Tasty Tuscan Finds
Characterizing Tuscan wines narrowly would be a mistake. There is as much diversity within Tuscany as there is between Italy’s various regions. Sangiovese may be the workhorse grape, but it comes in so many different styles due to the region’s diverse microclimates and the extraneous number of genetic clones that exist in the vineyards. It forms the major component of Chianti (Italy’s most globally recognized wine), Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (clone known as Prugnolo Gentile), and Morellino di Scansano (clone known as Morellino). Sangiovese is also the sole varietal in Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino (the Sangiovese Grosso clone is traditionally used in these wines, but it is not mandatory).
Perhaps the wines with the most caché and that have generated the greatest interest over the past quarter century are the Super-Tuscans. While there are no rules or guidelines with respect to the composition or production of these bottles, their origins are rooted in wines blending Sangiovese with “international” varietals such as Cabernet (Antinori’s Tignanello being one of the first) and with wines composed solely of “international” varietals such as Cabernet (Tenuta S. Guido’s Sassicaia being one of the first) that originally fell outside the traditional wine producing DOC(G) laws. This opened the door for other winemakers to experiment with their own blends and for additional plantings of varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The modernization of the DOC(G) laws (a gradual and slow process) now allows the inclusion of wines that originally fell outside the rules, such as the Super-Tuscans.
But there also appears to be a movement back to the traditional wines of the area made with native grape varietals, natural winemaking and judicious, if any, use of oak. Tuscany is not just the land of the iconic Brunello and Super-Tuscans, often only accessible to wine collectors. It is a region possessing numerous interesting wines made with unique grape varietals that express the warmth of both the people that produce them and of the Tuscan sun.
Capezzana Vin Santo di Carmignano Riserva DOC 2005, Tuscany ($45/375 ml)
An absolutely stunning wine that encompasses everything that a classic dessert wine should. Rich but fresh with aromas and flavours of apricot, raisin, butterscotch, and nuts, complex and multi-layered with perfect balance and great acidity. Will go down as a classic. Barrel sample.
Col d’Orcia Moscadello di Montalcino ‘Pascena’ DOC 2008, Tuscany ($60/375 ml)
Absolutely delicious dessert wine with rich aromas of ripe pear, apple and peach with plenty ripe flavours of pineapple, apple and pear, great balance between sweetness and acidity and a long, long finish.
Donatella Cinelli Colombini Chianti Superiore DOCG 2008, Tuscany ($26.99)
Classy and elegant with bright plum, juicy cherry and soft mineral character, great texture, medium bodied with silky tannins and a long, long minerally finish.
Mazzei Serrata Belguardo Maremma IGT 2007, Tuscany ($29.99)
Lots of bright and fruity aromas of currants and crushed berries, full bodied with soft, silky tannins and a long finish. Packed with fruit. A blend of Sangiovese and Alicante.
Donatella Cinelli Colombini ‘Leone Rosso’ Orcia DOC 2009, Tuscany ($30)
Bright dark fruit-driven aromas, full flavoured with supple tannins and lots of berry, mineral and cherry character. Long and rich, extremely well balanced, so youthful and impressive with great approachability and drinkability. Sangiovese and Merlot.
Triacca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ‘Santavenere’ DOCG 2008, Tuscany ($30)
Complex and effusive aromas of mineral and berry, hints of flowers, fresh and approachable with firm, silky tannins and a long, long, fruit-driven finish. Honest and well crafted. A 90/5/5 blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Colorino.
Triacca Chianti Classico Riserva ‘La Madonnina’ DOCG 2008, Tuscany ($36)
Rich aromas of dark cherry with flavours of morello cherry, blackberry and plum with hints of earth, full firm tannins, a touch of dark chocolate, and a freshness on the long, albeit tight finish. Wonderful structure and flavours that will benefit and evolve with another year or two in the bottle.
Col d’Orcia Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2009, Tuscany ($36.99)
A clean, juicy, fruit-driven wine with cherry, plum and raspberries, good structure, mineral with fine tannins and a fresh finish. Well balanced and delicious from the originator of this style of wine.
Capezzana Carmignano ‘Villa di Capezzana’ DOCG 2007, Tuscany ($48)
Intense aromas of blackberries and cherries follow through to a powerful palate with great freshness and rich blackberry and cherry flavours, spice and an incredible long finish. A classic Carmignano. Sangiovese (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%).
Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2006, Tuscany ($68)
Loads of blackberry and amarena cherry aromas and flavours, with a full body, tight, firm mid-palate, ripe chewy tannins and a long, long finish. Multi-layered and beautiful with loads of fruit, yet refined and elegant with so much flavour. This will only get better.
Isole e Olena Syrah ‘Collezione di Marchi’ IGT 2004, Tuscany ($68)
Complex and rich aromas and flavours of blackberry, mineral with a touch of spice with a full-bodied palate, silky tannins and a long, smooth finish.
Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino ‘Castelgiocondo’ DOCG 2004, Tuscany ($80)
Dark, ripe aromas of blackberry and earth with cherry and berry flavours and a touch of meatiness, full, silky tannins with a seductive, caressing finish.
Col d’Orcia Cabernet ‘Olmaia’ Sant’Antimo DOC 2005, Tuscany ($100)
Dark ruby with alluring aromas of currant and mineral, massive dark fruit flavours with an amazing structure, full bodied with super silky tannins yet chewy and powerful. One of Tuscany’s best Cabernets.
Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ‘Poggio al Vento’ DOCG 2004, Tuscany ($125)
Amazing aromas of crushed berries, earth, blackberry and violet with an incredibly full body, multi-layers of velvety tannins, so much complexity and a long, long finish. Develops wonderfully in the glass, becoming more and more rich but still possesses that classic fresh house style.
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore DOC 2005, Tuscany ($225)
Consistently one of the best Super-Tuscans. Complex, rich and sleek with massive yet fresh blackberry, cherry and savoury aromas and flavours, multi-layered with firm, silky tannins and a hugely long, fruit-driven finish.