|~ Misty fog over Querciavalle & Castelnuovo Berardenga ~|
“The respect of the Chianti tradition over the generations”
What began in 1870 as a sharecropping means of survival has turned into a glorious estate in some of Chianti’s most beautiful country. We introduced you to Querciavalle a few short weeks ago with Part 1, an article that covered the entry level wines of this estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga. Today, with Part 2 of the feature, we are spotlighting the estate’s premium wines.
|~ Querciavalle Estate: Castelnuovo Berardenga ~|
The philosophy at Querciavalle is based on two fundamental principles; quality research and preservation of typical characteristics. Family proprietor Valeria Losi told me: “The secret to overcoming the challenges within the market consists in the ability to combine the best of both tradition and innovation.”
The Losi’s have succeeded in combining these two elements admirably thereby maximizing the quality level of their wines and succeeding in the increasingly competitive markets. Constant renewal of the vineyards and the cellars has been of paramount importance at Querciavalle. In 1995, the family constructed a state of the winery with barrel aging cellars that now serves the bulk of the Querciavalle production. The building also houses the tasting room facilities and company offices.
|~ Large botte and resting bottles in the Losi cellars ~|
The first wine we tasted is truly unique. As I mentioned in Part 1, Tancredi Biondi Santi was brought in during the genesis of Querciavalle to consult on cellar and vineyard preparation. Today, Querciavalle produces a pure Sangiovese Grosso from one of it’s oldest vineyards. Coincidence?
The 2007 Querciavalle Armonia, (Harmony) is a lovely red with a slightly rustic side. Deep garnet in color with the characteristic copper colored hue at the rim of the bowl, so reminiscent of Brunello, the wine looks very youthful.
On the nose, the complexity is evident. Cigar box, crushed cherry, warm earth and leather mingle together nicely with good delineation and persistence. In the mouth, Armonia plays to it’s name well. A seamless presentation of dried herbs, leaf tobacco, ripe wild cherry fruit and toasted spices combine beautifully. This is more rustic than it is elegant. Moderately tannic, but with good, dusty integration, this is enjoyable now but will continue to improve with 3-5 more years in the cellar.
Armonia is vinified in large oak casks for up to 25 days and then transferred to French barrique for 10-12 months aging. Bottle aged for 12 months prior to release, the wine displays wonderful balance at a young age. Would be a great “ringer” in a blind Brunello tasting. 93 points, about $40 SRP. Disclosure: This bottle was an importer provided sample.
|~ First tasted with Cambozola Cheese & then alongside grilled hangar steak. ~|
|~ Harvest underway at Querciavalle. Valeria Losi is in the brown shirt at right. ~|
Finally, we tasted what the Losi’s consider the grandest expression of their estate; the Gran Selezione. The 2009 Querciavalle Millenium Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo and 5% Malvasia Nera. The grape selection is restricted to the best grapes from the oldest vineyards on the estate.
Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and then in cement tanks to complete malolactic and then the wine is moved to moderate size oak casks for 36 months of refinement. After a further 12-18 months maturation in bottle, the wine is ready to be released.
The wine was decanted to remove a noticeable sediment. On the nose, this brightly violet colored wine gives off aromas of flowers, cherries, fresh herbs, fennel seed and Tuscan road dirt. Very authentic, though not in an austere manner. On the palate, the wine is fresh and lively. Despite the heat of the 2009 vintage in Tuscany, I find that the Northern part of Tuscany fared better than the Southern portion and this wine is very fresh indeed. Flavors follow the nose, with additional notes of cured meat and lively acidity that refreshes the palate. The tannins are fairly well resolved and this drinks well now, but can cellar 2-3 years without problem. I prefer it now. 92 points. About $42 SRP. Disclosure: This bottle was an importer provided sample.
|~ Brightly colored Gran Selezione made in a traditional style ~|
I hope you enjoyed discovering this wonderful estate with me. Overall, the wines are very well made in a modern yet, traditional style and represent excellent value. Valeria Losi proved to be accommodating and gracious with her time and was a pleasure to chat with. Good people, good wine. A Tuscan wine lover can ask no more!
May 20, 2015