Earlier this month I introduced Tuscan Snips, a new article format containing quick wine reviews on a handful of wines. The intent is to re-visit wines I’ve already tasted but also include some new surprise reviews. The first installment was very well received. With that said, here is the second in the series.
Wine Reviews – Tuscan Snips
Early last month I had the pleasure to sit down over a long lunch with proprietor Guilia Cecchi to taste a range of new releases from the family’s wineries. The first two wines are clear winners.
Castello Montauto is the Cecchi family property in San Gimignano. Purchased in 1988, the estate covers 82 hectares of land devoted to woods, vineyards and olive groves. 46 hectares are planted to Vernaccia and Sangiovese. The 2016 Castello Montauto Chianti is 85% Sangiovese with small additions of Canaiolo (5%) and Colorino (10%).
On the nose, this wine is very expressive with fresh crushed fruit, flowers and spices. Impressive! On the palate, the berry fruit is spicy and fresh with brightness and touches of vanilla, spices and warmed earth. Medium bodied and approachable there’s nothing not to like here especially at the attractive price of $13-$15. 89 points. Now available through Volio Imports. Find this wine.
As I spotlighted in the first Tuscan Snips edition, Villa Cerna is the Cecchi estate located in Castellina in Chianti. At the same lunch, we also tasted the newest release of the Estate’s Chianti Classico.
The 2016 Villa Cerna Primocolle Chianti Classico is a deep purple color. A blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino, the wine spends 9 months in barrique before being bottle aged. On the nose, the taster is greeted by dark cherry and savory herb aromas that turn to earth tones. The medium bodied palate is juicy and fresh with tobacco, cherry and warmed earth notes. This is wound fairly tightly and could use a year or two to soften and come together. Nice value around $20. 89 points. Find this wine.
The next wine simply blew me away. Sent to me by Elisabetta Geppetti after our recent Zoom call together, this interesting and exotic wine really made me sit up and take notice. Fattoria Le Pupille is simply awesome, so this shouldn’t have surprised me. Along with their Syrah, this is a brand new wine. Geppetti doesn’t rest on her laurels. This property is on fire!
The 2015 Fattoria Le Pupille Piemme is 100% Petit Manseng. The grapes are estate grown at 250 meters above sea level and then harvested by hand in mid to late September. Vinified in 500 liter Tonneaux, the wine remains there for up to 16 months and then is bottle aged for a further 24 months. The 2015 is the first commercial release.
Deep golden in color, it looks like apple juice! The aromas are spectacular. Crushed peaches, honey, caramel, hazelnuts, orange blossom and white flowers combine into an array of absolute class. On the palate, this is fresh and lively yet almost reminds me of a dry Vin Santo. Imagine that for a moment. Bright peach and nectarine flavors are backed by caramel, maple syrup, toasted hazelnuts, Christmas Cake and orange rind. I was shocked at how much I loved this wine. It’s rare. It’s unique. It’s delicious. 95 points. Available direct from the winery.
Back to Rosso… and a trip north west of Firenze, to Carmignano.
The Piaggia Estate is situated in the province of Prato and extends for over 25 hectares, approximately 15 of which are under vine. A relatively young estate, their first Carmignano Riserva was produced in 1991, Piaggia has clearly become the leader in the Carmignano. With their skilled team at the helm, the wines continually garner Tre Bicchieri recognition. Today, we’re focusing on one of their best wines that is a rare find in Tuscany.
The 2016 Piaggia Poggio de’Colli is 100% Cabernet Franc and a must buy for me in every vintage. Purplish black in the glass, the wine exudes aromas of crushed black fruit, blue flowers, mint and toasted vanilla. It’s forward and sexy. On the palate, the wine is juicy with fresh black berry notes framed by toasted vanilla, cigar box, sweet tobacco notes and powdery limestone laced tannins. Balanced well and medium to full bodied, I think this wines best days are ahead of it. But it’s so attractive now. 93 points. Find this wine.
Time to glimpse the future….
We know the greatness of 2015 Brunello. If you’ve been following my coverage, you know that excellent wines are not in short supply. This wine will be released sometime next year depending upon its evolution and the uninterrupted resumption of worldwide logistics.
The 2015 Castello Banfi Poggio All’Oro Brunello Riserva is a special wine. Deep violet in the glass, the color runs the entire spectrum from violet through ruby until it settles on copper. I decanted this wine for 3 hours. From the decanter, the aromas are intense. Slightly less so from the glass. Deep black cherry is met with roasted chestnut, coffee grind, fennel and cigar leaf. I love how it smells.
On the palate, this is more refined than masculine. Full bodied in structure with fruit and tannin aplenty, this relies a bit more on elegance than I would have suspected. Dark cherry flavors are backed by toasted sandalwood, spices and fennel. It reminds me of Stella di Campalto’s Brunello. It’ll be interesting to watch this evolve. Cellar it for at least 5 years after release. 95+ points. Find this wine.
Finally…. we dip our toes in the water for a float to Sardinia!
It’s hard to believe it’s been 6 years since I sat down with winemaker Fabio Angius of Pala Winery. In that time, this energetic winemaker has revitalized Pala earning the winery’s first Tre Bicchieri award for his 2011 Cannonau Riserva. Today, we’re looking at the newest release from this under-appreciated winery.
The 2016 Pala Cannonau Riserva is 100% Cannonau (Grenache) from a single vineyard on the estate that is now 45 years of age. The old vines produce intensely flavored berries and therefore, the Riserva is made only in the best vintages. The wine is vinified in large oak barrels and then aged in 3,000 liter French barrels for one year. The wine is then racked into stainless steel tanks for 3 months before spending 4 months refining in bottle.
Medium to deep purple with violet reflections, this is a beautiful color. Without being decanted, the aromas from the glass are easily coaxed. Black plum, raspberry jam, licorice, toast and slight “animale” notes mark the nose. On the palate, the flavors echo the nose with black fruits at the core framed by toasted spice, hints of mineral and black licorice. This is fresh and lively and represents an attractive change of pace from central Italian reds. Sardinians live longer than anyone else in the world and many “Experts” attribute that to Cannonau. The final word? This is a very nice value around $24. 92 points. Find this wine.
With the holidays fast approaching, there will be plenty of opportunity to taste a range of wines. More Tuscan Snips will surely be in the future.