Dolce Vita in Tuscany (1/3)
Classic among the classics, the wine road of Tuscany missed to my oenological route. 10 days of dolce vita, between sangiovese, castles and gastronomy allowed me to fill this gap.
Montepulciano will be my entrance in the Jupiter’s (Giove) homeland. So yes, god of the Roman gods, among its powers is to be able to create the sangiovese. It’s well known: the Roman gods don’t drink only water and his blood (sangue), poured in the Roman territory, is associated to the wine and becomes the “Sangiovese”, etymologically “the Jupiter’s blood”. Well, it’s funny but doesn’t stop my thirsty. Perched on its hill (as everytime in Tuscany), Montepulciano is the estate of the DOC Rosso and the DOCG Vino Nobile. For both, 70% of sangiovese at least (called here prugnolo gentile, “small plum”), a blend with canaiolo (20% maximum) and others local grapes (like the mamolo) or internationals. I start by the Ciarlana, small familial winery created in 1966 of 20 ha and 8000 bottles per year. Luigi the owner and his son Mattéo receive me with simplicity. On the programme a fruity Rosso, simple and fresh…but for 8€, the price quality-ratio isn’t at the appointment. For 4€ more, you reach the Nobile with 5% of mamolo (useful for the acidity), more tannic, everything raised in Slovene barrel. Not convinced yet, the Vigna Scianello 2010 (DOCG Nobile) in 100% sangiovese is more open, more exuberant with a present acidity. But for 20€, I am still sceptical. But like a lot of vineyards here, the star stays the “Supertoscan”. This name is certainly not unknowned for you, especially if you read this article. Popularised by Robert Parker or Wine Spectator (according to the sources), this kind of wine highlighted a region which suffered of notoriety in the 1970’s. But in 2016, I discover the other side of the coin: Sassicaia and Tignanello caused a breach, and now each one produces his “Supertoscan”. This leads to a loss of typicity and terroir. The Santo Pellegrino offers by Luigi is a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sangiovese (25% each). It’s good but with an international taste, which we can find somewhere else…and mostly with a better price. I leave there a bit disappointed… But it’s not my first visit which will discourage me, particularly for the lunch time. Way to the Bottega del Nobile in the small historical center. To taste many Montepulciano, with a good plate of pork products, it’s perfect ! The Casella 2013, with a traditional style but organic, with merlot, sangiovese and canaiolo is open and pleasant, but a bit heady. However, the Braccesca with a modern style is more exuberant, more elegant with an incredible length on chocolate and mushroom. I leave boosted !
The chance drives me in Poliziano and the moment spent with Fabio is the leitmotiv of a wine road: smile, warmth, debate and exchange. The Carletti family, owner since 1961, has right to trust in him and the name itself of the winery symbolises the mentality of the owners. Poliziano, famous Italian humanist of the XVth c., in charge of the education of the Laurent Medicis sons, is born in Montepulciano. Maybe the spirit is one of the reason of the success ? Today, the vineyard represents 140 ha, 650 000 bottles, present in 38 countries and mostly, personality in the bottle ! It must be said that Fabio opened the two Roll’s Royce of the production. The Stanze 2012, 40€, a “Bordeaux” Supertoscan (80% cabernet/20% merlot) with a name well chose: the most famous of the poems of the humanist. Good potential but still closed and “vanilla” for my taste, so it won’t be this one which will reconcile me with the Supertoscans. On the other hand, the Asinone 2012, DOCG Nobile in 100% Sangiovese is a real heart-stopper ! 60% in French barrel for 2 years and one more year in the bottle, decided by the winemaker from Pisa. It’s silky, elegant with a fruity length, and a note of mushrooms. Rarely, even the first time that an ass of the donkey (asinone in italian, remembering the shape of the vineyard), satisfies me. A quality, maybe from the huge investments made by the owners, especially this machine able to separate in a flash the grapes, selected by many criterions (color, shape, …). Impressive ! A good day which ends at the Osteria del Borgo with an Il Macchione 2010 (DOCG Nobile) peppery, with note of violet, which perfectly matches with a Tuscany rabbit…hard life !