Wine Tasting Notes
“One not only drinks wine, one smells it, observes it, tastes it, sips it, and one talks about it.” –
TUSCAN VINEYARD IMPORTS PORTFOLIO / TASTING NOTES
Caiarossa, Caiarossa Bianco 2010 – IGT Toscana Bianco
Viognier 65%, Chardonnay 35%
An blend of Viogner and Chardonnay aged one year in small French oak Barriques and larger Tonneaux resulting in an exceedingly elegant wine with a nose of white flowers, honey straw and minerals. The nose repeats the palate. Malolactic fermentation gives medium body to the wine and there are delicate and very fine oak notes. Restrained and old world style from a young bio-dynamic winery that is positioned to make world class wines in Riparbella, an area of coastal Tuscany that is new to fine wine making.
Caiarossa, Pergolaia 2007 – IGT Toscana Rosso
Sangiovese 91%, Merlot 6%, Cabernet Sauvignon 3%
International varietals Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are added to a Sangiovese dominant blend and result in a stylish Super Tuscan that is outstanding yet affordable. It has an elegant, lush nose of red and black fruit with a hint of eucalyptus. Acidity is tamed and tannins are soft and lush yet provide ample structure. The palate is equally elegant with dark dried fruit and dried herbs. The finish is long and satisfying. Blend and varietals vary with each vintage.
Caiarossa , Rosso 2007 – IGT Toscana Rosso
Cabernet Franc 25%, Merlot 25%, Sangiovese 16%, Cabernet Sauvignon 14%, Petit Verdot 8%, Alicante 7%, Syrah 6%
Caiarossa is a bio-dynamic estate with two sister properties in Margaux, but Caiarossa is no carbon copy. The French varietals in the premium flagship wine, Caiarossa Rosso, reflect the Tuscan maritime climate of Val di Cecina. The blend varies in each vintage. The 2007 has an elegant nose of red and black fruit, minerals, eucalyptus and a hint of vanilla oak. On the palate are balsamic notes along with eucalyptus, and dark dried red and black fruit. Caiarossa is an extraordinarily elegant wine that is ready to drink yet can be cellared for several years.
Wine Enthusiast – Caiarossa, Rosso 2006 92 Points
Fattoria Montellori, Mandorlo 2010, IGT Toscana Bianco
Chardonnay 60%, 40% blend of Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne & Viognier
Mandorlo has a fragrant nose of white flowers, almonds and a hint of herbs. Body is light with terrific acidity that keeps wine fresh and appealing. Palate repeats white flowers, almonds and herbs. Stainless steel fermentation allows the minerals and the terroir to be reflected in the wine.
Fattoria Montellori, Caselle 2009 – Chianti Superiore
Sangiovese 90%, Syrah 10%
This Chianti Superiore’s nose is classic red cherry and violets. It is medium in body, thanks to the addition of Syrah, with has a pleasant and persistent finish. Mature fruit is balanced by soft fine tannins and typical acidity is not emphasized. A fine Chianti Superiore and a great value.
Fattoria Montellori, Il Moro 2008 – IGT Toscana
Sangiovese 75%, Cabernet Sauvingon 10%, Merlot 15%
Appealing fruit with hint of oak on the nose. Medium body with soft but persistent tannins with terrific drink-ability. A good marriage of ripe fruit and judicious use of oak.
Fattoria Montellori, Vin Santo 2004 – DOC Bianco dell’Empolese
A traditional Tuscan Vin Santo with a full nose of creme brulee which repeats on the delicious palate. A good dose of acidity keeps this dessert wine fresh and appealing and not cloyingly sweet.
Fattoria Dianella, Chianti Riserva 2008 – Chianti Colli della Toscana Centrale
This elegant Chianti is fermented in stainless steel and aged in traditional massive wood Botti to produce a classic nose of violets with a hint of oak which lends complexity. It is a relatively rich Chianti with elegance galore befitting a wine made in a 500 year old Medici villa! There is restraint in the winemaker’s hand, thus the terroir is allowed to shine resulting in an almost creamy palate of red and black fruit. To lend complexity, there is tobacco, dried herbs and a hint of black pepper as the wine opens. The Sangiovese’s tannins are extremely elegant. Overall the wine has an appealing freshness that is often missing in more industrial Chiantis.
Fattoria Dianella, Vegile di Neri 2010 – IGT Toscana Rosso
Sangiovese 85%, Cabernet Sauvignon 15%
A youthful Sangiovese and Cabernet blend that is intended to be drunk young as it is fermented and aged in stainless steel to retain freshness of fruit and to be light in body. Yet it is surprisingly long in finish and the low alcohol content 13% allows one to drink without hesitation. The palate is classic violets, tobacco with a blast of black pepper. Tannins and acidity take a back seat in this soft feminine Sangiovese blend.
Fattoria Dianella, Il Matto delle Giuncaie 2009 – IGT Toscana Rosso
This Cru represents Fattoria Dianella’s “Vigna Matta” vineyard which holds the estates finest Sangiovese. There is loads of black and blue fruit as well as liquorice and tobacco on the persistent nose. The palate is lush and there is the classic note of violets that is found in fine Sangiovese. The signature tannins and acidity of Sangiovese are gentle and tamed. The 12 months the wine spends in used French oak barriques is judicious and adds finesse to this very fine wine.
Fattoria Dianella, Dolci Ricordi 2009 – IGT Toscana
Trebbiano 85%, Malvasia Lunga 15%
Dolci Ricordi makes for sweet memories indeed. This fine dessert wine is a late harvest Vin Santo made from traditional Trebbiano and Malvasia Lunga varietals. There is loads of dried fruit including raisin and apricot which repeat on the palate. The mouth is surprisingly light and fresh, not overly sweet thanks to a high level of acidity and restraint of the winemaker. Docli Ricordi is a light and appealing dessert wine that is aged three years in small traditional “caratelli”, casks of varying woods and sizes.
Fornacelle, Fornacelle 2010 – IGT Toscana Bianco
A rare monovarietal bottling of Semillion. Fornacelle has a light but complex nose of honey, white flowers and green grass which repeat on the palate. It is medium in body with surprising acidity and medium long finish. Very few bottles are produced by this small, family owned Bolgheri winery.
Fornacelle, Zizzolo 2010 – IGT Toscana Rosso
Merlot 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%
Pleasing nose of fresh red fruit and eucalyptus. Palate repeats with tamed tannins and acidity. Medium in body with round velvet mouth.
Wine Enthusiast – Zizzolo 2007 90 Points
Fornacelle, Foglio 38 2008 – IGT Toscana Rosso
Only 1,000 bottles in outstanding vintages are made of Foglio 38, which is fermented in open French oak Barriques with wild native yeasts. There is a persistent nose of delicate rose petals and baby powder with a hint of mushrooms which adds intrigue and complexity. The palate is lush and lovely with red fruit including raspberry, red currants and red cherry. A rich, complex finish with a hint of eucalyptus, mint and cocoa powder make this a sophisticated and complex wine, ideal for those looking for alternative red varietals.
Wine Spectator – Foglio 38 2005 91 Points
Wine Enthusiast – Foglio 38 2007 90 Points
Ivana Cupelli, L’Erede, Brut Classic Method Dry Sparkling Wine 2009 – IGT Toscana
A tiny production of only 600 bottles is made of this dry sparkling wine. Mature Tuscan Trebbiano vines provide ample acidity. A winemaker from Champagne is consulting in order to make an elegant classic style brut. L’Erede’s persistent perlage, high acidity and notes of yeast biscuits and bread make this an excellent sparkling to drink as an aperitif, with a meal or for a special celebration!
Pietro Beconcini, Antiche Vie 2010, Chianti DOC
Sangiovese 70%, 30% Blend of Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera
Antiche Vie is a base Chianti of excellent value. It has a fragrant and feminine nose of red cherry, violets and jasmine. It has good acidity on the palate, is medium to light in body with sweet tannins. A hint of orange peel on the finish is a pleasing note.
Pietro Beconcini, Maurleo 2008 IGT Toscana Rosso
Sangiovese 50%, Malvasia Nera 50%
This equal blend of native varietals has cedar and abundant red and black fruit on the nose with a hint of wild fennel. The palate mirrors the nose, has ample acidity and restrained tannins which make it an appealing and food friendly wine.
Wine Enthusiast – Pietro Beconcini, Maurleo 2006 88 Points
Pietro Beconcini, IXE 2008, IGT Toscana Rosso
Tempranillo 90%, Sangiovese 10%
The back-story of this wine is nothing short of fascinating!
Inky purple in color. Complex nose rich in dried plums , minerals, eucalyptus and liquorice. Palate is lovely with a velvety round mouth that retains freshness. Red and black fruit are balanced by acidity. Tannins are gentle and a hint of liquorice is found at the finish..
Veronelli – Pietro Beconcini, IXE 2008, 2009 90 Pts.
Pietro Beconcini, Chianti Riserva 2009, Chianti DOCG
Sangiovese 80%, Blend of Canaiolo & Malvasia Nera 20%
Beconcini’s finest Chianti has an extremely refined nose of elegant oak. The palate is equally elegant with classic but restrained red fruit, notes of mushroom and a hint of liquorice. it has a long finish of dried wild herbs. Ready to drink now or cellar up to 20 years.
Pietro Beconcini, Caratello 2002, IGT Toscana Vin Santo
Blend of Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia Nera, Tebbiano and San Colombano
A classic and very fine example of Tuscan Vin Santo. Nose is complex and persistent with loads of caramel and dried raisins. Palate is delightful with caramelized sugar and orange peel. Wine opens to reveal nutmeg and a hint of walnut. Finish is long and persistant. Classic accompaniment to biscotti. Also excellent with other pastry type desserts as well as fine blue cheese such as Stilton or Italian Gorgonzola. Ready to drink or can cellar for years to come.
Wine Enthusiast – Pietro Beconcini, Caratello 1999 90 Points
Pietro Beconcini, Reciso 1999, IGT Toscana Rosso
Complex nose of Black fruit such as dark cherry and plum as well as leather notes. There is a richness on the palate that is unexpected in a Sangiovese due to this wine being a cru of mature vines subject to severe green harvest, aging in oak and resting on lees. Yet wine remains fresh thanks to the balanced acidity and tannins. This wine has spent more than a decade in the cellar and can continue to age another few years.
Pietro Beconcini, Reciso 2006, IGT Toscana Rosso
Nose is full of minerals with red and black fruit such as cherry and plums. Palate is lush and repeats nose. The wine has great acidity and firm but elegant tannins. Liquorice and eucalyptus evolve as wine opens. A modernist wine wine, bold and cellarworthy. See notes on older vintage above.
Veronelli – Pietro Beconcini, Reciso 2007 90 Points
Pietro Beconcini, Vigna alle Nicchie 2007, IGT Toscana Rosso
Elegant nose of lush black fruit and hints of eucalyptus, cedar and sage. Long maceration period as well as use of “appassito” or partially dried grape clusters and judicious use of oak barriques make this a dense, modernist wine that is a completely original interpretation of Tempranillo. Silky smooth palate is incredibly elegant. There is an explosion of liquorice and blackberry that is balanced by tannins and acidity. An unforgettable wine that can be paired with savory or mildly sweet dishes as well as fine cheese.
Wine Enthusiast – Pietro Beconcini, Vigna alle Nicchie 2005 88 Points
Pian delle Querci, Rosso di Montalcino 2010, DOC Rosso di Montalcino
A solid example of a Rosso from the northern slopes of Montalcino with bright fresh cherry on the nose and palate. The fruit on the palate is balanced with ample acidity and sweet tannins. A hint of liquorice is on the pleasant finish.
Pian delle Querci, Brunello di Montalcino 2005, DOC Brunello di Montalcino
Elegant complex nose of red and black cherry and plums accompanied by mineral and leather notes. There are silky and sweet tannins on the palate along with balanced but prominent acidity. Elegant and persistent finish.
Wine Enthusiast – Pian delle Querci, Brunello di Montalcino 2004 90 Points
Pian delle Querci, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006, DOCG Brunello di Montalcino
A classic Brunello di Montalcino Riserva aged in large traditional oak Botti that is an incredible value. Elegant dried red and black fruit on the nose with notes of dried violets. On palate tannins are smooth and fine. Acidity is not aggressive for a Brunello, so it is easy to drink now or may be cellared for 20 years. Allow to open for one to two hours for elegance to further develop.
Gaja, Ca’ Marcanda, 2004
From the mind and expert hand of Piedmont’s master, Angelo Gaja, this Super Tuscan Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon shows extraordinary character and sense of terroir.
Very dark ruby red in color with a nose of black fruit and elegant tobacco.
Palate is rich in blackberry and artichoke with black licorice on the finish. A complex and satisfying wine from the master of modern Italian wines, Angelo Gaja. This wine does not disappoint. A bit hot on the finish from the somewhat high alcohol content, but the ’04 vintage overall was well received.
Ca’ Marcanda, Promis, 2004
Slightly floral and surprising walnut nose. Dark and red cherry abound. An appealing medium bodied wine with balanced acidity. A good value from world class winery.
Pederi del Paradiso di Graziella, Capellicetti Colli dell’Etruria Centrale, 2000
Delicious Tuscan dessert wine, Vin Santo is an ideal accompaniment to crispy cantuccini, biscotti’s more rustic country cousin. Very dark amber in color with a nutty nose loaded with brown sugar. Palate not overly sweet with great acidity on finish. Absolutely delightful. It is already 11 years old, how much longer can it age? How much better can it possibly get?
Ferrero, Rosso di Montalcino, 2007
Brunello’s baby brother sees less time in oak which makes it suitable to drink younger. Mellow nose of oak and cedar with a hint of mushrooms and ash as well as black cherry. On the palate the cherry is even more lush with mulberry towards the finish. Firm, elegant tannins reveal wine’s youth. It should benefit from an additional few years in bottle. The slightly high alcohol content does not detract from the fine qualities of the wine. I have ordered this several times and it continues to please both the palate and the pocket.
Muffato della Sala, Castello della Sala, 2006
An extraordinary dessert wine from the vast Antinori portfolio. Luscious ripe cantaloupe and apricots abound. A heavy dose of acidity balances out all the sugar in this fine offering. One of the finest dessert wines I have tasted! Absolutely delicious.
Earthy mushrooms and fine oak on the nose. Red and black fruit with a hint of licorice on the palate. Good balance of firm tannins and high acidity. Simple and approachable.
This more than satisfying Sangiovese blend is a fresh and easy drinking value ready to drink now. The name of the wine is a play on words, alluding to both the defensive incisor teeth of the wild boar on the label and the family name of Incisa della Rochetta.
Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2008
Fresh tasting fruit with a hint of eucalyptus. Big round mouth feel. 14%abv but does not come across as “hot” on the palate. Can cellar or drink happily now. Image on the wine’s label is taken from octagonal architecture of family chapel. Wine named for winemaking ancestor of the Gherardesca branch of the family tree who also planted famous row of cypress on the road to Bolgheri.
Batzella, Pean, 2006
Easy drinking cabernet blend. Clean eucalyptus with a hint of mint, dark cherry, mushrooms, chocolate and cloves. Earthy mushrooms become more evident as wine opens. Drink now or cellar.
Batzella, Bliss, 2006
First and experimental vintage of Syrah monovarietal which was planted in 2000. Palate is full of candied red cherry with a subtle hint of of animal fur, raspberry and signature black and white pepper. A crowd pleasing Syrah.
Batzella, Pinksy, 2007
Delicious cranberry, raspberry and a hint of black and white pepper. A fun fresh dry rose’ with surprising complexity. Also made from Syrah.
Batzella, Mezzodi, 2007
Pear, lychee and ruby red grapefruit on the palate. Very light Sauvignon Blanc with refreshing acidity and a splash of Viognier. Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. A real knockout for summer!
Batzella, Tam 2005, Bolgheri Superiore, DOCA
Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that is rich and deep in color. These varietal thrive in the Bolgheri appellation. The nose of soft, delicate pencil shavings is a classic trait of a fine Cabernet Franc and very appealing. Mellow, integrated tannins create a rich mouth feel and body. A bounty of dried red fruit such as dried dark cherry, blackberry and boysenberry dominate. Mid palate, refreshing eucalyptus emerges and dark roasted coffee beans develop on the finish. It’s a bit hot on the palate but the fruit and structure can stand up to it. A very sophisticated and highly tannic wine which one needs to patiently allow to open.The winemaker is a newcomer to winemaking and developed the vineyards after fortuitously acquiring some of the last available winemaking areas of Bolgheri. Franco Batzella, neighbor of Antinori’s Tenuta Belvedere estate which produces Guado al Tasso offers a portfolio of more than commendable early efforts. Undoubtedly, one of the best values in Bolgheri. Decant two hours before drinking or cellar.
Ciacci Piccolomini, Rosso di Montalcino, 2006
At a March tasting of Italian wines at Atlanta’s trend making Perrine’s Wine Shop, the standout was a modest Rosso which out shined its more illustrious elder, Brunello. The group consensus found a nose of dried herbal notes including hay as well as an appealing potpourri of dried orange peel and nutmeg along with red and black cherry. The palate is high in acidity, dried red cherry with notes of eucalyptus.
This producer is well regarded and its Brunello was not to be dismissed. But considering the price to quality ratio (the Brunello retails at almost twice the cost), this Rosso is the one to reach for, wether it is opened immediately or cellared for another few years.
Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino DOC, 2009 A fine and affordable Montalcino wine from the owners of Illy Coffee, Italy’s most revered brand. Coffee and wine have many similarities, so it is not a surprise that a coffee maker should venture into the winemaking! First one enjoys the aroma, then the taste of the actual drink and in fine examples a lovely finish and aftertaste. Both rely on balance including just the right amount of acidity.
The 2009 Mastrojanni Rosso is brick to garnet in color but with a pale red watery rim revealing its youth. Very much old world in style, with a reticent nose of dark and red fruit with pleasant hints of medicinal herbs. Definitely categorized as earthy.
Palate is very balanced especially considering how young this wine is (2 years at tasting). Good acidity and refined tannins. Alcohol content seems lower than the actual 14.5%. 2009 was a hot vintage after all. Its only shortfall is the relatively short finish.
Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso DOC, 2008
At a tasting at the winery this entry level wine and two-premium monovarietal were tasted. Le Macchiole was rich ruby in color with a lush nose of ripe berries and mushrooms. On the palate red and black fruit with cherries and blackberries dominating. A good level of acidity keeps the fruit from being cloying. An elegant finish rounds out this blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese.
Le Macchiole Paleo Toscana Rosso IGT, 2006
After the first few years of blending, his cult wine became the first monovarietal of Cabernet Franc in Bolgheri. It turns out that the climate is incredibly well suited for this varietal which usually only plays a supporting role in Bordeaux and Bordeaux style wines.
In Tuscany’s Bolgheri appellation, it is able to ripen to complete maturity and the results are nothing short of spectacular. This bottling was very dark ruby in color with a classic nose of pencil shavings. The palate was graced with delicate red fruit, predominantly raspberry. A hint of roasted yellow pepper confirmed the phenolic ripeness of the grapes. Overall a very appealing wine of an unusual varietal.
Le Macchiole Scrio Toscana Rosso IGT, 2006
Another monovarietal by Cinzia Merli of Le Macchiole. Planted by her late husband, Eugenio Merli because of his love of Syrah. There is no mistaking this bottle for a French Rhone. They are very different in style, the Scrio being much more approachable yet not nearly as interesting. It still has the recognizable characteristics of a Syrah. It is full of sweet spice the varietal’s signature black pepper. It is loaded with fresh ripe fruit predominately black plum. Yummy and delicious yet not overly luscious. No flaws in the wine, but perhaps I would prefer a less lush vintage.
Argentiera Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC, 2006
One of the newest and largest wineries in Bolgheri making fine wines on an industrial scale. Begun as a joint venture by wine guru Piero Antinori and fashion gurus Corrado and Marcello Fratini, it now is in the sole ownership of the two Florentine brothers. With a keen eye for detail in their wines and for their estate, this classic red from the tiny appellation of Bolgheri, land of Sassicaia and Ornellaia (to drop a name or two) is a fine early effort.
Argentiera’s flagship wine is dark ruby in color and is full of fresh fruit including dark plum. A hint of green herbs and black pepper surface mid-palate. It is a bit hot from the alcohol content, it could also stand some more aging to integrate the wine further. Overall an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Argentiera Villa Donoratico Bolgheri Rosso DOC, 2006
A Bolgheri blend relying more on Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and less on Merlot. The nose is full of wild herbs including oregano. On the palate dark fruit and oregano are integrated with very tamed tannins and surprisingly low acidity.
Argentiera Poggio ai Ginepri Bolgheri Rosso DOC, 2008
A younger vintage in comparison, Poggio ai Ginepri is the entry-level wine from Argentiera. A blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Merlot it is already ruby to garnet in color (probably due to the 30% Syrah). It is full of dark plum and blueberry and is slightly beefy; again possibly from the inclusion of Syrah. It has a pleasing amount of acidity to keep it fresh tasting and has medium tannins that are not aggressive but the alcohol content results in a bit of a hot palate
Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia, Sassicaia DOC, 2008
This wine began the Super Tuscan movement and put Bolgheri on the map. Now the region is known as the Bordeaux of Italy due to its rocky soil, proximity to the sea and use of international varietals.
Lovely ruby red color and elegant nose of dried fruit and dried herbs. Delicate fruit and herbs repeat on the palate. Beautifully balanced with silky tannins and low 13% alcohol by volume content allow one to appreciate the finesse and subtlety of this renown wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% Cabernet Franc. Be patient and cellar!
One of Marquis Piero Antinori’s finest wines from his maternal estate in Bolgheri. A well-known wine with a relatively low production of 1,100 bottles. The color is dark ruby to brick with a complex nose of dried wild fennel, a hint of black licorice and roasted coffee beans. The fennel, licorice and coffee resurface on the palate along with delicious dark cherry and plum. The finish is not a particularly long one but it is a balanced and fine wine, easy to drink now or can cellar for many years. Best if allowed to breathe for an hour or more before serving.
Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore DOC, 2007
Overall an outstanding vintage in Bolgheri. Yet the nose of this vintage is surprisingly reticent leaving one to wonder if it had just been uncorked and the wine had not had time to open up and reveal its full complexity. The palate is bold and dominated by black cherry as well as cedar and a hint of cigar ash. In its bold style it is more reminiscent of California than Tuscany.