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October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Robin Garr » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:08 am

I've been waiting for this one! All the wines of Tuscany are open to our inspection. For me, this means Chianti, of course. The wine that started me on my wine journey an awfully large number of years ago. :) I'll still welcome a glass just about any time. But there's so much more: Super Tuscans and Brunello, Vino Nobile and so many more reds; and even a handful of whites, too. So pick your Tuscan, taste it, and come and talk about it! Bring your questions, too, if you've got 'em. Celebrate Tuscany!
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Tim York » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:58 pm

CT tells me that I have already opened 12 bottles of Tuscan wine so far this year. All were red and all but one from Tuscany's best native red grape variety, Sangiovese, which IMO makes the most characterful and place specific Tuscan wines, usually full of savoury red fruit, earthy minerals and tangy acidity and superb food wines. In the last generation or so there has grown a fashion for making "super-Tuscan" prestige cuvées using international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with or without Sangiovese in the blend. Some of these are excellent but, for me, they don't shout Tuscany in the way that Sangiovese dominated wines do. Here is a rare example of a cuvée made 100% from Cabernet franc at the beautiful and quite high altitude estate Vignamaggio.

1998 Vignamaggio Cabernet Franc Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT (7/21/2019)
From my archives, I note that I consumed my previous bottle in 2008 and found it elegant and delicious. Yesterday's bottle was just as good if not better with little signs of additional age other than better integration of wood notes. It was medium bodied, linear in shape, fragrant in aroma on nose and palate, gently sweet in fruit with velvety texture, fine acidity and a lingering fragrant finish. Excellent.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:59 pm

Always good to see an Italian Cab Franc note Tim. I have one coming up from Le Monde, Friuli Grave for further discussion elsewhere..
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by David M. Bueker » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:39 pm

2013 Fattoria di Fèlsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia - Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG (10/5/2019)
Still very early, but it drinks well, as there is ample red fruit to buttress the tannins. It even has an earthy, leafy streak that adds some youthful complexity. Lots of material here, so no issue waiting a few more years.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Tim York » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:38 am

Fontodi and Fèlsina are my two favourite Chianti Classico estates. Their styles are quite different. Fontodi goes for more charm and graciousness and Fèlsina tends to be more upright and sometimes a tad austere. How far this is due to terroir differences (the former at quite high altitude Panzano and the latter at Castelnuovo Beradenga near Siena) and how far to differences in working methods, I cannot tell. Both also make a "super-Tuscan" 100% from Sangiovese and I may open one later this month if I find a suitable pairing. Vigna del Sorbo is Fontodi's top Chianti Classico and in 2001 it contained a minority of Cabernet Sauvignon, which shocks the purists, but IMO it worked! The pairing was the best Bolognese which I have had for a long time.

2001 Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo - Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG (10/8/2019)
This bottle showed some evolution compared with the previous but was just as beautiful. Medium++ bodied, its fruit was like gracious mature red berries, its balsamic touch was perhaps more pronounced, as was its depth and complexity but the acidity and Tuscan tang were a bit softer and there were glimpses of port in the long finish. I think I should not linger in drinking up my remaining bottle but excellent now.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by kasey.dubler » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:08 pm

Good timing for me, Monday night I attended a Tuscan wine class. I have an opinion which is probably unpopular, but here it goes anyways. I don't understand the Brunello love, never have. I like Sangiovese, but often find high quality Chianti wines are just as good in my book, if not better, for half the price. There are a few obvious exceptions, but outside of the top 2-3 producers, I don't get it...

Notes are below

2014 Teruzzi & Puthod Vernaccia di San Gimignano
On the nose you get a good amount of citrus, mainly lemon with some nice herbal notes as well. On the palate this is dry with elevated acidity. more citrus plus a nice almost olive aroma comes through. Medium body, but that acid hangs on, possibly a slight nutty note as well. This is a great food wine and hard to beat for around $10 a bottle. Not as much depth as some of the great wines, finish is a bit short too, but for $10 this is killer.

2018 Fattoria Il Castagno Rosa del Castagno Toscana IGT
Extremely light colored rose, almost a hint of rose gold in color. Great acid on the nose you get strawberry and a hint of some sort of tart citrus I could not place. Slightly mineral as well, but this wine is more fruit focused than earth. This wine is so light it comes across more like a white wine than a traditional rose.

2013 Fattoria Il Castagno Syrah Cortona
Black as night when poured. The nose is overpowering, black olive, black pepper, black fruit and just hint of violet. On the palate this is huge, tannin is there, but has softened. Acid is lower than I was hoping for. This taste like a Aussie Shiraz to me, just massive. Many people loved this wine, but for me not my style. For people that are a fan of Aussie Shiraz this is a value. At under $30/btl this drinks like a $50 Aussie...

2012 I Veroni Chianti Rùfina Riserva
This was the first of the Chianti wines we drank. Cranberry nose, slight oak showing as well. The palate starts off with a little softness, but then tightens up quickly. Tannin is high on this wine and it is a little chunky. Great red fruit and a ton of mineral on the palate. This is the least refined of all the Sangio wines we drank tonight, but I like the wine a great deal. Can probably live another 10+ years, which for a wine under $20 is saying something.

2009 Bindi Sergardi Chianti Classico Riserva
Muted nose on this, which is surprising for Chianti. Darker fruit driven, also the age is showing more than I would expect. Browning on the rim a great deal. Great herbal side you expect with Sangio. Way more Organic earth than any of the others, almost mushroom on the nose as well. Great wine that showed a slightly softer side while still keeping what I love about Sangio

2013 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Bellezza Gran Selezione
Also had a slightly muted nose, but with a little air the bright red fruit started to come through. I feel like this wine either needs another 15 years in bottle or 2 hours in a decanter to help open it up. Tannin is so tight. Herbal nose is in the background, but right now it is fruit driven, raspberry, cherry, cranberry. Hard to give a good opinion on this wine, I feel like if you give it 10+ years it could round out beautifully.

2013 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Of all the Sangio based wines tonight this was my least favorite. It was a good wine, but did not have the edge I like. The tannin was the mellowest of all the wines, and the acid was slightly lower as well. Darker in color and less orange as well. This taste like a softened Chianti, and I personally like them a little rough...

2013 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Vigna Asinone
Was fun to get to try this next to their normal VNM as well. This was darker, but also had an orange hue. The nose on this is much prettier, but also has a slightly odd hint of molasses. Red crunchy fruit shine though, and very herbal. Taste like a much more serious wine than their normal wine. The depth to this is medium, and it lingers a bit. A nice wine, but at that price point I feel like you can find much better values.

2007 Villa Calcinaia Rosso Casarsa Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT
Showing signs of it's age with a lot of brown color to it. Much softer than I remember. Large wine, but not offensive. Full bodied, but also manages to sit somewhere between Old and New world. Blue fruit driven. I don't love Merlot, but this was enjoyable

2003 Tenuta Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino
This tasted much older than it was. Was still drinking nicely now, but tasted like it was on it's way down, which is surprising. Cranberry, cherry and slight balsamic nose. A good amount of herbs on the nose too. Almost a hint of tar and more balsamic on the palate. Tannin is fully resolved and softened a great deal. Not a bad wine, but I don't understand the Brunello love. A few of the Chianti I felt where just as high quality, if not even higher...
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Tim York » Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:39 am

kasey.dubler wrote:Good timing for me, Monday night I attended a Tuscan wine class. I have an opinion which is probably unpopular, but here it goes anyways. I don't understand the Brunello love, never have. I like Sangiovese, but often find high quality Chianti wines are just as good in my book, if not better, for half the price. There are a few obvious exceptions, but outside of the top 2-3 producers, I don't get it...


Thanks for those interesting notes, Kasey, and in particular for that comment. I have never yet articulated the same sentiment, even privately to myself, but I do share it. I have had some excellent bottles of Brunello but IIRC none spectacularly better than Flaccianello or Fontalloro or the best Chianti Classico like that Vigna del Sorbo. However I have never had a Soldera or an old Biondi-Santi, which could change my tune.

2013 Fattoria Il Castagno Syrah Cortona
Black as night when poured. The nose is overpowering, black olive, black pepper, black fruit and just hint of violet. On the palate this is huge, tannin is there, but has softened. Acid is lower than I was hoping for. This taste like a Aussie Shiraz to me, just massive. Many people loved this wine, but for me not my style. For people that are a fan of Aussie Shiraz this is a value. At under $30/btl this drinks like a $50 Aussie...



Not all Tuscan Syrah is like that monster. I have had a couple of very elegant vintages from Fontodi. Here is a TN from 2011 -


Syrah “Case Via” IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale 1996 – Fontodi – Alc. 13% - (€15 bin-end). I’m not normally a fan of warm climate Syrah/Shiraz but this one showed complex and elegant aromas of dark fruit and cherries on a medium weight body with bright acidity, good depth and excellent finesse and length. Probably the Tuscan climate at Fontodi’s altitude is cool enough for finesse, especially in a year like 1996, but I also liked only a bit less the more opulent 2000. This one was perfect with magret de canard; 16.5/20+++ QPR!!
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David M. Bueker

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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by David M. Bueker » Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:08 pm

Fontodi makes great wines. I used to be able to source them quite easily, but not so much anymore.

After having the 2013 Felsina Rancia a few days ago, I popped the 2004 tonight. Patience rewarded! The 2004 had the extra layers from bottle age, while still showing plenty of fruit. There was a bit of leather, as well as a warm herbal component. Delicious stuff with plenty of runway.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Mike_F » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:25 pm

kasey.dubler wrote:I don't understand the Brunello love, never have. I like Sangiovese, but often find high quality Chianti wines are just as good in my book, if not better, for half the price. There are a few obvious exceptions, but outside of the top 2-3 producers, I don't get it...


I do not want to defend their current QPR (or lack thereof), but have you tried Brunello from Il Poggione? In my book at least they are the exception to the rule.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:27 pm

The QPR is the primary problem with Brunello.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by kasey.dubler » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:10 am

I agree 100% David. I've had many good Brunello, my issue is they are often 2-3x the price of a similar quality Chianti. I guess my argument could also be that Chianti is just very under-priced.

As far as Il Poggione, I haven't had one in years so I will have to hunt some down and give it a try.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:47 pm

2014 Monte Antico Toscana IGT

I purchased some entry-level wines for a local fundraiser (3 cases) but could not resist opening this easy to drink Monte Antico.

65% Sangiovese, 10% CS, 5% Merlot. Floral nose with cherry, wooded hillside. Initial entry thought was coffee, some oak, berries. Very nicely structured, good fruit balance here. Some fine tannins, "slight sweetness" from across the table. Not a bad effort for a readily accessible wine.
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WTN: Two affordable Tuscan reds

by Robin Garr » Fri Oct 18, 2019 4:39 pm

Ruffino 2016 "Aziano" Chianti Classico ($17.99)

This is a dark reddish-purple wine shading to a light violet edge. A distinct high-toned edge of volatile acidity, all too typical of modest Chianti, plays around the edges of characteristic Chianti black cherries, plums, and dried cherries. On the palate it's mouth-filling with juicy black fruit firmly contained by food-friendly acidity and considerable tannic astringency. This is a real food wine in the sense that it shows best with appropriate food on the table but might be less enjoyable for sipping as an aperitif. The label claims 13.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Ruffino Import Company, Rutherford, Calif. (Oct. 17, 2019)

FOOD MATCH: Chianti is the stereotypical companion with tomato-sauced pasta dishes and pizzas; it's also fine with burgers or steaks. An artisanal, coal-fired Margherita pizza from a local shop worked just fine.

WHEN TO DRINK: I don't think that volatile acidity is going to improve with age, so I'd drink up fairly soon.

VALUE:
I paid $18 locally, a good jump above Wine-Searcher.com's $14 average retail, and to be honest, for a somewhat flawed albeit drinkable food-friendly Chianti I'd have preferred to pay a few dollars less.

WEB LINK
Here's the winery's English-language fact sheet on Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and compare prices for Ruffino "Aziano" Chianti Classico on Wine-Searcher.com.


Marchesi Antinori 2016 "Santa Cristina" Toscana ($12.99)

A pretty, clear garnet color in the glass, this blend of 90 percent Sangiovese with a splash of Merlot offers clean and fresh aromas of black cherries and a hint of raspberries. Juicy black fruit surrounded by clean, food-friendly acidity makes for a nicely balanced wine that serves well at the dinner table. Modest 13% alcohol. U.S. importer: Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd., Woodinville, Wash. (Oct. 17, 2019)

FOOD MATCH: As with its cousin Chianti, it's broadly versatile with a range of pasta, pizza, and red meat. A traditional wood-fired pizza Margherita with a wood-oven charred breadlike crust and discreet toppings of tomato sauce, fior de latte, and snipped fresh basil leaves served it well.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's not a long-term ager, but its good fruit and acid balance should help it keep in a cool place for three or four years.

VALUE:
Wine-Searcher.com's $13 average retail matches my local price, but it's widely available for $10 or less, so shop around.

WEB LINK
Santa Cristina's online info page is brief, but it links to a more detailed downloadable PDF tech sheet.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Check prices and locate vendors for Santa Cristina Toscana on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Mike_F » Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:01 am

kasey.dubler wrote:As far as Il Poggione, I haven't had one in years so I will have to hunt some down and give it a try.


It was my must buy every year until 2010, when this happened - http://newforum.wineloverspage.com/view ... 85#p444296 . C'est la vie and one should be happy for the winery, but sustained love from the critics ever since has continued to push retail prices upwards
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Jenise » Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:31 pm

A wine a friend opened last weekend:

1959 Ruffino Ducale Chianti
And no that's not a typo. Unfortunately for us, though it's owner had at least one good bottle of this in the past few weeks (he just turned 60), this was badly necrotic.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: October Wine Focus: Back to Basics with Tuscany

by Ken Schechet » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:15 pm

For any Costco fans out there, they have recently released a Kirkland branded Chianti Classico Riserva for about $8. It's not the best you've ever had, but speaking of QPR...... Great for an everyday wine or when you need something for a crowd.
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