Tagged with 'tuscany'

Toscanarama Part Three

Our third instalment in this year’s cavalcade of amazing Tuscan wines continues, focusing again on titanic examples of the best Brunello vintage since at least 2010: 

BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 

Conti Costanti 2016, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. One of the original founding estates of the Brunello appellation (along with Biondi Santi), Costanti holds down the Old Guard, building a statuesque, long-looking Brunello from high-altitude sites just below the mountain-top village. Orange zest and lavender are just some of the fresh high-tones that lift the sour cherry and candied raspberries before slowing down to the speed limit on the palate and the brisk, garrigue-inflected Mediterranean finish. Act One starts in 3 years, but oh, what a play that will be. Best Costanti that I can remember. 99 points Wine Enthusiast, 98 points Decanter, 97 points Wine Spectator, 5 6-packs available, $160.98 +tax 

Fuligni 2016, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. A stone’s throw from Costanti, Fuligni’s nose adds heat and spice to that highly situated style, showing kirsch and strawberry compote amongst the sanguineous plum and anise notes, coasting briskly over the palate before the law gets laid down with a traditionally tannic profile and a lifted, ferrous finish. Boasting a restored convent on the property, you wouldn’t plant anything but grapes on Maria Flora Fuligni’s 1450-ft high site, it’s basically bunch of rocks that produce small, angry bunches of Sangiovese, making a deliberate, inscrutable Brunello that needs a further two years for the finish to integrate. Once it does, it’ll show Fuligni’s perfect balance of elegance and power. 99 points Wine Enthusiast, 99 points Decanter, 98 points Vinous, 3 6-packs available, $145.99 +tax 

Poggio Landi 2016, Brunello di Montalcino 2016. The best value of the Brunello 2016s that I’ve come across thus far, Poggio Landi straddles the trad/modern divide, aging in French oak but keeping the elegance and soft power of the classic houses. Sourced from vineyards in the north of the appellation, including the mighty Montosoli, this 2016 is a balance of fruit and savoury elements: black pepper and licorice mix with dried cherry, cedar and pine notes, before tomato leaf and blackberry zing across the palate and long floral finish. Medium-bodied with considerable intensity and a great future, the fruit presence is fantastic now but (broken record) I’d like the finish to poke out a little less – a two years nap should do the trick. 97 points Wine Spectator, 10 6-packs available, $77.98 +tax 

Canalicchio di Sopra 2016, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Situated on the steep northeast side of the mountain in what’s now a Unesco Heritage site, Canalicchio di Sopra blends their Brunello from their home site and the Montosoli cru, mixing a classic delivery with bright freshness and slightly earlier accessibility. Lilac and soft balsamic notes lift the cherries and licorice above a ferrous, citrus-laced frame, hints of sweet spice along the palate and one of the longest finishes of the appellation. Still needs a nap but showing great early promise. 97 points Wine Enthusiast, 4 6-packs available, $106.98 +tax 

Canalicchio di Sopra La Casaccia 2016, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Only the second vintage produced from the Casaccia plot in the home vineyard, a two-hectare site with an unusually high level of minerals in its clay soils. I can year you saying “two hectares?!? How much wine can you squeeze out of that?”. The answer is surprisingly specific: 4,133 bottles, and I have 6 of ‘em. The most idiosyncratic plot in Canalicchio do Sopra’s oeuvre, Casaccia unsurprisingly shines with minerality and saline notes before the army of flowers invades: smoke-tinged jasmine and violets precede lovely cherry, pine and citrus aromas. Finishes long and herbal, with even more minerals. 98 points Vinous, 97 points Decanter, two wooden 3-packs available, $222.98 +tax 

PRE-ORDER: Le Chiuse 2016, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Just clearing customs now, will be in store in a couple weeks.  Although no one officially crowns a “Wine Of The Vintage” in Montalcino, let me put it this way: can you name a better candidate than Le Chiuse? This timeless Brunello that was cleaved from Biondi Santi as dowry (it used to be Biondi’s reserve vineyard) has fully met its moment in 2016 – two perfect scores, and although it isn’t officially released yet, Wine Enthusiast let the winery know that this 2016 Brunello placed #2 on their year-end Top 100 Cellar Selections list. Electric red fruit with savoury green herbs, orange peel with crushed rocks, sour cherry with topsoil, the supple palate is upstaged, currently, by a rigid frame, but that should begin to soften by 2024. Years from now, we’ll remember that 2016 was the vintage that vaulted Le Chiuse into the elite echelon of Brunello producers, joining the benchmark houses that define the genre. No way it stays this price. 100 points Jeb Dunnuck, 100 points Wine Enthusiast, 98 points Wine Spectator – 20 6-packs available for pre-order - $151.98 +tax 

Biondi Santi 2012, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. The grand-daddy of them all in a new release (they hold back for bottle-aging longer than most). The 2012 finds lots of graphite and blood orange amongst the characteristic herbed cherries, with soft currant and tea notes building before the austere finish returns to Biondi Santi’s natural lack of youthful charisma. Some reviewers suggest that the window on this 2012 is already open, but those people must enjoy getting slapped. As it has always been, Biondi Santi is a time capsule and must be aged accordingly; this will be singing in another 6 years but it’s currently growling. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, $263.98 +tax 

 

OTHER TUSCANS 

Istine Vigna Cavarchione 2018, Chianti Classico DOCG. Although old-vine vineyards are never a risky bet, sometimes a young ingenue can turn heads and sing new tunes: the Caverchione vineyard isn’t even a decade old yet, and it’s already producing stunning Sangiovese with energy and precision. The Fronti family spent decades planning and managing vineyards for Chianti’s elite houses, but never making wine themselves until Angela Fronti convinced her dad that their talents should stay in house, and the Istine label launched in 2009. Built upon the family’s uncanny knack for identifying the best plots, Istine makes several crus but the Cavarchione site has stood out for its brawn and depth: this is a big, complicated Chianti Classico, with layers upon layers of plum, orange peel, cherry and stone drawing you into the glass. Finishes like a laser despite its weight, outstanding stuff now, and it’ll be fascinating to watch what this vineyard gives us going forward. 96 points Vinous, 3 6-packs available, $66.98 +tax 

Terralsole “Trio” 2008, Toscana IGT. Although made by a famous Brunello house within the boundaries of the Montalcino appellation, I can’t put Trio in the “Brunello” category as it’s a blend of French grapes created initially to piss off Mario Bollag’s dinner guests. While most Tuscan producers experiment with international grapes here and there, Terralsole’s Mario found himself hosting several snotty neighbours - Brunello winemakers who were taking turns throwing shade on those non-traditional wines over dinner. When asked to sample them on his recent Brunellos in barrel, Mario descended resentfully into his cellar clutching a decanter, which he then filled with equal parts Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Merlot. He served the ad-hoc jungle juice to his guests, gleefully expecting to revel in their disgust, but was thrown by what happened next: they loved it. Then he tried it. Turns out that Mario had haphazardly created an amazing Supertuscan: lovely dark berries with toasty oak notes and tertiary notes of leather and dried currants (he holds these back longer than his Brunellos because I don’t know why). Smooth as silk and richly textured, I wish I made accidents like this. Not Rated. 2 6-packs available, $58.98 +tax 

 

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS 

What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info, I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Buon Tempo 2010, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. 12 bottles available, $89.98 +tax 

Casanova di Neri 2016 (I got more!) Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. 95 points Wine Spectator, 12 bottles available, $105.99 +tax 

Il Paradiso di Manfredi 2013, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. 97 points Wine Enthusiast, 12 bottles available, $207.98 +tax 

Arcanum 2015, Toscana IGT. 97 points Robert Parker, 18 bottles available, $108.98 +tax 

Le Macchiole “Paleo Rosso” 2016, Toscana IGT. 97 points Robert Parker, 97 points Wine Enthusiast, 1 6-pack available, $170.98 +tax 

Tolaini “Legit” 2016, Toscana IGT. (it’s back and it’s on sale!) #13 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 95 points Wine Spectator, 4 cases (12) available, reg price $64.99, SALE PRICE $59.99 +tax 

Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva 2018

Mentions of the historic Arceno estate date back to the year 1000 when it was cited as a small independent community located in Siena, Italy. Over the next few decades, the estate passed through ownership of two historically prominent Italian families – the Del Taja family and the Piccolomini family. In the early 1500s, it was the Tajas that expanded the estate, building the first villas on the property. In 1829, the estate was purchased by the illustrious Piccolomins who added to the grandeur of the estate by building gardens, lakes and many of the villas that still stand today. Continuing on the legacy, Tenuta di Arceno was acquired by legendary California winemaker Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke in 1994.

Tenuta di Arceno has a diverse portfolio which centers around the native Sangiovese grape in the Chianti Classico collection.

A word from our Director of Buying, Dave Smith:

"With a rich and storied history, this Tuscan estate is a must try. A very modern and forward style of Chianti with deep concentration and rich, ripe fruit balanced by great structure. I get drawn to this wine every time I taste it. With a couple of hours of decanting, this wine becomes more and more expressive! Pair this with wild boar ragu or osso buco and you won’t be disappointed. Time and time again this wine has been a staff favourite. A great gift wine or treat yourself!"

92 points, James Suckling

Purchase it here.

Arguably the greatest vintage of Brunello di Montalcino ever!

Brunello di Montalcino 2016: Arguably the greatest vintage of Brunello di Montalcino ever!

 I've received quite a few bottles of the magical 2016 vintage from Brunello di Montalcino.  This vintage leaves most people speechless, regardless of personal taste. Even if you are not sure which bottle (or bottles) to get, it would be hard to go wrong with any of these excellent wines. 2016 Stands out as the strongest vintage ever in Brunello di Montalcino, a legendary vintage, thanks to a textbook growing season!

 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

 Argiano's Brunello di Montalcino is distinguished by its elegance and its deep ruby red color. It presents a good concentration on the mid-palate and a persistent aftertaste, with a rounded and voluptuous body, and interesting, silky tannins. 97 Decanter. 

$74.99 per bottle plus tax. 

 

 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2016:  

 Incredible effort for one of the largest estates in Montalcino. This estate produces stunning wines vintage after vintage. Keep this one for at least a decade! 97 Vinous, 96 Wine Spectator. 

$84.98 per bottle plus tax. 

 

 Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

 Complexity, superb structure, and an inviting, mouth-filling palate are the hallmarks of this Sangiovese grown in the 42-hectare Capanna vineyard facing towards the Mediterranean Sea. A garnet-flecked ruby red, it releases generous, emphatic fragrances classic to Sangiovese, developing a near-endless progression notable for its beautiful balance. 97 Decanter, 99 JS. 

$95.98 per bottle plus tax. 

 We also have 6 magnums (1.5L) available of the 2016 vintage: $214.99 plus tax.

 Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

Blended from Le Ragnaie's scattered vineyards, this provides a wide-angle snapshot of Montalcino’s varied territory, violets and Mediterranean scrub meeting wild strawberry, stone and an intriguing earthiness. It also encapsulates Sangiovese’s buoyancy, coming across as mid-weight at first then building with power as firm, dusty tannins wrap around a tangy core. The finish is energetic and uplifting - an elegantly sculpted Brunello. 

 $119.98 per bottle plus tax. 96 Wine Spectator 

 Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 2016: 

The Sesti estate's vineyards are in the enviable position of being on the southern slopes of Montalcino, where some of the most prestigious Brunello comes from. Giuseppe Sesti is considered the leading winemakers of the region. 94 Wine Advocate 

 $147.98 per bottle plus tax. 

Back Up Two Trucks! Top 100 Tuscan Cab and 97pt Vigno!

A couple of killer wines with silly ratings have made their way to me recently, and rather than giving each wine its own episode I decided to bundle them into one grand heads-up. These are both fantastic cellaring wines at civilized price points, in new-ish categories that aren’t yet priced to their fullest potential. Let’s dive in, starting with a returning champion: 

Tolaini “Legit” Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Toscana I.G.T, Italy. A Tuscan powerhouse from the heart of Chianti Classico that – given the consistent accolades – should be priced closer to Solaia because it’s essentially the same model: Cabernet Sauvignon from a Chianti vineyard aged for 2 years in French Barriques, easily cellarable for 2 decades. We previously featured (and quickly sold out of) the stoic 2013, but this 2016 is thicker, arguably a little less angular, and should be approachable next year, this year if you wear pads. I’ve told Pierluigi Tolaini’s story before but in a nutshell: Born in Tuscany before moving to Winnipeg (the “Tuscany of Canada”, we can all agree), Luigi drove a truck there (whilst listening to a lot of American Jazz) and eventually bought the company, turning it into a trucking empire of the Canadian Prairies. Always seeking to return home, Luigi used his fortunes to buy vineyards in Castelnuovo Berardenga with the help of Michel Rolland. Now with young winemaker Francesco Rosi at the helm, the Tolaini winery began playing around with Bordeaux varieties and planted the Cabernet that became this proud creature, which Luigi called “Legit” after Thelonious Monk, whose music he loved. Deep and dark fruits like cassis and plum are held up on a ferrous platform of stemmy herbaceousness, this is very much a Tuscan wine and doesn’t seek to ape Napa or Bordeaux, although in frame it does kinda echo Saint Julien. Only released in excellent vintages (2013 was the previous one), this bottling is an event I don’t expect to see for another few years. Exclusive to Everything Wine. #13 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 95 points Wine Spectator, 10 cases available, $64.99 +tax 

Garage Wine Co. Vigno 2016, Maule Valley, Chile. Our kids may never forgive us for all the Vigno we didn’t buy. Ridiculously priced for such Cellar Stars, the Vigno category (a shortening of “Vignadores de Carignan”) applies to dry-farmed, old-vine Carignan-led field blends from the Secano area of Maule Valley; it’s the most stringent appellation that Chile has, operably the only “real” one by European standards of control. Garage Wine Co.’s take on the category (from the Truquilemu lieu-dit) is freaking stunning – a very Piemontese structure supporting a bouquet of flowers and stones: violets, orange zest and black raspberries surrounded by rhubarb, gravel, smoked meat and earth, all on top of a medium-bodied, mineral frame with an acidic structure that can see through walls. The finish is long, rustic and Barolo-esque – New World freshness on an Old World castle – and though drinking with food now, will continue to evolve amazingly through 2030. There’s no way it stays this price. Carignan with Grenache and Mataro (Mourvèdre), exclusive to Everything Wine. 97+ points Robert Parker, 6 6-packs available, $89.99 +tax 

Until next week, Happy Drinking!