Central Italy- the top 2 grapes

Italian_southernredsbacklabel

The two most widely grown red grapes of Italy are:

#1 Sangiovese– mostly grown  in central Italy (Tuscany, Emilia Romania).

#2 Montepulciano– mostly grown on the Adriatic Coast (Abruzzo, Apulia, Marche).

The wines selected to showcase their differences, similarites:

2010 Scopone L’Olivare – This wine is a bit on the modern side (produced in smaller barrels with shorter maceration which produces an earlier drinking wine).

Sangiovese is a high acid grape with what some call “gravely” tannins. The name translates to “blood of Jove” and many believe it’s highest expression comes from the specific Brunello clone isolated by Clemente Santi (Biondi Santi ancestor).

It has red fruit flavors along with distinctive flavors of orange peel, tomato leaf and balsamic. The more “serious” Sangiovese wines that are made for aging have pronounced earthy qualities as well.

Brunello di Montalcino, by law is 100% Sangiovese. 2010 is a phenomenal vintage and prices are reasonable but they will need some time to develop. If you want to drink now decant for a few hours beforehand.

2009 Umanchi Ronchi, Cumaro, Rosso Conero– Umani Ronch is a fairly new winery owned by the a Bianchi-Bernetti since 1959 and Cumaro’s first vintage was 1985. This is 100% Montepulciano fermented with natural yeasts and hand picked.

Montepulciano has some riper red and black fruit flavors like plum and (sour) cherry. The wines can also have a boysenberry flavor which I happily associate with childhood camping trips.

Lower in acidity than Sangiovese the wines are also a little softer and easier to drink, especially Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which I often suggest to the closet Merlot drinkers.

 

 

 

 

Vintage Charts…how to use them.

3BrunellosMany of us believe that the best wine is the highest rated wine…not necessarily true..

WS_VintageChartWhat do vintage charts mean and how to use them…

Hold (cellar)This wine is not really ready to drink. It will probably be very tannic and require some aging. If you do want to drink it now you should open it up and decant it (pour it into a larger container and swirl it around) then wait a few hours before serving it. This helps the wine soften and open up.

Drinkno explanation needed here.

Drink/Hold– Gets a little more complicated. Whether it will drink well right now depends on the producer, where the grapes were grown and what the weather conditions were like that year.

A real world example using a Wine Spectator vintage chart (app) for one of the greats- Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, Italy.

2010ScoponeLooking at the chart for the highest rated wine, would indicate that you should buy the 2010. 2010 produced some amazing wines and they are well priced BUT they really aren’t ready (see Hold above). If you want to hold this wine for 5-10 years this would be a great purchase.

 

 

2004IlPatrizieFor a splurge and drinking now, the next highest rated would be 2004. This is what you want! 2004 was an excellent vintage for this wine and they are perfect right now. They may be a little difficult to find and a little pricey, but the search is worth it.

 

 

2005CortePavoneFor value drinking you will need to stay away from the top rated vintages. A good strategy is to look at wines that fall in between 2 great vintages. 2005 was between the high rated vintages of 2004 and 2006. This is what the wine pros buy because they are more readily available and the best buy.

 

Please share your favorite Vintage tips