~ The Campanile in the Piazza del Campo, Siena ~

Over the course of a few days prior to the Rustic Tuscany Tour, I had the opportunity to revisit several wines worth chronicling.  As a result, Tuscan Snips 12 is born!

As with previous versions of Tuscan Snips, this installment includes wines from several Italian regions and of varying ages.  Let’s do it!

Tuscan Snips

~ A view of San Gimignano heading into the Piazza della Cisterna from the top of the Rocca ~

We’re starting with an aged statesman.

Querciabella was founded in 1974 by Giuseppe Castiglioni and today is run by his determined and passionate son Sebastiano. Since 1988, the estate has been organically farming their vineyards, a feat that precedes many similar decisions by dozens of other wineries.

Since 2000, the estate is biodynamic and vegan. As a result, Querciabella uses no animal based fertilizers in their grape growing. Sebastiano himself is vegan, so his passion for this way of life is paramount in everything he does.

Tuscan Snips

~ Cantina at Querciabella ~

The 1999 Querciabella Camartina is predominantly Cabernet with a dash of Sangiovese.  First produced in 1981, the wine hails from Greve in Chianti.   23 years on and this behemoth of a Cabernet is still opaque in the glass.  Typical Tuscan Cabernet nose of leather, black fruits, tobacco and balsamic.  On the palate, the wine is fresh with lively acidity.  Black plum, cocoa, minerality and balsam notes combine nicely.  It’s throwing an enormous sediment.  Decanting is a must but not for long.  I sensed this starting to slip by the end of the night.  Still, a wonderful wine.  93 points.  Find this wine.

Tuscan Snips

~ Camartina is a legendary, leathery organic Cabernet ~

I’ve written a lot about the larger than life Giampaolo Tabarrini.  In fact, he was among the first winemaker interviews I ever published. The winemaker is a one man wrecking crew; the antidote to lethargy.  His passion, his energy and his determination may well be limitless.  And he makes great wine.

The 2015 Tabarrini Montefalco Rosso “Boccatone” is one of the best values I’ve had this year.  It’s also not the most typical of Montefalco Rosso. Why?  It contains 25% Barbera!  The balance of the wine is 60% Sangiovese and 15% Sagrantino.

In the glass the wine is a deep garnet with violet reflections.  Big cherry, wild berry, flowers, eucalyptus and sage mark the intriguing nose.  In the mouth this is fresh and vivacious.  Viscous, with more structure than you might expect from a Montefalco Rosso. Frankly, could use 2-3 years more in the cellar.  Bright and flavorful with tobacco, fennel and wild berry marking the flavors. A tremendous wine at the price point.  95 points.  Find this wine.

Tuscan Snips

~ Boccatone means a “slap in the mouth”….apt for Giampaolo’s energy ~

Whenever I travel to Italy, I always make a point of attempting to drink local.   The afternoon before the Rustic Tuscany Tour started, my partner and I sat down for a gorgeous lunch at Trattoria da Giorgino along the strip in Fiumicino.  The foil was a lovely Lazio Bianco.

Tuscan Snips

~ This was one of the best pastas I had on the Tour; Paccheri with zucchini slivers and mussels in a saffron cream sauce. We were both shocked they put cheese on it! ~

Satrico takes its name from the ancient, pre-Roman,  (yes, you read that right) city of Satricum.  It was a unique, fresh bianco that made for an ethereal pairing.

The 2021 Casale del Giglio Satrico is a white blend from Lazio.  Although the composition changes from year to year, the essence is 40% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon and 20% Trebbiano Giallo.  Like many other 21 whites, this one is outstanding.  The aromas of pear, lemon grass, white flowers, apple and stone peaches are simply amazing.  On the palate, the wine is medium bodied and viscous but crisp. Fresh, inviting, with tropical flavors, minerals and a saline character that are so complex.  Vinified in stainless steel, the wine spends 3-4 months in bottle before release early in the year following harvest.  Great value under $20.   92 points.  Find this wine.

~ Casale del Giglio was founded in 1967 by the Santarelli family and today produces various wines from its 180 hectares of vineyards ~

I’ve long been a fan of the wines from Pala; a hidden gem frankly, from Sardinia.  During the height of the pandemic, I did a Zoom interview with winemaker Fabio Angius that you can see here:  Interview with Pala Winemaker.   It’s well worth the view.

The 2017 Pala Cannonau Riserva is a deep violet color.  A boisterous nose features wildly floral aromatics punctuated with baking spice, wild raspberry and flinty earth-pine tones.  On the palate, the wine is medium to full bodied and viscous with red plum and wild berry fruit at the core, but powdery minerals and new leather laying beneath.  This is juicy and fresh with nary a hint of the 15.2% ABV.  This is unique and also quite a value.  $24.  93 points.  Find this wine & Support Tuscan Vines.

Tuscan Snips

~ A perennial Tre-Biccheri recipient, this Cannonau Riserva is one of the best wines from Sardinia ~

Finally, we wind our way back up to Montalcino….

Poggio di Sotto was purchased by Colle Massari in 2011.    Situated near Castelnuobo dell’Abate, the 48 hectares of vineyards still produce elegant, long aging Sangiovese.  Aged a full 40 months in large botte, the wine is bottled and rested an additional year before release.

The 2015 Poggio di Sotto Brunello is maybe extraordinary.  Or perhaps better said, it will be?  Medium ruby in the glass, simply by the looks you might think it a Pinot Noir.  On the nose, the wine has aromas of sandalwood, crushed berry, fresh tobacco and fresh herbs like oregano and sage.  In the mouth, the wine is slightly grumpy.  It was not happy at being uncorked and so I double decanted the bottle.  This helped somewhat but the Burgundian, elegant nature of this wine wants more sleep.  I’ve had 5 vintages of Poggio di Sotto and they are always elegant and true to their style. The 2018 at Bevenuto Brunello was gorgeous and more forthcoming than this one.  So hold it, and see where it goes.  I’ll give a range here because it was that awkward.  91-95 points.  Very, very expensive.  Find this wine.

Tuscan Snips

~ This Brunello is so elegant – yet the 2015 is a bit closed down. Its 2018 counterpart at Benvenuto Brunello was much more enjoyable ~

That’ll pull the curtain down on this installment of Tuscan Snips.  Stay tuned to the website, because there is a lot more coming.


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