(2019) Spring was rainy and mild with early budding, and although summer was dry in general, Montalcino experienced three significant rain events, limiting stress and supporting complete maturation of the grapes. The blend of Merlot and Sangiovese spent 12 months in a mix of new and used barriques. Lovely fruit here, quite lifted compared to the Luce, herb and floral notes joining succulent black fruit on the palate, generous and silky, certainly more approachable at its young age than Luce, but still with complexity and, I suspect, capacity for longevity.
(2018) This is a blend from younger vines, led by Cabernet Franc and Merlot along with Cabernet Sauvignon and some Syrah too, fermented in large oak casks with indigenous yeasts and aged in barriques and French tonneaux for about 14 months, with15% of new wood. I really enjoyed this hugely authentic and expressive wine, very reminiscent of right bank Bordeaux, with a wild gamy, balsamic and stewed plum character, lovely graphite and cedar notes, and a sense of lush generosity. In the mouth it is sweet-fruited, but that gaminess and slightly wild edge adds loads of savoury interest, the sweet tannins and good, sour cherry acid structure freshening and lengthening the finish.
(2018) A blend of four Bordeaux varieties (77%), Syrah (11%), Sangiovese (8%) and Alicante Bouschet (4%). Coming from the older vineyards, each plot is vinified separately and aged in oak for betwen 11 and 20 months, depending on the characteristics of the plot and variety. The blend is made once each component has completed its ageing. There's a lovely, saturated depth of colour here, and though touched by graphite and cedar, a very much more pure, solid and supple black fruit quality than the Aria, though little floral hints add plenty of intrigue. It flows through to the palate with a full and creamy, truly silky weight of blackcurrant and chocolate, but the precision and bite of the bittersweet cherry-skin acidity and very refined tannins are gorgeous against the fleshy density of the wine. Absolutely ready to drink, but should hold for many years too.
(2018) With 10 years of ageing under its belt, this has gained a lovely tertiary maturity. The colour is still deep, just softening with a hint of tawny on the rim, and with plenty of game and truffle character coming through against the ripe fruit that has elements of both plush blackcurrant and more lifted cherry and raspberry, as well as a sheen of oak. In the mouth that chewiness of tannin and texture gives plenty of full-bodied richness, the fruit is sweet, perhaps even a touch overripe, but the spice and tobacco, the dark and liquoricy combination of fruit and acidity, gives it plenty of character. For drinking now or over the next few years.
(2018) Looking and tasting more youthful than the 2008, this nevertheless shows development with game, blood and even some subtle floral nuances sitting alongside the cherry and red plum and, again, that sweet tobacco spice. In the mouth the concentration is greater than in the 2014 Rosso, with an intense fruit core, but fruit is not the only driver here as a phalanx of ripe, chewy tannin and acidity power through. It has plenty of serious, savoury structure, but the balance is good and the fruit still powerful.
(2018) A 'super-Tuscan' from 100% Sangiovese and a single vineyard planted in 1991, it spends 14-18 months in new oak barrels and a further 12 months in the bottle before release. There is a slick of vanilla that smoothly coats dark berries and brighter, almost floral cherries, again plush with tobacco and some cedary spices, and deeply inviting. On the palate a hint of gaminess on the nose translates into a wine that has a meaty presence, the spicy, firm tannins backing up sweet berry fruits, firmer than the Chianti Riserva, and long, pure and tapering nicely in the finish to a fine spices and fruit extract finish.
(2015) What a treat to have this class act in our case. From arguably Tuscany's greatest terroir, this Sangiovese was vinified in stainless steel before maturation in large Slavonian casks - the recipe for many of my favourite Brunelli. It comes from an organic estate farmed by the same family since the 1930s, and opens with the most evocative perfume of blood and tar, tobacco and ripe cherries, the fruit and smokines swirling in the glass, spice and pepper too. In the mouth that long cask ageing has softened the edges of a firm, intense wine, 15% alcohol adding to the plushness and sense of quiet authority, the palate dense but not not dull, enlivened by the spices, the juicy acidity and the tight liquoricy tannins. One to enjoy now with a steak or lamb, or to lay away for up to a decade.
(2013) 2009 seemed to be a fairly complex year weather-wise for Caiarossa, with a dry early summer, heat and thunderstorms in August and cooler conditions at harvest. Also a Bordeaux-based blend, Caiarossa 2009 is 25% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot, but there is also 19% Sangiovese and small proportions of Syrah and Alicante Bouschet. Fermentation takes place in large wooden casks and concrete tanks with wild yeasts, then a whole variety of different barrels is used for components of the wine according to its character. It's a hugely aromatic wine, the Cabernet Franc giving a smoky, herbal-edged, green olive touch and the ripe, creamily blackcurrant weight of the fruit in this 14.5% alcohol wine layered beneath. There is cedar and pepper, and that sappy edge persisting. In the mouth it has wonderful juicy clarity: this is marvellously light on its feet given the alcohol, with a cherry-precision to the acidity and a certain cherry freshness to the fruit, though a deeper, rounder, more opulent fleshiness too. Tannins are refined and finely-textured and the swirl of smoke wreaths through the fruit on the finish. Another absolutely beautiful wine, more showy and less classically restrained than the Ornellaia perhaps, but still with significant ageing potential.
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