Tuscan Taste Off

We recently completed a series of three wine tastings at Fine Wines of Stockton entitled Red Wines of Tuscany. We tasted six Rosso di Montalcino, six Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and six Chianti. We chose our top two wines from each tasting and those six wines were our focus for the Tuscan Taste Off. We will choose our two favorites from this group of six wines.

The star of the show for this series of tastings has been Sangiovese. It is the dominant varietal in all of these wines. It is present in varying percentages and is called by a slightly different name in the various regions. Sangiovese Grosso in Rosso di Montalcino where it makes up 100% of the grapes, Prugnolo Gentile in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano where 60-80% is required and Sangiovese in Chianti where 75-80% must be Sangiovese.

Among the things we learned about is the classification system used in Italy. DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) are two classifications that apply to these three groups of wines. These classifications are intended to assure quality and that the wines were produced in the designated area using the designated standards. DOCG indicates a higher standard than DOC.

The Rosso di Montalcino carries the DOC designation and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Chianti carry the DOCG designation.

Let’s go tasting:

2010 Il Poggione2010 Il Poggione – this garnet colored wine had a minimal nose with just a hint of smoke. Dark fruit and tobacco flavors combine with significant smooth tannins, good acid and a light mouth-feel. The finish is moderately long. Although the flavors are not overly complex, this would be an excellent food wine. The group thought it would pair well with pizza, pasta with tomato sauce or chicken Parmesan. This Rosso di Montalcino was the group’s favorite wine. So the DOC wine takes the prize!

2009 Volpaia Chianti Classico – this dark garnet wine had a complex nose of roses, nutmeg and smoke. Complex flavors of dark ripe fruit, tobacco and a bit of smoke combined with significant drying tannins for a long flavorful finish. This wine had a heavier weight in the mouth that the first wine and would pair well with hearty, meaty dishes.

Valdipiatta2008 Tenuta Valdipiatta – garnet color with stinky nose initially that blew off to caramel. Flavors of tobacco, leather and dark fruit with significant smooth tannins and a long finish had a very light mouth-feel. This wine too provoked a lot of discussion as the flavors were fairly complex. This Vino Nobile di Montepulciano tied for second favorite of the evening.

2008 Fattoria del Cerro2008 Fattoria del Cerro – this ruby colored wine had a bit of berry fruit on the nose with dark fruit and berry flavors, significant smooth tannins and a long finish. There was a bit of sweetness in the finish and it also had a very light mouth-feel. This Vino Nobile di Montepulciano tied for second favorite of the evening.

2009 Tenute Silvio Nardi – light garnet color combines with flavors that were earthy with cherries and smooth tannins. Most tasters thought this was a lighter flavored wine with a light mouth-feel that would be good with veal, chicken or pork chops.

2010 Palladio Chianti – this dark ruby wine had dried fruit on the nose and flavors with mushrooms, smooth tannins and a moderately long finish. Most tasters thought this tasted like an older wine because of the dried fruit flavors.

So, our group of tasters liked the Rosso di Montalcino best and liked both of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines. It often happens that more than one wine will receive the same total number of votes, especially if votes for first and second are combined. If there is a tie, we just have to pick one! We are, after all, wine tasters not statisticians.

Our next tasting will focus on wines from southern Oregon.


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