would be an infanticide; it will show much better in another 3-6 years, and will age well for a decade at least.
93

Taken as a group, the Capetel Monte Olmi wines display considerably more finesse than the basic Amarone Classico wines, and this comes as no surprise. What did surprise me a little was the marked difference between the 90s vintages of Capitel Monte Olmi and those made after 2000, which are considerably darker, and also display more concentration and richer fruit -- especially the 2004, which is almost over the top. While I liked the more recent wines, and found them to be more approachable than their older siblings, I found the older wines more interesting; they are more reserved, and demand more concentration on the part of the taster, but I found them to display more finesse and have a little more to say. In short, they are more serious. This may in part be vintage variation; 2004 and 2006 were both fairly hot, whereas the 2005, which was from a cooler, wetter summer, displayed a greater affinity with the older wines.

With regards to the Amarone Classico, I very much enjoyed the 1998, a vintage that received scant attention out of the blocks, as it came on the heels the unendingly sunny, dry 1997 vintage that was at the time haled as the vintage of the decade if not of the century. And it was impressive then, displaying unusual concentration and richness, but with the passage of time it has begun to resemble an aging weight lifter, who is still muscular but no longer boasts the tight physique he had in his prime. The 98, by way of contrast, has emerged with time.

Another Tedeschi Vertical: La Fabriseria

Friday, January 14, 2011

Caparzo Celebrates its 40th Anniversary With Two Verticals


Tenuta Caparzo has always struck me as somehow eternal; though a great many Brunello labels have appeared over the years, I cannot remember ever not seeing their rather distinctive label in wine shops. So I was somewhat surprised to receive an invitation to the celebrations for their 40th anniversary this fall.

Since they are best known for reds -- they are a Montalcino estate, after all -- I expected a Brunello vertical, but we began with Le Grance, a white, and that was another surprise.

Caparzo introduced the wine to show that Tuscany, which isn't known for its whites, is indeed capable of making an ageworthy white, and Vittorio Fiore oversaw the production of the first vintage in 1985.

It comes from a south-southeast sloping vineyard with clayey-sandy soils planted to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Traminer. The respective percentages in the vineyard are 70, 20, and 10, while the percentages of the varietals in the wine vary from vintage to vintage, depending upon the productivity of the vines. The harvest is generally in late August or early September, picking everything together and basing themselves on the Chardonnay; by comparison with it the Sauvignon is usually slightly less ripe, thus conferring with more acidity, whereas the Traminer is a bit riper, and confers richness. The grapes cryomacerate for 48 hours, and then they take the free-run must and barrel ferment it for 10-12 days; fermentation is followed by 3-4 months of battonage, which is daily for the first 2 months and weekly for the remainder.

Tenuta Caparzo Le Grance IGT 2007
Charged brassy gold with brilliant brassy reflections. The bouquet is powerful and quite elegant, with rich white berry fruit laced with bitter butterscotch, gunflint, and lively mineral acidity; as it opens some gooseberry also emerges coupled with vanilla, but the Sauvignon is primarily contributing acidity and facets, not playing a primadonna. Quite charged and very intense, with some vegetal accents as well. A lot going on and a great deal of power. Impressive and quite young. On the palate it's ample and quite smooth, with languid minerality supported by slight bitterness and warm lemony acidity that flow into a clean savory finish with citric underpinning. Graceful, and has a lot to say in a surprisingly delicate key, given the power of the nose. It's a wine that will drink nicely now with flavorful fish, or creamy dishes, but that also has the wherewithal to age for a number of years.
90
Tenuta Caparzo Le Grance IGT 2002
Brassy gold with bright brassy reflections; it's a little less charged than the 2007. The bouquet is elegant, and quite savory, with spice and petroleum mingled with minerality and gunflint; beautiful harmony and a wine with many facets to plumb; it's one of those wines that continues to evolve in the glass. On the palate it's rich, with elegant minerality and considerable lemony fruit that has a slightly languid feel, and flows into a clean bright citric finish that gradually fades into cedary bitterness. It's defter than the 07, and also more agile because its acidity is higher, and is very pleasant; if you like older whites from cooler vintages you will enjoy it very much.
92
Tenuta Caparzo Le Grance IGT 1996
Lively brassy gold with brilliant brassy reflections. The bouquet is delightful, with minerality mingled with mineral and citric acidity, slight bramble, hints of petroleum, and many more facets. Extraordinary harmony and complexity; sniffing it is like listening to a Beethoven sonata, when the notes are playing and you suddenly realize you've stopped doing whatever you were doing and have been captured by the music. On the palate it's full, with rich bright lemony acidity that has some sour lemon accents, and pleasingly full mouthfeel, with slight dusky savory tannic bitterness, flowing into a clean fresh very long citric finish. It's a white of a kind one rarely finds in Tuscany, and that is nice to simply sit and talk with. Your friends won't think you're strange because they'll be talking with their glasses too.
93

Tenuta Caparzo Le Grance IGT 1993
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. One wouldn't guess it's 17. The bouquet is rich, with white berry fruit and some gooseberry laced with honey -- it's sweeter than the younger wines, because 1993 was very hot until mid-September, resulting in considerable ripeness that knocked back the acidity-- with pleasant savory vegetal accents as well. It's not quite as elegant as the 96, but is very nice. On the palate it's ample and full, with honey laced lemony fruit supported by moderate savory minerality that flows into a fairly long lemon laced finish with slight savory bitterness on the one hand and some sweetness on the other; it's softer than the 96, and this is again a result of the hotter vintage. Quite elegant, and as I said of the color, I wouldn't have guessed it was 17. A very nice wine.
90

We continued with several vintages of Caparzo's Brunello La Casa

The original nucleus of Vigneto La Casa, 2.8 hectares planted to 2800 vines/hectare, was purchased in 1977. In 1986 they planted several more hectares to 4800 vines/hectare, which entered production in 1993, and in 2000 they replanted the original nucleus to a higher density as well. At present the entire vineyard is in production, with yields inferior to 70 quintals/hectare, which are fairly low.
Tenuta Caparzo Brunello La Casa 1997
Fairly deep black almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, in a dusky key, with warm balsam-laced cherry fruit and hints of leaf tobacco with some underlying leather as well, and deft mineral acidity. Quite intense, and pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by fairly intense sour cherry acidity, and by tannins that have a dusky burr and flow into a clean rather tannic finish; the fruit fades a little more quickly than I might have expected, flowing quickly into tannic bitterness. It's quite pleasant, but is more a food wine than a wine to sip far from the table now, because of the way the fruit fades into bitterness -- a bitterness that will work beautifully with a steak. If I had a case I would age some, but also drink some now.
2 stars

Tenuta Caparzo Brunello La Casa 1993
This was a somewhat weaker vintage -- it rained heavily for several weeks starting September 23 -- and the wine is deep almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with brambly accents and leaf tobacco mingled with some minerality and some India ink. It's mature, and quite pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and smooth tannins that do have a heart of steel, and flow into a clean fairly rich sour cherry finish. It has held much better than the 97, and though one could age it further will drink very well now with a steak or roast, and if you like the style will drink nicely by the glass as well. Quite pleasant, and a pleasant surprise as well; given the vintage I had expected less.
92

Tenuta Caparzo Brunello La Casa 1985
Deep brownish almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is elegant, and quite mature, with dusky Moroccan leather and some leaf tobacco supported by savory accents and sea salt. Beautiful balance and depth, a most impressive wine. On the palate it's full, and rich, with silky cherry fruit laced with hints of saddle leather and savory notes, and supported by smooth silky sweet tannins that flow into a clean savory finish. Tremendous depth and elegance, and an absolute delight to drink. As a fellow taster said, the wine was worth the journey.
94-5

Tenuta Caparzo Brunello La Casa 1979
The first vintage with barriques -- the wine was in them for a year -- followed by botti. The wine is deep almandine with black reflections and almandine rim paling to orange. The bouquet is mature, with balsamic warmth and savory accents supported by some leathery notes and savory sea salt, and also slight leaf tobacco. On the palate it's full, and savory, with fairly rich balsam laced berry fruit supported by savory notes and some balsamic acidity, while the tannins are fairly smooth, but do display a burr, and flow into a clean rather dusky savory finish with leathery balsamic overtones. It is fully mature, and though I doubt it will improve further it will hold for a few more years.
2 stars
The Le Grance was an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

Of the Brunellos, both the 93 and the 85 were quite nice, and though I didn't expect the 93 to show as well as it did, I wasn't at all surprised by the 1985, because it comes from one of the sunniest falls I can remember, one beautiful day after another. The 97 was instead a bit of a let down; at the time it was haled as the vintage of the century, but with time the many of the wines that seemed then to show so much promise have turned out to be somewhat over the top, in a determined muscular sort of way in which finesse and elegance give way before brute force. This wasn't as obvious here as it has been in other 1997 wines I have tasted, but it was present, and isn't going to go away.

Many thanks to Tenuta Caparzo for an extremely interesting pair of verticals, and here's wishing them equal success in their next 40 years!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Anteprime Toscane 2011: A Humble Request to the Organizers

The presentations of Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino are nearing, and we have recieved the programs for the events. Which contain some surprises; in past editions the Chianti Classico tasting took place over two days, with tables for journalists to sit at, and sommeliers to pour the wines. This is the best way to work, as one can simply concentrate upon what one has in one's glass, and not loose time going to fetch more samples.

The first day of this year's event will follow this pattern, but the second will not; rather, the tasting will be stand-up only, in a hall with the winemakers pouring their wines, and while this sort of thing is fine for the general public, it will make critical tasting very difficult.

In Montalcino, on the other hand, there will be a conference on the evolution of Italian winemaking, which will take place during the main tasting session, but in another building. Therefore we will be forced to choose, and since I know the pace at which I taste wines and (roughly) the number of wines I will want to taste, I also know I won't be going to the conference. A pity, because it would have been interesting.

I'm not the only person concerned by the changes, and following sugestions from many people, Franco Ziliani wrote up a long note that Stefano Tesi compressed, and that we have all signed.

Cari organizzatori delle anteprime del Chianti Classico, del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano e del Brunello di Montalcino, vi ringraziamo per averci invitati a partecipare, dal 15 al 19 febbraio, alle degustazioni delle nuove annate dei vostri vini. E’ sempre un piacere tornare in Toscana.

Ci attendono faticose giornate di degustazione, a cui vorremmo dedicare tutto l’ impegno e la professionalità possibili.

I campioni da degustare sono però tantissimi e il tempo disponibile è molto meno rispetto al passato.

A Firenze infatti, nella seconda giornata del Chianti Classico, non si potranno più assaggiare tutti i vini come nella prima, seduti e con il servizio dei sommelier, ma dovremo girare fra i tavoli dei produttori.

A Montalcino ci viene chiesto invece di sacrificare una parte del tempo per seguire un’iniziativa interessante, prevista nello stesso momento in cui ci dovremmo trovare a degustare: la mattina di venerdì 18 è in programma dalle 10 alle 13 il talk show “150 anni d’Italia, 150 anni di Brunello”, al quale parteciperanno “molti protagonisti della produzione del vino in Italia e a Montalcino”. Obbligatorio quindi scegliere tra gli assaggi (motivo principale della nostra presenza a Montalcino) e l’approfondimento. Lo stesso dilemma si ripropone sabato 19, quando alle 11 (mentre noi saremo in degustazione dalle 9.30) al Teatro degli Astrusi si farà “un’approfondita disamina dell’annata 2010”.

Che fare, dunque?

Difficile pensare che, già stampati i programmi, si possa cambiare qualcosa in corsa, come spostare il talk show di Montalcino al pomeriggio alle 15 o, a Firenze, o consentirci di degustare seduti ai tavoli durante la seconda giornata della Chianti Classico Collection.

Noi firmatari di questo appello, senza alcun intento polemico, vogliamo però sperare che riuscirete comunque a fare qualcosa.

Seguono le nostre firme in rigoroso ordine alfabetico.

And here is Nicolas Belfrage's translation of Stefano's tightening:

Tuscan en primeur tastings 2011: Submission to Organisers

Dear Organisers of the 2011 en primeur tastings of Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino,

We thank you for the invitation to participate in the tastings, from February 15 to 19, of the new releases of your wines. It is always a pleasure, for those of us who do not live in Tuscany, to return there from all parts of the world, and for those of us who do live there to attend these by now classic tastings. We look forward to several tiring but rewarding days of tasting, days to which we undertake to devote our full commitment and professionalism. However, the number of samples to be tasted are many (even though, most regrettably, a growing number of important producers decline to submit their wines), and the time available for tasting is much reduced compared with previous years. In Florence, for example, during the second day of the Chianti Classico tasting, it will no longer be possible to taste the samples seated, with sommelier service, but we will be obliged to tour round the producers’ tables. In Montalcino, indeed, we are asked to sacrifice a substantial section of the time available to attend an interesting meeting on “150 years of Italy, 150 years of Brunello”, in which “many protagonists of the production of wine in Italy and in Montalcino” will be participating. We are thus constrained to make a choice between tasting (which after all is the principal motive for our presence in Montalcino) and the presentation. The same dilemma presents itself on Saturday 19th, when at 11:00 we will have to interrupt our tasting (in which we will have been engaged only since 9:30) to attend the Teatro degli Astrusi for “an indepth examination of the 2010 vintage”. What can be done about this? It will obviously be difficult (though not impossible), now that the programmes have been printed, to make changes, such as delaying the Montalcino presentations until later in the afternoon, or, in Florence, or to allow us to continue tasting seated at tables during the second day of the Chianti Classico Collection. We the undersigned, however, without wishing to create problems, would like to hope that you will succeed in finding some solution.

Juancho Asenjo, Nicolas Belfrage, Riccardo Farchioni, Roberto Giuliani, Carlo Macchi, Gianluca Mazzella, Kyle Phillips, Eckhart Supp, Stefano Tesi, Franco Ziliani.



Juancho Asenjo
Nicolas Belfrage
Riccardo Farchioni
Roberto Giuliani
Carlo Macchi
Gian Luca Mazzella
Willie Nile
Kyle Phillips
Eckhard Supp
Stefano Tesi
Franco Ziliani.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Chianti Rufina: The 2009 Vino D'Annata, the 2008 Riserva &... Burgundy

The 2010 chianti Rufina presentation began with what many might consider a risky comparison: six 2007 Chianti Rufina wines (5 Riserva, and one not), and six 2007 Burgundies. Six good Burgundies, and those who say that a good Burgundy is the finest wine in the world would likely have expected the comparison to be rather pointless, a "best and the rest" sort of situation. But it wasn't; rather, we enjoyed a view of two very different areas with very different winemaking traditions.

Burgundy has always been sought after by the nobility, who over the centuries went to extreme lengths to get hold of the region's wine, and from early on took steps to promote quality and differentiate from place to place within the region.

Chianti Rufina, on the other hand, was recognized as a wine producing region of quality by Cosimo III de'Medici in the early 1700s, but was never the subject of systematic attempts to improve the wines, and one of the ways that the differences between the two appellations shows most strongly is vineyard age: The wines from Burgundy that we tasted were from vineyards that were at least 40 years old, and in some cases much older, up to 80.

The Montesodi vineyard, which yields the Frescoobaldi Cru that was among the Rufina wines, was instead planted a mere 15 years ago because the last time the vineyard had been replanted before then it had been planted to lower densities, with vines that produced more quantity than quality. The situation is similar over much of Rufina; the wines are almost all from relatively young vineyards planted to rectify poor decisions of the past, and this neatly reveals the primary viticultural difference between the two regions: Burgundy has been farmed for quality for centuries, whereas Rufina (like much of the rest of Italy) has only recently begun to emphasize quality over quantity. In short, the Italians are playing catch-up. But doing so very well, as the tasting showed.

The other obvious difference the tasting revealed was in varietals; Burgundy is exclusively Pinot Noir and is universally considered to provide the finest expression of Pinot Noir bar none. Rufina is instead home to the classic Tuscan Sangiovese blend, which revolves around Sangiovese (a varietal that does display some tannic affinities with Pinot Noir) with uve complementari, or supporting varietals that include the autochthonous Canaiolo and Colorino, and also can include international varietals, especially the Cabernets and Merlot.

How do they compare? Not particularly well. Pinot Noir, especially in its Burgundy expression, revolves primarily around finesse; it's an essential wine that would be too much were one to add a jot, and not enough were one to remove one. In other words, it's a balancing act, suspended high above the ground. Sangiovese and its allies in Rufina work in a different direction, displaying finesse, but also power, and playing off a balance between fruit, acidity and tannin that is very different from what Pinot does, but not necessarily inferior. If one were to borrow from the musical world, Burgundy grabs an instrument and plays a solo (for some reason the clarinet comes to mind), whereas Rufina gathers a group of instruments and plays a concerto. Very different expressions, but both can be sublime.

A couple of words on the vintage:
For Chianti Rufina 2007 was good, though unusual at the outset, with an early spring followed by a long, hot, but not too dry summer. I found the resulting wines to be rather nervous upon release, but they have developed quite nicely, with rich fruit supported by lively acidities and tannins, and think they have nice aging potentials as well.

In Burgundy, we were told, things didn't go as well: the spring came early, but the summer was cool and rather damp, and the resulting vintage was "difficult;" a fellow taster with much more experience with Burgundy than I have said it was a vintage of comparatively low acidity, adding that higher acidity vintages are better. Of course difficult is not disastrous and indeed the vintage offered, we were told, an opportunity for top winemakers to draw the most from their lands, and achieve the sort of deftness and finesse that don't come in richer vintages. In other words, difficult can be good (even with lower acidities), and indeed the Burgundies we tasted were very good.

As were the Chianti Rufinas. We began with them:

Tenuta Bossi - Marchesi Gondi Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007
Deep black almandine ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and flinty, on the outset, with cherry notes and some jammy accents and some mineral acidity that emerge with time, and also hints of smoke. Quite mineral, and rather distant; it's not closed but not welcoming either. Keeps its distance and displays considerable reserve. On the palate it's ample, with fairly bright cherry fruit supported by lively acidity and by distinct minerality, and is supported by tannins that have a fairly intense burr, and flow into a rather bitter finish with soft cherry underpinning and fair acidity. It's a bit awkward, fresh from the bottle, but as it opens in the glass develops nicely in a decidedly traditional key, with acidity carrying nicely. It impressed me, considerably, because though my first impression was so-so, when I resipped it it made me open my eyes and take notice
2 stars

Frascole Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007
This is from the highest vineyard in Rufina, at 500 m ASL. Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim with hints of almandine as well. The bouquet is powerful, and rather dusky, with red berry fruit supported by considerable underbrush and some spice, and also savory balsamic notes and sea salt, and hints of petroleum that are a little unusual in a red wine but work well. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful brambly cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and a fair amount of warmth, and by steely greenish tannins that are still quite young, but have begun to smooth, and flow into a long decidedly bitter finish. It's very young, and needs time, and the bitterness plays a fundamental role in the wine; it will always be there, and if you like bitterness in a wine you will like the wine. If you prefer wines that are more welcoming and fruity -- the bitterness is standoffish -- it will work less well for you. It will in any case be quite long lived, and really isn't ready to be drunk yet -- I would give it another 2-3 years before opening it.
2 stars

I Veroni Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and quite mineral, with brambly accents and bitterness more than fruit; it has a certain distance to it at first swish, though with more swishing some berry fruit and wet tree bark emerge. Quite young. On the palate it's bright, and tightly woven, with fairly rich very mineral berry fruit supported by mineral acidity and tannins that are clean and bitter, with pencil shaving and graphite overtones, and flow into a clean rather bitter finish. Pleasant, in a decidedly mineral key, and if you like the style, which is well removed from the fruity fullness of a ripe Merlot, you will enjoy it considerably. A pleasant discovery, and it will drink very well with grilled or roasted meats.
88-90

Lavacchio Cedro Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections. The b is young and quite oaky, with considerable sweetish cedar overlying cherry ft; the combination is harmonious, but not as well defined as it might have been with less oak. On the palate it's ample and fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that have a sweet vanilla laced burr and flow into a clean rather bitter finish in which vanilla again emerges rather strongly. It's heavily oaked, and is quite good in that style, but you have to like it. I found the oak a bit much for my tastes.
2 stars

Marchesi De' Frescobaldi Montesodi Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and quite ripe, with savory notes mingled with slightly stewed berry fruit that has some prune overlay, and some minerality and some wet leather as well. It gives an impression of being in mid stride. On the palate it's further along and quite rich, with powerful ripe cherry prune fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that are quite smooth, though they have a slight burr to them, and flow into a clean fairly rich cherry finish. It's quite pleasant and eminently approachable, with deft acidity keeping it light on its toes, and it will drink very well with roasts or stews now, and also age nicely for quite some time. Very pleasant, and if you like the style, which is middle-of-the-road in an approachable key, you will enjoy it. It doesn't quite give a come-hither look, but almost.
2 stars

Selvapiana Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich cherry fruit supported by some minerality and deft floral accents. Very pleasant, and displays great finesse. On the palate it's rich, with clean mineral-laced cherry fruit supported by slightly brambly mineral acidity and by tannins that are quite smooth and flow into a clean bright berry fruit finish with tannic underpinning. Quite harmonious, and though it's quick to write there's a lot going on. It's quite young, but drinkable, and will work nicely with grilled meats or roasts if you lack the patience to give it time. If you do, it will richly reward you. Expect it to age 10-15 years at least.
90-92

Burgundy:

Givry Domaine de la Ferté 2007 baron Thenard/Domaines Deviliard
Pale almandine with hints of orange in the rim. The bouquet is elegant, and quite rich, with powerful floral notes, with strawberry and cherry fruit supported by a certain sweetness - almost pastry shop - and spice. Quite graceful in a rich and rather voluptuous key. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour strawberry cherry fruit supported by lively acidity and a degree of sweetness, and by graceful, deft tannins that flow into a clean fairly tart finish that continues at length. It's quite fresh, and quite young, and will also age nicely though one could certainly drink it now.
2 stars

Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Fuéès 2007 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod
Pale almandine with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up slightly candied fruit and some jammy accents with a fair amount of greenish spice. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly bright sour cherry fruit supported by lively berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are delicate and savory, with a slight burr, and flow into a clean fairly bright tannic finish. Pleasant, and quite deft; it's also quite young, and the nose is somewhat behind the palate, while the tannins are fairly strong, and emerge over the fruit. It's a wine that comes across as slightly thin, but I would expect it to do very interesting things with time because its minerality and acidity are both quite nice. .
2 stars

Volnay 1er Cru La Carelle Sous La Chapelle 2007 Jean-Marc Boillot
Slightly darker pale almandine ruby. The nose is powerful, and by comparison with the first two a bit rustic, with intense balsamic notes, sea salt and lathered horse, and also savory warmth. A lot going on in what I would call a traditional key were it Italian, and pleasant if you like the style. On the palate it's rich, with powerful cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and tannins that are quite young and rather glancing--steely even, flowing into a decidedly mineral finish with some brambly accents and underlying bitter acidity. Quite pleasant, and very fresh, and if you like the style you will enjoy it very much; it's a deft wine that has a willowy quality to it, and will do interesting things as it ages.
90

Pommard 1er Cru Les Jarollières 2007 Jean-Marc Boillot
Cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with decidedly savory berry fruit laced with some minerality, balsamic accents, and wet leaves, with hints of scalded milk as well. On the palate it's medium bodied and graceful, with bright sour cherry fruit supported by strawberry acidity and tannins that have a deft burr and flow into a clean bright sour berry fruit finish with lasting warmth and savory notes. Quite fresh, and will drink very well with red meats.
88-90

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Cherbandes 2007 Domaine Louis Boillot & Fils
Fairly pale cherry ruby with black reflections and hints of almandine in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cherry strawberry fruit supported by sweetish balsamic accents, and by some leather as well; it takes longer to open than some of the others, but displays considerable finesse with time. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by bitterness and spice, and considerable minerality; it flows into a clean rather savory finish with some spicy berry fruit underpinning. It needs, perhaps more than the others, more time to develop.
2 stars

Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru aux Perdrix 2007 Domaine des Perdix
Fairly rich cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is elegant, with rich violets and floral accents, and by red berry fruit, and some brambly notes as well. Very pleasant to sniff, and quite harmonious. On the palate it's ample, with rich cherry fruit laced with strawberry notes and supported by deft acidity and minerality, while the tannins are quite smooth and flow into a clean slightly bitter berry fruit laced finish. Though young the wine is quite approachable and very pleasant to drink. Very nice and though one could drink it now it will reward those who have the patience to give it time. It will age beautifully for many, many years.
90-92

The next day we moved to the seat of the Chianti Rufina Consorzio in Villa Poggio Reale, an elegant Renaissance villa overlooking the town of Rufina, and tasted through the current vintages, both the 2009 Vino D'Annata and the 2008 Riserva. I confess I am still getting a feel for the 2009; it strikes me as being a bit inconsistent, with some very fine wines and others that don't quite reach the same heights, and is a wine in which the hand of the winemaker plays an important role. Climate did play a role in this, because July was quite hot, and in some areas stressed the vines.

2008? Last year I said it was good but slightly inferior to 2007, and I still have that impression; it's a solid vintage, and one that yielded some excellent wines. I would rather not say much more yet, because the wines we tasted were very young -- in bottle, but not released -- and though I did score them in many cases I felt like I was judging toddlers.

As was the case last year the wines were presented palese, or uncovered, and I have listed them in the order in which they appear in the Consorzio's catalog.

Colognole

Colognole Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. Fresh bouquet, with lively brambly berry fruit supported by fairly bright cherry acidity and some graphite shaving bitterness. Quite fresh. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by mineral acidity and tannins that have a brambly burr and flow into a fairly long bitter finish. Quite approachable in a food oriented key; the tannins are a little too dry for one to drink it by the glass, but it will work very well with simple grilled meats or light roasts. A food wine.
2 stars

Colognole Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Black almandine ruby with black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with berry fruit supported by some greenish accents and moderate spice with hints of cedar as well. Fairly direct. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense sour cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that are warm and rather splintery. It's very young, and still coming together; it needs at least a year and perhaps more. Judging it now is like judging an unhappy toddler.

Frascole

Frascole Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively pale ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is rich, with powerful cherry and forest berry fruit supported by pleasing vegetal accents and deft sour berry fruit acidity; it's quite fresh and quite refreshing, a wine that invites repeated sniffs. On the palate it's rich, and medium bodied, with full powerful cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish with slight bitter underpinning. Graceful, and will drink very well with foods, will also age nicely for 5-8 years or more. Worth seeking out.
90

Frascole Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black almandine ruby. The bouquet is quite elegant, with deft minerality and berry fruit mingled with bitter accents and some intriguing vegetal notes. Great finesse. On the palate it's ample and quite smooth, with rich cherry plum fruit supported by mineral acidity and smooth sweet tannins that have some graphite shaving bitterness and a tantalizing languidity to them, and flow into a clean deft cherry plum finish. Quite pleasant, though young, and revolves more around finesse than power, though it has that too. Worth seeking out to drink with a roast (rare roast beef thickly sliced would be nice) or stew, and will also age nicely for a decade or more.
88-90

Azienda Agricola Il Prato

Azienda Agricola Il Prato Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with some cherry fruit and spice mingled with slight peppery accents and hints of vanilla. On the palate it's medium bodied, with moderately intense rather sour fruit supported by tannins that have a warm burr, and flow into a rather dusky finish. It's fairly direct, and is the sort of wine one sets out on the table and drinks while enjoying the food; it will support what it's served -- simple grilled meats, light stews, meat-based pasta dishes, beany dishes -- with but doesn't demand the limelight.
1 star

Villa Travignoli

Villa Travignoli Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fresh, with fairly rich cherry fruit that has slight candied accents supported by violets and some acidity, with vegetal accents too. Bracing in a very youthful key. On the palate it's fresh, and fairly light, with moderately intense berry fruit supported by mineral acidity and by tannins that gain depth from a slight burr, and flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. A pleasant food wine that will do a very fine job accompanying hearty soups such as ribollita, rich dishes such as fagioli all'uccelletto (or a meaty lasagna) and also quickly grilled meats. Expect it to go quickly.
2 stars

Travignoli Tegolaia Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Livley black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cedar and some brambly vegetal notes, but not much in the way of fruit, and it gives an impression of dryness. On the palate it's medium bodied with moderately intense cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that have a brambly glancing burr and flow into a clean rather savory finish. It's approachable, and direct, and will drink well with foods, in particular simple grilled meats. It's just that I would expect a little more richness and direction of a Riserva.
1 star

Azienda Agricola Le Coste

Azienda Agricola Le Coste Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Deep pyrope ruby with cherry ruby rim; it's almost poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, with a vegetal laced spice supporting moderate cherry plum fruit with hints of butterscotch as well. The palate is defter than I expected, and rather light, with fairly sweet, bright cherry plum fruit supported by moderate mineral acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a savory finish with some graphite shaving bitterness. It's quite direct, but has a pleasant cheekiness to it, and will drink well with red sauced pasta dishes, simple grilled meats, and similar. You may wonder where the bottle went.
1 star

Le Coste Grati Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet powerful and decidedly green; it brings to mind a cut pumpkin, and there is also some warmth and alcohol. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense sour cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit and savory accents, and by fairly smooth tannins that flow into a rather dry tart finish. It's quite particular, especially the nose, and is therefore a wine you should only consider if you like the style.
1 star

Montulico - Cantina Sociale VI.C.A.S.

Montulico Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Deep cherry ruby with black reflections and purple rim. The bouquet is quite fresh, with rather voluptuous dusky cherry fruit supported by some smoky notes and jammy acidity, with a slight vegetal underpinning. A cheeky wine. On the palate it's a touch sweeter than I expected and very fresh, with clean rich sour cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh cherry finish that gains depth from acidity and slight peppery accents from the tannins. Quite pleasant in a young, smooth, cheeky fruit driven key, and also quite direct; it's very approachable and if you like fruity lively wines -- there's nothing studied or polished about it, rather it brings to mind a kid twirling on a meadow -- you will enjoy it, and it will work quite well with simple grilled meats or light stews and such. Worth seeking out. If you like the style.
2 stars

Dreolino

Dreolino Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Deep pigeon blood ruby with black reflections and purple rim. The bouquet is closed, with some mineral accents and some savory notes, coupled with hints of sour cherry that I would have liked stronger. On the palate it's fairly bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by sour mineral acidity and by tannins that are rather brambly and become dry in the finish, which also has sour cherries and some savory accents. To be frank, I would have liked more, especially on the nose, which has a stunted feel to it, and I think I would give it a year more in the hopes that the nose will evolve. The score reflects the present.
1 star

Fattoria Di Basciano

Fattoria di Basciano Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cherry fruit supported by considerable savory cedar and some spice; it's a bit disjointed and coming together, in a fairly promising international key. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly bright slightly greenish cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and tannins that have a warm savory burr, and a bitter underpinning as well that flows into a savory tannic finish. It's a bit disjointed, with the tannic structure feeling larger than the fruit it was built to surround, and as a consequence there is a degree of emptiness to it; I would have liked more fruit.
1 star

Fattoria di Basciano Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep pyrope ruby with purple rim. The bouquet is intense, with berry fruit laced with a fair amount of savory cedar and some spice; it's quite young, and needs another year to come together. On the palate it's full, with fairly rich prune fruit supported by moderate mineral acidity and by tannins that start out quite smooth, but then reveal a splintery cedar-laced burr that continues into a fairly dry finish with a slight bitter underpinning. It's still quite young and rather out of sorts; it needs a year for the tannins to begin to smooth, and then will be approachable in a ripe fruit driven fairly international key. If you like the style you will enjoy it, but if you instead prefer more traditional, tarter, more aggressive Sangiovese, you will find it soft.
1 star

Fattoria di Grignano

Fattoria di Grignano Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections.. The bouquet is fairly rich, with cherry fruit supported by brambles and some vegetal accents; it's a bit green. On the palate it's rather aggressive, with greenish berry fruit supported by greenish acidity and by tannins that have a peppery burr and flow into a fairly bright peppery finish. It's a bit on the angry side, and if you like this rather aggressive style you will like it, but you have to like more aggressive wines. In terms of accompaniments, it will work well with succulent grilled meats or roasts, including fattier fare such as spare ribs or leg of lamb. Particular, and you will either like it or not.
1 star

Fattoria di Grignano Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black cherry with black reflections. the bouquet is powerful, with a great deal of cedar that overshadows fruit and most everything else. Oak in a glass. On the palate it's brighter than one might have expected on the outset, with berry fruit that has an unexpected sour component that manages to emerge, before being pulled back under by a cedary hand that continues into a decidedly cedar laced finish. A great lot of oak, and it's a pity, because there is fruit under it. Just that it doesn't manage to emerge.
1 star

Fattoria I Veroni

Fattoria I Veroni Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, and rather smoky, with some balsamic notes as well mingled into berry fruit. It's a bit rustic and not quite as clean as I might have liked. On the palate it's quite direct, with moderately intense cherry fruit supported by berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are fairly smooth, though they do display a slight peppery burr. It will drink well with foods, not distracting from what it's served with, and because of the tannic burr will be best with more succulent quikly grilled meats or light stews.
1 star

Fattoria I Veroni Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep pyrope with cherry rim -- close to being impenetrable. The bouquet is fairly intense, with berry fruit laced with a fair amount of cedar and some savory accents as well and a fair amount of alcoholic warmth. Fairly young, and still digesting the oak it went through, though as it opens fruit gains in intensity. On the palate it's fairly full, with moderately rich berry fruit supported by moderate sour berry fruit acidity, and by tannins that have a warm cedary burr and flow into a fairly hot, rather dry finish. There's a lot of oak, and the wine is trying to digest it but hasn't yet. Because of the peppery aggressiveness of the tannins, it will drink well with fattier roasts or stews. It needs time, a year at least, and isn't showing as well as it will.
1 star

Fattoria il Capitano - Azienda Agricola Balbi

Fattoria il Capitano Chianti Rufina DOCG 2008
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is a bit rustic, with savory balsamic notes and hints of wet horse, supported by some bramble and slight acidity, with mineral and underbrush undertones. On the palate it's moderately intense, with fairly bright sour cherry fruit supported by brambly acidity and very dry tannins that flow into a decidedly tannic finish that is rather dry. It's a bit dry, and a bit tannic, and also quite aggressive; if you like the style it will work quite well with fatty grilled meats, or mixed fried meats and vegetables, but you have to like the style. If you prefer smoother softer wines it won't work for you at all.
1 star

Fattoria il Capitano Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is moderately intense, with sour cherry fruit supported by some dried orange peel acidity and some spice, though not too much. On the palate it's light, with bright cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are fairly smooth, and flow into a sour cherry finish with tannic underpinning. Pleasant in a light, rather cheeky -- saucy, even -- sort of way; it will drink well with quickly grilled meats, red sauced pasta dishes, and also has the acidity necessary to work well with fried meats and vegetables. If you like more studied concentrated wines it won't work for you, but if you like the style it is pleasant and will go quickly.
2 stars

Fattoria il Lago

Fattoria il Lago Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fresh, with lively cherry fruit supported by violets and some sour berry cherry jam acidity that gains depth from slight vegetal accents. Bracing and fresh. On the palate it's light, with less acidity than I expected; the fruit is fresh sour cherry while the acidity is moderate, and the tannins are fairly smooth, with bitter undertones that carry into the finish. It's quite direct, and will accompany what it's served with without getting in the way.
1 star

Fattoria il Lago Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is dusky, with cherry fruit supported by cedar and some leathery accents, and also by some iodine and as it opens plum fruit as well, with underlying mint and spice. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins and moderately intense acidity, while there is also quite a bit of alcohol, which contributes to the sweetness that emerges on the palate, while the finish is fairly long, with cherry plum fruit. It's pleasant though very young, and needs another couple of years to get its bearings; at present it's a toddler stumbling, but it shows promise.
1 star

Fattoria Lavacchio

Fattoria Lavacchio Cedro Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is a bit disjointed, with smoky balsamic accents mingled with red berry fruit and savory notes that gain in intensity as it opens; it also becomes more harmonious. On the palate it's medium bodied, with moderately intense berry fruit supported by minerality more than acidity, and by tannins that have a distinctly bitter component to them. It's more settled than I might have liked because it's lacking in acidity.
1 star

Fattoria Lavacchio Cedro Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Impenetrable pyrope with black cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is charged, with a tremendous rush of hardwood ash and cedar with some savory accents and spice, but not much fruit -- it is likely there, but is completely overshadowed by the oak. The palate reflects the nose; it's quite powerful, with bitter savory oak that overshadows most everything else at the outset, and flows into a somewhat sweeter vanilla laced cedary finish in the end, more oak that continues to emerge. In its defense the wine is very, very young, but it still has a lot of oak it needs to digest. One judges what one has in front of one.
1 star

Fattoria Selvapiana

Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Pale cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with dusky berry fruit supported by savory notes and sea salt, and by pleasant herbal notes, while there is also a fair amount of alcohol. On the palate it's fresh, and deft, with fairly rich cherry plum fruit supported by mineral acidity and tannins that a warm savory burr and flow into a clean rather mineral finish. It's very young, and needs another year to get its bearings, but is quite pleasant, and will be worth waiting for.
2 stars

Marchesi Gondi - Tenuta Bossi

Marchesi Gondi San Giuliano Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is rich and fresh in a rather haunting way, with powerful jammy cherry fruit supported by dusky cherry acidity and a fair amount of alcohol; for some reason the bouquet makes me think of a voluptuous femme fatale. The palate is rich, but not as turgid as I might have hoped; there's fairly rich cherry fruit whose sweetness is tempered by savory notes, and there are pleasant smooth tannins, but there isn't quite as much acidity as I might have liked, and this makes it a tad settled. It will work quite well with foods, however, supporting what it's served with, without hogging the limelight.
2 stars

Marchesi Gondi Pian dei Sorbi Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim. Poured ink. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some spice mingled with berry fruit and slight cedar with some menthol and warmth, and quite a bit of alcohol as well. It's in mid stride and moving. On the palate it's ample, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by berry fruit acidity that confers brightness, and is balanced by dusky bitterness from the tannins that are smooth, fading into a fruit finish that gradually settles into black coffee bitterness. It's going in several directions at once, and though the aggregate total is quite promising the pieces are still circling each other warily and wondering how they'll all fit in. I would give it 2-3 years to get its act together, and expect it to age well for a decade at least. It will improve with respect to the present.
2 stars

Podere Il Pozzo - Cantine F.lli Bellini

Il Pozzo Chianti Rufina DOCG 2009
Lively cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with sour leathery berry fruit notes and some vegetal accents, it gives an impression of tartness. On the palate it's ample, with moderately intense sour berry fruit supported by tannins that have a peppery burr to them, and by moderately intense sour cherry acidity. It's a bit rustic, and rather particular, and you'll only like it if you like this style. If you prefer smoother more fruit driven wines, it won't work as well for you.
1 star

Podere il Pozzo Il Pozzo Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep pyrope ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is muted, though swishing brings up some cedar and fairly deft spice, supported by moderate spicy berry fruit. On the palate it's brighter than the nose would suggest, with fairly rich tart cherry fruit supported by sour berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have a dusky graphite shaving burr and considerable warmth, and flow into a tart decidedly tannic -- almost tongue-curling -- finish. It's in the throws of youth, and will be there for a couple of years, after which it will be pleasant in a fairly international key -- I think, because it does need time, both for the nose to catch up to the palate and match stride with it, and for the palate to develop. At present it's a work in progress.

Cantine F.lli Bellini Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by some bitter graphite shavings. Pleasant to sniff, and still quite young. On the palate it's medium bodied, with fairly bright cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean slightly greenish finish. Pleasant in a rather cheeky way, and will drink nicely with stews or roasts now, and also age well for a decade at least.
2 stars

Castello di Nipozzano - Marchesi De'Frescobaldi

Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is powerful, with a fair amount of cedar mingled with cherry fruit and some spice; it's deft, but also quite young, and a work in progress; at present the oak overshadows fruit to a degree. On the palate it's ample, and rather dusky, with fairly rich cherry fruit supported by moderate acidity and rather dusky tannins; it has a slightly dilute feel to it that I didn't expect, and the fruit seems to run away in all directions, like rivulets, and this is because of a certain shortness that resolves into bitter splintery tannins. It's a work in progress caught in a bad moment, and to give it the score now would be like grading a toddler in the throws of a temper tantrum.

Vigneto Montesodi Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cherry fruit supported by a fair amount of cedar and some berry fruit acidity; it's nicely balanced in a fairly rich rather international key. On the palate it's ample, with rich rather dusky cherry fruit supported by deft dusky berry fruit acidity and by tannins that are fairly smooth, but do have a dusky cedar-laced burr, and flow into a clean rather bitter finish. It's still very young, and needs another year to digest the oak, but promises well; it will work well with grilled meats or roasts, and also age nicely for a decade at least. But do give it time.
2 stars

Castello del Trebbio

Castello del Trebbio Lastricato Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2008
Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is deft, with elegant red berry - prune fruit supported by violets and slight alcohol with pleasant spice as well. On the palate it's full, with rich cherry plum fruit that gains depth from savory duskiness and tantalizing plum acidity that gradually emerges, and continues into the finish, while the tannins are quite smooth and quite deft. A very pleasant wine that will drink well with roasts or stews, and may also distract you from matters at hand; it's like a pretty girl who dresses simply and is quiet, but attracts attention simplyt by being there.
88-90