On February 15th, I had the pleasure of attending the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting in new York City. It had been a few years since I attended this event and I was incredibly impressed by the venue and the organization. Hundreds of wineries were represented, and like my previous Tasting Report on Slow Wine-VinItaly, I attempted to spend the most time at wineries that were represented by owners or winemakers. This was not the case as frequently as it was with Slow Wine. However, when the owner was present, I was able to spend an extended amount of time speaking with them.
Gambero Rosso appears to be more of a "hit and run" tasting than the aptly named "Slow Wine". Tasters dart from table to table in an attempt not to miss "the next great wine" yet, in doing so, miss the gems hiding in plain sight. I'll explain more about this below, but the "sheeple" mentality was alive and well last week and I used it greatly to my advantage.
As with the Slow Wine article, given the size of the taste received and the fact that the wines were largely tasted without food, I will provide a range of scores below. Unless otherwise noted, all wines received the "Tre Bicchieri" designation. There were some producers offering additional wines.
My first stop was at the perennial producer from Le Marche, Umani Ronchi. Years ago, a good friend of mine turned me onto their "Super Marche" blend, "Pelago" and I have been a fan of theirs ever since. They were pouring their Tre Bicchieri white wine and were represented by the youthful, energetic family member, Michele Bernetti. He seemed humbled when I mentioned Pelago, and was very proud to point out that their white was named White Wine of the Year, by Gambero Rosso.
2009 Conero Riserva, Cumaro: This is a 100% Montepulciano from Le Marche which ages 12 months in barrique and an additional 8 months in bottle before release. It now bears the DOCG designation. This wine is very well done with rich berry flavors and aromas. Very polished with a long finish. Due Bicchieri. 88-90 points.
2010 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Vecchie Vigne: This is also designated Classico Superiore, and the Vecchie Vigne refers to "Old Vines". This white is crafted in stainless steel with natural, native yeasts. The nose blew me away. Crushed white stone fruit and exotic tropical notes abound. I can see why Gambero Rosso noted it as the white wine of the year. It's amazing to smell. The flavors follow the nose with intensity and balance. Crisp, refreshing and delicious. Among the best whites from Italy I've ever had. 92-95 points.
|Cumaro Conero Riserva at left. Vecchie Vigne at right.|
I've written a lot about Tolaini here before, including my Interview with them last year. They are a fast rising star in Tuscany and were pouring two wines. They were represented by a gentleman from their importer, Banville & Jones.
2009 Picconero: Picconero is a Super Tuscan blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The percentages change slightly from vintage to vintage but the selection is severe and only the best grapes are used. The wine is mostly Merlot (60-65%) and the Petit Verdot makes up about 10% of the finished wine. It's fermented in 100% new French barrique where it ages for 18 months, including 6 months on the lees. It's then bottle aged 12 months before release. The 2009 is going to be spectacular. It's lavishly oaked, with deep currant, tobacco and spice notes. Blackish purple. It's huge and needs a great deal of cellar time to strut the stuff it's got. Very silky. Cellar 5 years before trying. 92-95 points.
|2009 Tolaini Picconero: If only I'd had a backpack to fill up!|
2009 Valdisanti: Valdisanti is a blend of Cabernet, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc in varying proportions. Like it's sister Picconero, Valdisanti is aged in French barrique, only 70% of which are new. 16 months of aging in barrel are followed by 12 months in the bottle before release. This has a solid core of currant fruit with spices and animal from the Sangiovese evident. It has a lovely smokey essence that I enjoyed as well. Also in need of some cellaring to show it's full potential, this will come around before Picconero I suspect. Really well done. Due Bicchieri. 90-93 points.
|The 2009 Tolaini Valdisanti|
Poggio di Sotto
Everything is organic here. Indigenous yeasts, unfined, unfiltered, etc. Winemaker Piero Palmucci is adamant about color correctness in Brunello. Palmucci believes that dark Brunellos are disingenuous wines that cannot possibly be pure-varietal expressions. Montalcino is funny in that way. There are the ultra-traditionalists, and although he only founded his estate in 1989, Palmucci is becoming one. His Brunello visually corroborates this stance, exhibiting a medium-red garnet color upon release.
2007 Poggio di Sotto Brunello: Light to medium garnet color, transparent. It was a stark change in color from the Tolaini wines and merited a chuckle from my lovely assistant who was tasting with me. On the nose the wine is a bit funky, with a decaying earthy component. If you can get past it, the palate is remarkable. There is a richness to the fruit the color does not portend. A gorgeous floral, perfumey essence that coats the palate. It's delicious. Fine balance to the acids and tannins. I wonder how this will age? 92-94 points. Quite expensive however, and poor value for the genre.
|2007 Brunello from Poggio di Sotto. US retail is $150+|
A cordial gentlemen from Domaine Select Estates represented the Massolino brothers at this event. Massolino is old school; with long macerations, large botti, and Slavonian oak.
2006 Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva: This is a huge, young wine. Deep core of dark red to the center of the glass. Enticing aromas of anise and berries. There are monstrous tannins, but they are fully ripe and the acidity is cleansing and balanced. The power of this wine is evident, though it will take some patience and cellaring for this wine to become what it can be. So hard to judge something like this. 94-97 points. Average US retail should be about $140 per bottle.
|Barolo from Massolino: Serralunga d'Alba|
Badia a Coltibuono
A mere two weeks ago, this estate was presented at Slow Wine by the charming owner, Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti. This time around, there wasn't a soul present! The wines sat there, we waited. Finally, I helped myself!
Coltibuono is organically farmed, sustainable and committed to traditional winemaking. Maurizio Castelli is the consulting enologist. Large cask are used for aging and the wines are made primarily with Sangiovese and small percentages of Colorino and Canaiolo.
2009 Chianti Classico Cultus Boni: I was not familiar with this wine, despite being very familiar with this estate. It's got a dark garnet color with aromas of berry and licorice. Seems polished, with a bit more oak than Coltibuono's more traditional Chianti Classico. A very good wine overall, but I wasn't overly impressed by this effort. 87-89 points. About $30.
|Great looking bottle. That's the Cultus Boni in my glass at left.|
Poliziano may very well be the best producer in Montepulciano. I've reviewed their 2008 on this site before to glowing praise. This 2009 is even better. Under the control of the Carletti family since the estates founding in 1961, Poliziano has property in Montepulciano and Cortona from which they source the grapes for this excellent Vino Nobile.
2009 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: Not yet released in the United States, this is 80% Sangiovese with the balance to other unnamed red grapes. Fermented in stainless steel and then aged 16-18 months in French barrique. In the glass this wine is dark, crimson blood red. It's got wonderful floral aromas with spice, berries and leather. Really amazing to smell. The palate is rich and vibrant. This is a great value and one to seek out when it is released. 91-94 points.
|Tre Bicchieri Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano|
It hadn't been long since I visited with Tabarrini at Slow Wine, but there were other motivating factors here. Besides tasting the Tre Bicchieri Campo all Cerqua again, I was also able to meet my friend Daniele Sassi face to face and also taste the unreleased Montefalco Rosso.
2008 Sagrantino Campo alla Cerqua: This is just a fabulous wine. I would only repeat my comments from Slow Wine and reiterate that this is a must buy for lovers of Sagrantino. The fruit and texture of this wine, coated in powdery, velvety tannins is amazing. Seek it out when it arrives. 93-95 Points
|Tremendous Single Vineyard Sagrantino|
2009 Montefalco Rosso: I was told officially that this is 60% Sangiovese, 30% Sagrantino and 10% Barbera. However, I was unofficially told that it may have a bit higher percentage Sangiovese. It matters little. This may be the best Montefalco Rosso I've ever had. Spicy, with intense berry flavors and big ripe tannins. It's a case purchase once it's released. These were sample bottles Daniele was pouring, I do not believe it's been rated yet by Gambero Rosso or anyone else for that matter. It's a great wine and a great value. 92-94 points. About $20.
|Daniele Sassi of Tabarrini pouring the 2009 Montefalco Rosso|
Two robotic reps from Empire Merchants were pouring the Brancaia wines. Three wines were being poured and I had to go back and look at my press kit to determine which was the Tre Bicchieri. I was not greatly impressed with any of these.
2009 Chianti Classico Riserva: Deep garnet color. Non-descript nose of oak, vanilla and berries. Solid core of fruit - this is pretty good, but it's overdone to my tastes. 87-89 points.
2008 Il Blu: This is 50% Sangiovese, 45% Merlot and 5% Cabernet that spends nearly 2 years in French oak barrique. And you can tell. The aroma is lost behind wet wood, spicy oak, and mocha. The problem is two fold here as the vintage fruit doesn't back up the wood treatment. This is a mess. Due Bicchieri. 83-85 points. Not recommended.
2009 Ilatraia: This is a blend of 40% Cabernet, 40% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. This was also significantly oaked, however, the differing grapes in the blend and the ripeness of the vintage supported the treatment. I liked this wine. It's got dark berry flavors with cigar box and minty herbs. Dark, huge, and tannic, I think this will cellar well. It's balanced, and slightly international in style, but it's good. Due Bicchieri 90-92 points.
|Left to Right: Chianti Classico Riserva, Ilatraia, Il Blu|
Represented this time by an Empson Representative that seemed to come and go - I swear he was walking around tasting! - I helped myself to this wine as well.
2008 Vino Nobile Nocio dei Boscarelli: This 100% Sangiovese was not poured at Slow Wine so I was eager to try it. Compared to the 2009's at Slow Wine, this wine doesn't seem to muster the intensity of fruit that it's siblings possess. Still, for the vintage, it is well concentrated, with complex aromas of flowers, dirt and berries. It's a single vineyard wine, named for a giant nut tree that graces the vineyard, and is aged in Slavonian oak botte for almost 2 years prior to release. Solid wine, if a bit overpriced. (Avg. $53) 89-91 points.
|Vigna Nocio dei Boscarelli - Vino Nobile|
Leonildo Pieropan's estate lies in north east Veneto, in the heart of the Soave Classico zone. I have long loved his Soave, but have not had this Tre-Bicchieri winner in the past.
2010 Soave Classico La Rocca: This deeply colored bianco is 100% Garganega made from a single vineyard where the vines average 50 years of age. What makes this wine unique is that it's aged in mid-size and large barrels for one year. This is a lush Soave with great concentration and a well-structured finish. It's got exotic pear and pineapple notes and a gentle spiciness to it. It's among the best Soave I've ever had and elevates the appellation. Highly Recommended. 91-93 points, about $30.
|The Large Botte aged Single Vineyard Soave from Pieropan|
|My glass in front: With a small pour of Ornellaia 2009|
I almost didn't want to stop here. I had warned my partner that this table would be very crowded and that in order to taste, we'd have to squirm our way to the table. I hate being right, but any good report worth it's salt covering Gambero Rosso had to include these two wines.
I could tell from a distance which table was Ornellaia's. The "Sheeple" were 5 and 6 deep, with boisterous buzzed lunatics calling to their friends: "Hey Jimmy, come taste this Or-Neel-eee-uh Merlot!" Really? How in the hell do people like this get into these things?
The poor man from Folio was sweating like someone in a heated Yoga class just trying to fill glasses with Masseto and Ornellaia. There was no talking to him as he darted back and forth trying to keep his head above water - or wine, as it were.
2009 Masseto: Pure class. Pure Merlot. Deep dark purple. Rich aromas and flavors. Lavishly oaked, with cedar, blackberries, coffee and earth aromas. At this point, the velvety fruit is massive - huge, with caressing tannins. This is a blockbuster, no question. The problem is, and there's no getting around it - who can afford this wine? 96-98 points. About $375-$425. (that's not a case price)
|100% Merlot. 100% Price.|
2009 Ornellaia: The 2009 is a blend of the following: 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. This is noteworthy since it's the highest percentage of Cabernet Franc ever for Ornellaia, though I didn't pick up any of the trademark floral aromas that varietal often contributes. This is dark purple, and tremendously oaky. Smelling more like a young Bordeaux than an Italian wine, it's got cigar box, cedar and spice. Under all that barrique appears to be a solid core of black fruit, but the tannins are enormously chewy at this point in time. Major grip. Polished and flashy. I'd cellar this for 10 years before trying it. Who knows what it will become. Poor Value, Due Bicchieri. 92-94 points. About $175-225.
|Flashy, heavily oaked Cabernet from Bolgheri. Will it ever come around?|
The Rubino estate lies along the Adriatic coast and comprises about 200 hectares of vineyards that Proprietor Tomasso Rubino re-planted in 1999 with an aim to quality not typically seen in the south of Italy. The family has made a major investment in the cellars; acquiring new state of the art steel tanks and new French barriques. Luigi Rubino was humble, yet his almost boyish excitement shows through and you sense he'd like to pinch himself as tasters lavish praise for his wine. The praise is warranted.
2010 Visellio: This is 100% Primitivo from Puglia. Hand selected grapes are carefully sorted and fermented in stainless steel. The wine is racked to barrique where it ages for 8 months before being bottle aged an additional year before release. The wine is a deep, dark purple. It's got effusive aromas of lavendar, wild berry, and violets. Dark fruits flavors, with flowers and spice coat the palate. This is precise and delicious. This producer was recommended by my friend Daniele Sassi, of Tabarrini. He could not have been more right. This is not yet released in the US, but when it is, go long. Highly recommended. 92-94 points. About $25.
|Visellio is just one wine from a large stable by Rubino|
Marchesi di Barolo
After I extricated myself from the Twister® game that was Masseto/Ornellaia, I retreated to a small table to jot down some notes. When I picked up my head, directly in front of me was Anna Abbona, the owner of Marchesi di Barolo. There was a grand total of zero people at her table and I thought to myself: those people are tripping over themselves for a spot of Ornellaia and there's no one talking to this icon from Barolo. I made my way post haste.
Anna Abbona is warm and charming. She beamed a huge smile as we approached her and eagerly offered up her wine. While we were tasting, she quickly whipped out her iPad complete with pictures of the estate and vineyard and in accented English, gave us a detailed virtual tour. It's really something when you see the famous Cannubi vineyard basking in the afternoon soon, then just over the apex of the ridge, directly opposite Cannubi, lies the south east exposed Sarmassa vineyard. She is very proud to have received this Tre Bicchieri and rightfully so.
2008 Barolo Sarmassa: Stunning aromatics. For a wine this young, this is absolutely amazing. Deep red cherry color. Roses, anise, licorice, berries burst from the glass. I must have let out some sort of audible sigh because she smiled. She knew I "got" it. This is a powerful, muscular but elegant Barolo. A massive core of berry fruit is accented by spices and floral flavors. It's breathtaking. Aged for 2 years in Slavonian cask and partly in used French barrique, then another year in bottle. With decanting and food it will astound now. I've no doubt that in 20 years, I'll be posting a cellar note on this. A must buy when released. Bravo! 96-98 points. Very Highly Recommended.
|2008 Marchesi di Barolo - Sarmassa|
Tenuta San Guido
There isn't much that can be said about the history of this winery that hasn't already been said. The accolades are many and they are deserved. Oddly, this table was fairly empty compared to Ornellaia and I had suspected the same sort of mass.
2009 Sassicaia: This vintage is a blend of 85% Cabernet and 15% Cabernet Franc. I've been fortunate enough to try many vintages of Sassicaia and I think this is the best young version I've had since the 1990. The color is a rich dark purple. The aromas intense: with perfume, flowers, cedar, mineral and black fruits. I was given a second pour by the courteous and engaging rep. The flavors follow the nose - intense and persistent with class and power. This is Tuscan Royalty. It's everything Ornellaia is not. Yes, it's about $200 per bottle US retail. I suggest it's worth it. 95-98 points.
|It speaks for itself.|
Tenuta Sette Ponti
Sette Ponti (7 Bridges) is a relatively newcomer to wine production despite the fact that the estate has many vineyards that date to the 1930's. Oreno is the key wine here, named after the river which runs through the property.
2009 Oreno: This is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot. It's a powerful wine, with class and breeding. It's somewhat flashier than similar wines; such as Sassicaia and is more lavishly oaked, though the fruit here is so rich that it supports the frame. Decadent red, with ripe currant and berry aromas and flavors tinged with spice, flowers and mint. It's delicious, even tasted directly after the Sassicaia. Price varies crazily on this wine. I've seen it as low as $45 and as high as $100. Load up on the low end. 94-96 points.
Casanova di Neri
This estate was founded in 1971 by Giovanni Neri. His son Giacomo now runs the estate and he was standing patiently, waiting to present his wine. I circled this table on my guide the instant we arrived as a must stop, yet here I was again, all alone with this passionate and talented winemaker. I took good advantage. I told Giacomo that his Brunello was a favorite of mine and that I had tasted many vintages of his excellent Tenuta Nuova. He blushed and put his hand to his chest when I told him how great the 2006 was. I handed him my business card and to my shock he looked up and said "I know this site. You wrote very well of my Brunello 2007!" I'm still shocked as I type this. Giacomo has graciously agreed to be interviewed in the future by Tuscan Vines.
2006 Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto: I have never been able to taste this wine, so I was eager to try it. I was met by an immediate, but not insurmountable problem. I could not stop smelling this wonderful elixir. It's a dark crimson to purple in the glass. The aromas leap forward; rich floral notes, chestnuts, spice, crushed berries, earth, leather and licorice. It's astounding. The flavors follow the nose with intensity, class, and breeding. Velvety fruit cascades over the palate, sits there and changes stripes as it fades gloriously into memory. In bold letters after my note I wrote "absolutely awesome". My partner said: "I'm speechless". When we told Giacomo how great this tasted, again he seemed overwhelmed and came to offer a hug. This may be the best Brunello I've ever had. It's mind bending. It's very expensive (about $200 US) but if I ever come across some at retail, it will be hard to walk away empty handed. No range needed here. 100 points!
Cerretalto is produced only in the best vintages from a single vineyard with, as Giacomo describes it, unique and perfect exposure. The climate, soil, sun, and elevation all coming into play to allow him to achieve the character of this wine. Barrique aged for 2 years, and then in bottle for 2 years before release, it is perfectly balanced in all aspects.
|Giacomo Neri and Yours Truly|
I've had Antonelli's Sagrantino before and so I was looking forward to tasting his Tre Bicchieri offering. When we arrived at the table, there was an unassuming gentlemen standing there alone. This was becoming a theme. I could tell immediately that he was not from OmniWines, so I asked if he was the proprietor or the winemaker. "Both! he answered with a grin." Filippo Antonelli is a funny, comfortable man. He offers not a whiff of arrogance and is in fact, a simple, humble farmer. I told him that Tabarrini recommended his wines, and he laughed and said "Is Giampaolo here?" When I told him no, he laughed again saying that he should have known, for "if Giampaolo were here, we'd all know it!" Filippo has graciously agreed to be interviewed by Tuscan Vines.
2008 Sagrantino: Pretty blackish purple color. The nose is tightly wound, with blackberry and mineral notes. The wine has very viscous legs in the glass. On the palate the wine is massive with fully ripened fruits with tannins and acids to match. Seems very well put together, but needing cellar time. 91-93 points.
|Antonelli Sagrantino is aged in large cask, then small cask & finally bottle for a total of 2 1/2 years before release. It's unfiltered and a good value at around $35.|
Owned by attorney Danilo Tonon, this winery was represented by his wife Jeanneth Angel Tonon. As she was all alone, we had time to discuss the philosophy of their winemaker Dottore Paolo Vagaggini. Togata employs large Slovenian oak botte, where their Brunello ages for a full 36 months. A year of additional bottle age is completed before release.
2007 Brunello di Montalcino: I was struck immediately by the color of the wine. It's a dark brick red with an intense copper rim. Very rustic looking. Traditional all the way. The nose is redolent of flowers, red fruits, and tobacco. In the mouth this deceptively full bodied wine elegant with dried herbs, flowers, mushrooms and fruit. It is so reserved - but in a regal way. Delicious and it reminded me of the Baricci that I loved so much at Slow Wine. 91-93 points.
|The very Traditional La Togata Brunello - 2007|
Amarone can be a difficult wine to appreciate and can often sit "heavily" on the palate. If there's a wine made for winter, this is it. I love Amarone and drink them occasionally, but I had never heard of this producer so was curious to stop. The representative from PaneBianco was courteous and very willing to discuss the process of ripasso. He was generous with his pours and while there, we were the only tasters at the table.
2007 Amarone Classico Campo Masua: Black purple in the glass. The dark, inky side of Amarone. The nose is full of dried nut and fruit character. Dates, raisins, figs and almonds. Flavors follow the nose and the wine is absolutely massive, with a core of raisiny fruit that is a touch sweet on the finish. A wine for cheese to sit by the fire. 91-93 points.
|Wild thing: Massive dried fruit and nut character in this Amarone|
From Tignanello to Solaia and everything in between, I've been a fan of this winery for decades. They astound me in that they consistently turn out excellent wine on a vast scale. Represented by two young gentlemen that did little more than describe the blends in the wine, they were pleasant if not informative.
2009 Tignanello: The father of the Super Tuscan concept along with Sassicaia. The 2009 "Tig" is deep dark maroon. Lots of wonderful pipe tobacco, herb, fresh berry, and leather on the nose and palate. Aristocratic, with beautiful silky tannins and wonderfully integrated acids. My note says: "This is all there, wow!" 94-96 points. Price varies widely on this from $50-$90. Stock up.
2006 Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino: For some reason, I never think of Antinori as a Brunello producer. Oddly, I rarely see this wine at retail and when I do, for whatever reason, it's priced more than wines of similar or better quality. I find this dark crimson Brunello to be fairly generic. It's got pretty aromatics of sandalwood, cherries and spice. The barrique is evident but not overdone. It's a polished red with fresh flavors and put together well. Due Bicchieri. 90-92 points.
|Due Bicchieri Brunello at Left. Tre Bicchieri Tiganello at Right|
Represented by the same pleasant woman that poured Damilano at Slow Wine just a few weeks before. She and I chatted about finding 2008's in the market since they are just trickling out. Fortunately, she never asked my opinion of this wine.
2006 Vigna Elena Barolo Riserva: Aged in large oak casks for 36 months and in bottle an additional 12 before release, this wine, from a tiny 2.5 acre vineyard is in a very awkward place right now. It's medium ruby in the glass and you can see right through it. The nose seems muted, monolithic with simple cherry fruit. The palate follows the nose and is very tart - bordering on sour cherry. I grabbed a piece of cheese and water to clear my palate and that didn't help either. My assistant confirmed my observations. I don't know what to make of this, but I won't be buying any to find out. My guess is that it's very expensive too. They missed the mark here. 84 points. Not Recommended.
|Barolo Riserva from a tiny 2 acre vineyard|
This is one of the estates, along with La Poderina, Fattoria Cerro, and Colpetrone, that is now owned by the conglomerate Saiagricola. This hasn't seemed to impact the quality of wine production. The Italian Rep. was very friendly and eager to express her warmth while we discussed her wines. She mentioned that Riccardo Cotarella was now their consulting winemaker.
2009 Barbera d'Asti Nizza "Romilda": This is 100% Barbera and is barrique aged in French oak for 12 months and then for an additional 12 months in bottle prior to release. Dark cherry red in the glass with aromatic notes of nutmeg, wild berry and spices. Very nice indeed. Lavish fruit and oak on the palate with berries, spices and vanilla. More internationally styled than traditional, but there is no doubting the quality in this bottle. Much less acidic than many Barbera from Asti can be. Really nice. 90-92 points.
|Barbera "Romilda" by Riccardo Cotarella|
The same Rep pouring the Arbiola was also pouring for Colpetrone. I've enjoyed Colpetrone's Sagrantino for a long time. They also make a delicious Montefalco Rosso. I was excited to try this Tre Bicchieri 2007 because I own the wine, but have not opened one yet.
|Display featuring Magnum of the 2006 Sagrantino|
2007 Sagrantino: 100% Sagrantino aged in a combination of stainless steel, and French barrique for 12 months and then further refined for 26 months in bottle before release. In the past, this wine has seemed more approachable to me, but this vintage is a blockbuster. It's black in the glass. The aromas are deep with black fruits, herbs, spices and mineral. Rich flavors follow the nose with depth and harmony but the tannins clamp down on the finish. They're ripe, but they're huge. This is cellar worthy for 10+ years or decant an hour or more before enjoying. Great value in this wine too as it's under $35. 92-94 points.
|Tre Bicchieri 2007|
Canalicchio di Sopra
The Canalicchio di Sopra estate dates from the 1960's and is being managed now by the families third generation. The aim is to employ technological improvements while respecting the tradition and history of Montalcino. Canalicchio di Sopra ages it's Brunello for 36 months in large Slovenian Oak and then an additional year in bottle before release. That alone is more of a traditional approach, but in this case, it's working.
2007 Brunello di Montalcino:
Medium to full ruby-garnet color in the glass. Great aromatics. Flowers, sandalwood, wild brush and herbs. In the mouth the wine has a full bodied core of warm, ripe fruit with tobacco, clay and leather accents. This is so good and it reminded me of the 2007 Baricci. Wonderful clarity of fruit here and among the best 2007's I've tried. 92-94 points
|Gorgeous Traditional Sangiovese|
Two different Reps from Vinifera were pouring for Fontodi at Gambero Rosso then the gentleman pouring a few weeks ago at Slow Wine. They were both friendly and knowledgeable and in addition to the Tre Bicchieri Flaccianello, were also pouring the 2 glass Vigna del Sorbo.
2009 Flaccianello: I almost wasn't going to stop here since I had just tasted this at Slow Wine, but my partner wanted to try it and well, they were pouring! Nothing has changed since Slow Wine. This is dark, black red with effusive aromas of fruit, leather, earth and herbs. Has masses of fruit on the palate with juicy round flavors and wonderful perfumed aromatics. I've enjoyed Flaccianello for decades and this reminded me of the amazing 1985. I used to buy it regularly, when it averaged $50-$75. Now it's a staggering $120-$140 according to Vinifera's Rep. That's a shame because at that price, I'm forced to pass. But if you've got the means, buy as much of this as you can find. It's a stunning Sangiovese. Very Highly Recommended. 94-98 points.
2009 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo: This was a Due Bicchieri being poured and is a single vineyard Riserva whose vines average 30 years of age. 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet this is a stylish suave red with deep aromas and flavors of berries, tobacco, flowers and spice. Like a "Flaccianello light" - to make a flawed analogy. It spends 24 months in French barrique, only half of which are new, prior to 12 months bottle age before release. Special wine. Unfortunately, also fairly expensive. About $80 now. 91-94 points.
|Two 2009 Beauties: Flaccianello at left, Vigna del Sorbo at right|
The Winebow Rep. was polite enough in explaining what I've known about this wine for some time - that it's 100% Merlot and it's typically stunning.
2010 Montiano: I've had this wine from many vintages in the past, have written it up here many times and have many of them resting in my personal cellar. When this wine is released, it will be the latest to take refuge in my cellar. It's a stunning, pure Merlot. Sourced from the hills outside Rome, in the province of Lazio, this merlot has an air of aristocracy about it. It's got intense berry, mint, and violet aromas and flavors. Indeed, the Rep. didn't need to say much because the wine spoke for itself. I loved this and so did my partner. Riccardo Cotarella's Family Estate. Great value too at about $32. 93-96 points.
|2010 Montiano: Merlot from the Roman Hills|
Represented by Winebow as well, Librandi is the unquestioned leader in Calabrian wine. After merely growing grapes for centuries, the Librandi family began bottling their own wine in the 1950s. The Ionian sea provides cooling evening breezes and a special terroir to the large Librandi estate, which features almost 600 acres under vine. Ancient, indigenous as well as international varietals thrive here.
2010 Gravello: Made from 60% Gaglioppo and 40% Cabernet, this wine is true to it's indigenous roots as the Cabernet clearly is in a supporting role. The violets, berry jam, and bright citrus notes from the Gaglioppo shine through nicely with the more tannic cabernet providing structure. This dark purple wine displayed a bit of animal and barnyard on the nose but it was not overwhelming. Medium to full bodied and very well balanced, it's a great value. Delicious. 90-93 points.
|Gravello features a new sleek label with the 2010 vintage|
Tenimenti Luigi d'Alessandro
Massimo d'Alessandro bought the Manzano farm in 1967 and began extensive research into clonal selection for the Syrah vines that would eventually be planted in and around Cortona. Today the winery is owned by the Calabresi family and the winery was proudly represented by Filippo Calabresi and their export manager Gaetano Saccoccio who may have been only slightly less energetic than our friend G. Tabarrini! Tenimenti d'Alessandro produces three Syrah in Cortona. Tenimenti d'Alessandro will be the subject of a future interview at Tuscan Vines.
2009 Il Bosco Syrah - Cortona: First bottled in 1992, I discovered this wine with the 1997 vintage, when it was the only Syrah bottled by the estate. It's 100% Syrah from vines aged 24 years on average. What I love about this wine is that it's distinctly Tuscan. It's devoid of the funk that can be present in French Syrah and much more balanced than New World Syrah. The color is a deep purple with violet reflections. The aroma magnificently complex with coffee, Tuscan herbs, mint, and berries. Aged for 23 months in French oak and 6 months in cement, the fruit is pure on the palate with pepper, mint and coffee notes. Delicious. 92-94 points.
|100% Syrah from Cortona, Tuscany|
Tre Bicchieri Reflections.....
Many of the wines above, while they have already been released in Europe, have not all been released here in the United States. The consensus is that most will be available by late spring or early summer.
It was wonderful to meet Mandy Presser, from Il Palazzone at this tasting, even for a short period of time, and to make a personal introduction with Daniele Sassi from Tabarrini.
The venue and the event were well done and the wines, on the whole, showed beautifully. I don't think any wine region in the world compares to Italy for the sheer breadth of quality wine from the various grapes, regions, and styles available.
Over the next few months I'll be putting together interviews from friendships made from Slow Wine and Gambero Rosso. Please stay tuned....