Merlot. She’s often a fickle grape which can produce under ripe green vegetal aromas and flavors when not grown in an ideal environment. To me, balance is always the key to producing excellent Merlot. The balance of terroir – those unique spots on planet earth where Merlot becomes physiologically ripe but retains complex attributes and speaks to the land from whence it came. It happens in Pomerol. Less so in California. It happens in Tuscany.
Castello di Bossi is located in the southern half of the Chianti Classico production zone, in the Commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga. The estate extends over 650 hectares, 124 of which are under vine. Although sporadic replanting occurs as necessary, most of the vines on the estate are 40 years of age or older and are producing intensely flavored grapes. I’ve written many times about the wines from Castello di Bossi and consistently find them excellent in both quality and value. The subject of today’s article is no exception.
The 2011 Girolamo is 100% Merlot sourced from a single vineyard with optimal southwest exposure. The grapes are first vinified in stainless steel and then refined in barrique for 24 months. After an additional year in bottle, the wine is released. The 2011 is the current vintage on the market.
Since I have some experience with this wine, we decided to decant it for 60 minutes before dinner. In the glass the wine is a medium violet color. As the wine warmed and opened, it began to portray what I love about Tuscan Merlot. Girolamo displays notes of crushed stone and graphite with hints of mint that accent the black plum aromas. On the palate, the wine is riper and more forward than I expected. It’s reflective of the overall warm 2011 vintage, but seems to display more ripeness than many of the Sangiovese based 2011’s from Chianti Classico.
Black plum flavors dominate throughout and add tobacco, blackberry liquer and menthol notes. A different, riper wine than the 2007 referred to above and while not flawed in any way, the stylistic difference is noteworthy and I prefer the 2007. Paired very well with grilled Tri-Tip steak anointed with a basil pesto oil. Good value relative to other Tuscan Merlot. 90 points, about $45.
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Stay tuned as we’ll be visiting Tuscany in the coming weeks. Lots of tasting arrangements are made and we’ll be posting live updates on Twitter Instagram and Facebook. Follow along and stay tuned!