Posts Tagged ‘Tuscan’

Tuscany's Golden Coast.

Tuscany’s Golden Coast.

 

Now that the land rush is subsiding, the true worth of the region’s vineyards is being reflected in spectacular wines.

 

Map of the area.

Map of the area.

The Viale dei Cipressi offers an unforgettable journey to those who travel down its path. At approximately three miles in length—with 2,000 columnar trees on either side of the gently undulating avenue—it’s said to be the longest cypress-lined road in the world.

The road cuts a route across coastal Tuscany, from the shimmering Tyrrhenian Sea to hilly brush, slicing through some of the world’s most prized vineyards along the way. The strada provinciale starts at the octagonal San Guido chapel at the shore and finishes inland, at the gates of the medieval Castello di Bolgheri.

The Viale dei Cipressi represents a cultural, historical and environmental continuum by which the entire area is measured. But in spiritual terms, this glorious passageway leads to the Shangri-La of Italian wine.
Three-quarters up the Viale dei Cipressi on the right is the 42-acre vineyard of Sassicaia, named after the many stones (sassi in Italian) that pepper its gravelly clay soils. This vineyard lends its name to the wine that fulfills the enormity of Italy’s enological promise.

“We are all children of Sassicaia,” says vintner Michele Satta, whose eponymous estate produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese. “It is the inspiration for all Italian wine past, present and future.”

That inspiration drives the exciting work underway in coastal Tuscany. Previously known as the birthplace of super Tuscans—a passé catch-all name for iconic wines made outside obsolete Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) regulations—Tuscany’s coast now bustles with a new generation of pioneering vintners.

From concept wines without roots (like the nebulous super Tuscan category), the region’s vintners now pursue wines in tune with their geographic origins comparable to the greatest appellations of Tuscany: Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

The emphasis has clearly swung in favor of territory, territory, territory.

The 120-mile coastline that extends from the port city of Livorno to the postcard-perfect hilltop town of Capalbio is home to six wine regions, plus the island of Elba. Each possesses unique climatic and geologic conditions, grape varieties and individual wines.

 

Bolgheri
Ribot, according to many, was the greatest racehorse of all time. Undefeated in 16 races throughout the mid 1950s, the British-bred, Italian-trained “horse of the century” was owned by Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, of the fabled Marchesi Incisa family.

Banking on more successes, Mario created Cabernet Sauvignon-based Sassicaia in 1968 (the first commercially released vintage) in what started as a playfully competitive nudge at Bordeaux.

Since then, Bolgheri has undergone radical change. Despite the continued success of Sassicaia, the region is practically a newborn.

In 1985, there were just six producers that—like Ribot—raced to success as individual brands. Only when producers embraced the concept of territory, united behind a single Bolgheri identity, did the region hit its winning stride.

Read on …

 

Sassicaia

 

The table wine that put Tuscan cabernet sauvignon on the map is now one of the most sought-after Italian reds in the world. Kerin O’Keefe reports.

Sassicaia is the Italian wine world’s rock star, and not just because of the unusual rocky soils where the wine’s grapes are cultivated. A rebel when it was first released in 1971, Sassicaia – like the defiant rock musicians of the same period – shook up the status quo and spawned generations of imitators.

It can also claim the title of Original Super Tuscan as it was the first of Tuscany’s renegade wines to break with the antiquated rules that governed Italian winemaking in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Although no longer a revolutionary, Sassicaia is one of Italy’s most iconic and seductive wines.

Sassicaia was the brainchild of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted cabernet sauvignon at his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri in 1944, back when this strip of Tuscan coast – known as the Maremma – was a mosquito-infested backwater with no tradition of quality winemaking.

According to Mario’s son Nicolò, who has run the property since his father died in 1983, “my father loved fine Bordeaux and decided to try his hand at making red wine. He chose the first and subsequent vineyards not only for the right sun exposure and altitude, but above all for their rocky soils – unique in Bolgheri and Italy but similar to the gravel found in Graves.”

Sassicaia, a derivative of “sassi” – Italian for rocks or stones – owes its catchy name to this uncommon soil. Nicolò also points out that the original cabernet sauvignon his father planted in the 1940’s was not imported from Château Lafite, as legend often states. Rather, it hailed from 50-year-old vine cuttings cultivated on a friend’s estate near Pisa, which have long since been pulled up.
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2004-Killer-del-Brunello

 

Former employee motivated by revenge.

Italian police on Tuesday arrested a former employee of the Brunello di Montalcino winery Case Basse for draining barrels worth millions of euros in a case that has shaken up the tranquil Tuscan hills.

Andrea Di Gisi was caught after police bugged his car. They heard him telling his nephew he had washed wine stains off the jeans he wore on the night he broke into the cellar at the Case Basse château.

Police said De Gisi had acted out of… read on

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The Sangiovese Grape.

The Sangiovese Grape.

 

Brunello di Montalcino is in the news again after an attack on the Case Basse winery, in which vandals drained 62,000 liters of its wine. Kerin O’Keefe questions whether sangiovese is the right variety for all parts of this large denomination.

 

The Case Basse attack is not the first time in recent years that Brunello di Montalcino has hit the headlines. In 2008, “Brunellogate” revealed the existence of a three-year inquiry into claims that some producers were supplementing sangiovese – the only variety permitted – with other grapes.

Some reports have suggested that last weekend’s attack on the Case Basse winery could have been motivated by revenge over whistle-blowing by the owner, Gianfranco Soldera – allegations that he strongly denies.

But is sangiovese actually the best-suited grape for the large Brunello di Montalcino region? In this extract from her latest book, “Brunello di Montalcino,” Italian wine expert Kerin O’Keefe considers the question:

“Brunello’s entire production area centers on the expansive commune of Montalcino. This medieval hilltop town, whose name derives from the Italian translation of the Latin Mons Ilcinus (Mount Ilex), the ancient Latin name of the hill on which the town perches, and referring to the ilex or holm oak trees that still populate the surrounding woods, lies roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Siena and just over 40 kilometers (25 miles) as the crow flies from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Montalcino occupies a central position within the Province of Siena, though it is far away from busy roads and immersed for the most part in unspoiled countryside. Whereas the ancient town center, dominated by its fourteenth-century fortress, is tiny, the entire municipal area, the largest township in the province, includes several hamlets and stretches across 24,362 hectares (60,200 acres), with 70 percent of the area defined as hilly, 29 percent flat, and 1 percent mountainous.
Read on …