Tuscan Snips has become one of the most enjoyed article series that I have published. This third installment features some long time favorites and also highlights some new wineries. Similar to Part Two, this article showcases wines from across Tuscany and other provinces.
Wine Reviews – Tuscan Snips
Proprietor Elena Salviucci was just 5 years old when her family planted vineyards in 2000 in the tiny hamlet of Campiglia d’Orcia. Consequently, she has literally grown up alongside the vines. Campotondo is a family business in every sense of the word. The farm is managed by Elena and her parents Paolo and Sabrina. Their living room is their tasting room! The family cultivates 2.5 hectares of vineyards devoted mainly to Sangiovese. However, there are a few vineyard rows of Chardonnay and Merlot.
The 2019 Campotondo Tavoleto is 100% Chardonnay that is fermented entirely in stainless steel. However, given the amount of time the wines spends on the fine lees, the body of this wine is simply incredible. The color is a pale medium straw color that at times looks a bit cloudy because the wine is unfiltered. The aromas are easily coaxed from the glass and feature crisp apple, lemon grass and tropical fruit notes. On the palate, the wine is viscous and elegant with fresh acidity. The citrus, apple and pineapple notes are backed by dusty minerality. This is so attractive on its own but pairs incredibly well with Carbonara and Pasta alla Vongole. 92 points. Available directly from the winery and Elena will still honor the “Special Package” she created for my readers during our Zoom call.
Here’s another look at the Tavoleto in the glass. You can see the slight cloudiness to the wine……
Resting on a hillside within sight of the ancient city of Volterra lies the Monterosola Estate. The Thomaeus family purchased the land in 2013 and embarked on a project of grandiosity rarely seen outside of Napa Valley. The estate includes expansive amenities, which the Swedish born Thomaeus’ self describe as a “destination winery”. Central features include a 5 story clock tower, private roof terrace, elegant courtyards and gardens, impressive modern wine cellars, VIP meeting rooms, oak-panelled tasting rooms, large event spaces and an Enoteca selling the estate’s wines and products. There are 25 hectares of vineyards on the estate.
The Thomaeus family have assembled a wine-making team they believe will put Monterosola on the map. Led by winemaker Michele Senesi, the team includes Stefano Dini as lead viticulturist and Alberto Antonini (of Frescobaldi & Antinori) as consulting winemaker. In 2019, Monterosola opened its doors. The future is being written.
Featured in this article are the two reds that Monterosola provided. Luckily I was able to taste these wines before my bout with Covid. I also have two white wines from the winery that will be featured in a subsequent article once my palate returns to normal.
The 2016 Monterosola Crescendo is arguably the workhorse wine of the estate. Crescendo is 100% Sangiovese and a pretty, deep violet color. Bright floral notes mark the nose with crushed berry, hints of pine needle and a touch of vanilla. On the palate, the wine is ripe and round. A solid core of ripe berry fruit is fairly monolithic at this point. Hints of toast and herb poke through but this is a bit backward at this point. Slight bitter tinge to the tannins. This needs some time to come together and show its best but the blueprint seems to be in place. Crescendo is vinified in concrete and then spends 15 months in French barrique. 30 months bottle aging follows prior to release. 90 points. Available directly from the winery who ships internationally. Find this wine.
The 2015 Canto della Civetta is pure Merlot and as you may guess from the label, means “Song of the Owl”. My readers know I love Tuscan Merlot and this wine, although a bit atypical, is no exception. It’s a blackish purple in the glass with aromas of lavender, blue flowers and black fruits. On the palate, the wine is largely scaled. Super broad shoulders present this as a brooding wine in need of long cellaring. The structure from the vintage is pronounced. Black plum, black cherry, toasted nut and vanilla come through but there’s little else discernible at this point. Needs time. Like Crescendo, this wine is vinified in concrete, aged 15 months in barrique and 30 months in bottle before release. It needs time to fully sing its song. I’d like to try again in 2025. 91 points. Find this wine.
A stalwart classic…. It still is….. right?
Back in 2019, I tasted this wine as part of a report I did on 2016 Chianti Classico. I was a little mystified then, if not yet concerned but after this current tasting, I’m raising the alarm here.
The 2016 Felsina Chianti Classico is a deep ruby in color. Simple aromas of cherry and dried spices mark the nose. Nowhere is the bright, floral aromatic nature of this vintage found. On the palate, simple straightforward aromas of red fruit are backed by dried herbs. This used to be a 1/2 case buy (at least) for me in most every vintage. But lately, this wine is stumbling.
When I think about their Chianti Classico Riserva – which has little weight nor character compared to most Chianti Classico – and then I see the portfolio addition of a Chianti Colli Senesi, I start to wonder what’s going on? Are they stretching themselves too thin? Are they diverting fruit? Is Bernabei not as attentive now that it seems he’s taking on new clients. (I reported about Lornano and Villa Trasqua just recently) I have a few of these left as well as some of the 2015 Riserva and frankly, I’m not looking forward to either of them. Admirably, the prices for Felsina’s wines remain rather constant. But what’s admirable about that if the quality drops? 86 points. Find this wine.
Giampaolo was one of my first ever winemaker interviews. He captivated me then and he has done so every time I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy his company. Most recently, that was on a Zoom call with my readers that featured energetic discussion and a tour of his wine cellar. His latest release is equally captivating.
The 2015 Tabarrini Montefalco Rosso “Boccatone” is absolutely wonderful. What a contrast to the previous wine and at a cheaper price point. Deep violet in the glass the aromas are very attractive with black cherry, cured meat, smoke, dried herb and fennel notes. As Giampaolo mentioned during the Zoom call, Boccatone means a “slap in the mouth” – surely a form of discipline doled out by his Nonna – but in this case, it’s a punch of flavor that makes the taster take notice.
Dark berries, ripe fennel, tobacco, grilled meat and toasted nuts mark the medium to full bodied palate of this wine. The approximately 30% Sagrantino in the blend makes it’s presence felt but never overwhelms the Sangiovese. It adds color and heft. This is a wine deserving of its own contemplation and not simply dismissed as Sagrantino’s little brother. Absolutely delicious. 93 points. Great value under $20. Not completely available yet but: Find this wine.
Finally, we head toward Maremma for another unique data point. Ciliegiolo has been around for a long time. However, mostly it has been forgotten or relegated to a blending grape. It is rare to find a mono-varietal Ciliegiolo never mind one that impresses. Enter, Val delle Rose.
The Cecchi Family winery in Maremma is one of the shining stars in the family’s estate portfolio. Fruit from this estate crafts many excellent wines but also provides fruit for some of the family’s other premium offerings like Coevo.
The 2016 Val delle Rose Il Ciliegiolo is a wonderful wine. The second vintage produced as a stand alone wine, this more than lives up to its 2015 predecessor. Vinified in stainless steel, this 100% Ciliegiolo is pure and fresh. Crushed plum, lavender and blue flowers are just penetrating. On the palate, this wine is so fresh and pure. What a 2016! The black plum flavors are accented by fresh spices, powdered minerals and lovely fresh fennel. I actually used my Coravin on this bottle so I am very much excited to see where it goes. Beginning this past summer, the Val delle Rose wines are now imported through Volio Imports. 94 points. A steal around $25. Find this wine.
Tuscan Snips will continue! What’s coming up on Tuscan Vines? More 2015 Brunello data points. 2016 Brunello data points and a large report on 2016 Vino Nobile, not to mention the odd drop in here and there of other wine reviews and new recipes.