Friday, October 07, 2005

Course on Italian wines at Incanto: Tuscany

The third session of the Italian wines course, organized by Incanto, was about Tuscany. This beautiful region, well known for its hills covered with olive trees, cypress trees, vines and villas, has now become one of Italy's most dynamic producer of premium wines. Even if I was already familiar with the region, Tuscan wines have unique flavors, and, when they are well-made, they are a great pleasure to drink.

The first wine we tasted was a white wine from the Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, a hilly area around the famous medieval village of San Gimignano. Vernaccia is the local white varietal, which, in its modern version, produces a light and crisp wine. The 2004 Vernaccia di San Gimignano Casa Alle Vache had a light golden color and a mild floral nose. On the palate, it was dry and crisp with additional citrus aromas. A light summer wine to drink under the pergola...

Our second wine was a white version of a Super Tuscan. A Chardonnay/Pinot Blanc blend, the 2001 Querciabella Batàr is a reference to Bâtard-Montrachet, and is made in a Burgundy style, aged in half new, half one year old, French oak barrels. The color was deep golden with an attractive nose of pear, apple and citrus. On the palate, it was full-bodied with a fat mouthfeel and a lingering finish.

With the third wine we moved to Chianti Classico, the very heart of Tuscany. The principal red varietal of the region is Sangiovese, the blood of Jove. The 2002 Chianti Classico Le Corti was a dark garnet wine with an attractive nose of black fruit aromas. On the palate, it was full-bodied, with firm tannins and a lively acidity. The finish was long with a bitter cocoa powder aftertaste. A truly delicious wine!

The newly created Bolgheri DOC, is a rising star on the Etruscan coast. The 2003 Campo al Mare Folonari is a classic Bordeaux blend but offering unique flavors that I found hard to describe. It had a dark purple color and a nose of blackberry and licorice. On the plalate, it was smooth but dense and full-bodied.

From the beautiful small town of Montalcino, we tasted a Rosso di Montalcino and a Brunello di Montalcino. It was interesting to taste the two wines side by side because they are both 100% Sangiovese Grosso, a local clone of the Sangiovese grape, but while Brunello wines are powerful and destined for lengthy aging, Rosso di Montalcino wines are characterized by a certain freshness and vivacity, and are made to be drunk young.

The 2001 Rosso di Montalcino Val di Suga had a lively nose with sweet fruits on the palate and a medium body. It was a pleasant and well crafted wine but it did not have the complexity of the 1998 Brunello di Montalcino La Palazzetta. The Brunello had a dense nose of fruit liqueur, a concentrated body with minty flavors and a long, tannic finish.

More on Tuscany wine tasting:
 • Wines from Brunello di Montalcino
 • Wines of Tuscany

More on Italian wines:
• Sparkling Wines
• The North

Coming next week: Piedmont

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1 comment:

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