~ The iconic Castello Banfi Castle, Poggio Alle Mura ~

The story of coastal Tuscany, the Maremma or Bolgheri as its interchangeably referred to, began with Sassicaia, but it’s not anywhere close to reaching its pinnacle.  The region has been a prime area for nurturing vitis vinifera into compelling wine for decades.
As I’ve written many times on these pages, the expansion to Maremma of wineries based in central Tuscany and even beyond to Piedmont, has taken on a frenetic pace.   The wild, untamed Maremma countryside, replete with water buffalo, wild horses and cowboys called butteri, has become the perfect cradle for cultivation of classic Bordelaise varieties. 

~ Butteri, Maremma Cowboys ~
Castello Banfi acquired 5 small hectares of vineyards along the Tuscan coast with the aim of producing a classic Cabernet based wine that portrayed the hallmarks of their elegant style.  The result, Aska.  
The legend relates that Aska is the ancient Etruscan name for “wine vessel”.  These ancient people, who called Tuscany home a millenia ago, used Askas to contain and transport wine and olive oil.  Aska was a touchstone for the Etruscans because they believed that beneficial human emotions were conferred by the Etruscan Gods of Sun and Moon.  This legend is symbolized by the two luminous discs on the wine’s label.

First released in the 2012 vintage, Aska is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with minor additions of Cabernet Franc.  The vineyards giving the fruit are young, and the debut release of Aska was elegant and approachable.  I harbor the same sentiment for the subject of today’s review and look forward to following this vineyard as it develops. 

~ Tuscan Pici with Cinghiale and Chanterelle ~

We decanted the 2013 Banfi Aska for about 45 minutes before dinner, a simple pasta with earthy flavors of wild boar and chanterelle.  

In the glass, the wine exudes aromas of crushed red plums, cherries, soft vanilla and spice notes and a faint hint of pine.  It’s attractive to smell.   On the palate, the flavors echo the nose with primary red plum flavors backed by soft wood and vanilla notes.  The round, elegant mouth feel trails off delicately and there is little “bite” from the well integrated tannins.  This wine stays fresh and lively and will be best enjoyed over the next 3-4 years.   

Aska is vinified in stainless steel and then transferred to French barrique for 10 months of refinement. A brief bottle aging takes place before release.  89 points, about $25.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.

~ The label here is symbolic of the Etruscan Gods for Sun and Moon ~

Buon fine settimana!

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