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Posts Tagged ‘Sangiovese’

Just a quick response and banter to the September 9th Wine Spectator article, “No Merlot di Montalcino : Brunello winemakers reject a plan to allow grapes other than Sangiovese in Rosso di Montalcino”. The gist of the article is that the local Consorzio rejected pressure from 30% of its growers to allow for a 15% non-Sangiovese blend in its Rosso di Montalcino. I posted a non-edited version of this article to the comments section of the Wine Spectator article …

I love history and terroir and maintaining a special niche for certain wines, but COME ON ! A debate over allowing just a 15% non-Sangio blend in the Rosso, the younger sibling to Brunello ? … Grow up Consorzio ! At the end of the day growers and vintners don’t JUST “do it” for passion and family. Winemaking is also a business and people need to maintain their livelihood. Giving producers more flexibility in vinification (and again, just a BIT more, not A LOT) would provide for more strategic maneuverability in the market and more options to stand out and separate their wines from the pack.

A lot of New World growing regions allow wines to be labelled Merlot, even with a 20% blend of other grapes, for example. Granted this might be a bad comparison and I’d air on transparency in this case and require that the “other” varietals be listed on the back label, which I believe is the case, although I could stand corrected.

In the end winemakers MAKE wine for it to be consumed right ? If there’s a drop in sales and a disinterested market, then let’s be progressive and creative and stir the pot a little (or vat and barrel rather), trying out some new recipes !

PS : Okay so this is just a very brief and rather generic counter to the Consorzio’s vote and the majority opinion of the local growers. What does the rest of the public have to say ? I’ll kick-start the counter to my arguments with a very interesting August 31st article on JancisRobinson.com, “Keep Rosso di Montalcino pure!”, including a letter to the Consorzio from Nicolas Belfrage MW, urging against allowing the 15% non-Sangiovese blend.

PPS : And just to admit that I’m a total hypocrite, I worked in business development (just a quick 6-month contract) for Domaine du Closel, a Savennières producer of the Clos du Papillon, Loire Valley Grand Cru and a representation of Chenin Blanc at its pure state of hedonistic perfection ! How’s that for objectivity ?! ;-) I can’t say that I’d support even an ounce of blending in these wines. It’d be sacrilegious ! So do I have any argument against my hypocrisy ? Not really although wait I think I do ! I guess the key difference is that Clos du Papillon (and Coulée de Serrant and Roches-aux-Moines) are designated Loire Valley Grand Crus. Savennières is essentially legislated and syndicated as the birthplace and essence of the beauty, expression and typicity of Chenin Blanc, whereas Rosso di Montalcino is the litter sister (or brother) to Brunello. Therefore, I’m sorry but little brothers and sisters get beat up on sometimes. So i say preserve the integrity of 100% Sangiovese in Brunello di Montalcino and loosen up the little sibling a bit. Although I do love the irony in the 2008 comments of Ezio Rivella, one of Italy’s most prominent oenologists and current President of the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino. Ezio referred to 100% Brunello blends (i.e. Sangiovese) as “undrinkable”.

In either case I digress, the vote already passed and no changes will be made anytime soon. So on that note, cheers to 100% Sangiovese ! ;-)

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Ruffino “Riserva Ducale Oro” Chianti Classico 1999
Tasting Notes : Clay and sandy soil, rich in fossils, ~85% sangiovese, ~15% colorino, and trace amounts of cabernet sauvignon, and merlot (varietal estimates based on 2000 vintage), aged in oak casks for 24 months, 13% vol. Clear, brick-red in the glass. A subtle and very elegant nose of black cherries and sweet oak, herbs and spices. Smooth texture, medium tannins and bitter-sweet dark chocolate comes out on the palate. More dark cherry flavors are displayed. There is a very nice acidic balance, although the bitterness is slightly over-done, suggesting that this wine definitely calls for a nice beefy meal to accompany it. On the finish the dark chocolate and tannins linger.
Rating : 13/20 (85/100)
Price : $33.09 @ Winelibrary.com

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2006 La Castellina Chianti Classico Riserva Squarcialupi

Appellation: Chianti

Tasting Notes: 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  14% ABV.  Dark violet, darker than I expected. Nose is very complex, with red fruit, smoke, cigar box, and pepper.  Nice red fruit, lovely, elegant, with some cedar, tobacco, and pepper coming in at the end.  The addition of a little Merlot and Cab is evident with in the rounded edges.  Long dry finish, makes you want some pasta with red sauce, crusty bread, and lots of friends to share it.  Fantastic wine.

Rating: 4/5

Price: $29.99 at Beltway Fine Wines

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2007 Tiziano Chianti

Appellation: Chianti

Tasting Notes: 100% Sangiovese, 12.5% ABV.  Light garnet in the glass, I can see my fingers. Nose isn’t really exciting, candied fruit, almost syrupy, and some cedar.  This is a light wine, sour cherries and some spice, then little hint of some tannic structure, but not much there.  A little disjointed.  Not unpleasant, but pretty simple.  I wouldn’t buy at $10.

Rating: 2/5

Price: Unknown, someone gave it to us for watering their plants while they were out of town.  Cellartracker says it’s around $9.50

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2006 Monte Antico

Appellation: Toscana IGT

Tasting Notes: 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot.  12.5% AVB.  A light plum color in the glass.  Nose is a little tight, but I get some red and dark fruit and there’s an herbal component.  This wine is remarkably smooth.  There’s good dark fruit, with well integrated tannins and nice acidity.  This is not complex wine, but it has good structure and is very drinkable.  Will match very well with casual tomato based foods (pizza, pasta, etc).  This is good stuff for everyday drinking, and from what I can find on the price, this is a very good value.  (This was a gift from a friend).

Rating: 3/5, 14/20, 87/100

Price: ~$11.99 (Snooth).

A note on ratings:  I use the 100 point rating for Cellartracker, even though my palate is still developing.  As a statistics geek, I know that the variability in scores works itself out as the number of scores increases.  However, my score may not be yours, or Robert Parker’s.  I much prefer to use a 5 point (or star, or whatever you want to call it) scale, as it more represents my reaction to wine, which is more simple than a 100 point scale represents.  I like the 20 point scale as the more detailed score.   On this site, I will provide all three, although the most meaningful are the 5 and 20 point ratings.

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Wine and CheesesOn Saturday the 27th of December my good friend from high school, Mike McCauley, and his wife Lindsay hosted a wine and cheese party at their house.  I was surrounded by career chefs.  There were nine of us all together.  Mike runs the culinary program at Sur La Table in Columbus.  Brad, accompanied by his wife Jenny, was the Sous Chef at M, Cameron Mitchell’s top restaurant.  He now sells culinary equipment.  Teewanger, accompanied by his girlfriend or maybe wife, works a kitchen somewhere.  Another friend of Mike’s, also accompanied by his wife, is the Executive Chef at Jefferson Country Club.  His name always escapes me.

Mike and Lindsay prepared some delicious Bruschetta and put together quite an assortment of cheeses – cranberry Stilton, goat cheese, brie, Jarlsberg, cheddar and parmesan reggiano.

Wine BottlesThe night was a lot of fun and we drank a lot of wine.  France, Italy, Argentina, Chile and California were all represented.  Naturally I went French, bringing a $13 dollar bottle of Côtes du Ventoux that faired alright but I wasn’t too impressed.  The bottle was recommended by the manager at the Wine Vault.  It makes me wonder how many sub $15 dollar bottles of French wine can be found in Columbus.  My favorite two bottles were the Layer Cake Malbec and the Artezin Zinfandel.  Every bottle was under $25.

The night was capped off with a bottle of Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier, which clearly stole the show.  I’m omitting the bottle from the list below because I featured the bottle in my previous blog.  I must say I enjoyed the bottle even more, when paired up against the below bottles.  The complexity and terroirism on the nose was quite compelling.

Terres de Truffes2006 Terres de Truffes, Terraventoux Rhone Valley Vineyards
Blend: 50% syrah, 50% grenache
Appellation: Côtes du Ventoux, Valle du Rhone
Tasting Notes: Leather and pepper aromas and flavors of tobacco, strawberry and raspberry.  13.5% vol.
Rating: 11/20

Wine Spectator 88 Rating: This has nice polish, with fleshy cherry and plum fruit backed by a layer of tobacco and mineral. The tasty finish fleshes out.

Layer Cake Malbec2007 Layer Cake Malbec
Appellation: Mendoza Valley, Argentina
Tasting Notes: Earth, mushroom and vegetable aromas.  Medium tannins, balanced acidity and full-bodied with flavors of plum, blackberry, black cherry and blueberry.  13.9% vol.
Rating: 14/20

Artezin Zinfandel2007 Gaetano D’Aquino Sangiovese
Appellation: Sangiovese di Toscana
Tasting Notes: Leather and vanilla aromas.  Cherry, leather and wood flavors with pronounced tannins.  12.5% vol.
Rating: 10/20

2006 Artezin Zinfandel
Appellation: Mendocino, California
Tasting Notes: Leather and tobacco aromas.  Dark chocolate and black fruit flavors. 14.5% vol.
Rating: 13/20

Wine Spectator 90 Rating: A real spice bomb, loaded with black cherry and caramel notes and jammy, appealingly complex huckleberry, toasty licorice and loamy sage flavors.

Tres Picos Garnacha2005 Tres Picos Garnacha, Borsao Bodegas
Appellation: Campo de Borja, Chile
Tasting Notes: Wood, leather, subtle sulfur and smoke aromas.  A tannic palate with dark chocolate, smoke, plums and citric peel flavors.
Rating: 12/20

Wine Spectator 90 Rating: Vivid and concentrated, yet still focused and nimble, this red delivers plenty of black cherry and raspberry flavors, framed by toasty, smoky oak. The tannins and acidity are both gentle, but there’s enough to keep this balanced and lively.

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