My Top Tuscan Wines 2019
The Scenery in Tuscany is what first hits you, it is drop dead gorgeous, add to that, world class wines and I cannot think of anywhere better suited for a quick wine trip. Time was short, and so I mixed both known and unknown wineries into the mix, different regions, and varietals in the hope to show the full variety that lies within Tuscany. My full report which rates just under 50 wines, is a showcase to the true excellence which is currently being produced in Tuscany. Over 90% of the wines scored about 90 points, and real value can be found within the region. What really impressed me on this trip, was the length to which certain wineries were going to ensure all of their wines from entry-level to all the way to the top was of excellent quality. In terms of how 2016 was showing, it certainly gives 2015 a run for its money, both were similar in terms of quality, yet were structurally very different. I have a preference towards the 2016, yet both are fantastic vintages.
Variety within a region always exists, and no matter where you are in the world, you will always find variety from the grapes to the vineyards and finally to the cellar. I was expecting significantly less in Tuscany, I can't answer why, yet it was just an expectation. How I was wrong!
Two regions in Tuscany located just 20 minutes apart are Panzano and Radda. Panzano is much hotter than Radda, and hence the wines tend to be bolder, with stronger tannins, and a stronger fruit profile, here is where I visited Fontodi. Radda on the other hand is higher in altitude, and hence produces a lighter and more elegant style of wine. This is where I visited Vignavecchia and Montemaggio. Just 20 minutes drive, yet two completely different styles of wine. Fantastic!
Heading to Montalcino and Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona and Casanova di Neri, showed once again two completely different styles of Brunello. Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona felt more traditional, using older barrels, longer aging. Casanova di Neri tasted more youthful, yet with a fantastic fruit profile, tannin quality and clean finish. Finally, Ornellaia in Bolgheri which showcases Bordeaux blends, that can honestly stand up to some of the best wines in Bordeaux.
So where was I most impressed? Everywhere.
Firstly, the smaller producers of Vignavecchia and Montemaggio, who I class as under the radar producers, easily outclassed some larger wineries. Followed by, Fontodi who produce wines for the cellar, with fantastic concentration, depth and character. Next is Casanova di Neri, who seem to be doing everything right! This includes using an optical sorter, to ensure they only select the highest quality grapes. The 2014 Brunello really showed the importance of this sorter, and produced one, if not the top 2014 Brunellos. Finally their optical sorter is being used on all grapes whether they are destined for their Rosso or their Cerretalto. Finally Ornellaia, which for such a young winery is already showing how to produce wines which rival Bordeaux legends. Their 2016 is my top scoring wine of this trip, and has the potential to be one of the best Ornellaia wines they have every produced.
So with this, here are my Top Tuscany Wines 2019:
Ornellaia 2016 - 98 points
Dark ruby in colour, the nose had lush ripe blackberry fruits, along with thyme, violets, black pepper, cedar and spice. The palate was lush, concentrated and complete, with blackcurrant compote, dusty chocolate, espresso with light cedar and spice, the tannins are so pure and whilst the palate is nicely round the finish is clean, precise, elegant and long. Pure elegance and perfection. Wait 10 years for perfection. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot.
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto 2013 - 97 points
I always enjoy the Cerratalto and this vintage is no exception. Aromas of berry fruit, black tea and crushed stone. The palate was rich and medium-bodied with blackberries, blackcurrants, florals and allspice, there was a stony-mineral texture which could be felt dancing on the palate, along with velvety/dusty yet structured tannins finishing with a long and elegant finish. This needs a few more years, however, the potential as always can be seen early on.
Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT 2015 - 96 points
This is a real stunner and shows the quality of what the Sangiovese grape is capable of. This is made of 100% Sangiovese, sourced from the best of the Fontodi vineyards and aged for 24 months. I found aromas of violets, lavender, wild herbs, mushrooms and dark fruit which lead to a wonderfully velvety palate of rich sweet blackcurrant and cherries, nicely woven muscular yet polished tannins, crushed stones, chocolate, black pepper and a touch of spice. This finish was lasting and long. This is already nicely approachable, however, I would not want to open this for another 8-10 years where I know it would be even better!
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2015 - 95 points
An early preview of the Casanova di Neri BdM 2015 shows how strong the 2015 vintage will be! Slightly darker red in the glass compared to the 2014, aromas of dark red and black tree fruits filled the nose along with, violets and a little tobacco. The palate felt rich and enticing, with dusty black cherries, currants, strawberries and a touch of fig and spice, the tannins were beautifully pure and structured, the finish clean, elegant and long. I feel this will become one of the top BdM of 2015, along with the selection process which has been going on here since 2014, the wines tend to be more and more pure, clean. Impressed.
Fattoria Vignavecchia Raddese Rosso di Toscana IGT 2000 - 94 points
Always a treat to taste an older wine, the cork came out perfectly and looked in good shape, the nose had aromas of slightly cooked cherries, fresh earth, thyme, lavender and tar. The palate was medium and still had fantastic freshness, great acidity and concentration, with clean baked cherries, currents, dried florals along with a persistent and clean finish. 100% Sangiovese
Fattoria di Montemaggio Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 - 93 points
A lot more concentration on the nose of baked fruits, figs, raisins and dried violets. The palate showed a good concentration of fruit along with freshness and bright acidity with an underlining of chocolate, fresh earth and mint lead to a lean and clean finish. Blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot
I hope you guys can go and pick up some of the above bottles!