You may have come to know Vintrospective as having a focus on the wines of Italy. This will continue to be the case, however, Vintrospective will expand coverage to wine regions beyond Italy. There is no roadmap or plan for exactly how, except to follow the wines and write as I go. Hope you’ll come along.
Do you think about the place where your bottle of Italian wine came from, who made it, how it was made? If you stop to consider these things you will begin to taste the unique cultural message which Italian wine offers. The wine will tell you about the land where it was created. It will invite you to drink the traditions and histories of the people that made it. That is good wine. It’s always been like this, more or less.
Some would have you believe that understanding Italian wine is a technical undertaking. It’s not like that, believe me. It is impossible to understand Italian wine without an awareness of the culture, people and place that created it. Only after we have a sense of these things does the technical stuff add value.
That its wine regions are beautifully different, distinct and many is Italy’s strength and its difficulty. Her dazzling array of wines will both charm and bewilder you. I suggest one approach: get to know Italian wine by your own sensory perceptions and experiences: you will create a real, personal wine culture independent of the professional wine press.
Don’t worry; the wines have their own way of deciding the itinerary for you… Are you coming?
An Evening of Morellino di Scansano: Energy, Freshness, and Style
I am ruminating about how I might sufficiently relate to you the energy, freshness, and style I am experiencing during this evening of tasting Morellino di Scansano wines in NYC with members of Consorzio Morellino. Finally, it comes to me – I shall entrust you briefly to the care of Macklemore for an “energy-freshness-style” level-set by way of their performance of “Can’t Hold Us”:
I trust you are now well enough prepared to proceed with our discussion
Morellino di Scansano does share a similar aromatic profile to Chianti Classico wines – not surprising as both are born of Sangiovese - but in the mouth, Morellino drinks with fresher, less aggressive tannins. The fresher-style Morellino wine is meant to be drunk younger, finding its peak in, say, 2-3 years, while the Morellino selection-level wines that spend some time in wood, will likely find their peak drinking time in 4-5 years. Riserva versions of Morellino, though, as they are richer in tannin, and having spent a year or so in wood, may extend 10 years or thereabouts to full maturity. In any case, Morellino di Scansano is inhabited by a youthful enthusiasm, juiciness, really, that differentiates it from other Sangiovese wines and their drier tannins.
What I really love about this tasting night is that the evening’s wine selections offer typical Morellino roundness and softness, yet each wine shows unique character and nuance among its peers and, again, exhibits a differentiating contrast that extends to Italy’s other Sangiovese wines found in the market. I could attribute this only to the fact that the Morellino di Scansano production area has quite different climatic, soil and growing conditions than most or all of Italy’s other important Sangiovese growing areas.
In confirmation of the appellation’s constant evolution in quality and practices, the Morellino di Scansano DOC (granted 1978) was awarded an upgrade to Italy’s highest wine designation of DOCG in 2007.
At an impressive table put on by restaurant Del Posto, thoughtfully paired Morellino wines play a perfect partner to the protagonist of each delicious Del Posto food course. That these Morellino wines are so incredibly harmonious with dishes ranging from truffled beef cruda to garganelli with ragu Bolognese to Neapolitan lamb rack with smoked neck, to cheeses, affirms that Morellino di Scansano wines are fundamental to good eating, whether such good eating be fine dining courses or favorite dishes prepared at home.
Tenuta Pietramora di Colle Fagiano “Brumaio” 2010 Tasted during the reception with hors d’oeuvres, this wine extended an elegant greeting to all comers. Easy to sip alone or with tasty small bites, this wine is stylish and easy to drink with especially tasty cherry fruit.
Poggio Nibbiale 2010 Produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or yeasts. Earthy, forest berries, violets, lush vitality in the mouth, soft tannins.
Az. Santa Lucia “Tore del More” 2010 Sophisticated and stylish, black cherries, herbs, hint of scrub pine, wonderful texture on the palate.
Poggio Argentiera “Capatosta” 2010 Spectacular expression of Scansano Sangiovese with a ripe cherry core, saddle leather, fallen leaves, silky tannins and enough energy to go for a decade or more.
Provveditore “Primo” Riserva 2009 Impressions of red and black fruits, good depth, intense with magnificent inner mouth aromas and a satisfying, long finish.
Fattoria Le Pupille “Poggio Valente” Riserva 2009 Massively expressive nose of fruit, herbs and spice, full of life and lusty energy, supple tannins and a tireless finish.
Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini – Massi di Mandorlaia “I Massi” 2010 Laser-focused core of red and dark fruits, notes of spice, pine. Kinetic power on the palate and an untiring finish.
Fattoria Mantellassi “Le Sentinelle” Riserva 2008 Good complexity showing red and black cherries, notes of baker’s chocolate, anisette and spice. Soft and rich on the palate, tapering nicely to dry on the finish.
We can disagree about if it is the Beatles or the Rolling Stones who made the better music. And feel free to cheer against my team when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees do baseball battle.
But, if you don’t find something to love about Marcarini Dolcetto D’Alba Fontanazza … well, I don’t think we can be friends
Marcarini Fontanzza 2010 is simply an outstanding representative of everything great about Italian wine – massively food friendly, traditional, terroir-expressive, honest, and above all, delicious.
The wine is produced from Dolcetto grapes grown among the Langhe Hills of Italy’s Piedmont in the area of La Morra – a locale famous for its Barolo wines - at 320m above sea level in a calcareous soil of high magnesium content.
The producer has decided against ageing in wood in order to preserve the wine’s character, aroma, and freshness.
Scents of fresh cherries and violets with delicate notes of brown spice that transfer nicely to the palate. Warm in the mouth, sensations of marzipan, cinnamon, and a persistent finish with the most delicately bitter grace note. An affordable, delicious wine that brings a bit of class to everyday life at table.
Food Pairing Suggestions:
Incredibly versatile and food friendly at table, it will exalt leftovers and better meals both for almost any cuisine. Use with confidence
CHIANTI, Turning the Page: Notes from CHIANTI NYC 2013
It’s no secret that Chianti has endured something of an image problem from wine lovers old enough to remember the fiasco straw-covered bottle. So, when a couple of twenty-somethings recently asked me to recommend a good Chianti, I was struck by two points: that they were asking for it at all, for one; but, more importantly, perhaps, that they referred to the Chianti brand.
Fact is that massive improvements in quality by Chianti producers along with great execution by the Consorzio around marketing activities are slowly turning the page to begin a new chapter for Chianti.
Chianti is a category of wine that offers the consumer great diversity. One can find: a more serious Chianti to enjoy with a grilled steak; a Chianti fun enough for a picnic; or one refreshing enough to accompany outdoor chores; Chianti wines that drink well in fine crystal stemware or simple tumbler glasses; purchase prices comfortable for a graduate student , stock trader and most everyone in between.
So it is with a sense of anticipation that I extend my tasting glass at today’s CHIANTI 2013 event in NYC: anticipation to sample a bit of Chianti’s next chapter; anticipation that a new generation of wine lovers are beginning to experience Chianti unencumbered by the baggage we old timers carry from a time when Chianti was, well, a little under par. While all the wines I tasted at the event were enjoyable, I shall make mention of a few that really impress:
Really love the cherry fruit and floral aromas of this producer’s Chianti Superiore 2009. The wine is a joy to hold in the mouth. The Riserva of that same year is elegant with more depth and finesse, lovely balsamic notes.
A pleasantly aromatic, harmonious and easy drinking Chianti (2009).
Chianti 2011 delivers impressively fresh berries on the nose, nicely balanced acidity and the good structure typical of this producer’s wines.
Le Fontia San Giorgio
Sublime scents of violets, red and black fruits, give this Chianti so much appeal. Great finish, too. The producer’s Chianti Montespertoli bottling shows a brighter fruit profile, smooth and warm in the mouth. In comparison, the Chianti Montespertoli Riserva is a bit more jammy, bringing hints of brown spice.
Adore Beconcini’s Chianti Riserva again this year. Traditional, smooth and expressive.
Good muscle, yet graceful, smooth in the mouth, subtle hint of spice on a lingering finish.
Impressed with Cignozza wines last year, I remain a fan. Both the Chianti and Riserva are impressively harmonious wines, big in the mouth, soft and supple palate, with the Riserva obviously taking the lead with complexity / intensity.
Another producer that caught my attention last year as well. Like the fresh, simplicity of the traditional-styled Chianti Santa Caterina. Find the velvety soft palate of the Il Castelvecchio bottling incredibly alluring. A magnificent Riserva full of emotion, power, and strength.