Sangiovese in the UK

This page is a repository for tasting notes of wines predominantly made from the Sangiovese grape variety which are, or have been, available in the UK in early 2013.  I hope the selection has a charmingly whimsical air about it as it is, in the modern parlance, random.  This is partly because I have included some older bottles of Sangiovese tasted or drunk this spring.  Further, when I have attended larger, commercial tastings I have tended to head towards the names I am not familiar with.  Hence no notes on the no doubt very good or excellent Castello di Montsanto, Felsina or Poggio Scalette current releases.

Here are the main sections with featured wineries below:

A white diversion

Buriano, Toscana IGT, Fattoria Michi, 2011 – OK, this is not Sangiovese at all but in fact a white wine made from a version of Tuscany’s other historic grape variety, the normally dull Trebbiano Toscano. Buriano is said to be a biotype of Trebbiano, that is, a variety with same genetic make up as Trebbiano but different morphology.  We will leave it to the experts to tell us whether this makes it a different cultivar or not.  What is clearly different from the normal Trebbiano offering is the quality of the resulting wine:  pale lemon in colour with a hint of green, the nose is only of medium intensity (green fruit) but the palate is a real step up in intensity with its green plum, under-ripe melon and chalky minerality and (typical) mouth-cleansing acidity.  There is a typical Italian bitter touch and some lees-derived texture too. A striking wine with some real quality made from contained yields (60hl/ha) in stainless steel in the Montecarlo area north west of Florence.  £21  Compare and contrast with Capezzana’s oak-barrel fermented and lees stirred Trebbiano.  (Grossi Wines)  Chianti producer Monteraponi have started to produce Trebbiano from their 42 year old vines. In former times this would have been blended into red wine but perhaps we have the first stirrings of a Trebbiano comeback?

 

Romagna

Not all fine Sangiovese comes from Tuscany:

Sangiovese di Romagna riserva, Gallegati, 2007 – Gallegati, based near Faenza have just 7 hectares of vines and concentrate on producing just two riserva wines, this Sangiovese and a super-Romagnian Cabernet, Merlot and Sangiovese blend called Corallo Blu.  The Sangiovese is grown at 200m above sea level on marine clay of the pliocene era with the wine being matured in part (20%) in 500 litre new French oak, an interesting balance between new oak and quite a large volume of wine.  Classic savoury notes on the nose along with ripe sour cherry and blackberry fruit, has the intensity to live up to the ‘riserva’ tag and a fine bitter finish. Impressive.  (Grossi)

 

Carmignano

Villa Capezzana

I have indelibly good memories of a visit to this leading estate of the small Carmignano DOC west of Florence, so am undoubtedly predisposed towards their wines. But there is and continues to be real quality here.

Barco Reale 2010 – a lovely drinking wine, specifically introduced so at not to need or improve with long ageing; excellent fruit held in rein with tannins and acidity, very good.

Villa di Capezzana 2008 -  despite my aversion to Cabernet in most dominantly Sangiovese-blends, this wine tends to put off the trick admirably. It may be a matter of the clones as their has been Cabernet here da sempre as the Italians say, long before the Super Tuscan movement.  Despite the 20% Cabernet, the predominant note is red fruit, not black, plus sophisticated oaking, very good intensity and drinkability in a wine which can age for 20 years and more.

Trefiano, Carmignano riserva 2007 – I have never tasted this single vineyard wine before of which there are only 12,000 bottles from the available 4 hectares.  The blend here is tipped slightly towards the indigenous: 80% Sangiovese as before, but then 10% Canaiolo and 10% Cabernet, all aged in oak for three years.  Very intense and complex nose, sour red cherry and red plum, herbal and tobacco notes and more; the palate is more obviously Tuscan with a greater prominence on the structure and texture than just ripe fruit, though that is top quality. Outstanding. (Liberty Wines)

Chianti Rúfina

Il Lago

Il Lago Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCGThis is a new estate to me which is just above the town of Dicomano. They have a go at Pinot Noir here, just 10% of their production, which is pleasant and true to type but will only really be of interest in the local/national market.  Much more important are:

Chianti Rúfina 2010 – 100% Sangiovese, light, fragrant, classic refreshingly acidic sour cherries, very good length, decent value at around the £12 mark.

Chianti Rúfina riserva 2006 – for twice the money you can get this excellent riserva, now said to be 100% Sangiovese (there used to be 5% Cabernet), and aged in 50/50 new and used barriques. Outstanding meaty, savoury nose, great palate and tannins which will give this long ageing potential, very young still but full of promise.

Pian de Guardi 2008 – an attempt to ‘do an Amarone’ with the Sangiovese grape, ie to make wine from semi-dried berries. This is not taken to the extremes of Amarone, but two weeks of drying under fans, 10 days of maceration and a year of ageing in new French barriques produces a noticeably denser palate but the wine lacks something in fragrance and needs time to resolve those tannins.  You could only judge this wine fairly if you kept it for some years, decanted it and then tried it again.  (Grossi)

Fattoria Selvapiana

From the little known to the well-known.   Selvapiana is the portabandiera, the standard bearer for Rùfina, at least among the smaller family domains though it does have 70 hectares under vine.  It consistently produces fine, acidity driven, wines with tannic backbone which can age slowly for decades.  If you read Italian, here is an account of a vertical tasting of 2012 of a handful of vintages back to 1958.

Chianti Rùfina 2010 – effortlessly combines poise and bright sour cherry fruit, lightness and beauty.  There are so few wines today that aim for this and, fond though I am of Pinot Noir, not many that achieve it and certainly not at a price that ordinary mortals can contemplate (£12).  Outstanding.  Mostly Sangiovese but with a few per cent of Canaiolo.  The website is seriously out of date (perhaps it ages imperceptibly too) but the maturation used to be 30% in stainless steel, 50% in large barrels and 15% in barriques – and perhaps the Canaiolo accounts for the rest …)

Bucerchiale 2009 – a single vineyard riserva made from 100% Sangiovese and aged in barriques but 90% are second use or more.  Subtle rich oak notes around a powerful but elegant fruit core, big tannic structure for ageing, from a very good year, will be exceptional.  I find it difficult to imaging a better, more ageable wine at £21.

Chianti Classico

We start our Chianti selection with two old wines from private cellars – after all they are in the UK too!

Castello di Brolio

Chianti Classico DOCG 1999 – this declares itself to be Sangiovese on the bottle. (The wine has since become a blend of Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet and Merlot.)  Having said that it is quite deep in colour (medium plus) and so perhaps a few bunches of the early replantings with French varieties found their way into the blend – after I wrote this I was chuffed to learn that there was indeed 4% of Cabernet and Merlot in this year.  My rule of thumb is that above 5% the French varieties begin to overpower Sangiovese.  Below that they still make a difference to the colour.

The amber rim of the wine betrays its age. On the nose this bottle was not entirely clean, a sort of bretty, sweaty-saddle theme being detectable among the powerful sweet, chocolate and coffee notes, over black fruit.  Some of this will be genuine tertiary notes but the scene is set by oak ageing in expensive French barriques (18 months, 65% new barrels).  The palate is elegant and refreshing – high acidity, marked grippy tannins (after more than a decade) with more sour cherry and red fruit than black.  It is perhaps surprising that the fruit does not come over as even riper given the perfect conditions of spring rain and then a long, dry and hot season.   The finish is moderately long – the acidity and tannin being more prominent that the flavour.  The palate is the real thing – high quality Sangiovese – while the oaking is overly dominant on the nose for my liking.  Nicholas Belfrage neatly sidesteps the question of whether the Ricasoli family have given up on typicity for elegance and, one might add, impact … (Finest Wines of Tuscany, p. 98)  An impressive wine but in a clearly international style.

Brolio 1999Brolio rim

Isole e Olena

Ceparello, IGT Toscana, Isole e Olena, 1999 – this single bottle has been a long-term resident in my wine collection.  If in doubt, Isole e Olena’s Chianti Classico is close to a certainly as you can come to in the world of wine – elegant, floral, savoury, the young vintages bursting with refreshing acidity and meat-taming tannins; everything you could ask for in a glass of Tuscan red wine.  This wine is a selection of the top Sangiovese grapes, 100%, aged in French barriques. As a result it deviates from the old Tuscan mould of blending and neutral ageing but it does concentrate on the quality of Sangiovese fruit.

My tasting note was from a blind tasting of this single bottle bought from the Wine Society in 2002 and which has been stored in perfect conditions ever since:  medium plus intensity garnet in colour; a warm, medium to medium plus nose of sour cherry, plum and leather with true to type herby, tealeaf notes.  The palate is dry, with medium plus acidity, with similar grippy tannins. With the fruit on the palate are earthy notes.  Overall it is marked by richness, real intensity and length and a surprising youthfulness. But it is quite a tough number and even in early middle age still demands food as an accompaniment.  Having recently tasted the 2009 (see next paragraph) I suspect that, while 1999 was an excellent year, the ripeness of the fruit in the 2009 will make for more luxurious drinking in the years to come.

Isole e Olena – the new vintages

These two hamlets, Isole and Olena, or at least their names, must be among the best known Tuscan hamlets on account of the excellent winery which has linked them for ever in the minds of those who love Tuscan wines.  They are very much on the western edge of the Classico area but that does not stop them being at the top of the tree when it comes to quality.

Chardonnay 2011 – not Sangiovese of course, but the famous French variety grown here on north east facing slopes for the least exposure to the sun in a warm place with the grapes being pressed and fermented at low temperatures.  A very ripe and, in youth, quite oaky style but classy nonetheless with real fruit sweetness to carry off the oak.

Chianti Classico 2010 – 80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Syrah; superb balance, red berried fruit, subtle oak effects (blend of barriques – 5% new – and large scale barrels), intense, light and structured with lots of fine tannins.  Very good plus.

Cepparello IGT Toscana 2009 – 100% Sangiovese, a top Chianti Classico of riserva quality often called a Super Tuscan because of its quality and the fact that in the past it it would have had to be a blend to be Chianti.  Fermented in conical wooden vessels and the aged in barriques, 30% new. The leaner 2008 is now beginning to be ready to drink, the richer 2009 still needs time but buy it now and look forward to a treat.  David Gleave of Liberty has persuaded the winery to bottle it under screwcap both to retain the maximum freshness and to avoid problems with cork.  (Liberty Wines)

Montevertine

There would be a case for putting the wines of this estate in the Super Tuscan section of this page as they are all bottled as IGT, not Chianti Classico. But … they are made from Tuscan varieties in a traditional way (aged in neutral large barrels) from vineyards in the heart of Classico country. The long argument with the Classico consortium over whether Chianti could be 100% Sangiovese was over many years ago and there could not be a better ambassador for Chianti Classico, whatever it says on the label. All three wines from this exemplary estate are well worth buying and drinking, but in different time scales. As explained in detail in my article here, Pian del Ciampolo is the now the junior wine from youngest vines, Montevertine is a vineyard name but is also a selection, now the second wine, and the same is the case for Le Pergole Torte, the top wine from the oldest vines. At the Real Wine Fair 2013 it was possible to taste both the outgoing vintages (2010, 2009 and 2009 respectively) and barrel samples of the about-to-be-bottled new vintages: Pian 2011, Montevertine 2010 and Le Pergole Torte 2009.   Tasted side by side you notice the clear distinctions in complexity between the three wines. The Pian is light and elegant and the next two wines are very much in the same vein but with more intensity and, in the case of the top wine, an extraordinary tautness which will unfold with time.  They are all excellent of their type.  The other obvious thing to say is that 2009 is a richer year but the 2010s will shine with their acidity and verve.  Buy what you can afford (both money and time) and marvel at what Sangiovese with minor Tuscan blenders can do.

Fontodi

With Isole e Olena, this is probably the Chianti estate which is best known and most loved in England.  Giovanni Manetti is the epitome of the stylish, well-mannered Italian man and his wines have been consistently excellent.  The property is also in one of the most beautiful parts of Chianti, the conca d’oro just outside Panzano.  It is a winning combination.  As of March 2013, the current vintages are:

Chianti Classico 2009 – a ‘basic’ wine which is so good that you momentarily wonder why you try all the other examples or indeed the supposedly better wines.  The latter may be bigger, longer lived, and have more potential to age and gain complexity, but are they really any better?  According to its maker, 2009 is  very good year if you reduced your yields.  Whatever he did, he got it right: pronounced fresh nose of classic sour cherry and dried fruit on nose and palate, wonderful acidic freshness and medium plus fine grained tannins, good length. A genuinely thrilling and refreshing glassful which makes you want to have another mouthful and which could only really come from Chianti Classico or possibly Rùfina.

All these wines get the same two years in oak but the proportion of new barriques is different.  If your going to use barriques with Chianti, for a richer, multi-layered, more modern style, then using predominantly old barrels for your basic wine is the right thing to do.  More than a small amount will make you aware of new oak, not fruit, and anyway, most of this basic wine is going to be drunk in a few years so we are not trying to make a wine for long ageing.

Chianti Classico Riserva, Vigna del Sorbo, 2009 – a big step up in seriousness, partly achieved by top quality fruit from the named vineyard, partly by the presence of the darker, denser Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), and partly by a good dose of 50% new oak barrels.  There is a significant impact on the nose here with the weightiness of Cabernet combined with the richer selection of Sangiovese. The other basic impression is of youthfulness – at the moment this is all about potential. All the elements are there for the future – fruit concentration, acidity, a high level of grippy tannins – so I have no doubt this will evolve into something remarkable over the next five to ten years.

Flaccianello della Pieve 2009 – this top wine is 100% Sangiovese and is matured in 100% new oak.  It is not from a single vineyard but a selection of the best fruit.  Again this is an infant.  Amazing density of ripe fruit for a very modern style of wine.  Its Tuscan in the variety being grown  and in the place that it is grown but otherwise made very successfully for an international market.  Probably needs 10 years to be at its peak.

Syrah is also grown here but I did not taste it on this occasion.  Fontodi continues to excel.

Monteraponi

This organically farmed property is near Radda with vineyards at 470m of altitude and marl-rich soil.  Here they grow Sangiovese overwhelmingly, with small amounts of Canaiolo and Colorino, local varieties.  The approach to wine making is very low tech – concrete fermentation vessels, indigenous yeast and 30 hectolitres (ie quite large) Austrian oak barrels.

Chianti Classico 2010 – just 5% Canaiolo here, aged for 16 months in the aforementioned large barrels and a part in second use barriques.  Pale ruby in colour, this is Chianti in a pretty traditional style where the red fruit is joined by dried fruit, leather, toast and eventually meaty notes. The use of barriques here adds just a touch of richness.  This is at the lighter end of the scale but none the worse for that.

Il Campitello, Chianti Classico riserva, 2009 – a slightly higher proportion of blenders: 90% Sangiovese, 8% Canaiolo, 2% Colorino but from 42 year old vines.  Fine, rich, complex aroma and palate – developed sour cherry, dried herbs and some mineral notes.  The wine remains medium weight and true to type but the acidic and tannic structure will ensure good ageing potential. Very good plus.

Baron Ugo, Chianti Classico riserva 2008 – from the very highest vineyards, this is a selection only made in the best years and is given three full years in the large oak barrels.  The same blend and vineyard age as Il Campitello.   There is a real ‘wow’ factor about this wine: very fragrant on the nose followed by great intensity on the palate and fine, long finish. It has all the ingredients to age successfully.  (Passione Vino)

Fietri

This property is far south in the Classico denomination and has a breathtakingly beautiful situation surrounded by forest at 500 metres above sea level.  (The iPad as a portable device to display pictures is making a valuable contribution to wine tasting!)  The altitude and isolation of the vineyards are real advantages for the wine making.

Rosato di Sangiovese 2011 – with the rosé boom showing no sign of abating, Tuscan wine makers are increasingly turning to making pink wines. It is a fairly easy option as you can make use of vines, especially young vines, which you already have in production though you can’t expect to get a high price for your labours.  This is a big, food-friendly rosé which majors on ripe, almost sweet tasting fruit, but is said to have only 1.3g of residual sugar in it. For my taste buds it does not really capitalise on Sangiovese’s edgy, acidic strengths.

Chianti Classico 2010 – the blend here is 90% Sangiovese, 5% Alicante Bouschet and 5% Merlot and the wine spends a year in tonneaux.  A fragrant, semi-modern style but with real Sangiovese tannins and acidity and a certain elegance.  You can taste the altitude.  The 2008 has now developed some classic leather notes and shows an excellent structure, very good plus.  The 2007, was rather less Sangiovese (83%) with 10% Merlot and 7% Alicante Bouschet and spent 18 months in wood.  The blend changed as the Sangiovese matured and as concerns about an overly pale colour receded (Merlot is a deeper colour anyway and the Alicante has red pulp and juice).

Chianti Classico riserva 2009 -  the same blend as the contemporary main Chianti, but this spends a longer 20 months in wood.  Silky and dense at the moment, this is still pretty closed but promises a lot.  (Grossi)

Chianti Colli Senesi

Pacina

PacinaI was pleased to find this wine from one the Chianti subzones, areas which are usually known for inexpensive wines but can also produce real quality. This is from the south of Tuscany, between Siena and Castelnuovo Berardenga, from a farm which can now pride itself on its traditional approaches. In effect it has healthily skipped the decades of industrial farming and the over use of chemicals. Chianti Colli Senesi 2007 – Virtually 100% Sangiovese with a smidgen of Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo, fermented with naturally occurring yeasts and long maceration (5-6 weeks) on the skins in cement tanks, followed by 18 months in medium and large old wood. The wine is then bottled unfiltered. The really unusual thing here is the length of maceration which leads to the excellent, dense herby fruit on the nose and palate, and the noticeable high tannin levels. Plenty of potential to age and needs either to be eaten with robust food or kept for some years to smooth out those tannins. (£20 from Ethical Edibles)  

Montalcino

Cantina di Montalcino

RiservaThese wines are from the Montalcino cooperative with their splendid new architect-designed winery and state of the art equipment. 

Brunello di Montalcino, Cantina di Montalcino, 2008 – lively, evolved nose of cherry, plum, smoke and liquorice; palate still a bit tough with obvious tannins, but potential here.

Brunello di Montalcino, da Vinci, 2008 – being a selection of the best fruit of the cooperative. Subtler than the above, fine tea leaf notes, dried fruit, classy

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Cantina di Montalcino, 2006 – complex prune and cherry fruit, savoury, more tobacco notes evident here, long. A fine example from a great vintage.  (Liberty Wines)

Sasso di Sole

is a small, five hectare relatively new estate in the Torrenieri area north west of Montalcino. Until 2001 they sold grapes to other producers but they are gradually building up their own repertoire and bottlings. They are quite traditional in that they use only 35 and 50 hl barrels, ie medium to large barrels, and not barriques.

Rosso di Montalcino 2009 – fine sour cherry and tobacco leaf to the fore, light and drinkable but with a good, taut structure. From grapes of the younger vines on the estate.

Brunello di Montalcino 2006 – this spends three years in the large oak barrels and (for an exceptional year) emerges with fine floral notes over dried fruit, tea leaf and good cherry fruit. Very good depth on the palate, good length.

Brunello di Montalcino riserva 2006 – from a selection of the best fruit and of course in good to the best years. Rich, beautifully structured, layers of interest in a relatively young wine; balsam notes, fresh and especially dried fruit notes, very long. Outstanding.

Villa Poggio Salvi

This property is in the south west segment of Montalcino with Frescobaldi’s Castelgiacondo as neighbours.  At the recent Bordeaux Index tasting they were showing both the current vintages and the 1979 which have available in magnums, quite a rare treat.

Brunello di Montalcino 2008 – lithe, supple red fruit with very good traditional oak notes. Traditional botti do not really add vanilla and toast aromas as the wood is old (it is too big to replace on a regular basis); rather they offer slow, controlled oxidation, a process of rounding out the wine and beginning the process of ageing. They can produce some high toned balsamic perfume and some controlled acetic touches (VA).  These wines show this in a textbook way, plus having lively acidity and good length.  £20 a bottle in bond is a reasonable price for a wine that takes this long before it can be released.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007 – from an excellent vintage this wine showed a proper step up in quality to the riserva level, not just longer in oak.  The real difference is the intensity of the nose and especially palate and it is this which will give it the longevity to develop in the bottle over the next decades.

Brunello di Montalcino 1979 – it  is important to remember that while old Brunello can demonstrate the longevity of the best wines of this area, this does not really give a guide to how today’s wines might age. This is because the work in the vineyard and the winery, added to generally warmer conditions, means that generally contemporary wines are just better on average than older ones. At the same time, most of them are being made more fruit forward for younger drinking. They may well not age as well – or at least it may not be worth keeping them as actually they will be much better at 10-20 years than after 30+.  Nonetheless it is fun to try the old style wines. This one was let off a waft of VA initially and then majored on dried fruit.  Some fruit remained but is now being dominated by acidity. The tannins have become much less evident.   It was remarkably long in the mouth.

Costanti

Brunello di Montalcino 2008 – my notes on this wine are brief: lacks impact at the moment.

Brunello di Montalcino 2007 -  by contrast this wine really showed well: superb multi-layered fragrant and fine nose, substantial tannic structure allied to already attractive fruit, medium plus acidity, very good.  This lives up to the reputation of the vintage for wines which are showing well at this early stage of development.

Val d’Orcia

Podere Forte

Between Montalcino and Montepulciano there is a beautiful stretch of classic Tuscan farmland which is increasingly making ambitious wines to accompany the Pecorino cheese for which the area is famous.  I have a soft spot for the gloriously rustic wines of Marco Capitoni, but Podere Forte, while is sounds fearsome (‘strong farmstead’) is aiming for a completely different, very sophisticated and wealthy segment of the market.  On their 15 hectares they produce:

Guardadivigna, IGT Toscana 2009 – the ‘vineyard watcher’ is a Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot with fine chocolate-edged fruit, good balance (not overly heavy) and a clean finish.

Petrucci, Sangiovese, Val d’Orcia DOC 2009 – there are only 700 bottles of this £70 a bottle wine which is very elegant and not a bit rustic at all. Medium plus intensity on nose and palate, rich Sangiovese fruit, fine finish, classy and, I have to say, expensive.

 

Pometti

Noi, Orcia DOC, 2009 – made on the property at Trequanda, near Siena, which has the claim to be the first agriturismo (farm based holidays) in the province.  The Sangiovese here on this 11 hectare vineyard was replanted in 2002 and so is still relatively young. The wine – ‘us’ in Italian – is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet aged for nine months in French tonneaux. Very ripe fruit, true-to-type earthy note, attractive, highly drinkable.  (Grossi)

Montepulciano

Il Conventino

While the prices of Brunello continue to head north, Montepulciano, the other really important DOCG in central southern Tuscany, continues to offer high quality, often traditional wines, at more accessible prices.  Il Conventino is no exception and also farms organically.

Rosato di Conventino 2011 – increasing numbers of successful rosés are being made from Sangiovese and in an area not noted for its local white wines, you can see the commercial appeal to producers.  This example has a nice herbaceous touch with good balance between some fruit intensity and acidity.

Rosso di Montepulciano 2009 – a basic red wine,100% Sangiovese,  which, while perfectly correctly made, at this tasting did not really speak to me of its origins

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2007 – really classic (ie matured in large neutral oak) nose with notes of leather, balsam and developed sour cherry fruit. Fine chewy tannins.  Elegant.  85% Prugnolo Gentile (ie Sangiovese in this region), plus Mammolo, Canaiolo and (the white) Grechetto.  Aged for at least two years in splendid old botti, large oak barrels, which you can see on their website.  The most immediately attractive wine of this range. Great value at just over £20.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 – from a yet better year but one that produced more concentrated wines that will both take longer to open up (this was still quite closed) and which will have greater ageing potential.  Three years plus in botti. (£23 from the wine club attached to Ethical Edibles)

La Casella

This property to the west of Montepulciano has 20 hectare of vines which were farmed organically even before the current owners began to run it in 2003.

Rosso di Montalcino 2011 – 90% Prugnolo (ie Sangiovese), the rest being Colorino, Mammolo and Canaiolo, so a really traditional blend for this part of Tuscany.  Modestly fragrant nose but then a fruity palate with plenty of impact.

Rosato 2011 – made from 100% Sangiovese and another rosé.  2011 is said to be a good year for 2011, as the unusual weather led to thick skinned grapes which quickly give a full salmon colour which is the predominant colour here.  Refreshing, quite weighty, good.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009 – same blend as the Rosso above from the best vineyard. Very big step up in quality here, subtle layered nose, immediately attractive sour cherry and herbal palate.  Here they let the fermentation temperature rise to 30° C for greater extraction of colour and polyphenols which in turn gives more potential for ageing.  Again in this denomination, good value at £25.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano riserva 2007 – three year in large barrels, plus time in the bottle leads to a rich, layered, wine with a powerful tannic structure which will stand it in good stead. Excellent. (Grossi)

 

Maremma

Val di Toro

Reviresco, Maremma IGT, Val di Toro, 2010 – this is a new Maremman estate for me, though it appears to be close to Podere 414 and La Mozza which figure prominently elsewhere on this website.  Reviresco is the 100% Sangiovese offering and there is also a top wine yet to be tasted (Val di Toro, with 30% Montepulciano), a basic red, a rosé and a white blend.  100% Sangiovese, medium minus ruby in colour (so quite pale for the Maremma),  but with weighty tears, medium red fruit and a hint of something smoky and savoury; a more intense palate follows with counterbalancing acidity and good tannic structure; simple and highly drinkable, it wears its 14% alcohol well.  A portion of the wine is aged in second use tonneaux.  (Handford)

Fattoria Le Pupille

This is the star estate of the Morellino DOCG and perhaps of the Tuscan Maremma in total.  My profile of it can be found here. I am looking forward to revisiting the estate in late May.

Morellino di Scansano 2010 – 90% Sangiovese, the remainder Alicante and Malvasia nera; intense, crunchy red and black fruit, substantial but well balanced, very good

Morellino di Scansano riserva 2009 – another very well made wine but in terms of Tuscan tipicity, the Cabernet derived roundness and international style is too evident here. The current trajectory is towards greater tipicity, for example the 2012 vintage is being aged in botti rather than barriques, which will reduce the vanilla and smoke quotient.  I would undoubtedly prefer the style of the Poggio Valente, which was not available at this tasting.

Saffredi  2009– superb, restrained but ripe black fruit, a Super Tuscan but obviously Italian for its acidity, herbal notes and tannic structure.

Super Tuscans

Antinori

Tignanello IGT Toscana 2009 – one of the great wines of Italy and one which created the muddled category of Super Tuscan, best kept for top quality wines made from international grape varieties aged in substantially new barriques (or where the character of the wine is largely determined by such an approach).  The blend here is 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.  20% of Cabernet might not sound a lot but given the subtlety of Sangiovese and the powerful black fruit flavours of Cabernet in a warm place, this certainly qualifies as a Super Tuscan.  As the rules for Chianti Classico have adapted to the invasion of French varieties, this could nowadays be called Chianti Classico DOCG but mercifully is not.  (To compare what moderate amounts of Cabernet do to Sangiovese you only have to try Fontodi’s Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo which, in my view, is a much more gracefully if still quite powerful wine.)  The new vintage Tignanello makes a big entrance but at this stage it is mostly of expensively luxuriant oak. Antinori are changing their oaking, moving (back) to more large containers for the Sangiovese in the blend, but barrique-aged Cabernet still is the dominant note.  The palate is of quite dense fruit both in the sour cherry and blackberry range, a testimony to Sangiovese on the one hand and the influence of the 20% of Cabernet on the other.  All the other components – acidity, tannins, balancing fruit – are there to promise long development in the bottle.  Very good, very modern.  For a short vertical tasting of Tignanello with its companion Solaia, where the 80% is the Cabernet, see here.  The best news for Sangiovese lovers is the price differential, mainly due to the fact that there is much more Tignanello than Solaia: Bordeaux Index are offering the former for a mere £480 a case in bond, while the Solaia will set you back a gulp-inducing £1440.  Buy a case of Tignanello and you can regard yourself as having saved a grand!

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