2014. For most in Tuscany, it was a year to be forgotten. I was there. It was hot, dry and dusty. Many of the producers I spoke to were wishing out loud for rain. Like the trusted axiom that is the title of this article, another apt one for 2014 might be “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”
The summer started great, but in mid June the temperatures plummeted, the sky grayed over, and it began raining essentially until the end of August. Many producers harvested and salvaged what they could. Some sold off their fruit entirely to local Coops. During a recent visit to Piaggia, proprietor Silvia Vannucci explained to me that they decided to wait. That gut feeling was rewarded and in late September “summer returned” and Piaggia was poised to make the best of it. They did.
I’ve tasted many 2014s. By and large, it’s a vintage to forget. The wines from coastal Tuscany seem to have fared better than the wines made further inland. Similarly, wines based largely on later ripening varietals like Cabernet also fared better. You need to be careful in your selections. So what to do? Well, for one, you read Tuscan Vines. ( <—- Not so subtle plug for the author) You also remember an adage that I’ve trumpeted consistently over the many years I’ve been tasting and writing about wine. It rarely fails me and it’s the title of this article: “Producer over Vintage”. Very simply, it means that producers that are dedicated to making premium wine and have long experience and a consistent track record doing so, will find a way to master even the most difficult of vintages. And that, brings me to today’s example.
The 2014 Piaggia Poggio de’Colli is made from one of the late ripening varietals I mentioned above; Cabernet Franc. Sometime in 2016 I asked Silvia Vannucci how here 2014s turned out. She simply laughed and replied: “You will taste them when you come.”
We decanted the bottle for almost 75 minutes as I had toted it home from Tuscany and I wanted to allow it a proper chance to settle and open up. The color in the glass and the decanter is a dark violet; a concentrated color that you almost wouldn’t expect to see in a vintage as trying as 2014.
The aromas from the wine are plentiful and delicate. There’s lots of ripe black plum, floral lavender, purple flowers and hints of vanilla. On the palate, the wine is well balanced, juicy, fresh and elegant. The core of plum flavors are well defined and accented with vanilla, new leather and sweet fennel and herbs. It’s only moderately tannic, so it drinks well now on its own and with food. We paired it alongside simple grilled hangar steak drizzle with pesto oil and the match was perfect. If served this blind, I don’t ever think I would have guessed it to be a 2014. A remarkable effort and worth seeking out. 95 points. Find this wine.