We set the bar high after Day 1. But this is Tuscan Vine’s Rustic Tuscany, there was no way the bar would not be eclipsed.
This was to be our first full day “on the ground” in Tuscany, and the crew rallied for what was to become our standard AOB time of 9:30 in the morning. We piled into our vans after a rustic, but typical breakfast, and off we went.
The first stop of the day was at Talenti, a producer that is fast becoming one of my favorites. We were met at the top of the driveway by Owner & Winemaker Riccardo Talenti. In what was to become a theme for the entire trip, the guests soon realized that average tours are generally not conducted by the winery principals. It made for a very special visit.
Adjacent to the winery is one of Talenti’s best vineyards. It’s from here that he sources grapes for his Riserva bottling; if there is one. The Talenti estate is one of the highest in the zone and here, on October 21st, the vines were already beginning to turn color. Talenti’s vineyards are parsed throughout the Brunello zone so there’s not much to explore near the winery. It was time to taste!
The first stop was the fermentation room where guests were quick to note the shimmering stainless steel vats in various sizes. Fermentation had finished already and the wines had been racked to barrels.
On to the barrel aging cellars which rest below the winery.
Talenti is very judicious with his use of wood in his wines. There were at least 5 or 6 different sized barrels in the cellar ranging from barrique to large botte. Riccardo uses the barriques only for his Rosso di Montalcino (in part) and his Brunello sees only larger vessels. In the photo above, you can see the large clay amphora. When I asked him what he was doing there, he gave me a dismissive wave and chuckled.. “just an experiment”……
We were set up in a wonderful tasting room where we tasted through a range of Riccardo’s most recent releases. These included some “off” vintages, but you would have never known that from this tasting.
In the tasting room was a large map of the Brunello zone with the locations of Talenti’s vineyards. Riccardo is adamant about having his vineyards scattered and insists that it ultimately makes for a better Brunello – one that expresses the “whole” vintage and one that is less effected by vintage climactic conditions.
Talenti Rosso di Montalcino 2020: This is a brilliant medium ruby. Brightly aromatic. Crushed wild berry with fresh herb notes and soft sandalwood and warm spice aromas. On the palate, this is lively and fresh. Pretty sour cherry flavors are medium bodied and accented with spicy pepper notes. A bit “hot” from the alcohol in a “warming” sense. There’s a hint of vanilla on the finish that is nice. 87-89 points. Not yet released in the US. Find this wine. Use my Coupon Code!
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2017: No Riserva made in 2017. Deep ruby. Classic color extends out to the rim. Richer cherry notes on the nose with accents of wood and chestnut. On the palate this is very lively for the vintage. Ripe cherry notes are backed by bright acidity and vanilla accents. Full bodied with substantial tannic structure. Green olives and baking spices linger on the finish. Needs time to come together but I like this. 15% alc. is very well balanced. 90-92 Find this wine. Use my Coupon Code!
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Brunello Piero 2017: This is their Single Vineyard Cru wine. 2015 was the first vintage ever produced. This sees 24 months in tonneaux. Deeper ruby. Rich, riper aromas of dark cherry. Hints of menthol and herbs. Rich on the palate. Full bodied and juicy. Fresh, with mineral driven racy, elegant cherry fruit. Silkier tannins that are sweeter and less aggressive. This is a wonderful wine. 94-96 notes. Find this wine. Use my Coupon Code!
Talenti Brunello Riserva 2016: This rests 36 months in tonneaux. Massive aromas of cherry, with spices, hazelnut and fresh herbs. Huge fruit and structure. Fresh, intense mineral, iron, cherry and tobacco flavors. Long, long finish. Stupendo. 96-99 points. Find this wine. Use my Coupon Code!
After checking out our purchases and saying goodbye to our host, we piled into the vans for the short ride over to Castello Banfi. We had an appointment to Tour the Castello, visit the Balsameria, Enoteca and do a little barrel tasting! Avanti….
It’s not vinegar. It’s Salsa Balsamico Etrusca. It’s dark brown liquid nectar of the Etruscan Gods and if you haven’t tried it, I implore you to do so. It isn’t for salad. This is a thick sauce that is aged for 12 years in the Balsameria. During that span, the liquid is moved from barrel to barrel. The type of wood changes and the barrels get smaller as the wine ages. Considering the manually intensive work and the length thereof, the $35 cost for a single bottle is a complete steal.
After the Balsameria, we piled into the vans and followed the vineyard manager and winemaker into the Vigna Marrucheto; Castello Banfi’s highest vineyard and home to the newest Cru Brunello that bears the same name.
Exploration of the terroir completed, we set off for the winery. It was there that the guests received an incredible surprise. Owner John Mariani was present and toured along with us. He regaled us with tale upon tale, some true, some not so much. But all incredibly entertaining and the firebrand (at age 90!) made a lasting impression. The guests were talking about his passion and energy for days.
It was at this moment that we learned our next phrase of the trip after “It depends” – “Se non e vero, ben trovato”. If it’s not true, at least it sounds good!
I did not take notes on the wines we tasted in the Castello Banfi cellars. There wasn’t really any place to sit and type into my phone. In fact, I am struggling to recall the exact wine we tasted. All were unfinished wines from barrel. We tried the “2019 Brunello Riserva Poggio all’Oro” which is set to be stunning. We tried two single vineyard (pre-blend) “Brunello” from the 2020 vintage that were already outstanding. The future is bright for Castello Banfi. Winemaker Gabrielle Pazzaglia is on his game and Banfi is experimenting with several new initiatives. One is the possibility of launching additional single vineyard wines. Another is the new cellar space – complete with new oval barrels – where they are aging these potentially new wines.
After finishing up at Castello Banfi, we were ready for lunch. Due to the invigorating story telling of Mssr. Mariani, we were running rather late for our lunch appointment at Trattoria il Leccio in Sant’Angelo in Colle. But running late for lunch wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as we built up an appetite!
Lunch began with an array of antipasto.
Finally we wound down with two pastas; ravioli with sage and tagliatelle with fresh porcini. The Il Poggione Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino helped us wash down our lunch!
The 2017 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino is a medium ruby color with an amber fade at the rim. At once it’s fresh on the nose with crushed cherry, bright floral tones and sandalwood. On the palate, this Brunello is well balanced and lively. Bright cherry notes are marked with vanilla, tobacco and dried herbs. Tasty on its own, it excelled with the porcini pasta. 92 points. Find this wine
This was yet another enjoyable 2017 that was approachable and fresh. Throughout the Tour, whether it was at wineries or various restaurants, 2017 was mainly the vintage for sale. This is what the wines are perfect for. They’re not for the cellar, but generally they are well made and delicious with the perfect goal of short term drinking.
More from The Rustic Tuscany Tour is coming. For now, salute!