On to Montepulciano and Montalcino

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March 14th 2012

The thing I hadn’t anticipated about Tuscany is just how far it is from place to place. It is the best part of three hours from Bolgheri to Montepulciano, with another hour afterwards to Montalcino. To say nothing of the eight hours in the car the following day: Montalcino to Chianti (bad, bad, windy roads…), Chianti to Carmignano, Carmignano to Turin airport to pick up Tasting Team Two (Julian and Charlie) and finally to Monforte d’Alba. There was lot of tasting, but there was an awful lot of driving too.

Anyway, I know you don’t feel sorry for us and just want to hear about the wine…. After lunch, fortified with a double espresso we headed to meet Nicolò Boscarelli. He was struggling with a heavy cold but manfully took us through a great tasting of his wines.

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A relatively new find for us (we have offered his wines once), the estate was founded in 1960 by Nicolò’s grandfather, more for fun than with any serious commercial intent. This is now a very serious operation in terms of the quality of wine being produced, but Nicolò is the epitome of Italian light-hearted charm, warmth and good nature.

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His reds are beautifully balanced, bursting with bright cherry fruit, gentle spice and pure mineral length. In Walter Speller’s recent write up of his Top Tuscan Wines on jancisrobinson.com he picked both Boscarelli’s 2009 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and their Riserva 2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in his top five from that area.

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And then to Montalcino. There has already been a lot of hype in the press about the 2007 vintage in Tuscany, which is clearly very good, but the 2006 Riservas also extremely impressive. We have worked with an exceptional trio of Brunello producers for some years now and our first stop was to Salvioni’s tiny cellar in the heart of the village. His style is all about power and complexity, the 2007 is a real “tour de force” and the best news is that we may have secured a small additional parcel of his delicious 2005.

Poggio di Sotto has recently been taken over so the future is a little uncertain. The new owners appear committed to maintaining Piero Palmucci’s philosphy and standards, and the cellar master currently remains the same, so fingers crossed as these have always been some of the most extraordinary wines we sell. A stunning trio: Rosso 2008, Brunello 2007 and the crowning glory, a sublime Brunello Riserva 2006.

And last, but very much not least, up to see our great friends the Sestis at Castello di Argiano. Another impressive tasting, the word that crops up over and over in my notes is “pleasurable”. Bravo Giugi!

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Supper is Lardo di Collonato (pork fat cured for months with rosemary, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cloves, aniseed, sage and oregano in basins made of Carrara marble), an unfeasibly delicious Ribollita, wild boar stew followed by pears and pecorino. Utterly simple, utterly delicious. The Sesti family’s warmth and hospitality radiates through everything they do. We go to bed in charmingly restored rooms over the winery, tired but very content.