|~ Tenuta Argentiera stands watch over the Mediterranean Sea ~|
Not Argentina. Argentiera. Not due bicchieri. Tre Bicchieri. Unknown. Known.
The vast swath of land along the Tuscan coast known as the Maremma constitutes some of the best vineyard terroir for growing Bordelaise grapes in Italy. From Suvereto to Bolgheri to Scansano, the names of the estates are preceded by their reputations: Sassicaia, Tenuta Ornellaia, Tua Rita, Le Macchiole, Castello del Terriccio, Guado al Tasso, Le Pupille….
Since these pioneers revitalized the wild, untamed region along the Tuscan coast in the provinces of Grosseto and Livorno, producers with estates in central Tuscany have been acquiring land and planting vineyards at a breakneck pace. In a land as old as Tuscany, it almost defies reason that estates would be available for acquisition, but nevertheless, the trend continues.
|~ The sea is a major influence on the wines of Bolgheri, dramatically cooling the area where night time lows can average 15-20 degrees less than daytime highs which are typically cooler than inland central Tuscany ~|
Tenuta Argentiera lies on the ancient Donoratico Estate. Formerly the summer home of the notable Serristori family of Florence, the estate is now owned by the Fratini brothers who have made significant investments in the vineyards, winery and cellars over the past decade.
Originally the site of precious metal deposits, Argentiera derives it’s name from the Italian noun “Argento”, or silver. This minerality that permeates the variety of soils on the estate is characteristically present in the wines. Argentiera has been crafting wonderful wines for over a decade, however it was only with their first Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri award did they start garnering the praise they deserve.
|~ The immaculate aging cellars at Tenuta Argentiera ~|
The Argentiera Estate spans over 500 hectares, but only a scant 75 are dedicated to vineyards. All of the estates plantings lie within the broad Bolgheri DOC and the estate produces a vast 500,000 bottles of wine per year. Argentiera produces six red wines – three of which are blends representative of the estate and three that are Mono-Varietal Crus which have been planted to single vineyards under the care of French consulting winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt.
The Argentiera winery is state of the art. The entire process begins at ground level and as the cellar extends down into the earth, the process continues entirely by gravity. Wines are fermented in stainless steel and then aged in French Oak barrique of varying toasts and age levels.
For this article we sampled two of Argentiera’s most widely available wines. As I mentioned above, six reds are produced. One is a value brand, one is the estate’s Flagship wine, and one is the estate’s “Second” wine. The remaining three are the single vineyard mono-varietals that were not available for tasting. In fact, two of the three have only one vintage under their belt and have not yet been released.
2010 Villa Donoratico: This is Argentiera’s “second” wine. My experience with second wines from the Maremma has been less than pleasing. I’ve tried many vintages of Guido Alberto, Le Serre Nuova, and Le Volte only to come away shaking my head and wondering if these wines weren’t simply a way for the producer to turn surplus juice into cash flow sooner rather than later. All that said, I approached this wine with caution.
The 2010 Donoratico is a dark black plum colored wine with ruby highlights to the rim. It’s got amazing color concentration. My curiosity was piqued. At first glance, the nose offers up lots of raspberry, plum and soft vanilla notes that linger nicely. Fruit driven and as expected.
On the palate, the wine is rich and ripe with black fruit flavors, dusty minerals, cloves, cedar and herbal spice notes. Very, very nice. The structure is there with medium body to the acids and tannins that are very well integrated. All is in balance. This is delicious and easily bests the other wines I’ve mentioned above. It’s different to me because it seems to be made for the sake of making it well – not for using juice that didn’t make the cut for the flagship wine. (like some producers deliberately craft a good Rosso as opposed to using fruit simply not good enough for Brunello).
The wine’s blend changes slightly with each vintage. The 2010 is 45% Cabernet, 30% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. Aging was 14 months in French barrique and then 9 months in bottle before release. Excellent value. 91 points. SRP ~ $25 Disclosure: This bottle was a producer provided sample.
|~ No second fiddle here. This is an excellent wine in it’s own right and quite the value ~|
The estate’s flagship wine is the eponymously named Argentiera.
The 2010 Argentiera was conceived and developed to compete directly with the other premium wines of the Bolgheri DOC. In speaking with winery representative Jeanette Servidio for this article, she was clear in communicating that the winery’s vision is to make this wine great – but to keep it affordable. Argentiera is succeeding. The 2010 was awarded the “Tre Biccheiri” by Gambero Rosso this year and it’s selling price is a fraction of wines like Sassicaia, Masseto and Ornellaia.
Argentiera is deep purple in the glass with no noticeable lightening at the rim. We decanted the wine for 60 minutes prior to dinner. Immediately on the nose the taster is struck by sexy aromas of black plum, faint tobacco, roasted coffee and slight mocha. It begs a taste but smells oh so good. On the palate the wine is silky and refined with concentrated flavors of ripe black fruits, dusty minerals, black licorice, wet stones and a hint of mint/menthol. Lots of velvety black plum flavors on the midpalate with caressing tannins and balanced acidity. This is classy elegant wine. Argentiera spends 18 months in French barrique and then 12 months in bottle prior to release.
Like Donoratico, the blend changes slightly as the vintage dictates. The 2010 Argentiera is 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The high proportion of Merlot in the blend seems to contribute to the early accessibility of this wine, but with the velvety nature of this wine, you’ll have trouble keeping your hands off. 93 points. SRP ~ $55-$65 depending upon where you look. Disclosure: This bottle was a producer provided sample.
|~ The new standard from Bolgheri? This wine will be difficult for the “old guard” to ignore ~|
To learn more about Tenuta Argentiera, click here: Tenuta Argentiera
August 28, 2014