Saturday, May 25, 2013

Incredible tasting of Tuscan wines at the Pitti Palace, Florence, May 17, 2013 (after Political Psych conference at European Univ Institute, Fiesole)

It just so happened that Wine Town, an annual festival in Florence, took place while I was there for a conference. Francie, Tom Banks and I didn't know this but were visiting the Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace and there were signs about this festival and people setting up tasting stations. So of course we went and had maybe 10 excellent glasses of Chianti or Brunello. I took brief notes and here they are:

Sesti 2007 Phenomena (reserve Brunello). A favorite since visited here for a couple hours of touring and tasting with owners in 2007 with Wib and Clay. Very balanced and drinkable. Toasty, strawberry. Medium body and finish. Seems as good as it's going to get right now. There is tannin on finish, so it'll last for some years. Got better in glass, of course. I wrote down 94 points but by this time I'd had quite a few glasses so might have been getting generous, and sentimental about the visit to the vineyard, perhaps the most beautiful I've been too.

2007 Sesti Castello--made of cab and merlot. Ripe fruit, cherry vanilla, good finish, soft tannin. Not esp complex but nice. 90 points.

Montsanto 2007 Chianti Classico Reserva. Big nose, cherry fruit with a long finish, full body, soft tannin. 92+.

Fattoria dei Barbi 2007 Brunello
Fairly tannic and full body. CLosed initially on nose but a little better with air, with a nice rose/flower aroma. 88.

Fattoria dei Barbi, 2007 Brunello Riserva. Fuller body, deeper and more concentrated. A little less perfume now but more potential, more tannin, acid and fruit (strawberry I'd say) than the regular bottling, and longer finish. Like it quite a lot. 94.

Fattoria dei Barbi 2007 Vigna del Fiore--from a single vineyard, in southernmost part of Montalcino and one of the oldest vineyards too. Very open nose, unlike the other 2. Medium body, long finish, blackberry and plum with pine resin and wood. 93+.

Le Chiuse 2008 Brunello. Organic vineyard. Rather elegant and unusual nose with chocolate/cocoa, spicy complexity, strawberry. Sweet finish, light body. 91.

Le Chiuse 2007 Brunello Reserve. Fuller body, much more tannic and needing age. Longish finish with oaky vanilla, plum and strawberry. 91+.

Marroneto 2006 Brunello. Very long finish; wine made from single biodynamic vineyard. Delicate stuff. Toasted oak, pine forest. Didn't write down a point score. From sandy north side of Montalcino, which is more elegant and delicate than from the south where there's more clay.

Fattoria di MonteMaggio 08 Chianti: Very strong strawberry or raspberry on nose; quite lovely. Delicate like a Brunello. 91+.

Fattoria di MonteMaggio 07 Riserva Chianti Classico. Red fruit. Deeper, full body, long finish with tannin and acid to balance the fruit; not much oak I'd say.  Sort of like a really strong, ripe Brunello. This is the best Chianti I had while in Italy this time. 93.

Earlier in the week: tasted 2007 Le Ragnaie Brunello in Panzano, one of the many charming Chianti region hill towns, purchased a bottle there. Really liked it a lot--drank tonight with Wib and Charlotte at Vin Rouge, Durham, a very French bistro. (Had a 2008 at the Pitti Palace tasting and also liked it though can't find my specific notes. La Ragnaie has real finesse. Apparently the smallest of the Brunello producers. Also: visited Querceto and shared a bottle of their Chianti that I purchased there with colleagues at dinner in Florence on May 16.

Visited Vignamaggio, an old noble villa with gardens and breathtaking views (once an important fort in the battles between Siena and Florence for control of Chianti), that also has been making wine since at least 1404. This is also where Mona Lisa was born and was painted by da Vinci (they insisted this is the real woman although apparently several sites in Italy make similar claims).

Tasted a couple excellent Chianti Classico bottles there and wound up purchasing and bringing home a 2006, 2007 and 2008 for a future vertical tasting.

Picture below was of Chianti countryside from the agriturismo where we stayed for about six days, San Leo, and ate great food cooked from the farm's own products.

Varner 2020 Home Block Spring Ridge Chardonnay

Greatly improved from earlier. Now a perfectly balanced caramel oak vanilla nose with plenty of exotic fruit and melon nuances on nose and palate. Perfect acid/fruit balance too, with full body and a medium long finish. 93 points.