Today, I’m continuing the Tuscan Snips series with Volume 5. As with Volume 4, there are some new releases and interesting discoveries discussed below. I’m always excited when I find wines that over deliver based on their price point. It’s something I take a lot of pride in bringing to my readers. I’ve said many times, it’s easy to write (and gush over) wines that cost $100 or more. Of course I can’t ignore those wines. However, they likely don’t appeal to the largest segment of readers. So with that in mind, let’s start with a wine that really impressed.
Villa Matilde lies between Rome and Naples along the Campanian coastline. Founded in the 1960s by Francesco Avallone, the winery is now primarily run by his son Salvatore and daughter Maria. The property consists of 3 distinct estate vineyards totaling approximately 300 acres of vines. The vineyards benefit from two dramatic aspects of terroir. To the West, lies the Mediterranean Sea while the extinct volcano of mount Roccamonfina dominates to the East.
The 2016 Villa Matilde Aglianico Rocca dei Leoni Aglianico is a deep violet in the glass. Straight from the bottle the aromas are expressive. Crushed berry, wild flowers, spices and lavender. On the palate, this 100% Aglianico is vibrant and mouthwatering. Wild red berries are tantalizing. As a result of the stainless vinification, the flavors are pristine. Dusty minerals, fresh herbs and tobacco add complexity. I love this and it’s an incredible value around $16. 91 points. Find this wine.
When I first tasted the 2013 Brunellos at Benvenuto, the buzz phrase was “return to classicism” and I wondered if that wasn’t some sort of code for “these wines aren’t as ripe as we’d like.” My 2013 Annual Coverage provided lots of data points for the vintage that seemed to indicate cellaring these wines would be beneficial. I think that’s true.
The 2013 Verbena Brunello is a deep ruby color with violet reflections. Intense aromas of crushed cherry, fennel and flowers mark the exuberant nose. The flavors echo the aromas and add a delightful cured meat note. Loads of crushed cherry fruit cascaded from fore to aft with totally integrated tannins. This may not be the longest lived Brunello, but it’s so appealing. 95 points. Find this wine.
Resting on a hillside within sight of the ancient city of Volterra lies the Monterosola Estate. The Thomaeus family purchased the land in 2013 and embarked on a project of grandiosity rarely seen outside of Napa Valley. The estate includes expansive amenities, which the Swedish born Thomaeus’ self describe as a “destination winery”.
In January, I profiled the reds from Monterosola in Tuscan Snips Volume 3. Today, we’re looking at one of their whites. The 2018 Monterosola Primo Passo is a wildly interesting, exotic blend. An unspecified blend of Greccheto, Manzoni Bianco and Viognier, the wine is a deep golden color. Aromas of white peach, guava and apricot rise to the fore. On the palate, this is medium to full bodied with plenty of viscosity. Peach, citrus, pineapple and mineral notes mark the complex palate. Delicious as an aperitivo or with lighter dishes. 90 points and a nice value around $23. Available from the winery.
Manzoni Bianco is an interesting cross between Riesling and Pinot Blanc.
I’ve been privileged to write volumes about the wonderful wines from Tolaini. Most recently I chronicled the life of founder Louie Tolaini and the wonderful Cellar Sentinel that is Al Passo 2016.
The 2011 Tolaini Picconero is a deep blackish purple in the glass and drop dead gorgeous. I last wrote about it in 2017 and it’s come a long way since then. Seductive on the nose and palate, the wine exudes class and refinement. Aromas of crushed black plum, worn leather, pipe tobacco, fresh herbs and flowers are wonderful. In the mouth, the wine is soooo smooth. Pure velvet. Black plum flavors are merged with dark chocolate, powdered pepper and hints of chestnut. Picconero is 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet and 5% Petit Verdot. This is in a perfect spot right now. 96 points. Find this wine.
Allegrini’s La Grola vineyard is located in the town of Sant’Ambrogio and covers an area of about 30 hectares. Originally planted in 1979, the vineyard has undergone a series of replantings as recently as 1998. At that time, plant density was increased to 6,500 vines per hectare and a small amount of Syrah was planted amidst the indigenous Corvina.
Often compared to the more ubiquitous Palazzo della Torre, I have always thought La Grola the superior wine and worth the slightly higher price. The 2016 Allegrini La Grola is 80% Corvina, 10% Oseleta and 10% Syrah. Deep purple in color, the wine is fragrant with aromas of blackberry, vanilla, smoked meat and tobacco that are very attractive. On the palate, the wine is balanced well. Rich flavors of black plum, cured meat, vanilla and toasted spices are juicy and fresh. This is a completely different taste profile than Palazzo della Torre which now includes Sangiovese in its blend. 91 points. $22-$25. Find this wine.
Andrea Cecchi saves his best Castellina Sangiovese for the Riserva di Famiglia. There is no sacrifice in quality here. Many vintages of this wine have been reviewed at Tuscan Vines. The 2012 was quite special. However, this 2016 may be setting a higher bar.
The 2016 Cecchi Riserva di Famiglia Chianti Classico Riserva is a deep violet color. Immediately you are struck by the array of floral notes descending from the glass. Roses, violets and lavender mix with crushed cherry, vanilla and tobacco. I love it! On the palate, the Sangiovese here is wonderfully ripe. Juicy, sapid flavors of wild cherry mix with toasted tobacco and fennel. Approachable now if you decant. Will easily last 7-10 years in your cellar. 95 points. A great value too around $35. Available through Volio Imports. Find this wine.
That’ll bring the curtain down on Volume 5 of Tuscan Snips. But there’s plenty more to look forward to. Vino Nobile Part 3 is in the works and samples are coming in for Brunello 2016 so be ready for some data points there. Given the success of the vintage, I’ll be starting my Annual Coverage earlier than normal.
The Verticale series is coming too with wines from Tuscany, Piedmont and Campania in the mix there. Plus, are you interested in hearing from winemakers directly? With Italy in lockdown, for the last year I’ve been hosting winemakers on Zoom calls occurring on Sunday afternoons at 1PM EST. It’s a unique, rare chance to get direct insight into Italian wine. I’ve hosted producers from 6 different provinces so stay tuned. It’s always free to join!