|Janet, Emil & Mark at tasting|
The wines we tasted were young, and thus a bit tight due to their youth. Most of the wines showed great pedigree and promise and will reward the drinker for a few years of patience whilst they mature.
2010 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo DOCG - Giovanni Manetti – What a way to start a tasting. Truly one of the great Chianti makers in all of Tuscany. The 2010 vintage has great depth and this wine demonstrated that today. Chianti Classico must contain a minimum of 80% Sangiovese by law. This vintage contains 95%, with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon making up the balance. The first sip shows off the wine’s finesse and pedigree. There is impeccable balance here, ripe fruit, albeit a bit light at the present time, good acidity and elegance. Tannins are still evident. I really enjoyed this wine and thought it was amongst the best drinking wines of the day. I would cellar this for another 3 to 4 years before drinking. The grapes are hand harvested from 30 years old vines and then fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts for at least 3 weeks. Aging takes place in Troncais and Allier barrels, 50% new, for 24 months. $86. Wine-Searcher.
2010 San Giusto a Rentennano Percarlo – Luca Martini di Cigala – Made from 100% estate grown Sangiovese grapes, especially selected bunch per bunch, from from vineyards whose soil dates predominately to the Pliocene epoch (that’s a long time). Fermentation with natural yeasts and maceration take place in enameled cement vats and last up to 35 days. The wine is then aged in French oak barriques for 20-22 months, bottled unfiltered and held in bottle for another 18 months before being released. The wine we drank had a compelling earthy boquet, soft tannins, wonderful vibrant fruit, good acidity for aging, excellent balance and complexity. The oak from the Barrique was very well integrated and the wine had a very nice finish. Give this 3 to 4 years in the cellar for the wine to mature. San Giusto a Rentennano, a name of Etruscan origin, overlooks the upper course of the Arbia River in the farthest south Chianti Classico wine zone. The estate began life as a medieval monastery of Cistercian nuns and was called San Giusto alle Monache (“of the Nuns”). $102. Wine-Searcher.
2010 Podere Forte Petrucci – Cristian Cattaneo – Made from 100% Sangiovese, this wine had a lovely translucent hue, good acidity and was nicely balanced. Despite the relatively high alcohol level (15%) the wine displayed a lovely feminine elegance on the palate and finish. I would suggest a few more years of cellar aging to give it more time to fully open. The wine is vinified in French oak vats and then aged in French Barrique barrels of 225 and 1500 litres for 16 months. The wine then is further aged in the bottle for 15 months before being released for sale. The wine does not appear to be available in the US. $71
2010 Antinori Tignanello – Marchese Piero Antinori – Probably one of the most famous and popular of the Super Tuscan wines. I have never been a big fan of Super Tuscan wines. I find them to be Italy’s answer to California wines that are made according to the Robert Parker formula for high points; deep dark color, over-extratction of fruit and high alcohol content. The 2010 vintage is a blend of 80% Sangiovesse, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. While this wine did not have the pronounced oak/vanilla palate usually indicative of this wine, I found it to be shallow and lacking finesse. It was however, if it is your thing, a very powerful and macho wine. At $97 a bottle, it is in my opinion one of the most overpriced wines on the market. Wine-Searcher.
2009 Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco – Maurizia Di Napoli – I have never been a big fan of this Super Tuscan wine as I find it quite a bit more modern in style, probably due to the use of Barrique in the aging process. I also am not a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignon of which this is 90% with Sangiovese and Merlot each making up an additional 5%. The Sangiovese is aged 18 months in Slavonian oak and the Cabernet and Merlot in barriques. The wine is then blended and bottle refined for eight months. Today’s tasting did little to change my opinion of the wine. While this particular bottle had nice acidity for aging it lacked depth and finesse. $86. Wine-Searcher.
2010 Agricola Querciabella Camartina – Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni. A more modern styled wine that is aged in Barrique, 80% of which is new. The oak from the new wood is however very well integrated yielding a fruity and elegant palate with soft tannins. Camartina is only made in high quality vintages and is a blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Sangiovese. The vineyards are located throughout Tuscany’s Chianti Classico and Maremma areas and have been Biodynamic since 1988. Grapes are destemmed, not crushed, and then placed in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. The best parcels go into concrete vats. While still a few years from maturity, I found the wine to have an enticing bouquet and a lively and fruity palate. There is very good pedigree here. $110. Wine-Searcher.
2010 Castello di Ama L'Apparita – Marco Pallanti. This estate is considered to be one of the finest in the Chianti Classico region. One sip of this wine gave me no reason to dispute that claim. As the wine sat in the glass and began to seductively evolve I became an immediate fan. While the winemaking methods seem to lean a bit towards the more modern style, on the palate it resonated of a great, traditionally made wine. The wine, first made in 1985, is crafted from 100% Merlot grapes that come from small parcels in the L’Apparita vineyard. The grapes are destemmed and then pressed before being fermented in stainless steel tanks, after which they are aged in 50% new Barrique and 50% once Barrique for 18 months. Today’s wine had a gorgeous nose and on the palate was round and delicious, displaying a seamless integration of finesse, depth and complexity. This wine is a good 5 years away from really showing its stuff. My only negative is that a price tag close to $200 a bottle is, in my opinion, much too high for this wine. Wine-Searcher.
2010 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia – Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta - The first Super Tuscan wine, it debuted in 1968. The premise behind Super Tuscan wines is to bring Bordeaux to Tuscany, by crafting wines with the grape varieties used to make Bordeaux wines. The wine quickly attained cult status and as a result it sells for around $200 a bottle. In my opinion they are not worth the hefty price tag. However if you like massive fruit forward wines, with pronounced oak, tannins and vanilla and that receive high scores, it may well be for you. Today’s wine did not change my mind. The 2010 is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The wine was aged in French oak barriques (40% new) for 24 months, then refined for 6 months in bottle before release. It was my least favorite of the tasting. Sassicaia’s success prompted the Italian government to grant the wine its own appellation, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC, beginning with the 1994 vintage. $192. Wine-Searcher.
2010 Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso – Cinzia Merli – Another of the more famous estates in Bolgheri, one of Italy's most prestigious vineyard areas. Its winemaking zone is made up of sloping coastal vineyards at the foot of the hills between the town of Bolgheri, after which this DOC is named, and the southern part of Castagneto. Located in close proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea, it has been described as 'the golden oasis of the Maremma' (an area of south-western Tuscany and northern Lazio). It is the home of the Super Tuscans. The varieties that put Bolgheri on the wine map are the Bordeaux trio Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Syrah, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot are also used. Le Macchiole focuses on Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. The 2010 Paleo is 100% Cabernet Franc. The wine had excellent depth, balance, finesse and lively fruit. For a wine that sees 75% new oak, the oak was very well integrated. I am a huge fan of Cabernet Franc, and while I enjoyed this wine very much I find that it lacked the elegance that one finds in Cab Franc wines from the Chinon and Saumur in France’s Loire Valley. A couple years patience will be rewarded here. $84. Wine-Searcher.
2010 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Ornellaia – Leonardo Raspini – Another Super Tuscan cult wine that is made from 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and dollops of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and aged in 70% new and 30% once-used Barrique for 18 months. The wine sees another year in the bottle before release. Never one of my favorite wines, this was very modern, overpowered by the oak and lacked depth and elegance. This is a cult wine you must pay dearly for, north of $200 in most instances, which is crazy in my opinion. Wine-Searcher.
2011 Tenuta di Trinoro Tenuta di Trinoro – Andrea Franchetti – Located in Siena, Andrea Franchetti is another of the cult Super Tuscan wine producers. The estate grows Bordeaux varietals, in lieu of Sangiovese, at high elevations (500-700m) on the slopes of Mount Aniata. The 2011 vintage is a blend of 90% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot and came in at a whopping 15.5% alcohol. As usual his production is very small and only 500 cases of this were made. The wine spent 5-6 months in 100% new oak barrels and then racked into cement, where they finished aging. I found the wine to have nice fresh fruit, good balance, a bit too much oak and a very rich palate. Antonio Galloni suggests serving the wine on the cool side, which will help keep the alcohols from being too aggressive. The wine will benefit from a couple of years in the cellar. As one might expect this cult wine is very expensive. $195. Wine-Searcher. Mr. Franchetti is also the owner of the Passopisciaro estate in Catania, Sicily, which produces one of my favorite Chardonnay’s, Guradiola which is widely available at $35 - $40.
In the evening our wives joined us for the gala winemakers dinner. It was quite an affair. The food was outstanding at the dinner that was preceded by a Champagne reception at which 2004 Taittinger Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne and Cedric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne NV Blanc de Noirs Les Ursules were poured. Unfortunately I missed the Bouchard, but the Taittinger was delicious.
We were seated with Marco Pallanti, owner and winemaker at Castello di Ama. Marco brought along six vintages of his wines and the rest of us each brought along some bottles to share. We enjoyed some great wines and for me it was my first time to taste the Bellavista Chianti, which I fell in love with. We drank:
Wines from Marco:
2006 Vigneto La Casuccia Chianti Classico is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. A very good wine, albeit a bit on the modern side. My least favorite of his wines.
2006, 2007, 1990 Bellavista. This is the flagship Chianti of the estate. A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Malvasia Nera, they each drank beautifully. The ’90 was firing on all cylinders and evolved with each sip. This was a beautifully crafted, round and delicious wine. The ’06 and ‘07 both will benefit from a few more years in the cellar and will in the future perhaps be as profound as the ’90.
2006, 2010 L’Apparita. Made from 100% Merlot. Two wines of finesse, depth and focus. As with all of the wines I kept going back to them to see how they evolved in the glass. I found no disappointments.
|With our host, Antonio Galloni|