Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’

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 …

 

The Case Basse Estate in Tuscany.

The Case Basse Estate in Tuscany.

 

Apparent breakthrough suggests vendetta by former employee.

Italian media say police are close to an arrest over the attack on a Brunello winery during which 62,600 liters of wine was poured into the sewers.

The attack on the Case Basse winery – a leading producer of Brunello di Montalcino – happened overnight on December 2, when the intruder, or intruders, opened the taps on the barrels holding the wine.
La Repubblica said the suspect was a former Case Basse employee, whom investigators had located in an unspecified area of Montalcino.

Any link to organized crime had been ruled out. Instead, the newspaper said, the crime appeared to be an act of retaliation by the former worker, and “the final word on the ugly affair” was expected in the next few days.

The weekly news magazine Panorama confirmed that the anti-Mafia directorate in Florence had excluded the “bleaker scenario” of Mafia involvement. It said the… read on

Also read:

Montalcino rallies round as Soldera’s Brunellos are destroyed (Decanter.com)

 

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 …

A wet spring and a hot, dry summer lowered grape quantities across the Italian peninsula and kept winegrowers working hard

Italian Wine Harvest 2012.

Italian Wine Harvest 2012.

Harvest. For winemakers, no other word is loaded with so much potential and anticipation. After a long growing season of endless work in the vineyards, harvest means pencils down, time’s up. And no matter how hard you have labored all year, at the end of the day, nature usually has the last word.

In the fourth of five 2012 vintage reports, winemakers across the Italian boot are reporting a promising vintage after a year of hard work. A wet spring in many regions lowered yields by as much as 40 percent. A long, hot summer put vines under drought stress, which meant growers had to be careful to protect the fruit and let it hang long enough to ripen. As for final quality in the bottle—it’s too early to know. But here’s a sneak peek.
• The Northeast
• Piedmont
• Southern & Central Italy
• Tuscany

Read on…