The year 2014 kicked off with the 'polar vortex' and sub zero temperatures all throughout the GTA, some of us in the wine trade had been fortunate enough to attend wine seminars and luncheons with visiting wine makers and export managers from abroad. This past January 23rd, I had the fortune of attending a delicious 3 hour luncheon showcasing the wines of Caparzo of Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany) at Tutti Matti | Ristorante Toscana.
A few food writers and wine buyers headed down to the warm environs of Tutti Matti, for a 4 course tuscan themed lunch prepared by Chef Alida Solomon. We tasted several wines from the Caparzo portfolio, all presented by the proprietor herself, Elisabetta Gnudi. The event was staged to celebrate and introduce the fact that one of the Caparzo entry level wines was selected as the LCBO Vintages Winter Wine. A 3 month promotion that awards 1 winery from 100's of wines submitted to be represented in 275 LCBO stores across the GTA. The wine selected was a 2011 Sangiovese IGT Toscana - a blend of Sangiovese, with Alicante, Petit Verdot and Merlot. The grapes being sourced from individual vineyards from the Caparzo triad of estates located in Chianti, Brunello and Scansano. Borgo Scopeto (Chianti), Caparzo (Montalcino) and Doga delle Clavule (Maremma) - represented by the three roses and three lillies in the crest pictured below.
The following is a brief summary of the wines we tasted and a few notes. Wines can be purchased from the Ontario Agents : The Case For Wine. Lloyd Evans and Terry Milne.
2011 Caparzo Sangiovese IGT Toscana - blend of Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Alicante. $12.95 Vintages LCBO. Note: this value to quality wine of a youthful intensity showed classic cherry and red fruit notes, with some red apple skin. A subtle vanilla underlining earthy and warm spice notes translated on the palate to a fresh, med body wine. The sweet red cherry fruit and apple giving moderate complexity. Good value for the money.
2005 Le Grance IGT Toscana - blend of 80% Chardonnay, 15% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Gewürztraminer. The first vintage of this 'burgundian styled' white wine was in 1985. Sourced from a north facing slope in a vineyard situated in the northern quadrant of the Brunello appellation. The philosophy is to make a wine from Tuscany with burgundian feel and the capacity to age. I cannot comment on the burgundian reference as I have not tasted enough to make a sound judgement but I can say that the wine was elegant and well structured. On the nose the use of oak was present but judicious with Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer giving a combination of high tone citrus, lemon rind, ripe stewed pear, with orange pith and a subtle florality. Celery and fennel fronds, nut and biscuit aroma led to a palate of moderate acidity, soft texture and a balance that was pleasing based on the blend. This 2005 showed well and should develop more complex aroma over time.
2010 Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico - 95% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino. A decidedly more plush and rich styled Classico, with classic Sangiovese flavour indicative of the southern hills of Siena. I felt the nice warm cherry, berry and dusty leather nose so familiar with classic sangiovese, though some notes of darker berry emerged. Suggesting that I may have got the Colorino wrong for what might be a touch of Merlot. As for the flavour profile, dry, with firm fine grained tannin, wrapped around red berry fruit, cherry, vanilla, and fennel/liquorice. I would say a very polished and pleasing wine.
2008 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - 100% Sangiovese. This Brunello displayed an intense nose of red cherry and berry, red apple skin to an uplifting floral , rose like perfume which quickly moved into more leafy, earthy and mineral tones. As a mouthful the wine had great structure exemplified by good acidity and great tannin. The fruit on this wine was riper and sweet strawberry, tart cherry, vanilla spiced to chard, fennel, tea leaf and bay leaf highlights. Certainly a full bodied red, with great complexity.
La Casa is the label for the 'cru' single vineyard plot in the north of the Brunello appellation. I had the pleasure of tasting 4 older vintages of Caparzo's top wine.
2008 La Casa Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Immediately showing dark black cherry, intense in colour and aroma, still with vanilla and oak lingering from the wines release from barrel. Overall, an interesting herbed and candied amaro profile, switching to bold fruit with a richness that will resolve itself over time.
2006- La Casa Brunello di Montalcino DOCG comes from a 5 star vintage that was warmer for Tuscany overall the producers located in the south would have full flavoured higher alcohol wines, but great for the producers in the cooler top end of the appellation for elegance and power. Here is where Caparzo makes it mark. Cherry, full fruit berry, black currant, floral, rose, leather, to an iron and sanguine feel, star anise, fennel seed, earth, with balsamic notes. The palate reflects this complexity with firm tannin and acidity to hold a the components of red fruit berry, currants, bitter cherry, and bitter chocolate.
2004 La Casa Brunello di Montalcino DOCG goes a step further, still with more time to evolve and develop. Cherry, raspberry and tart fruit, over wood aroma of birch bark, root herbs. There was fennel and rhubarb stem. On the palate bitter and sweet black cherry, black and red currant, leather and earthy with similar house style of herbed and mineral amaro on the back palate and finish.
2000 La Casa Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - still showing it richness of dry vanilla and dusted barrel, but with complex and developed aroma, tea, leather, coffee bean, dry cherry with pepper and turned leaf aroma. Again a notion of root, amaro and birch bark of sorts. The palate shrilled with acidity, tannin and similar flavours of leather, spice, cinnamon, roasted game meats, torrified coffee beans. Certainly a wine Brunello/Sangiovese lovers should taste, we drink our Brunello wines far too young. Give them a chance and the magic will happen.
So concludes some notes on a fantastic producer tasting way back in the depths of January.