Overlooking the fertile plain of Lucca in northwestern Tuscany, Tenuta di Valgiano sits high on a hillside among elegant summer residences.  Amidst the cypresses, lemon trees, and vegetable gardens, it’s almost the last place you’d expect to find vineyards.  Yet among these slopes and ridges are rows of vines, neatly tucked away from the casual eye.

The 25 hectare estate of Tenuta di Valgiano has been certified biodynamic for the last ten years.  In this microclimate, where the combination of warm Mediterranean days and cool often breezy  nights, Valgiano finds an ideal home for grape growing.

In 1993, Moreno Petrini and his wife Laura di Collobiano bought the estate together and set about transforming their vision into reality. With the help of Saverio Petrilli, a leading figure in the Italian biodynamic movement, they employ labor intensive manual methods to craft three wines; two red and one white.  Meticulous hand harvesting, native yeast fermentations, and natural agriculture methods throughout the process are common place.
~ The hills overlooking Lucca are home to Tenuta di Valgiano ~

Today, we’re looking at the estate’s flagship red wine simply named Tenuta di Valgiano.   The 2011 Valgiano is a stylistic blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Syrah and 10% Merlot.  The vineyard that produces the grapes for this wine is just short of its 18th birthday and spans only 8 hectares.  

The wine is initially macerated in open topped wooden containers and then racked individually to French barrique for 12 months.  The wine is then blended and left to rest a further 6 months in open topped cement vessels before being bottled.  

The 2011 is an odd wine.   It’s nearly black in the glass and looks anything like Sangiovese.  In fact, not knowing the blend, there is little character imparted to the wine that would provide a clue that 65% of the blend is Sangiovese.  

On the nose, the wine is characterized by soft wood, menthol, and plum notes that are appealing enough but generic.  On the palate, the wine shows warm red fruits with smoke notes and a homogenous flavor profile that is devoid of Sangiovese character.  What’s more, there is a winemaking flaw here that I cannot overlook.  There is a “spritz” to the wine; a slight effervescence that appears to be from an unfinished or secondary fermentation that was halted.  With decanting and excessive agitation, this sort of dissipates – in the sense that soda ultimately goes flat – but in the midst of trying to enjoy and evaluate this wine, it is a major distraction.  Why do I bring it up?  Because I had not one, not two, but three bottles of this wine and each one was identical. In flavor, in texture, and with a spritz.  I can’t recommend this wine, especially knowing that it’s supposed to represent the pinnacle of this estate and even more so, given its price.  82 points, about $65. 

~ The 2011 is accompanied by an off putting “spritz” that is too distracting to ignore ~

E vero!  Darmagi, ma e vero.

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