It is often said that wine is best shared with friends. In the light of this when I was sent sample bottles of wines from Viticcio I decided to hold a tasting with a small group of wine lovers, experienced tasters, to exchange views on the wines. Here is what we thought.
By way of background, Viticcio appears to be a Greve-based company with its heart in Chianti Classico where it has made wine for a long time. It has clearly also set up operations in the Morellino di Scansano DOCG in the Maremma and it also has wines from Bolgheri but we did not have those to taste. What its history is, who owns it (legally it is a trading company with a single proprietor) and how it operates across the three zones remains something of a mystery despite it having a smart, contemporary website. In general the wine is very competently made, clean and modern in concept and there is a tendency to use quite a lot of French oak on the reds.
The website states that the rosé comes from Poggio La Mozza near Magliano and probably the the other two wines here do as well.
Greppico Vermentino di Toscana IGT 2016 13.5%
Technical details: 100% Vermentino, cold soak, fermented at low 13ºC, aged on lees for 4 months in stainless steel
We all agreed that this was ‘approachable, fresh’ with ‘nice lemon fruit’. There was some disagreement over the acidity which was bright and refreshing, some finding it too much so. For me the acidity balanced the medium body weight well. Moderate complexity and length but all in all a well made, refreshing wine. In a nutshell: ‘Italian seaside summer wine’
Massaia, Toscana Rosato IGT 2016 14%
Technical details: 85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot grown at Poggio La Mozza, Magliano; direct press, fermented at a low 13ºC, no malo, aged on lees in stainless steel for 6 months, pH 3.2
A fashionably pale salmon-coloured rosé with good palate weight. Opinions were quite divided on this depending on whether you picked up on the ripe fruit core (very good depth of strawberry and peach fruit for a rosé) or the lively acidity. It also shows the signs of low fermentation temperatures with ‘marshmellow’ and ‘confected’ notes which tended to linger. But as we stayed with it opinions moved in a positive direction: ‘fruity rosé with some weight and bright acidity’; ‘bikini-babe booze’ (sic), ‘would retail well’.
Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2015 14.5%
Technical details: 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 10 days maceration on the skins, aged in barriques for 10-12 months
There was pretty much universal acclaim for this lovely, easy-drinking, ripe red wine. ‘A nose that begs you to dive in’. ‘Integrated vanilla nose. Ripe fruit but earthy tannins keep it balanced’. Fabulous high-quality everyday drinking; ripe but with balancing savoury touches and structure which could give it some ageability. Bravo! In sum: ‘punches above its weight’, ‘crowd pleaser … but why not?’
Three tiers of Chianti Classico
Chianti Classico DOCG 2014 13.6%
Technical details: 98% Sangiovese Grosso, 2% Merlot, 15 days maceration, aged in 225 and large format oak for 12 months
After the warmth of the Maremma, the cooler classicism of Chianti Classico was immediately evident here: ‘lean morello cherry’ fruit, ‘scented’, a touch of chocolate and vanilla from oak. Bearing in mind this is from the most difficult vintage since 2002, this was something of a triumph. In sum: ‘very good example of entry level Chianti Classico’, ‘perfect for the on-trade’, ‘Chianti to drink now’.
Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2013 13.8%
Technical details: 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 20 days maceration, aged in barriques for 12 months (this 12 months is missed out by the English translation on the website) and large format oak for 8 months
A big step up in weight and seriousness here and a great vintage to boot. The Riserva split opinion with a minority finding it a bit rustic and earthy but most loved the ‘complex “expensive” [ie French oak] nose’ with its ‘sandalwood’ note and the ‘well-integrated fine tannins’. Weight rather than fruit at the moment. We had a debate as to whether the Sangiovese will emerge from the oak as this wine ages. In sum: ‘one for the cellar’, ‘more like Claret’, ‘Bring on the Fiorentina steak!’
Prunaio Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 14%
Technical details: 100% Sangiovese Grosso (Montalcino clone), maceration 25 days, 18 months in 225 and 500 litre barrels, 6 months in large format oak
The new top tier of Chianti Classico, the Gran Selezione, was launched with considerable controversy in 2014. In brief it is now the top of the quality pyramid, above Riserva, and has modest additional requirements: no bought-in fruit, a few more months of ageing (30), minimum 13% abv, slightly higher dry extract (don’t ask!) and it has to pass a tasting panel (thereby introducing questions about style and objectivity). It can be either a single vineyard or a multi-vineyard blend.
Viticcio’s offering is the wine they used to label as IGT as it dates back to the period when 100% Sangiovese was not allowed for Chianti Classico. For me what stands out here is the silky/satiny texture and a real elegance. Sleek, powerful, black-fruited, ‘lovely perfumed nose’, ‘sandal and cedarwood’ oak, ‘dusty fine tannins’. In a nutshell: ‘perfect with Norwegian Elk’ (no, me neither), ‘great wine … needs five years of time’, ‘drink as much as you can’.
It would be great to add the other wines in the range to this note (Bolgheri, Vin Santo) but it is abundantly clear that Viticcio has become the creator of well-judged wines of distinction. There are very clear quality distinctions between the various tiers that they offer. Stylistically, as a personal preference, I would prefer less new French oak (and details of how much they use on their tech sheets). However, these are wines that any wine lover should get to know.