ENGLISH EDITION: Anteprime Toscana 2018, our selection

29/08/2018 - Once again, In Vino Veritas took part in this grand event where one can blind-taste the latest vintages of all the best appellations of Tuscany. So we could make a selection and elect our favourites. Here they are!

Chianti Classico – Gallo Nero 2016

The driest year in 70 years, 2017 was presented as a low yield vintage (minus 27% on the average), but also as an exceptional vintage quality-wise in Chianti. We’ll check this next year at Anteprime 2019.

But let’s go back to this edition, and the 2016 vintage. A classic vintage with a complicated weather (rainy, the dry, then rainy again, but a warm September has allowed the grapes to reach a perfect ripeness).

We tasted 68 samples of Chianti Classico (a good proportion of which came straight from the casks), and selected 23 of them:

Brolio van Barone Ricasoli , Bonacchi, Castello di Querceto , Gagliole Rubiole , Isole e Olena , Podere la Cappella, Ama  Castello di Ama , Vignamaggio, Castagnoli,  Storia di Famiglia and Primocolle Famiglia Cecchi, San Jacopo Vicchiomaggio, Antico Borgo di Sugame, Borgo la Stella , Dofana and Montaperto Carpineta Fontalpino, Castello di Monsanto, San Fabiano Calcinaia, Bandini Villa Pomona, Le Filigare, Retromarcia Monte Bernardi , Collazzi Bastioni and Tenuta la Gabbiola Fattoria San Michele a Torri.

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

The introduction of the Gran Selezione mention has meant a new search for quality, but also typicity within the Chianto Classico appellation.
The Consorzio organized a special masterclass on the Chianti Classico terroirs.
For the production area is composed of a great patchwork of soils, expositions and altitudes; this diversity has led the Consorzio to define 7 sub-regions (cfr. the book by Bill Nesto and Frances di Savino: The search for Tuscany’s Noblest Wine, University of California Press,2016).
So I thought it a good idea to comment my favourite GS wine for each of these sub-regions.

San Casciano Classico

Badia A Passignano – Gran Selezione 2013 – Antinori

This cuvée is named after the A Passignano abbey, restored by Antinori. It lies some miles to the South of the iconic Tenuta Tignanello, of the same Antinori. It encompasses 230 ha, divided in some 15 blocks of vines on limestone soils. The altitude ranges between 200 and 280 m. The hot micro-climate allows the Sangiovese to grow a full ripeness, but lowers the acidity in the grapes.
These are vinified block by block. The wine is aged for 14 months, most of it in Hungarian oak barrels (the Hungarian wood pores are smaller, so it does give the wine too much woodiness). The wines are blended just before the bottling, then aged in bottle for one more year.
Elegance, potency and length are the three key-words for this great classic.

Greve in Chianti

Il Picchio – Gran Selezione 2015 – Castello di Querceto

Castello di Querceto owns 70 hectares of vines, of which 50 ha in Chianti Classico, not to forget an agriturismo; it has been in the (originally French) François family since 1897. Alessandro is fascinated by the notion of crus and terroirs, and wants his wines to express the typicity of these terroirs. Il Picchio is his topwine. It is named after one of the two blocks of vines (4,5 ha) on which the grapes are grown. The wine blends 95% Sangiovese with 5% Canaiolo. The 35 year-old vines face East and South-East. Their altitude goes from 420 to 450 m. This is an ideal situation for warm years.
This great classic of a wine is spicy, powerful and full-bodied, yet elegant. A juicy finish.

Radda in Chianti 

Coltassala – Gran Selezione 2015 – Castello di Volpaia

From the Macheroni family, we have already liked the Il Puro cuvée (a 100% Sangiovese).
Here is another one  the Coltassala, a Gran Selezione from the outstanding 2015 vintage.
This cuvée comes from the vine of the same name (3,5 ha of organically cultivated vines at an altitude of 518 m (and so, a late ripening and lots of freshness in the wine). It blends 95% Sangiovese with 5% Mammolo. The wine is aged for 24 months in French oak barriques, then 6 more months in bottle.
Very floral on the nose, peppery on the palate, a full-bodied but supple wine. Velvety tannins and very long finish.

Gaiole in Chianti

Castello di Brolio – Gran Selezione 2013 – Barone Ricasoli

Bettino Ricasoli’s dream was that his Brolio could one day be on the table of the most demanding tasters. This dream has come true with Francesco Ricasoli – a photographer by his trade, and the great-grand-son of the Chianti’s great architect. Since 1993, when he came at the helm of the estate, he has been improving the vineyard by selecting the “true” clones of Sangiovese and constantly finetuning the winemaking. The 1,200 hectare-estate has 235 hectares under vine.
The vineyards lie at various altitudes (190 to 490 metres, on limestone soils or clay with a strong proportion of limestone).
This iconic cuvée which has constantly pleased us in the Anteprime, is made with a selection of the best Sangiovese (90%), supplemented by 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot.
A lot of black berries, a lot of spice too (pepper), and some elegant wood notes. Refined tannins, a nicely fresh acidity, very classy. A long and complex finish.

San Donato Classico

Isole e Olena – Chianti Classico 2015 – Isole e Olena

2015 was a hot year with little rain in July and August. The altitude of the vineyards (400 to 500 m), careful attention to the vines (leaves management) and a fine-tuned winemaking (especially the use of the wood barrels) allowed the estate to produce this rich and dynamic wine.
Contrarily to the Cepparello from the same producers, which is 100% Sangiovese, this Chianti Classico blends 80% de sangiovese,15% Canaiolo (Ricasoli has some in the Eastern, fresher and wetter part of the appellation area) and 5% Syrah.
Ripe blanc fruit on the nose, Intense spicy and floral notes on the palate (rosemary, pepper), very well balanced. A very juicy finish with a hint of (pleasant) bitterness.

Castellina in Chianti

Valore di Famiglia – Gran Selezione 2015 – Famiglia Cecchi 

Villa Cerna is one of the 5 estates of the Cecchi family ; it is located in Castellina, in the centre of  the Chianti Classico area. Its vineyards are mostly oriented to the Mediterranean. They are planted on clay and Calestro soils (limestone + marine fossiles), at around 340 m above sea level. This is an ideal location for Sangiovese, and this cuvée is 100% Sangiovese. This wine spends 15 mois in casks, 43 months in cement tanks and one more year in bottles.
Very fruity on the nose, with scents of herbs ; ripe tannines and full-bodied on the palate, with a touch of saltiness. A lot of tension.
www.famigliacecchi.it – www.villacerna.it

Castelnuovo Berardenga Classico

Colonia – Gran Selezione 2013 – Fèlsina

Fèlsina is a 600 hectare-estate (of which 95ha are under vines) at the South-Eastern side of the appellation, near the Crete Senesi, in the direction of Montalcino. It is certified organic. It took not less than 3 generations to develop the vineyard and these soils of marls and limestone with a high content of iron and magnesium. They stand at an altitude of 440 m d’altitude, in Poggio a Rancia.
Only 3,000 bouteilles of this Colonia (100% Sangiovese) are produced. It spends 30 months in French oak barrels, then 8 to 12 months in bottle.
This Gran Selezione shows floral, fruity and spicy flavours on the nose (orange zest, red fruit), it is very fresh and juicy on the palate, with hints of tobacco and sour cherry; add the soft tannins and the cristal-like minerality of the finish and you get the perfect wine for a piece of game.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2017 

Of the 51 samples of  Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2017, we selected the following wines: Cappella San’Andrea,  Macchioni Casa alle Vacche, Casale Falchini, Castello di Montauto, Gentilesca Fattoria Abbazia di Monte Oliveto, Fattoria Poggio Alloro, Fattoria San Donato, Le Grillaie Fattorie Melini, Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara, Lucii Libanio Casa Lucii, Mormoraia, Santa Chiara Palagetto, Pietraserena, Podere Canneta, Tenuta La Vigna ,Tenuta le Calcinaie & Vagnoni.

My personal favourite is the following :

Titolato Strozzi 2017 – Vernaccia di San Gimignano – Guicciardini Strozzi 

Guicciardini Strozzi, in Cusona (in the North-West of the appellation) appears regularly in our selections.
We loved this cuvée blending 90% Vernaccia with 10% Chardonnay first for its powerful aromatics on the nose (apricot, pinapple and gooseberry ; then, for the buckets of ripe fruit it offers on the palate (apricots again, but also peach); its juiciness mingling with a lively acidity in the finish. Would make an excellent companion for a risotto con tartufo. A prince of a wine.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2015

2015 was an exceedingly good year for the vegetal cycle (flowering mid-May, colour turning around the 25th of July). In spite of severe hail in June, the grapes could be harvested at a perfect state of ripeness between the 21st of September and the 5th of October.

Of the 39 wines we could taste, we selected:
Tenuta Valdipiatta, Le Badelle, Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano ‘Redi’ , Le Bertille, Poliziano, Antico Colle, Dei, Fattoria La Braccesca Gattavecchi ‘Parceto’ ,  Salcheto  ‘Salco’ , Metinella ‘142-4’.

My two favourites were Dei and Poliziano.

Dei 2015 – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Dei

The Dei winehouse was created in 1989. At its helms today is Maria Caterina Dei, a former actress and singer, from a family of marble industrialists (no wonder she used marble for her cellar).
Her vines are located 300 m above sea level, and dived in three blocks on clayish soil: Martiena, La Cialiana and La Piaggia. The yield is intentionally kept low.
This Vino Nobile is made of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo Nero. It is vinified in stainless steel tanks, aged for 2 years in big casks, then six more months in bottle.
The rich nose of black cherry gets even more intense when the wine is swirled around in the glass, and then we get blue plum. The soft tannins seem covered with fig jelly. Long finish with a fine bitter note. In short: «have a nice Dei».

Asinone 2015 – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Poliziano

Signor Carletti started the estate in 1961 with 22 hectares of vineyard. His son Federico now has some 150, out of which 47ha of Vino Nobile.
Poliziano was the nickname of Ambrogini, a famous Italian renaissance poet – a source of inspiration for Carletti who adapts his work to each vine, but uses the most up-to-date technology (e/g optical recognition) to select his grapes and the right moment to pick them. Federico applies the rules of sustainable viticulture and looks both forward and backward, as shown by his old vintages cellar. Asinone is a special cuvée (20,000 bottles) only made in the best vintages. It comes from the vine with the same name, with a South-South West orientation, on a sheer slope, 350 m above sea level. . The soil is stony, with a high content of silt and clay.
The harvest is done in several phases, with a final screening. On this exceptional vintage, it was a 100% Sangiovese. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks for 20 to 25 days, then aged for 16 to 18 months in French oak barrels and casks.
Very concentrated on the nose (blueberries, cherries, violet, tobacco and vanilla). Juicy fruit too on the palate, with woody notes supporting a strong structure ; silky tannins and a certain elegance in spite of the strength of the wine, thanks to a nice minerality. Already veru pleasant, but a great potential.

Brunello di Montalcino 2012

The peak of this exciting week: the tasting of some 135 wines of the prestigious appellation Brunello di Montalcino. And as no Brunello can be put on the market before 5 years after the harvest (with a minimum of two years in wood), we tasted the 2013 vintage.
2013 was a lower production vintage (between 10 to 30% lower than average) because of a cold wave in February and some damp weather at flowering time. End of August rainfall brought some relief and lengthened the ripening Sangiovese – a late ripening grape.

We selected 16 wines:
Pian delle Vigne, Podere Brizio, Poggio di Soto (www.lacantiniera.be– www.stappato.be – www.vinivins.be), Sesta di Sopra, Tenuta Buon Tempo, Terre Nere, Vasco SassettiVerbenaCarpinetoDonatella Cinelli ColombiniFanti, Il Poggionela FioritaSalvioniSan LorenzoSiro Pacenti.

The single vineyard cuvées by Fanti (Vallocchio), Donatella Cinelli Colombini (Prime Donne), Caparzo (Vigna la Casa) and Banfi (Poggio alle Mura) were simply outstanding.
We also tasted a good deal of Rosso di Montalcino 2016 (a very good year), some of which showed a particularly seductive fruit.

Fanti 2013 – Brunello di Montalcino – Fanti

The amiable Elisa has recently taken over the large family estate (300 ha, of which 50 are under vines). Their Sangiovese grows on the southern facing slopes of the hills, on sandy soils, overlooking the magnificent Romanesque basilica of Sant’Antimo; it has a specific micro-climate.
The fermentation of the wine lasts for some 30 days, with frequent pumping-over. Then it is aged for 28 months in French oak barrels (50%) or in 30 hectolitre botti). Then it rests for one year in the bottles.
Intense black berry aromas on the nose, with hints of leather and cocoa; juicy and lively on the palate, with floral and spicy notes. Well-rounded tannins, harmonious texture with a nice minerality. Les tannins bien fondus soutiennent une texture harmonieuse, empreinte de minéralité.
A characteristic and very pleasant Brunello with a long finish.

Tuscany is definitely a magical wine region, so we are already looking forward to the 2019 Anteprime.

Johan De Groef

Anteprime Toscana 2015
Anteprime Toscana 2016
Anteprime Toscana 2017

Others english edition:
Rhône : 100% Marsanne
Making wine without adding sulphur
Bordeaux Primeurs: wait &…
Barbeito – Madeira, revisited


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