Friday, August 16, 2013

The Devil's Stone

Years ago, when I first developed an interest in wine,  a retailer friend of mine introduced me to a wine I wasn't familiar with: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  The Noble Wine of Montepulciano.  

Montepulciano, beacause of it's hilltop neighbor Montalcino, is rightly or wrongly, often compared to Brunello.  In fact, that's how the retailer introduced the wine to me: "This is Brunello's Step Brother".....
That was almost 25 years ago and even after all that time, it's still the perception I have of the wines coming from this appellation.  They are often very good Sangiovese.  But they rarely, if ever, reach greatness. They're often affordable, especially relative to most Brunello, but they also don't offer the intensity or complexity of most Brunello. 
Today's article is one case in point.  Tenuta il Faggeto is a tiny estate on the eastern side of Montepulciano whose 6 hectares of vineyards gently slope down toward Lago di Trasimeno.  The estate is known for it's horse farming as well as it's wine and legend says that it's called the "Devil's Stone" because Lucifer himself made the area rocks harder in an effort to hinder the building of a nearby Basilica.
The 2009 Tenuta il Faggeto Vino Nobile is a brightly colored ruby to violet wine with a medium deep color.  On the nose, the wine offers up ample aromas of dried cherry, some cedary spice, and dried herbs.  Pleasing, but simple enough and stopping short of robust.  On the palate, the wine is fresher, with a solid core of zippy cherry fruit with some dust and slightl earth notes. It's peppery, but doesn't quite display the richness and ripeness notable for the vintage.  The balance is there and while this wine is nice, it's not something I would seek out in quantity.  87 points, about $22. 

~ Pietra del Diavolo: "The Devil's Stone" from Tenuta il Faggeto ~  

E vero!


  1. John, what is true?
    The facts of the post?
    The wine in the glass?
    Or I'm frivolous?
    Let me guess: all the above.
    E vero! I'm sure this must be an Italian exclamation! No?

  2. Very interesting John, I mostly agree with you. You are right that Vino Nobile is often compared to Brunello, inevitably, but perhaps unfairly. Vino Nobile is not trying to be Brunello, it is trying to be Vino Nobile and should be judged accordingly. In terms of varietal make up, it is more Chianti than Brunello. What it does seem to often have is an astringency and rusticity that marks it as different from Brunello, which is often broader, richer and deeper. Vino Nobiles often have pretty chewy tannin and a rustic earthiness, which can be very attractive. For the most part, I do agree with you that it rarely reaches the heights of Brunello, but then it is usually around half the price, so is it only half as good? Not for me. I probably drink more VN than BdM, as it's more affordable and can be just as satisfying in its own way, if you don't expect it to be a Brunello. Some Brunello, on the other hand is over priced and disappointing for the luxury price tag.
    However, having said all of that I think there are a few VNs that do match up, Asinone in a good vintage is a match for many a modern style Brunello, Boscarelli's Nocio is more classicly styled and has great depth. Both are more Brunello price though.
    Maybe most Brunelloesque of all is Salcheto. I opened a half bottle of 2008 this evening and it is so elegant and refined, decadently rich yet restrained, lots of fresh acidity, fine and integrated tannins, with a depth of flavour and persistent length that belies it's 'lightness' It reminds me very much of the classic elegant Brunellos from around the town, reminds me of Paradiso di Manfredi.

  3. Adam,

    I agree with you. Of course I was speaking in generalizations. I would gladly drink Asinone or Boscarelli anytime. I think the comparison to CC is fair too, given that many VN are not 100% Sangiovese.

    I don't see much Boscarelli and it's expensive here. I really enjoy Poliziano, and that's about $22 for the normal bottling. Don't find Asinone too often either.


  4. cheers John
    A shop I regularly visit nearby sells the Il Faggeto VN, and it's one I haven't tried, so I may buy a bottle next time I'm in.