The Bacci family owns three separate estates in Tuscany: Castello di Bossi, Renieri, and Terre di Talamo. The latter is located in the Tuscan Maremma and produces reds from the newly minted (2007) DOCG area, Morellino di Scansano.
Morellino is the local name for the clone of Sangiovese prevalent in this region. Wines labelled Morellino di Scansano must be at least 85% Sangiovese by law. The balance can be comprised of many other red varietals in almost any proportion. This leads to some identity issues as Morellino can vary widely in style, body, composition and frankly, quality.
Terre do Talamo lies along the Tuscan coast, in the Maremma. The third of the Bacci family’s estates, this one may be the least notable as Morellino often does not garner the same level of attention as Chianti Classico or Brunello. That said, the 2010 Terre di Talamo “Tempo” can be a workhorse of a Sangiovese. It’s a pretty medium violet color and the aroma is intense with soppresatta and various other smoked meats. There’s cherry there too, but the primary component is very meaty. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied with nice flavors of cherry and earth. It’s a good wine, but nothing more. 87 points, about $12.
|Terre di Talamo’s “Tempo” Morellion di Scansano
However, as I sat there enjoying this wine, I couldn’t help reflect upon where and how this wine fits into the DOCG hierarchy. It doesn’t approach the levels of an equivalent Chianti Classico and isn’t anything close to Vino Nobile or Brunello.
Why do I draw these comparisons? Because while this wine is enjoyable and represents a good value, it isn’t deserving of DOCG status. Perhaps I expect too much when I see that additional letter on the end of the designation? After all, there are oceans of poor Chianti that bear the DOCG label. If the law is meant to relegate the term only to govern included grapes, alcohol limits, aging requirements, etc…. then I’d suggest they are watering down the designation to the point where it’s virtually meaningless. After all, shouldn’t it be harder to attain than the arguably simpler and less prestigious DOC? Producers within DOC zones lobby and strive to be “promoted” regularly. Surely there is some perceived advantage to achieving the designation? The benchmark is set higher simply by virtue of the fact that the additional category exists in the first place.
I’ve been tasting and writing about Italian wine for over two decades. The wines that first come to mind when someone says DOCG are some of the greatest wines Italy produces: Barolo, Barbaresco, Chianti Classico, Brunello, Vino Nobile. The “G” implies a serious dedication to quality and a wine that is well made and capable of inspiring. Where has that “Guarantee”, which is exactly what the “G” implies, gone?
The Italian government needs to address this apparent lack of credibility or the DOCG designation loses it’s relevance. The Chianti Consorzio recognized this recently when they created a fourth tier of quality: their new “Grand Selezione” which comes into force next year.
However, unlike the wider DOCG issue, the Consorzio realizes that the Chianti Classico DOCG is suffering. They’ve created this higher tier as an additional reference point; a mark of quality that will elevate the wines of compliant producers. But should this be the direction they take?
Like the broader DOCG designation itself, it’s not that new tiers of quality should be created in order to elevate the designation. The designation should mean something inherently. The designation should in essence be devoid of a least common denominator. New tiers of quality shouldn’t be invented simply to distance premium wines from poor ones that bear the same DOCG designation.
As I conclude this stream of consciousness, I’m reminded of an old political quote that’s idealistically thrown about in arguing the merits of a particular politician. “Our job isn’t to pander to the least common denominator, it’s to elevate it!”
So to, with wine….