~ The copse of trees on the Tolaini Estate that graces the Al Passo label ~

Over the years, I’ve relayed the story of Tolaini’s humble beginnings which are well chronicled here.   Yet from those humble beginnings a manicured, impeccably run estate located in Castelnuovo Berardenga led by Pierluigi Tolaini, and a brilliant energetic winemaking team has risen.  With Michel Rolland originally on board and lending his tutelage where necessary, the wines from Tolaini have risen to excellence.  Beginning with the 2015 vintage, Luca d’Attoma has come aboard further brightening the future of this winery.

Ancient Etruscan history abounds and is respected on the Estate.  From the “Y” carved into the large rock at the entrance to the property to the story of “Al Passo” ; the subject of today’s article.  Al Passo is a small circular forest with an interior passage (“al passo”) at the highest point of the Tolaini estate that provides breathtaking view of the towers of Siena and the town of Montalcino and Montepulciano to the east.  It was in Al Passo that Tolaini discovered and restored an Etruscan tomb and ruins.

~ The entrance to the estate with the ancient Etruscan symbol for the letter “T” carved into the stone ~

For this review we reached into the cellar to pull out our last bottle of the 2007 Al Passo.  This was the first vintage of this wine that I ever tasted and it represented an amazing QPR.  I found a stash at a local retailer who was clearing it out for $8 per bottle.  Normal retail then and now is just shy of $20.  I bought every bottle he had.

The 2007 Tolaini Al Passo has aged extremely well.  A blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot, I remember in the wine’s youth it exhibited a slight “animale” character that was appealing and different.  As this has matured, that has faded away.  The Al Passo vineyard was planted in 2000 and today this almost 20 year old parcel is bearing delicious, complexly flavored grapes.  In fact, the 2014 version, which was from a very difficult vintage, was awarded Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso.  I’ll be reporting on that wine soon.

Deep ruby in the glass, the 2007 displays aromas of freshly crushed cherry, new leather, stones and powdered clay.  Very vibrant, on the palate the wine offers ripe cherry and mocha notes that are punctuated by dried herbs, flinty mineral and a soft, warm texture on the finish.  Any tannins melted away long ago and while the wine remains fresh, it is ready to drink and throwing a notable sediment.  Served alongside simple pasta bolognese and garlic rubbed bread, this could not have been more pleasing.  88 points.  The current release is $15-$18.  Find this wine.

~ Al Passo is vinified in stainless tanks and then transferred to French barrique for malolactic fermentation. The wine spends 8-10 months in barrique, 20% of which are new and then rests a full year in bottle prior to release. ~

Buon fine Settimana!

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