It’s hard to believe I first wrote about Tenuta Argentiera almost six years ago. I phrased my impressions simply then: “Not Argentina. Argentiera. Not due bicchieri. Tre Bicchieri. From Unknown to Known.” Yet despite repeated Tre Bicchieri awards, Argentiera is still relatively unknown.
Argentiera sits in the vast swath of land along the Tuscan coast known as Maremma. This untamed wilderness constitutes some of the best vineyard terroir for growing Bordelaise grapes in Italy.
Since pioneers like Sassicaia and Ornellaia revitalized this land of Cowboys and wild boars wild, producers from central Tuscany have been acquiring land and planting vineyards there at a breakneck pace. In a place that dates to the Etruscans, it defies reason that estates would be available for acquisition, but nevertheless, the trend continues.
Argentiera lies on the Donoratico Estate which was an ancient silver mine. As a result, the winery derives its name from the Italian word for silver, Argento. Originally owned by the Fratini brothers, in 2016 after visiting and falling in love with the place and wines, current owner Stanislaus Turnauer bought the estate.
Turnauer immediately began creating an exceptional team led by Winemaker Nicolo Carrara and General Manager Leonardo Raspini formerly of Ornellaia and Cecchi. Greatly impressed with the quality of the estate’s Cabernet Franc, the team set out to create a prestigious Cru wine based on this varietal.
Located in the center of the estate, the 1.2 hectare Ventaglio vineyard sits atop a ridge in the shape of a fan which inspires its name. The vines descend downward from the center of the vineyard, which is marked at its peak by a solitary Holm oak. As a result, the vineyard is exposed to the sun for the entire day. Raspini explained it this way: “the sun’s rays reach the vineyards unhindered all day long, ripening the grapes to perfection in different microclimates depending on the exposure. From the fresh, eager “morning grapes” with northeast exposure, to the sugary, exuberant south-facing “midday grapes” and the fine, fragrant “evening grapes” facing west.”
The 2015 Argentiera Ventaglio is the inaugural vintage of this Cru Cabernet Franc and it is outstanding. We decanted the wine for 60 minutes but it was singing right from the start. Deep garnet, it’s practically opaque in the glass. Aromas of black plum, Tuscan herbs, cedar and lavender are very attractive.
On the palate, Ventaglio deftly marries crushed black fruit with finely integrated tannins resulting in a velvety, caressing texture. Driven by minerality, the tobacco laced crushed fruit flavors linger elegantly on the palate. Whole berries are fermented in conical oak vats and then the wine is transferred to French and Austrian barrique for aging. Ventaglio is 85% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet but the Franc is dominating the profile. Given the extremely limited production of 3,000 bottles, its unsurprisingly expensive. However, the quality is there. 96 points. About $300. Find this wine.
Stay tuned for coverage of more recent releases from this estate.