For lovers of development
2010 PODERE CIONA ‘Le Diacce’ – Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy
Here’s a red I tasted three months ago at lunch with our mutual friend Tom Kelly. This representative of Small Vineyards was showing me nearly twenty wines in all. Some of these were picked for our recent holiday “walk-around” tasting. Other higher-end beauties landed on a menu for the first-ever smaller-group pre-holiday-event tasting. That sneak preview, which admitted just a few customers, showed the likes of Brunello di Montalcino, Amarone Riserva, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. THIS wine was a consideration but Tom was already showing me too many good things; I’d have to put it in your club instead. Here is a seven-year-old, ready-to-love wine that smells and tastes undeniably “Tuscan,” yet that region’s primary grape Sangiovese isn’t even referenced. Instead, this wine is 100% Merlot.
A sense of “beef” entices the nose and encourages a cookbook perusal. Cedar and dried cherries also play. The palate is positively PRIME for right-now indulgence. The fleshy-ness of well-aged Merlot is nicely framed with acidity. Something braised or roasted, i.e. slow cooked, wants to happen with this fully-relaxed wine where mellowed development and completely available flavors are saying, “Mangia!”
Also from Friend Tom . . .
2014 MARCHETTI ‘Villa Bonomi’ – Conero Riserva, Marche, Italy
Admission: The 2010 Tuscan red described above isn’t necessarily the wine you open for a mixed group of wine palates / appreciation levels. It’s for those of you who understand and appreciate “Phase II” European reds, who cook for your wines, and who swirl and sniff and sip and discuss.
THIS 100% Montepulciano on the other hand should win over even the tentative / reluctant sipper more attuned to California’s provision of youthful fruit and sweet tannins. That’s the magic of Montepulciano; one of those Italian grapes that emphasize color, black fruits, and walnut-y astringency. This is an effect very different from that of Sangiovese which declares not purple-ness but redness, and delivers that with streamlined acidity – not with Cabernet-like tannins. When Montepulciano (the grape, not the place) is in full effect it’s not too different from Cabernet Sauvignon in impact. Oh, it may be a little more linear based on its Old World source. It may not have quite the same flavors. - But I’ll bet a Cab guy would “get” it. Invite one over for a test (and do up a ribeye as enticement!).