After a recent flurry of Barolo tastings, I was happy to comply when asked to host a Tuscan themed dinner for some out of town guests.  I decided to make two simple risotto dishes: Sweet Sausage and Spring Pea along with wild mushroom risotto.  The occasion seemed right to try some newly released Tuscans.
~ The Tuscan Line Up ~

With assorted antipasti:  Aged Gouda, olives, reggiano, crusty bread, mortadella and prosciutto we started with the newly released 2010 Felsina Chianti Classico.   Similar to the 2009 there is nothing to dislike about this wine.  If you can’t like this, then you are probably averse to Sangiovese in general.  It’s a gorgeous violet red color with an aroma of crushed berries, new leather, flowers and dried herbs.  On the palate, the wine complements the nose with beautiful fresh acidity and lovely persistence.  For $20, it leaves you wanting nothing, except more.  91 points.
~ A Worthy Successor to the Fabulous 2009 ~
The Felsina was drained so quickly that we opened the next wine with the antipasto as well.  What can I say about the 2010 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano?  Ho hum…another great effort by one of the regions best producers. The 2010 sports a new classic label, but it’s the same great wine inside.   Bright ruby red with violet reflections, the nose is redolent with flowers, berries, sweet pipe tobacco and menthol.  On the palate, the wine is elegant and refined with exceptional balance. Medium to full bodied cherry fruit displays a little smoke along with the leather and tobacco notes. There’s slightly more weight here than the Felsina Chianti but the difference is negligible.  Finely grained tannins keep this juicy and fresh.  Drink over the next 5 years.  91 points, about $22.
Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
With the risotto, we moved to the table and served the final three wines with the meal.  I was so caught up with the company that I failed to take a single picture of the food! I’ll replicate the risottos for future posts. 
The next wine was the 2009 Piaggia Carmignano “Il Sasso”.   Winemaker Emiliano Falsini has crafted a gorgeous Carmignano that is a worthy successor to the 2008.  This is my second tasting of the 2009, both of which are entries on the TuscanVines Shopping List.  This wine has improved greatly since I last tasted it.  Dark purple in the glass with notes of cedar, plum, berry, leather and coffee. It’s gorgeous to smell and taste. The intensity of this wine was noticeable after the first two – it raised several eye brows.  On the palate the wine is full bodied and rich with ripe flavors of berries, mint, leather, tobacco and dried herbs. This is a wonderful marriage between Sangiovese and Cabernet – the required blend for the Carmignano DOCG.  93 points, about $24. 
~ The 2009 IL Sasso Carmignano from Piaggia ~

Next up was the newly released 2010 Sette Ponti Crognolo.  I’ve been a fan of Sette Ponti – “Seven Bridges” named after the amount of bridges one must cross to reach the winery – for a long time.  That attraction has laid mostly at the feet of the estate’s Super Tuscan “Oreno”, but this tasting changed that a bit. 
Crognolo gets its name from a wild bush that grows abundantly on the Sette Ponti estate called the “Cornus”.   The wine is almost 100% Sangiovese with a small unspecified percentage of Merlot and Cabernet.   It’s dark violet to purple in the glass with persistent aromas of berries, mint, leather, fresh flowers and eucalyptus.  In the mouth the wine is balanced and elegant, with polish. It’s certainly a more modern style and the barrique exposure is noted but not unbalanced.  Full bodied flavors of coffee, berry, tobacco and menthol are long and seductive.  This wine was especially good with the wild mushroom risotto.  Very sexy.  92 points, about $23. 

~ Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo ~

We began to ratchet things up.  The 2007 Renieri Brunello di Montalcino was uncorked next to rave reviews.  I had never had the Brunello from this estate, but I can easily say it will not be the final time I do.  This is delicious.  In the glass the wine is a violet purple color with pretty reflections and legs. It’s everything you could want in a Sangiovese. The aroma is full of freshly cut flowers, Tuscan clay, mushroom, espresso and laser like fresh wild berries. On the palate the wine tastes of the bush.  Freshly picked wild berries, lavendar, perfume, and fresh herbs are pronounced.  This is so fresh and vivid and displays a character more akin to 2006 than the 2007 vintage.  An eye opening wine and a great value.  95 points, about $40.
~ The Bacci Family’s Renieri Brunello di Montalcino ~

Finally, with some remaining cheese and risotto, we opened a cellared gem.  The 1997 Castello di Brolio “Casalferro” was tasted from magnum.  This pure Sangiovese was utterly mind blowing.  The elegance and stature of this wine was remarkable.  In the glass the wine is black.  Maybe it’s blackish red, but that’s picking nits.  It’s throwing an incredible sediment that was carefully avoided, but we did not decant this.  The intense aromas are hallmark Sangiovese.  Rich crushed berry, dried flowers, espresso, spice, leather, turned earth and herbs are redolent.  On the palate the wine is pure silk. The tannins are fully resolved.  Flavors of berry, wild cherry, mushrooms and Tuscan clay are elegant and full bodied yet weightless on the palate. This is utterly gorgeous.  96 points, likely about $40 upon release. Sadly, as I’ve reviewed previously, they have changed the style of this wine and recent vintages seem way overoaked to me.  This was my final drop of Casalferro and it was a fitting farewell. 

~ Magnum ~


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