It’s been over a month since the popular Tuscan Snips series graced these pages with the release of Volume 5. Today, I continue the trend with a revisit on a few exciting reds but also some newly released whites and rose. So let’s get to it!
Vernaccia may be Tuscany’s greatest white wine and certainly it has earned its DOCG status. Along with Vermentino, the inertia behind producing great Vernaccia has never been stronger. One of the producers leading this quality revolution is Campochiarenti. When I last visited Tuscany, pre-pandemic, winemaker Daniele Rosti gushed over his soon to be released 2018 Vernaccia. What he didn’t tell me then, was that he had an ace up his sleeve.
The 2018 Campochiarenti Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva continues the progression of winemaker Daniele Rosti’s Vitiarium collection. A medium golden color in the glass, this wine, which spent almost twice as long aging in steel tanks as required by the DOCG regulations, has picked up additional color from the extended contact with the lees.
On the nose, this wine screams Campochiarenti terroir. The laser beams of lemon and white peaches are met by flinty mineral and aquiline aromas. The complexity is very interesting. After extended aeration, white flowers peek through also but the mineral quality is dominant at the moment.
On the palate, the powdery, mineral traces are dominant. As a result of the extended aging, the rounder, fuller body of the wine versus the normal Vernaccia makes for an interesting comparison. Lemon, peach and herbal notes round out the flavor. It will be interesting to watch this wine evolve. I suspect the fruit character will assert itself more in the future. 92 points. Available directly from the winery.
In my exclusive series on Vino Nobile, I profiled two wines from Tenuta Vallocaia. The winery was so excited that someone was bringing well deserved attention to Vino Nobile, they contacted me personally to thank me for my efforts. As a result, they sent a few more wines my way. The first is gorgeous and perfect for the coming patio season.
The 2020 Tenuta Vallocaia Gemella Rosato is an intriguing blend of Sangiovese and Syrah. Despite the crazy year that 2020 was, the winemakers I’ve spoken to were quick to mention how good the vintage was. We’re seeing the first results of that. This is fresh, vibrant and delicious. Flavors and aromas of strawberry, watermelon, white peaches and flowers are exuberant. Fresh, crisp and long, this paired well with a variety of dishes including calamari fritti, grilled octopus and burrata cheese. Bello! This is due for release very soon. 89 points. Find this wine.
I last tasted the next wine almost one year ago. At the time, it was just about to be released. One year later, it’s still drinking beautifully. While we wait for the 2020 to be released, Tuscan Snip your way into this one…
The 2019 Val delle Rose Vermentino Litorale has never disappointed. The last time I tried this crisp white from Andrea Cecchi, we paired it with my wonderful pasta con piselli recipe that Castellina inspired.
In the glass, the wine is a pale straw color. On the nose, this wine is replete with pineapple, lemon grass, tropical fruit and flinty stones. Floral too with an almost perfumed nature; exotic notes of Gardenia. On the palate, it’s crisp and vibrant with pineapple, lemon peel, stone and mineral character. I just love it! 92 points. Find this wine.
Sometimes we try hard to reconcile scores, find wines that have broad appeal, excellent value, noteworthy complexity and aging potential. I’m beginning to think that if Franco Bernabei is involved, I should just say screw it and buy the wine! The man knows how to craft Sangiovese. I first reviewed the next wine in September of 2020 and it’s even better now. It’s a true Cellar Sentinel.
The 2016 Lornano Chianti Classico is 100% Sangiovese that is vinified in stainless steel and then aged in French oak for 12 months. A further 6 months bottle age follows before release. This boasts a deep ruby color with violet reflections throughout. Crushed cherry, pipe tobacco, and blue flowers mark the enticing nose. On the palate, this is juicy, fresh and vibrant. New leather and toasted hazelnut add complexity to the sapid, mouthwatering cherry fruit that coats the palate front to back. As it gains more air, it gains more weight and roundness. What more could you want from a wine that’s $14.99? I know a few of my followers purchased a case of this beauty. Stock up! 93 points. Find this wine.
Finally, I’m going to close with an update on a wine that I know a lot of people enjoy and have in their cellars. It’s one thing to read an initial review and purchase the wine based upon that. But then what? Many times you’re left alone to judge (or gamble) for yourself about when the right time to open that great bottle may be. And if it’s your only bottle, well then you may have a heck of a problem.
The 2015 Antinori Tignanello is no doubt a stunning wine and one of the best Super Tuscans from the vintage. It’s what I would expect and its delivered. I last wrote about this wine in 2018 and it was gorgeous then. Three years removed from that review, it’s time to let Tignanello rest.
In the glass, a deep ruby leads to violet reflections. Everything has been toned down with this wine on both the nose and palate. It’s not nearly as complex as it showed upon release. Well, it likely is, but it needs its slumber like an awkward, cranky teenager.
Primary flavors and aromas of crushed cherry are met with leather and dusty earth notes. I’m left thinking about what I wrote in my original review: “If there’s a knock here, it’s that this is drinking so well now I almost wonder how long it will age. Perhaps it’ll shut down and emerge as something different. I don’t know, but given my long history with Tignanello, I’ve no trepidation whatsoever about holding this until it’s 15 years old and enjoying the journey along the way.”
It’s now 6 years old and I don’t think I’ll check in on it again until it’s at least 10. If I have the patience. 93 points at the current moment. Find this wine.
That concludes this edition of Tuscan Snips. What’s coming next? Well, Newsletter Subscribers are going to get an exclusive look at some 2015 Brunello that I’ve just re-tasted. They’re also going to get a glimpse of some 2016 Brunello.
Here, I’ll be spotlighting some new releases from Gagliole, writing Part 1 of that “mystery bottle” blind tasting and a few other surprises are planned. Stay tuned!