Tuscan Snips

~ The gateway to one of the best vineyards in Tuscany ~

Tuscan Snips returns!

After a fairly long hiatus – the last installment of Tuscan Snips was way back in March, the series returns with some new wines and some heavy hitters.  There are some really special wines here and a couple of excellent values to put on your radar.  Andiamo!

Acquired in 1983 by Val di Suga, the Spuntali Vineyard sits on the western slopes of Montalcino at 300 feet elevation. A moderate size, the vineyard is 15 hectares and has optimal southwest exposure.

The last time I walked the vineyard, I was struck by the consistency of the soil. At first glance, it’s what you’d imagine when you conjure an image of simple brown dirt. However, when I bent over to grab some, the surface layer is powdery and seems to crumble to the touch. Below, it’s denser, poorer. It’s a unique texture that results from a mixture of clay and limestone.

The 2016 Val di Suga Brunello Spuntali is a deep violet in the glass with that classic iodine hue at the rim of the bowl.    The aromas leap from the glass; even at this young stage.  Focused black cherry notes mix with rosemary, fresh flowers and tobacco.  On the palate there is grace and power.  It’s the hallmark of Spuntali.  Crushed cherry, fresh herbs, powdery dirt and minerality make the tannins seem absent.  A gorgeous Brunello and one that will age effortlessly for a decade because of it’s nearly perfect balance. It is every bit as good as the 2015 which made my Top 20 List.  98 points.   Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.

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~ Val di Suga’s Spuntali is one of the best Brunello produced ~

Val di Suga Spuntali

~ This is the Spuntali from directly above. Look at the array of colors in this young Brunello ~

The next wine up is from a winery that has changed hands somewhat recently.  As a result, some people approach with trepidation.  However, I have found the style and the quality have remained unchanged.  Poggio Antico is a stalwart fixture that sits high atop the southern slopes of Montalcino.

At an average elevation of 480 meters above sea level, Poggio Antico’s vineyards are among the highest in the Brunello region. The lofty altitude, combined with the close proximity of the Mediterranean Sea, provides a steady breeze which has many beneficial effects on the vineyards.

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~ Benvenuto! ~

The 2012 Poggio Antico Brunello Riserva is a deep ruby color in the glass with laser like violet highlights.   On the nose, aromas of crushed black plum, porcini and new leather greet the taster. Full bodied on the palate with juicy, fresh red fruits that marry well to tobacco, licorice and roasted coffee notes.  I love this for its elegance but the staying power is there too.  95 points.  Find this wine.

~ A lovely Riserva that is priced well relative to some of the other Riserva coming from Montalcino ~

As we’ve discovered, Tuscan Snips is also a great vehicle for showcasing amazing wines from other regions.  Not the least of which is Umbria and the amazing wines coming from Montefalco.

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~ A quaint street in Montefalco ~

I’ve written lots about Sagrantino and Montefalco. However, today I’m introducing you to a new producer; the small artisan called Montioni.

Azienda Montioni was founded in 1978 by Gabrielle Montioni, the current owner’s Father.  Today, Paolo Montioni farms his small farm of 26 hectares which covers vineyards, olive groves and the buildings that support them.  The family craft 4 wines; a Greccheto, a Montefalco Rosso and two Sagrantino.   In 2000, Paolo renovated both the wine cellars and the olive mill.

The 2018 Montioni Montefalco Rosso is a brilliant violet color in the glass.  Expressive aromas of black plums, crushed cherry, notes of hazelnut and rosemary are really pretty.  On the palate, this is filled with leaf tobacco, cured meat and spice notes that frame the medium bodied wild cherry fruit. Sapid and persistent this is a wonderful value.  A blend of 65% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot and 15% Sagrantino.  Available Direct.  $12 Euro.   90 points.  Find this wine.

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~ A very nice Montefalco Rosso in the difficult vintage ~

Sagrantino is a bruiser right?  Not always!

The 2016 Montioni Sagrantino is a deep ruby to garnet in color. Pretty wild plum, cherry and purple flowers on the nose are very attractive and primary. Ripe black fruit on the palate is tinged with coffee, fennel and wild herbs. The palate is juicy and wait for it, almost silky! The balance here with just an hour in the decanter is impeccable. Yes, there’s tannins, but they are managed incredibly well and marry perfectly with the Fiorentina.  This is really wonderful.  Available Direct.  $24 Euro.  95 points.  Find this wine

Tuscan Snips

~ With a 60 minute decant, you would be amazed at how expressive this Sagrantino was for such a young wine ~

With Tuscan Snips, I have always tried to bring new and interesting wines to you attention. Given the very limited importation of the Montioni wines and the ease of DTC, I recommend you check them out. I for one cannot wait to taste the 2019 Montefalco Rosso once it is released.

Speaking about Umbria….

Tenuta Alzatura was acquired by the Cecchi’s in 1998. Like many great relationships between grape vine and terroir, Sagrantino finds a home in Montefalco unlike anywhere else in the world. The Cecchi’s farm 30 hectares of vineyards at Tenuta Alzatura divided into 3 distinct parcels where Sagrantino flourishes.

The 2018 Tenuta Alzatura Montefalco Rosso is another excellent wine from a finicky vintage. Bright violet in the glass, the aromas rise effortlessly to include tobacco, wild cherry, lavender, roses and toasted hazelnuts.  On the palate, the wine is fresh and lively with good concentration to the red cherry flavors.  Framing the fruit is cured meat and warmed earth.   As Tuscan Snips go, this is as good a value as you’ll find from 2018.  Is it 95 points? No, come on – this is Luca Maroni we’re talking about. But in reality, it’s not that far off.  91 points and really nice value around $15.  Find this wine.

~ I almost feel like I have to warn people about Luca Maroni’s ratings ~

The Fontodi winery rests on the Conca d’Oro in Panzano. Nearby, the small church whose cross graces the Flaccianello label stands as a sentinel to travelers coming into the region. The Church, or Pieve, is a reminder of what God and Mother Nature have bestowed upon this special place. It’s an ideal winemaking enclave.

Tuscan Snips

~ Flaccianello is an icon in any format ~

The 2018 Fontodi Flaccianello yet again proves the adage “producer over vintage”.   Many of the 2018’s I’ve been tasting haven’t been the best examples of their particular wines. While I can say this isn’t the greatest Flaccianello I’ve had, in Italy – where the prices are significantly less than the US – the value is there.

Deep garnet in the glass the wine is almost impenetrable.  The wine was not decanted.  From the glass, the Sangiovese presents itself exuberantly with crushed black cherry, earthy tobacco, oil cured olives and salume. On the palate, it’s fresh and vibrant with flavors of crushed wild cherry, sapid notes of tarragon and rosemary, hints of mushroom and warmed terra cotta.  Full bodied with mouthwatering tannins, you can sense a bit of drying and astringency on the finish. It’s a quality I’ve noted a few times in 2018s.  Yet, this wine is true to its quality and its pedigree.  93 points.  Find this wine.


~ Flaccianello, as always is 100% Sangiovese ~

That’ll close this edition of Tuscan Snips.   But there’s a lot more coming including Part 4 of “Current Chianti” and another installment of my recent travelogue from Italy.


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