~ Autumn in the Prelius Vineyard ~
In the hilly ampitheater of the Tuscan Maremma, above the coastal flatlands sits an ancient lake the Romans called Prelius. Surrounded by the untamed marshes and scrub brush of the Tuscan coast line, a new vineyard sits poised above the lake.  
As I commented only yesterday, the acquisition of land in Maremma by Tuscan winemakers seems to be a frenetic endeavour.  Today’s article only reinforces the notion.  Born to honor the legacy of the lake the Romans named,  the estate of Prelius was created. 
The Prelius estate was acquired in 2007 by the Stianti Mascheroni family, owners of the venerable Chianti Classico estate, Castello di Volpaia.  The estate was a gift to Federica Stianti from her Father Carlo in order to continue the family tradition as 40 years earlier Federica’s Grandfather purchased Castello di Volpaia for Federica’s Mother. 

~ The marshy areas of the Maremma ~

After completing a degree in Art Restoration,  Federica, who possesses her winemaking knowledge from numerous harvests undertaken at Volpaia, works with none other than Riccardo Cotarella in crafting Prelius.   Comprised of only 12 hectares, the estate was planted to vines between 2001-2004 and currently produces two wines; a Vermentino and a pure Cabernet called “Prelius”.  The vineyards are 100% organic, a process that is not always easy to adhere to given the threat from the “Tignoletta” – a small insect whose larvae punctures the skin of the berries during maturation to eat the pulp, leaving the clusters vulnerable to mold.  

~ Federica Stianti Mascheroni ~
For this article, we tasted the yet to be released 2013 Prelius.   The wine is dark purple in color that lightens slightly to violet toward the rim.  Produced from 100% organic Cabernet,  the wine possesses rich aromas of blackberry, cinnamon and buttered popcorn; an aroma I’ve noted before in wines that Riccardo Cotarella has produced.  This is exotic and ripe on the nose.
In the mouth, the richness of the wine is evident. Despite the mostly rainy 2013 growing season, the flavors are concentrated  with toasty oak and spice notes giving way to rich black and blue fruits.  Medium bodied, with balanced tannins, there is enough acid to provide structure for the fruit.  While slightly disjointed at the moment, I suspect some additional cellaring will allow the flavors to integrate more fully.  Despite the relatively modest oak aging,  9 months in large new French casks, I suspect some bottle age will soften the wood profile of this wine. 
While not the most typical Tuscan Cabernet I’ve tried, Prelius will have broad appeal and given it’s price,  it’s a nice value.  85-87 points,  about $15.   Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.

~ The Prelius label is in homage to Lake Prelius, while ripples extend outward across the bottle ~ 


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