Taking the kids to the movies can be more than just fun; a few weeks ago I ran into Martino Manetti at the Saturday Afternoon matinee in Greve in Chianti, and he told me he'd be presenting the new releases and a few other things on the following Sunday. So I drove over, arriving (intentionally) late in the afternoon, by which time Martino was frazzled, but the crush of people had died down enough to make a tour of the cellars, with the cement fermentation tanks, botti, and a few barriques quite pleasant, and also to allow one to taste under relaxed conditions.
The wines? Martino's father Sergio was never one to follow the dictates of others; he was one of the first to make a Sangiovese in Purezza, leaving the Chianti Classico Consorzio because such a thing was not contemplated at the time by the rules governing Chianti (and for a variety of philosophical differences, mostly regarding quality control and the introduction of new techniques and varietals that he considered an "abomination" in Chianti -- and made sure I wrote it down), and he built his reputation as a winemaker on an unwavering dedication to finesse and elegance. Following his death a few years ago, I wondered what direction Montevertine would take, especially since some of the wine press thought they should "improve" their wines through increased concentration and richness, but Martino has chosen to stay the course Sergio charted, and the wines continue to revolve around finesse and elegance rather than power.
So I more or less knew what to expect when I arrived. What was a pleasant surprise was the older bottles of a number of wines, especially a 1995 that was likely underrated when it came out. Getting down to specifics:
Bianco di Montevertine 2006 Toscana IGT
This is a Trebbiano, and is pale brassy gold with brassy highlights, and has a moderately rich, fairly alcoholic bouquet with pronounced greenish accents and spice. Bracing and direct. On the palate it's clean, bright, and quite direct, with minerality and some citric fruit that flow into a clean fairly bitter mineral finish. A perfect wine for antipasti, cheesy or creamy first course dishes, and simple white meats. Delightful in its simplicity and the bottle will go very fast.
Pian Del Campolo 2005 Toscana IGT
Pale ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is brisk, with lively cherry fruit supported by raspberry acidity, with dusky bitter accents that add depth. Young and bracing; it brings to mind a teen in first bloom, and the Italian word would be acerbo, which can be a complement when applied to a young lady. On the palate it's bright, and a touch sweeter than I had expected, with bright cherry raspberry fruit supported by clean raspberry acidity and smooth sweet tannins. Quite pleasant as a food wine, and is blessed with lively acidity that will make it perfect with succulent grilled meats; the smoothness of the tannins will allow it to work well with spicier seasonings, while the acidity is such that it will also be nice with fried meats and vegetables. It will go quite quickly in the proper setting, and if you like this style, which is a step into the past, when acidities were bright and smoothness not the goal, you will like it very much.
Pian Del Campolo Toscana IGT 2004
Pale ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, with fairly intense greenish accents and spice mingled with red berry fruit and dappled shade, with berry fruit acidity that provides depth and support. Inviting. On the palate it's clean, bright, and smooth, with powerful berry fruit supported by clean bitter tannins that flow into a clean sour berry fruit finish with bitter accents. A pleasant, very traditional food wine that will go very well with hearty legume-based soups, meat-based pasta sauces, grilled meats, and light stews. By comparison with the 2005 it shows better balance, and this is because of the vintage.
Montevertine IGT Toscana 2004
Deep cherry ruby with bright cherry rim and black reflections. The bouquet is fairly rich, and young, with violets and floral accents mingling with sour cherry fruit, some acidity, spice, and underlying savory bitterness. Quite a bit going on. On the palate it's full, rich, and smooth, with bright cherry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins, while direction comes from bright sour cherry acidity, and it all flows into a clean sour cherry fruit finish with some bitter tannic underpinning. Beautiful harmony in a traditional key, and it will drink very well with foods now -- a thick porterhouse cut, or perhaps roast leg of lamb -- though it also has the capacity to age well for at least 5-8 years, and will reward those who wait.
Montevertine 2002 Toscana IGT
Pale garnet, and looks mature than one might have expected if one didn't take the wet, cold, rainy 2002 vintage into account. The bouquet is fairly intense and again mature, with balsamic accents mingling with menthol and berry fruit with underlying underbrush and spice; the overall impression is harmonious and nicely balanced in a cool weather key. On the palate it's full and smooth with bright cherry fruit supported by smooth tannins that are sweet on the outset, but lay a greenish wash over the tongue, and by and moderate acidity, with savory accents that flow into a clean slightly balsamic finish. Pleasant, and will drink well with simple meats, though I wouldn't hold it much longer because it's at its peak. I have often said that interesting wines can emerge from even the most dismal vintages, and here we have an example.
Montevertine IGT Toscana 1999
A magnum. It's deep almandine ruby with brownish black reflections and almandine rim. The bouquet is rich and mature, with strong savory accents mingled with berry fruit and sea breeze, and supported by warm balsamic acidity. Pleasant and inviting. On the palate it's rich and full, with bright slightly sour berry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have clean balsamic accents and flow into a clean savory finish. Quite elegant, and will add magic to a meal built around a steak or a hearty roast, e.g. leg of lamb. Should you happen upon a well kept bottle, grab it.
Going further back, Sergio labeled this wine as a Vino do Tavola and called it a Riserva, paying a fine because the term Riserva was supposed to be used for DOC wines only. But his certainly was a Riserva from a qualitative standpoint.
Montevertine Riserva VDT 1995
A magnum. Deep almandine with almandine rim. The bouquet is rich and chewy, with sour berry fruit supported by green leather and leaf tobacco with bracing underlying savory accents; it's quick to write about, but shows beautiful harmony and is very enjoyable to sniff. On the palate it's rich and powerful, with beautiful soft berry fruit supported by bright acidity and clean sweet tannins that flow into a clean fresh berry fruit finish. It's surprisingly young for a 95 Sangiovese, and shows great depth and elegance, attracting attention without raising its voice. Beauty in a glass.
Le Pergole Torte IGT Toscana 2000
A magnum. Lively almandine ruby with almandine rim and black-brown reflections. The bouquet is rich, and elegant, with wet leather mingled with some underbrush and berry fruit. Considerable depth, and is doesn't display the heat many central Tuscan 2000 wines do. On the palate it's full and rich, with languid berry fruit -- cherry plum -- supported by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a clean plum finish. Quite elegant, though the advanced ripeness that comes with heat is evident in the plum accents of the fruit and in a relative lack of acidity, which carries into a long finish. Obviously from a less-than-perfect vintage, but the languor of the wine is pleasant, and it does give one a come-hither sort of look.
Le Pergole Torte IGT Toscana 2004
Lively cherry ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is rich, powerful, and young, with bright cherry fruit supported by clean berry fruit acidity, peppery spice, and some cedar, while there are also youthful floral accents that are in the process of folding into the bouquet. Youth in a glass, but a smiling youth with great potential. On the palate it is again quite young, with bright berry fruit supported by clean sweet tannins that have slight youthful cedary overtones and flow into a clean fresh finish. It's a babe in swaddling clothes, who hasn't yet begun to toddle, but the potential is definitely there. In short, a wine that's well worth seeking out and setting aside for a special occasion in 5-8 year's time; expect it to age well for a decade or more. The score reflects the present, not what it will become.
Bottom Line: Beautiful wines that revolve around elegance and finesse, and that invite you to refill your glass. What more could a person ask for?
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