~ Biserno Label and Crest ~

Biserno was born out of estrangement and then reconciliation.

Piero Antinori and his brother Lodovico suffered what many brothers and especially wine families do; they had a falling out over professional philosophy.  As a result, in 1981 Lodovico split from the family firm, moved to the Tuscan coast, and went on to establish one of the icons of Maremma; Ornellaia.

During his time running Ornellaia, Lodovico learned of another property from his General Manager when they were searching for vineyards to expand the estate. He soon realized that the boulder strewn property would be a sizeable endeavor and a project unto itself.  As a result, he sold Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and set about creating a new estate.  He enlisted the help of his brother Piero and after renewing their relationship, Tenuta di Biserno was born.


~ The Tenuta di Biserno offices ~

It’s been several years since I checked in with Biserno so when several recent vintages arrived on my doorstep, it seemed a good time to renew my Verticale series.

The Tenuta di Biserno estate extends over 40 hectares and sits approximately 90 meters above sea level in Alta Maremma. Located in the commune of Bibbona, the properties lie just north of Bolgheri.  Over the years, the wine blend has followed the plantings of the vineyards. However, in recent years the blend has evolved to approximately 1/3 Cabernet Franc, 1/3 Cabernet, 1/3 Merlot and a small portion of Petit Verdot.  Michel Rolland is the consulting winemaker.

Tasting Biserno

Biserno 2015 – 30% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, 28% Cabernet and 8% Petit Verdot.
Aging: 75% new French Barrique; 25% Second passage barrique

For this tasting we began with the 2015.  Dark, opaque purple in color with only the slightest crimson ring.  After decanting for one hour, the aromatics from the Cabernet Franc are dominating the nose.  Lilac, lavender and mint are prominent.  On the palate, this is the most structured and tannic of the three wines.  Blackberry, cigar tobacco, cedar and toasted spices are prevalent on the palate and the plushness of the wine is delivered by the Merlot.  The tannins melted away with the grilled strips you see but of the three wines, this is the most masculine. The overall style of Biserno is rounder, fuller and more lavish.  However, the quality is as high as the wines from Ornellaia.  95 points. Find this wine.


~ Biserno 2015 is the largest framed of the three vintages ~

Biserno 2016 – 30% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot, 30% Cabernet and 4% Petit Verdot.
Aging: 85% new French barrique; 15% Second passage barrique

On thing you note about the 2016 straight away is that it’s decidedly less masculine. The take away here is that I did not use the word *feminine*.    In the glass, the wine is an opaque purple color with again, a slight fade to crimson at the edge of the bowl.  Fragrant aromas of scrub herbs, crushed black fruits, toasted vanilla and blue flowers are discernible.  On the palate, the wine is more elegant and even more polished compared to the 2015.  The juicy core of crushed blackberry, plum, fennel and cedar presents itself vibrantly.  Everything stays fresh through the toasted coffee bean finish.  I love this effort.  97 points.  Find this wine.

Biserno 2016

~ The 2016 is also very aromatic but decidedly less masculine ~

Biserno 2017 –  29% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, 30% Cabernet and 7% Petit Verdot.
Aging: 85% new French barrique; 15% Second passage barrique

It’s not fair to call the 2017 a weak vintage.  Overall, you could say that, but it doesn’t translate that way in the wine at all.  Production was the smallest of the three vintages and I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality here. Producer over vintage.

The 2017 is a deep violet in the glass and the least concentrated looking.  Cocoa powder, black fruits and toasted spices are bountiful on the nose.  There is also a hint of heat from the alcohol despite the fact that the 2015 comes in with the highest alcohol level at 15%.  (the 16 and 17 are both 14.5%)

Rich, ripe and forward with black cherry, black plum, toasted spices and coconut, this is a wild ride.  Concentrated and balanced but the heat of the vintage has taken a noticeable toll on the freshness of the wine.  It’s a marked contrast to the 15 and 16.  It’s very pretty, but at the price I would shell out for the other two vintages first.  93 points.  Find this wine.

Biserno 2017

~ It doesn’t seem fair to call this a weak vintage. Read on! ~

The Takeaways

In the market of premium Bolgheri based wines, this one is a relative bargain compared to some of the more established estates that dot the Tuscan coast line.  That being said, I find this to be built in a much more international style.  I would love to sneak this wine into a blind tasting of premium Napa Cabernet.  I do not think it’s Italian roots would give it away at all.  There’s no denying the quality in these wines. The Antinori’s and Rolland are intent on creating a premium product and they’ve succeeded. But readers need to understand that there is nothing rustic or traditional about Biserno. 

I have long experience tasting this wine so if you’re interested in, you can view my reviews of the 2012 and 2008.

More Verticale articles are planned so stay tuned.   Salute!

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