“Villa Trasqua is a world without time. A temple where the classic becomes contemporary and the value of the future is the result of what has been learned from the past.”
I am always astonished when I discover a winery with a long standing history that I have not heard of. I’m even more astonished when it happens to be located in a commune where I have spent an enormous amount of time. Nevertheless, such is the case with Villa Trasqua.
Although its origins are ancient, Villa Trasqua traces its modern history to 2001 when the estate was acquired by Swiss businessman Hans Hulsbergen. Today, Hans and his son Alan run the property which encompasses 120 hectares in Castellina in Chianti. 54 of those hectares are devoted to vineyards. Since 2014, the Hulsbergens have invested considerable resources in revitalizing Villa Trasqua. The estate is now Certified Organic and the family have hired renowned winemaker Franco Bernabei to oversee production.
The property crafts a wide array of wines. Central to the production is of course, Sangiovese. However, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Alicante are also produced under the “Experimentum” label. For this feature, I received samples of the 4 wines that are imported to the United States in the largest quantity.
The notion of being timeless is what drives the philosophy at Trasqua. In a sense, classic extends beyond time. Making wine is not a test of speed, but a “regularity race” with nature. Human resources and actions are confronted with the rhythm of the seasons in a challenge to create harmonization. Within the vineyards which lie beneath the walls of Monteriggioni, this ethos finds its natural habitat.
The first wine tasted was the workhorse of the estate.
The 2016 Villa Trasqua Chianti Classico is everything you could want in a Classico from this outstanding vintage. The color is a deep violet courtesy of the international grapes in the blend. On the nose, the taster is greeted by fresh cut blue and purple flowers, crushed berry, vanilla and spice. Very attractive. Fresh and lively, the flavors include wild cherry, menthol and sweet tobacco leaf. Juicy, balanced and enjoyable. The 2016 is 80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet. The wine is stainless steel vinified and aged for 12 months in Slavonian oak. 91 points, widely available and a nice value under $18. Made from organic grapes. Find this wine.
The next wine was the 2015 Chianti Classico Riserva “Fanatico”. A blend of 92% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot, this wine shows the structure and power of the vintage. At this stage in its evolution, it also appears to be in an austere phase. Dark cherry aromas rise from the glass with little complexity other than some fresh herb notes. On the palate, the wine is largely scaled and rather tannic. Vinified in conical wooden vats, you note and feel the added structure. The core of cherry fruit is backed by toasted spice and vanilla. Rather monolithic. Aging is 24 months in large Slavonian barrels. I’d suggest this needs at least 5 years to flesh out. Not having any prior experience with this wine, I’d say that’s a safe bet but it may be longer. 90 points. Made from organic grapes. Find this wine.
The 2012 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione “Nerento” was the standout in this report. Nerento is 100% Sangiovese sourced from the estate’s oldest single vineyard. Vinified in conical wooden vats, the wine is aged for 30 months in tonneaux and 12 months in bottle before release. Lively aromas of crushed cherry, fresh fennel, nutmeg and tobacco mark the attractive nose.
On the palate, the wine struts a fine line between structure and roundness. Flavors of black cherry, mocha, cigar tobacco, powdered baking spices and and fennel are easily perceived. As Gran Selezione goes, this is a wonderful value and 2012 represents the current release. The estate is committed to releasing this wine only when ready and the 2015 and 2016 wait in the cellar. 93 points. About $30. Find this wine.
Finally, the mystery wine. Why do I call it that? Because at the time I tasted it, we had no idea what it was compromised of. My supposition was Cabernet and I guess that was correct. The 2013 Trasgaia is 50% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet and 10% Cabernet Franc.
In the glass, it’s a deep currant color that lightens slightly at the rim. The aromas feature black plum, cedar, menthol and dried purple flowers. Toasted plums and spices mark the palate with dried herbs accenting. I’m “meh” on this wine and based on the above tastings, I think that has more to do with the vintage than anything else. I can count the 2013s I’ve enjoyed on one hand. As an aside, I hope the Brunello I’m holding from that vintage come around. Trasgaia is vinified in wooden vats, aged for 24 months in barrique and 12 months in bottle prior to release. 88 points. Find this wine.
With the commitment from the Hulsbergens and the investments in both Bernabei and Organic viticulture, I’m confident the future is bright for Villa Trasqua. They are an estate to keep on your radar – especially when the top tier wines are released from 2016.