Catharsis. In many way, the focus on something, especially that which represents a passion, is nurturing. Wine has long represented a broad range of emotions for me. Warm encounters with friends and family; fond memories of long planned trips; moments in time – reflecting history. For me, wine has always been transcendental. It’s something that is shared with those you cherish. It nurtures. It enhances.
The Tuscan Snips series continues today with Volume 8. As Volume 7 ended, so we begin with Maremma.
Along the Southern coast of Tuscany, the untamed landscape of Maremma unfurls toward the sea. A stones throw from the bustling Grosseto, the Val delle Rose winery rests within sight of the Mediterranean. This first “snip” is on a wonderful Vermentino, whose 2019 sibling holds the distinction of being the most read article ever on Tuscan Vines.
The 2020 Val delle Rose Vermentino Litorale is a pale straw color in the glass. Compared to the 2019, it had a hard act to follow but it has acquitted itself well. The wine features aromas of crushed stone, white flowers and pineapple. On the palate, the freshness and vibrancy are wonderful. Citrus and guava flavors take center stage while a flinty mineral note adds texture and complexity. This was a perfect pairing with insalata Caprese and will drink well for 2-3 years. 89 points. Great value under $15. Find this wine.
The second wine also hails from Val delle Rose but is a bit more eccentric. Historically, Ciliegiolo has been relegated to blending. However, within the past 7-10 years, several producers have revived the grape and are now making interesting mono-varietal wines with it. As a result, there are approximately 5,000 hectares of Ciliegiolo in Tuscany.
The 2018 Val delle Rose Ciliegiolo is a pretty violet color in the glass that exudes aromas of crushed plum, irises and warmed spices. Medium bodied on the palate with crushed plum and savory herb flavors. Ciliegiolo is known to be wildly aromatic and that is the hallmark of this wine even in the difficult 2018 vintage. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and as a result, retains its freshness and vibrancy. But, it does not have the stuffing of the 2015. 88 points. Find this wine.
As my readers well know, Tuscan Snips is not only about Tuscany. And that is true for this installment. So, we are moving north to Piemonte and a very pretty Barbera. Back in June, I wrote about the Barolo Cru Cerequio that I tasted with Stefano Chiarlo.
The 2016 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme hails from the family’s Tenuta La Court estate which they acquired in 1995. The La Court property spans 20 hectares within the Nizza and greater Asti denominations. Le Orme is the largest Barbera produced from the estate while only 3 small hectares are reserved for Nizza when vintage conditions permit.
Medium violet in the glass, this pretty Barbera displays overt aromas of cherry, raspberry, vanilla and savory herbs. On the palate, the wine remains fresh as a result of being vinified in stainless steel. Sapid and lively, the primary flavors of cherry, raspberry and vanilla spice are attractive. The finish is bright and tinged with fennel seed. Again, the value here is notable under $15. 89 points. Find this wine.
Tuscan Snips takes many forms and an overriding theme of this installment is value. The next wine is, quite simply, off the charts good. I had the pleasure to share not one, but two bottles of this recent release with long time readers of mine Amaury and Tim. As the setting was casual, there are no formal notes but I didn’t want to ignore this.
The 2019 Castellare Chianti Classico portends everything that we’ve been hearing about this wonderful vintage. Deep garnet in the glass, the wine portrayed ample aromas of crushed cherry, spice and herbs. On the palate, it was juicy, fresh and with a solid core of bright berry fruit. This was everything a Chianti Classico should be and paired incredibly well with the array of foods we enjoyed with it. I’ve yet to see this in a Wine Shop but will certainly buy some when I do. Great value under $20. 91 points. Find this wine.
The Gagliole Estate possesses some of the most amazing vineyards in Chianti Classico with property in both Castellina and Panzano. Earlier this year I wrote about two of the estate’s current releases. This Tuscan Snips includes the final release.
The 2017 Gagliole Colli della Toscana Centrale is a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet – the latter being sourced from the La Valleta property in Panzano. Despite the hot vintage, I am impressed this wine is as fresh as it is given that most of the fruit comes from a Castellina, a commune further south in Chianti Classico. That said, Gagliole’s vineyards are fairly elevated there. This is shy on the nose with muted berry and tobacco notes. On the palate, the austere nature of the red fruits are marked by iron and herb notes. This is a bit awkward at this stage and I admit to preferring Pecchia (1oo% Sangiovese) more. I’d wait 3-5 year on this one before tasting and see if it becomes more exuberant. It’s very reserved now. 90 points. Find this wine.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know what’s going on here. I’ve got long experience with Montiano and recently loved the 2009 and included the 2011 in Tuscan Snips. Maybe it’s simply the mercurial nature of the 2013 vintage that has underwhelmed me regarding IGT wines and taken Brunello from that vintage years to perk up. Either way, I’m tossing out a cautionary tale here.
The 2013 Falesco Montiano is 100% Merlot and nearly black in the glass. Knowing the wine as I do, I decanted it for over an hour. It didn’t help. Slow coaxed aromas of black plums and olives are lurking under a boatload of toasted oak. You can smell the oak. On the palate, the fruit is muted with little complexity save a tweak of mint. Yet overriding it all is charry oak. I’m just not a fan. This was my only bottle and I won’t be going back to it. This is a wine that excels in riper vintages. (2007, 2009, 2011, 2015) 86 points. Find this wine.
There are reviews on this site for the next wine going back until at least the 1988 vintage. I have probably tasted every Summus produced several times over. This is a good place to start for some of that history. What sets this tasting apart is the context of how and why I uncorked it. Homage. Farewell. Catharsis.
Beginning with the 2004 vintage, Summus became a blend of 40% Sangiovese Grosso, 40% Cabernet and 20% Syrah. The 2005 Castello Banfi Summus was decanted for about 75 minutes before dinner. It drank well straight from the bottle but blossomed even further with the aeration. Deep, penetrating aromas of black cherry, sweet pipe tobacco, dark cocoa powder, mint and leather mark the complex nose. In the mouth the wine is pure silk. Full bodied, viscous flavors of black cherry, leather, Christmas cake, mint and coffee are unmistakable. The velvety nature of the tannins caress without any intrusion but still provide structure. The acidity retains freshness. Delicious both with the pictured Tri-tip and all by itself. It’s pretty hard to imagine this getting any better. Wish I had a case. 98 points. Find this wine.
Silence as we cried
A glass of Summus raised high
Dust to dust, goodbye