TuscanVines was recently asked to arrange a tasting, provide wines and commentary for a group at a private swim club. Approximately 25 guests were in attendance and a fabulous time was had by all. The wines showed well - of course favorites varied among the group, but there were consensus standouts. The weather was perfect - cool, crisp and the setting was outdoors in the shade. I had the wines at proper temperatures and assorted appetizers and grilled sausages were served.
|~ Part of the Crew at the Event ~|
The first wine served was a "welcome white" and was absolutely perfect for the role. The 2011 Fontana Candida Frascati is the essence of Rome. One can just imagine sitting on the Piazza Spagna in the summer heat sipping Frascati as the crowds shuffle by. Indeed, this pale golden refresher evokes such images with it's crisp lemon flavors, shale like minerality and delicate aromas. A great apperitif, but also paired well with the white bean and parsley dip. I've discussed Fontana Candida previously, both in reviews and with Mauro Merz, the winemaker. 89 points, about $10.
|~ The 2011 Fontana Candida Frascati ~|
The next wine was served as part of the "sit down" tasting - along with the appetizers. Hailing from Campania, it is named after the Roman wine "Apianum" which history shows is now thought to have been the grape Fiano. Indeed, the 2011 Nobilis Apianum Fiano di Avellino bears that very name in tribute. The wine is a pale gold, slightly darker than the Frascati. It has a fuller aroma with grapefruit, mineral and lemon oil present on the nose. On the palate, the wine is crisp, steely and very fresh. Flavors follow the nose and are clean and focused. Could there be more concentration here? I think so. But it's still a pleasing white. This wine was very well received by the group and paired very well with the lighter cheese, the bean dip, and the bruschetta. 87 points. Disclosure: This bottle was an importer provided sample.
|~ 2011 Nobilis "Apianum" Fiano di Avellino ~|
The next wine was, as one of the guests remarked, a "building block" toward the reds. Served from magnum, the 2011 Regis Chevalier "Chic" was just that. A tall, skinny, striking bottle, this Rose is primarily Grenache with a dash of Cinsault and hails from the Provence region of France. It's a bright salmon color and boasts aromas of white stone peaches, strawberry, and subtle floral notes. On the palate, it's freshing and off dry. There's just a hint of sweetness but this doesn't detract in the least. Flavors follow the nose and while this wasn't a favorite of the group, those who enjoy Rose really liked this - and I was among them. 88 points. Disclosure: This bottle was an importer provided sample.
|~ Served from Magnum - Regis Chevalier "Chic" Rose ~|
The next two wines were the clear hits of the night. The Reds that hailed from Tuscany. What can I say? it's not like I bribed the tasters! :)
The first was a great rosso from Central Tuscany, the 100% Sangiovese from Sette Ponti, Crognolo. I've enjoyed this wine before, but this tasting seemed to display a bit more oak evident than previous times with the wine. The 2010 is dark violet to purple in the glass with persistent aromas of berries, mint, and leather. In the mouth the wine is balanced and elegant, with loads of polished oak. It's certainly a more modern style and the barrique exposure is noted but not unbalanced. This will not be everyones cup of tea in Sangiovese. Full bodied flavors of coffee, berry, and tobacco are rich and long. It's very sexy. 91 points, about $25.
|~ The 2010 Sette Ponti Crognolo Sangiovese ~|
Finally, we got to what I hoped would be the wine of the night. I knew no one would be familiar with it and I hoped it would show as well as it did when I first was introduced to it. I presented the wine. I told the story. The rest as they say, is history.
The 2008 Pietro Beconcini Tempranillo Vigna alle Nicchie is every bit as delicious as it was early this summer. This is a dark, blackish red. Nearly impenetrable color. The aromas on the nose are absolutely massive. Leaping from the glass are expressive crushed wild berry fruit, dusty warm clay notes, roasted coffee, sweet pipe tobacco, new leather and savory spices combine harmoniously. On the palate the crushed red fruits are in massive proportion. Loads of ripe, sweet dusty berry, black olive, tobacco and vanilla are complex and seamlessly woven. A unique expression of the San Miniato area of Tuscany. 96 points and just stunning.
Vigna alle Nicchie is hand harvested in early September. The grapes are then brought to the drying loft on the estate where they are left until mid October. During this drying process the grapes typically lose almost 25% of their weight. Fermentation then begins and usually lasts up to 10 days and then the must is macerated for almost 6 weeks. Aging is carried out in a combination of French (70%) and American (30%) oak barrels and lasts up to 2 years. The wine then spends 2 years in bottle prior to release. Disclosure: This bottle was an importer provided sample.
By the time I got around to taking a photo, it was completely dark outside, so this is the image from my earlier tasting.
|~ Tempranillo from Tuscany. Ancient Vineyard alle Nicchie ~|
The evening wore down and all left happy. Thanks to the crew at Roycefield for the chance to share some wines with all of you and thanks to PrestoWines for the opportunity.