Throughout the year I tend to collect small batches of yums – not a big enough buy to write a whole story about, but supremely tasty finds none the less. The time has come to show my cards and spill the beans: I’m sitting on a pretty tidy Tuscan Salad right now. I’ve Supertuscans and DOCG wines, some to drink and some to time-capsule, some are returning champions and some are newbies - since it’s a long list I’ll get right to part one:
Piaggia Il Sasso 2015, Carmignano DOCG. Is this Tig at less than half the price? Carmignano, that ancient village north of Florence, is less famous today than it was during the Renaissance, when it was the pastoral playground of the ruling Medici family. Despite its local renown (it was the first Italian village where Cab was allowed under DOCG regs) its wines have been largely absent from our shores, which is a shame because here be dragons. Spark, sizzle and heft, 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon (similar to Tignanello’s make-up). Some Carmignanos want to turn you into a better, leaner soldier but Il Sasso just wants to give you a neck rub and hear about your day, the body here is more luscious than usual and the floral, dark fruited nose doesn’t require a degree in Latin to get. If I still have some, we’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you’re curious. Herbs and cocoa powder round off the finish, holy cheese-balls 2015 was a great vintage there. 95 points Vinous, 3 6-packs available, $48.99 +tax
Canalicchio di Sopra 2013, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. A returning champion (in boxing announcer voice): the “Magic From Montalcino”!! The “Presto right from the UNSECO Site”!! My allotment of this iconic, traditionally modern (modernly traditional?) Brunello shrinks every year, and every year my lucky International Cellars agent gets to hear what I think about that. Whereas many of the 2013 Brunellos are accessible a tad earlier than the 2012s, Canalicchio di Sopra does Opposite Day and proves to be a little tighter than last year. The intensity is nearly identical (perhaps more so), ripe red fruit with burnt orange and black twizzlers, but the supporting frame is poking out at the moment and will need a couple years’ education to unlock fully. I hate being this guy but I’ll have to limit this to one 6-pack each for the first 3 respondents. Seems fairest? 97 points Wine Spectator, 96 points Robert Parker, 3 6-packs available, $90.49 +tax
Canalicchio di Sopra Riserva 2012, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Everything I just said times five. This Riserva doesn’t always come to BC, and those of us who get some dare not divulge the dirty deeds we did to get it. Built like a truck, decidedly longer maceration and darker pigment, here, everything would collapse on its own tent poles if it weren’t for that filament streak of acidity that elevates the body and electrifies the finish. Not sure why you’d throw dark cherries on the BBQ but that’s a start? Outstanding balance between Monument and Pleasure Dome. 96 points Wine Spectator, 2 wooden 6-packs available, $181.49 +tax
Rocco di Montegrossi Geremia 2013, Toscana IGT. A bear that was raised by ducks. An outstanding Chianti house in its own right (their sweet Vin Santo is to die for), Montegrossi grows Merlot and Cab (85/15) in the middle of Chianti Classico, ages it in French oak for 2 years, then unleashes it into society without any regard to public safety. Sweaty blackberries are fanning themselves with sprigs of rosemary, unaware that the reason they’re so hot is that they’re on fire. A classical minerality reminds you that this is indeed Tuscany, the plums and massive body tell you that this is indeed Merlot The Giant, and it sits wherever it wants. If quantities hold, we’ll be pouring this on Saturday at 3pm in the River District Vintage Room if you’d like to taste. 97 points Vinous, 2 cases available, $70.99 +tax
Casanova di Neri Cerretalto 2012, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. I got one of only 2 3-packs that came into BC. The Cerretalto vineyard, east of Montalcino, forms an eastern-facing natural amphitheatre that cradles the morning sun, only to let the heat slowly dissipate as evening falls, and nights here are cold. The barely decomposed, iron-rich soil is so poor that the Sangiovese Grosso vines (Brunello in local parlance) can only muster sparse, small, straggly bunches of grapes, packed with super-human phenolics and fruit-weight. Things should not grow here, and the things that do should scare you. The downscale 2012 Brunello from Casanova di Neri placed #4 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 – this wine is several Bowser Castles up from that. The stressed vines throw everything they have at these grapes because they have to: crushed rocks, spiced cherries, orange tobacco - but the concentration, achieved entirely in the vineyard, is the stuff of legends. 98 points Wine Spectator, 98 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $607.99 +tax
Hope to see you Saturday, until next week (for Part Two), Happy Drinking!!