Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ISG Level 2, Tuscany, Froscobaldi vs Dievole

I've been writing for almost one year, and still I haven't really explained what ISG school is like.

     Well, level 1 was much harder then I expected it to be. Some of you may remember that I had the great honor of studying under DJ Kearney ( www.internationalsommelier.com/services/dj_kearney ). Well that was an honor and a challenge! She knew we were a small class of motivated sommeliers-to-be and so she pushed and prodded us to find greater depths within (the glass). We succeeded, and I have her to thank.

     Most people walk out of Level 1 and walk straight into Level 2. I did not. I took 6 months to study, sip, take notes, and drink some more... I am extremely glad that I did. Every class (one per week) is a lecture of 3.5 hours that could easily become 8 hours or longer. In my next class we will talk about Piedmonte, Veneto, Tuscany & all of Southern Italy.
      Are you serious?

     Oh yes... they're serious. All of that in 3 hour with 6 blind tastings at the end. And so, one is forced to study about a couple of hours a day to keep up, and stay ahead, of the lectures. I have been miserable at staying ahead, but am working my utmost. Hence the Tuscan wine tonight and a glimpse into what ISG is like; it most assuredly is alot of work, but if one has the motivation, it is also an incredible opportunity to open one's eyes to the wide world of wine.

     If one talks about Tuscany, one talks about the wine region of Chianti... please forgive me as I try my best to explain tonight's studying. Chianti was not always Chianti... it was the Grand Duke of Tuscany (Cosimo III de Medici) who created one of the first wine regions in the world in 1716. Though the wines then were praised for their easy-drinking and rich flavors, less then 100 years ago Chianti was known for insipid red wines that "showed aggressive acidity".

     It was the owners of Sassicaia vineyard ( http://www.sassicaia.com/ ) who turned everything upside-down. From an area outside of the DOC or DOCG, they started producing a wine in the 1960s that showed greatness was still in the soil of Tuscany. They were the forefathers of the "Super Tuscan". A resurgence to the area followed, and now we are the ones to reap the rewards as we tipple into our glasses for yet some more fruity goodness.

2008 Remole, Tuscano
12.5% ABV, $18 CAD **Very Good Value**
central Tuscany, 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon blend
soil type: sand and clay
  • visual:     clean; light garnet core with slight pale cherry rim
  • nose:      clean; moderate+ intense youthful and somewhat layered aromas of cherry blossoms, raspberry, red currants, funky barnyard oak, vanilla, slightly hot alcohol
  • palate:     clean; 0 dryness, moderate+ crisp acids, moderate slightly grippy tannins, moderate body, moderately intense fresh and youthful flavors; cherry blossoms, raspberries, red currants dominate with a solid oak backbone and a light floral finish. Good balance, good structure, medium length of finish.
  • conclusion:   an easy drinking wine to drink now (2011 to 2013). Decant for one hour for best results - I found it tight to start and needed time to relax.
  • PAIRS WITH:   charcuterie. Don't let the French name fool you - it's all Italian (as well); plates loaded with sausages, hunks of cheese, fresh bread and fruit compotes or mustard. Bon Appetito!

2006 Nipozzano Riserva, Chianti Rufina DOCG
13.5% ABV, $28 CAD **Very Good Value**
Soil type: Dry and stony, with clay, limestone
90% Sangiovese with complementary grapes (Malvasia nera, Colorino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • visual:     clean; moderately intense garnet core with light cherry rim
  • nose:     clean; moderately intense youthful bouquet showing some age and layering; ripe cherries, raspberry, red currant, blackberry, spicy edges of white pepper, funky barnyard oak, vanilla florals, slightly hot alcohol
  • palate:      clean, 0 dryness, moderate+ red currant acids, moderate+ green grippy tannins, moderate+ body, moderate+ intense flavors showing some age and development; red currant and raspberry dominate followed closely by solid oak presence, limestone terroir, end palate of blackberry lightly touched by vanilla and florals. Good balance, very good structure, long length on the palate
  • conclusion:   This wine is just coming into its own. Drink 2011 to 2015 and possibly further... I would love to see the crisp red berries turn to dark berries and tar notes
  • PAIRS WITH:   crisp acids call for fats. I would use a wine like this with foie gras (au torchon), truffle and fresh bread. The acids in the wine will play off the fat in the foie gras, the earthy truffle will play up notes in the wine's terroir and barrique aging and the bread is just good.

2004 Dievole Chianti Classico DOCG
13.5% ABV, N/A in Canada, $25 USD **Very Good Value**
Soil: marl, alberese, and calcareous
  • visual:     clean; deep ruby core with defined cherry rim
  • nose:    clean; moderate+ intense aromas showing age and development; rich coffee, plums, cherry, raspberry, vanilla, tar
  • palate:   clean, 0 dryness, moderate red currant acids, moderate+ to full chewy tannins, moderate body, moderate+ intense palate showing age and development; bright cherry, raspberry and especially red currant initially, followed by vanilla oak, bruised irises, cherry blossoms at the end. Good balance, wonderful structure and a long finish.
  • conclusion:   Drink now. This wine is coming to the end of a beautiful life; drink 2011-2012. Fresh fruit flavors are already dying out and will not last another 2 years (I imagine)
  • PAIRS WITH:   Sundried tomato and smoked chicken farfalle with browned butter sauce and fresh peas. Yum.

     If 4 hours of research has taught me anything, it is that Tuscany (and Chianti of course) is capable of a great many things... this is why some call it the Bordeaux of Italy! Crisp vibrant and acidic wines to drink young in the heat and some more mature blends worthy of cellaring for 10 years or more. How do you know which is which? Unless you have alot of time to Google, you'll just have to try a few!

CIN CIN ~!!!   SLAINTE ~!!!   CHEERS ~!!!

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