Tag Archives: Tuscany

Brunello glasses

Brunello of Montalcino: A Taste of the 2010 Vintage

By Maxine Howard

Montalcino, a small town in the southern part of Tuscany, is the only place winemakers can produce Brunello. It was the first to receive a DOCG designation guaranteeing the origin of this product. The grape from which Brunello is made is not unique: it is the Sangiovese grape grown around Italy and in other countries around the world. But this variety is Sangiovese Grosso, and the grapes are larger than those of the Sangiovese used in Chianti.

To be called Brunello, a Sangiovese must be:

  • Grown in Montalcino
  • Aged in oak two years
  • Aged in the bottle four months
  • Bottled in the production area
  • Beleased no sooner than January 1 of the fifth year following harvest

In addition, the wine must have a minimum alcohol content of 12.5%, although most are over 13%.

The terroir and climate vary through the growing area. The ground characteristics run from loose to rocky, the slopes have varying orientations, and the mild Mediterranean weather will have differing impact based upon placement of the vines. But there is one unifying characteristic to the Brunellos: they age slowly and retain their fruit and structure for many years.

The 2010 is said to be the best vintage in recent history, surpassing the previously revered wines of 1997. A major reason for the success of the 2010’s was the longer-than-usual growing season.

At a tasting of seven representative bottles from 2010, the strengths of Brunello and the variations among producers was on full display.

A bottle from Sassetti Livio Pertimali displayed what I considered classic traits for the wine: it had a pronounced aroma of dark fruit. On first taste rich, dark fruit came forward tempered by a wonderful earthiness. It displayed both roundness and length. The tannins were well controlled, but remained at the finish. This wine is aged for 36 months in Slavonian oak (from northeastern Croatia) and 6 months in the bottle. The alcohol content is 14%, and it retails in the US for $65.

Brunello

I had a very different tasting experience with the Brunello from Le Macioche. The producer says the grapes are harvested manually before vinification in wooden vats with spontaneous fermentation by wild yeast and a 25-day maceration period. The wine is aged for 36 months in oak and 14 months in the bottle. The wine announced its distinctiveness immediately with an aroma that was both floral and herbaceous. The taste was lean, with well-controlled fruit and a slightly tannic finish. It was startlingly different from the other Brunellos, but was very tasty on its own terms. The alcohol content is 14.5%.

BrunelloPerhaps my favorite bottle of the tasting was from Le Chiuse. This property is owned by the Biondi-Santi family, which was the original producer of Brunello. Le Chiuse ages its wine in Allier and Slovenian oak barrels for three years. The aroma was of dark fruit; the first sip demonstrated a richness, intensity, and body that demanded attention. The wine had great structure. Its tannins, although controlled, were still substantial. The wine will definitely benefit from additional aging, but you can already see that this is a great Brunello. The alcohol content is 14.27% and it retails in the US for $50 to $60.

Based upon this brief survey of the Brunellos of Montalcino, it is clear that the 2010 vintage is worth seeking out and cellaring for the future. It will pair well with a fine steak or leg of lamb, but will also be a great accompaniment to your cheese course.

Collazzi Liberta Toscana

AG Pick: Libertà dei Collazzi Toscana IGT 2012

Somehow Tuscany is both approachable and intimidating. Approachable because it’s one of the best known wine regions in Italy, thanks to Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, “Super Tuscans” and an extremely photogenic landscape. Intimidating because of the number of wines produced and labels that may need deciphering to figure out what you’re drinking.

Today we’re sharing a Tuscan wine that doesn’t need an advanced sommelier degree to enjoy.

Collazzi Liberta Toscana 2012The Libertà Toscana IGT 2012 comes from the Collazzi estate just south of Florence in the heart of the Chianti Classico. Designated as IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica – this wine may be considered a Super Tuscan as it is made with non-native grapes and a small portion of Sangiovese (and thereby does not meet the stricter requirements for a DOC or DOCG designation).

Libertà means freedom, and is a reference to the Collazzi coat-of-arms. It is a blend of 55% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 15% Sangiovese. The grapes were hand harvested and the wine spent 10 months aging partly in oak barrels.

The wine opens with spiced red fruit aromas. Flavors of cherry and red currant mingle with cedar, nutmeg and balsamic. There is a hint of sun-baked tomatoes that calls to mind images of sun drenched Tuscan vineyards. Round tannins and a smooth, lingering finish make this a crowd-pleasing wine to sip with friends.

For more information on the wines of Collazzi visit collazziusa.com.

$24, 14% alcohol by volume

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Piccini Memoro Bianco

AG Pick: Piccino Memoro Vino Bianco

Take a trip around Italy in just one bottle with the Piccini Memoro Vino Bianco, a non-vintage white blend that brings together different grapes and regions for a fun, easy to drink wine.

The history of Piccini dates back to 1882, when Angiolo Piccini started the winemaking estate in Chianti with 7 hectares. Today the fourth generation of the Piccini family runs the operations, which have expanded to four separate estates.

Piccini Memoro BiancoThe compass rose on the Memoro label signifies the four varietals, each a typical expression of a distinct Italian region. The Viognier (40% of the final blend) comes from Sicily; the Chardonnay (30%) is from Trentino in the north; the Vermentino (20%) is from Maremma in Tuscany; and the Pecorino (10%) is from the Marche on the eastern coast of central Italy.

The Memoro, a product of thorough research and experimenting, offers balanced fruit and acidity. There’s pear, apricot and golden apple from the Pecorino and cool climate Chardonnay, soft honey and white flowers from the Viognier, and additional delicate floral notes from the Vermentino. The wine is silky in the mouth, with a lingering finish that has a hint of bread and dried herbs.

Pair the wine with creamy sauces, poultry and seafood.

For more information visit www.tenutepiccini.it.

$9.99, 14% alcohol by volume

Snapshots from Kobrand Tour D’Italia

Earlier this month Kobrand Wine & Spirits brought its Tour d’Italia to the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead. Winery owners and winemakers shared their latest releases with members of the wine trade and media.

Among the many delicious wines there were a number of standouts. Take a look at the AG’s picks in the snapshots below (click to enlarge), and look for them at wine shops and restaurants in the Atlanta area.

Geography Guide:

Piedmont (Northwest Italy) — Michele Chiarlo
Veneto (Northeast Italy) — Masi Agricola
Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Northeast Italy, east of Veneto) — Fernando Pighin & Figli
Tuscany (Central Italy, on western side) — Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute, Tenute Silvio Nardi

photo credit: Cara Isdell Lee

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AG Pick: Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2010

Serving ham or lamb at your Easter meal or looking for a red wine for a dinner with friends? Try a bottle of the Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2010, a red blend from Tuscany.

Tenuta FrescobaldiThis wine is what is often called a “Super Tuscan” – a red wine from Tuscany that contains Sangiovese and a blend of other grapes, most often Bordeaux varieties. The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni contains 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Sangiovese. The wine spent 12 months maturing in barriques and additional two months in the bottle before it was released.

Red fruits dominate the aromas and flavors of the Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni. Notes of cherry, red currant, plum and strawberry are layered with gentle flavors of cedar. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ground coffee and a touch of black pepper add depth. Subtle tannins give the wine a pleasing mouthfeel, and the acidity is fresh and well balanced.

The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni is a wine that should be served with food, rather than sipped on its own. Pair it with lamb, roasted or sautéed beef, pork or rabbit.

Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni is imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners, a Michael Mondavi Family Company. For more about the wines from Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi visit www.frescobaldi.it.

$25, 13.5% alcohol by volume

More Red Wines | White Wines | Under $20