The Wine Guy
I was recently at a major wine tasting sponsored by Italy’s State Wine Commission. In addition to sampling the wines themselves, a large part of the exhibit was dedicated to showing how technology was enabling growers to “extend” the “premium Range” of good wines into the next level up in terms of quality. For example, wines that would have been considered a grade or two below an area’s better wine in Tuscany or Lombardy are now level with (and sometimes better than) their higher quality neighbors. The important thing is that change is not old enough to warrant a price change yet; maybe in another two or three years. The following are wines in this category:
Monrosso 2016 Toscana IGT, Monsanto, ($17.95). In 1962, Fabrizio and Giuliana Bianchi established Castello di Monsanto. They began by planting new vineyards and converting the numerous farmhouses on the property which were homes for the local farmers. Today, Monrosso is the offspring of Castello di Monsanto and is produced in the southern hill part of the property planted with Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet. The Monrosso production is run by Fabrizio and his winemaker daughter Laura Bianchi. Fabrizio and Laura have consistently been innovators within their region. It only made sense that they would continue this philosophy by creating the Monrosso project in 1998. All the Monrosso grapes are carefully hand harvested and then softly crushed. The Tuscan Red Blend IGT is composed of 60% Syrah, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 3% Sangiovese. This Tuscan Red Blend was created for those seeking adventure. Wine Spectator scored this 92 points and said, “Bursts with ripe cherry, blackberry and floral aromas and flavors, driven by lively acidity and elegant frame. Balanced, yet firmly supported by dense tannins. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sangiovese. Best from 2021 through 2033.”
Re Di Renieri 2012 IGT Toscana, Renieri, ($39.95). Renieri is an extraordinary property in the southern part of the Montalcino region, owned by the visionary and innovative Marco Bacci. Normally a stronghold for Sangiovese, which grows well here as the high-scoring Renieri Brunellos will attest, but the soils on this property are varied and unique and allow for a wide range of different grapes to show exceptional and unique character as in this Right Bank Bordeaux style blend. 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot aged 15 months in Allier French oak barrels. James Suckling included it in his list of the Top 100 New Super Tuscans in 2012 along with greats like Sassicaia, Guado Al Tasso, Solaia and Ornellaia. He scored this 2012 92 points saying “This is very firm and structured with dried berries, hints of fresh herbs and green coffee beans. Full body, firm and chewy tannins and a fresh and lively finish. Wines within five kilometers go for three times the price.
The wines of the Antinori family are nothing less than remarkable. Their Guado Al Tasso 2015 Bolgheri Superiore, Antinori, ($129.95), is an incredible product of their Bolgheri Estate, Tenuta Guado Al Tasso. This 2015 is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. A tremendous vintage, this 2015 is receiving huge accolades all around.
Antonio Galloni scored it 96 points saying “Even at this very early stage, the 2015 Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso is magnificent. Fresh and perfumed in the glass, with striking purity of fruit and exceptional balance, the 2015 is arrestingly beautiful from the very first taste. Bright red cherry and raspberry jam are pushed forward. I am struck by the wine’s translucent color and overall level of finesse. Wow!”
Greco di Tufo, 2016 Donnachiara, ($19.95), is a northern white in this same quality category. These vineyards are family owned and have been for five generations, but the brand new, very modern winery was established in 2005. Vineyards with this traditional local grape variety slope down the steep hillsides next to the winery. Drenched in sunlight but cooled by the high altitude which tempers development and extends the growing season, it allows the grapes to take on ideal balance and complex flavors. Celebrated Enologist Ricardo Coltarella is now in charge of the winemaking. This is 100% Greco, but only select grapes are chosen and a cold fermentation at 57-60°F in steel vats for 15 days retains the rich fruit flavors. No malolactic fermentation is done, allowing the wine to have a mouthwatering acidity. James Suckling scored this 92 points saying “A dense and layered greco with lots of dried melon and pear character. Hints of dried peach. Full body. Delicious dry finish.”
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