Wine review snippets. This is a new concept I’m introducing to Tuscan Vines. The idea is a simple one. Every so often I taste a wine that may be “ok” but doesn’t quite inspire me to devote a full article covering it. Or, it may be a wine that I’ve covered many times and rather than repeat the historical aspect of the article, I’ll just provide another data point. Many times I publish Twitter only reviews of something like this directly those followers. However, that seems short sighted to me. So I asked my followers! One of them made this suggestion and I think it’s a great idea.
Wine Reviews – TuscanSnips
The first snippet is the second wine from the Tenuta Marsiliana Estate in Maremma which I first wrote about in 2018.
Located in the heart of Maremma, the Tenuta Marsiliana Estate is comprised of almost 3000 hectares of fields, forests, natural springs, vineyards and olive groves. It is some of the most beautiful property in the Maremma and has an almost fanciful feel about it. The origins of its name come from a young girl, Bella Marsilia, a youth who was captured by the Turkish pirate Barbarossa and taken to the sultan in Constantinople as a gift. In that vein of untouched innocence, the estate draws inspiration for its name.
The 2017 Tenuta Marsiliana Birillo hails from the Costa Toscana. An unspecified blend of Cabernet and Merlot, the wine presents itself as a deep violet color. Black plums, cherry and slight vanilla notes mark the attractive nose. On the palate, this is smooth, ripe and round. Well balanced and fresh which is pleasing given the heat of the 2017 vintage. I suspect there is a sizeable portion of Merlot in this wine as there are no hard edges. Very smooth and quite an excellent value given the $13 Euro price. 92 points. Find this wine.
The next wine is 2018 Villa Le Corti Chianti Classico that hails from San Casciano Val di Pesa. This is the second wine in a series of snippets or articles I’ll pen about Villa Le Corti, a relatively unknown family making consistently delicious wines. A blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino, this is a straightforward easy drinking red that pairs well with simple pastas, chicken and even burgers. Medium violet in the glass, the aromas focused on soft cherry, strawberry and spice. On the palate, the wine is light to medium bodied with fresh cherry fruit backed by smooth tannins and hints of spice. This is a solid, if not slightly austere Chianti Classico that is a good every day wine. 86 points. Find this wine.
We’ve also revisited and old reliable friend. I’ve written so much about the fantastic wines of Campochiarenti that frankly, nothing more needs to be said. If you’re a reader or follower of mine and you haven’t tried these wines, you’re either not paying attention or simply missing out.
The 2011 Campochiarenti Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva is simply outstanding. I’ve enjoyed this wine at least 1/2 a dozen times and each time it has consistently impressed. A blend of 85% Sangiovese with the balance comprised of Canaiolo, Colorino, Mammolo and Ciligielo, the wine is vinified in cement tanks and then aged for 30 months in large oak barrels.
Deep garnet in the glass, the wine’s aromas explode for the taster. Dark cherry, tobacco, fennel, chestnut and spices are in harmony. On the palate, this is fresh and lively. Medium to full bodied, the tannins are powdery and dusty with a soft, mineral nature. Cherries, dark chocolate, fennel seed and pipe tobacco are intricately woven. This is one of the estate’s best wines and an amazing value just under $23 Euro. 95 points. Find this wine
The Castello Monaci Estate has been a figure in Puglia for generations under the direction of the Serraca family. Here, in the sun baked vineyards of southern Italy, the ancient Castello Monaci stands admirably and is one of the few estates in Puglia to be certified sustainable.
The 2017 Castello Monaci Artas is 100% Primitivo. Harvested at night to avoid exposing the grapes to the blistering southern sun, I find the commitment admirable. However, in 2017 when I know the temperatures soared to 120 degrees at times, this was a challenge to say the least. Deep violet in the glass, the aromas from the wine include baked cherry compote, black and white pepper and a bourbon like fume. On the palate, the wine is ripe, rich and powerful. The cherry flavors are backed by loads of pepper and vanilla character. This is fiery and untamed like a late harvest Zinfandel. Clocking in at 16.5% alcohol, it is a little too much for me and at $30-$34 it’s overpriced. 85 points. Find this wine.
Next we turn to yet another old friend….
Villa Cerna rises over the first hill that travelers encounter on their way to Castellina in Chianti from Siena. Owned by the Cecchi family since the 1960s the estate was originally an Abbey and dates to 1000 AD.
The 2015 Villa Cerna Chianti Classico Riserva is deep violet in the glass. From the start, I regret not decanting this wine because its shy, almost austere, nature changed dramatically over the course of the evening. Unfortunately, the bottle was almost gone at that point. Even experienced tasters make mistakes!
On the nose, this Riserva offers scents of crushed cherry, dried oregano, dried tobacco leaf and new fallen leaves. It’s a rustic Riserva. On the palate, this mostly Sangiovese is structured and rather tannic. Ripe cherry flavors are dominating with hints of leather, toasted hazelnut and iron character joining. As the wine aired, the fruit plumped considerably and became much “sweeter”. Fennel and tobacco notes began to emerge. This one needs cellaring but ultimately, I think it will follow the trajectory of its 2010 sibling. Be patient. 93 points. About $31. Find this wine.
The next winery is a new entrant to these pages. Tenuta di Ghizzano lies in north west Tuscany close to Pisa. I had been invited to share these wines over lunch with owner Ginevra Pesciolini but unfortunately schedules prevented our alignment. However, they were able to send me their wines and the first two I’ve tasted have been impressive.
Tenuta di Ghizzano sprawls for 180 hectares but most of that land is devoted to various agricultural crops. Only 18 hectares are devoted to vines and their entire production is biodynamic and certified organic.
The 2016 Tenuta di Ghizzano Nambrot is named after the ancient owner of the property. A blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Petit Verdot, the wine is a round, smooth red. Deep violet in color, the nose offers violets and fresh flowers, eucalyptus, crushed cherry and soft toasted wood notes. On the palate this is ripe, juicy and fresh. Another pretty 2016! Hints of lavender appear alongside the chocolate and berry core of fruit. Vinified in cement tanks and crushed by feet! The wine is then aged for 18 months in barrique. My only real complaint is that it lacks a bit of terroir. 91 points. Find this wine.
The 2015 Tenuta di Ghizzano Veneroso is one of the estate’s flagship wines. Celebrating it’s 30th vintage, it was first made in 1985. It’s a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet. The nose displays pretty aromas of cherry, cedar, tobacco and toast. At the moment, the Cabernet is dominating the blend. Rich structure, with plenty of tannin on the palate to contend with, the core of flavors are black cherry, black pepper and cigar leaf. Crushed by feet! The wine is also vinified in cement and then aged 18 months in tonneaux. I will have more data points from this estate in the coming months. 90 points. Find this wine.
Finally, and old favorite hailing from Lazio. It had been 3 years since I brought one of the 2011 Montiano from the cellar and in that time this wine hasn’t changed a bit. In fact, it may be even more supple. Recently, I also enjoyed the 2009, another example of the staying power of this Roman Merlot.
The 2011 Falesco Montiano is 100% Merlot. Deep ruby with violet highlights, the aromas from the wine are spellbinding. Cigar leaf, pipe tobacco, dark chocolate and dark cherry are wonderfully woven. On the palate, this is smooth, suave and sexy. It’s velvet from front to back. Ripe flavors of chocolate covered cherry, mint and tobacco are just so appealing. The more southerly lying vineyards in Lazio really get the grapes ripe and while this too may not be the most typical of Italian wine, it does have an “accent” and is absolutely delicious. 94 points. Find this wine.
That will bring the curtain down on the first ever installment of “Tuscan Snips”. Let me know what you think of this occasional format and leave your thoughts in the comment section. Salute!