ZOOM WINE TASTING WITH LONDON IWFS March 2021
Three types of red wines from Tuscany, made from the Sangiovese grape, were the subject of this Zoom tasting, and very enjoyable they were, too.
Sangiovese is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. It has numerous clones of various sub-varieties, in different localities. It is extremely sensitive to where it is grown and not an easy grape to cultivate. So the wines vary according to the particular clone, terroir, micro-climate, altitude and how the wine is made.
We started with a wine known as a “Super Tuscan”. Back in the early 1970s certain Tuscan wine makers were experimenting by blending Sangiovese with grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, to make high quality wines. The DOC and DOCG Italian wine regulations did not permit the inclusion of non-indigenous grapes. These wines originally had therefore to be categorised as Vino di Tavola, a category which was intended to be the most basic.
In 1992 a new designation allowed for more creativity. IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) denotes a wine that is produced in a specific area, focusing on the region rather than grape varieties or wine styles. Super Tuscan wines can now be classified as “Toscana IGT”.
Dogajolo Carpineto IGT 2018 £10.99 is 80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is inexpensive for a Super Tuscan. It came from Majestic, and the tasting note actually refers to it as a “Baby Tuscan”. Some found this wine acidic, but most of us found it immediately attractive, soft with a smooth finish. It had some oak-ageing combined with the fresh fruit of a young wine. It was agreed to be good value.
Tenuto San Guido Le Difese IGT 2018, c. £20-£24 is 70% Cabernet, 30% Sangiovese. This wine had strong acidity, good structure, texture and character, with supple tannins and a good length. It had a smooth palate of cherries, red and black berry fruit, notes of herbs, leather and tobacco. A pleasure to drink.
Chianti Classico Riserva
Chianti is Italy’s most important red wine, of DOCG status, from central Tuscany. Chianti Classico Riserva has a minimum 80% Sangiovese; other red grapes up to a maximum of 20% may be Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 £19.99. 90% Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malvasia Nera. This elegant wine, still developing, had aromas of ripe cherries, redcurrants and wild berries. There were hints of undergrowth, earth and smoky oak, and some spiciness. The opulent palate was fuller and firmer than the previous wines, a velvety texture and a structure supporting the fruit and savoury cinnamon notes. Some of us found dark fruit: blackberries and plums. The fine balance between citrus freshness and well integrated tannins led to a long finish.
Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano DOCG (Montepulciano here is a Tuscan town. This wine must not be confused with wine made from the Montepulciano grape in the east of central Italy, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.) This wine must be at least 70% Sangiovese, which may be blended with other native varieties like Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo, and international varieties Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2016 Bonacchi DOCG £13.99. 100% Prugnolo Gentile (the local name for Sangiovese). This wine had quite powerful aromas, spicy notes and vanilla hints. Balanced and medium bodied, it had an appealing taste of red cherries and strawberries with a touch of oak.
Brunello di Montalcino 100% Sangiovese. “Brunello” is the clone of the Sangiovese grape found only in the hill top town of Montalcino, near Siena, and creates prestigious red wines. The wines are concentrated, intense, tannic and powerful, and can age for decades.
Agostina Pieri Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 £25.99. This powerful wine had a complex nose of cherry jam and spices, with hints of coffee and minerals. The palate was full bodied and dry with bright acidity, showing red and black fruits, mineral acid and ripe tannins. It had good length.
This was a splendid tasting for us to learn something about the different styles of Tuscan wines from the Sangiovese grape, where quality is normally high and consistent.