The Grace of Sangiovese

The Grace of Sangiovese

Written by Claire Paparazzo

The Tuscan landscape is pure magic: The sunrise over a terra cotta village, the olive trees holding their place observing history, and not to mention the wine—these are some of the reasons this region is a favorite.

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One of our members set the theme this week. She fell in love with the region after seeing the Tuscan landscape in movies—she had to go check it out for herself, and the beauty kept her going back to visit for many years to follow.

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After recounting the memories of Tuscany, we moved into the heart of wine production, to Chianti. Some may instantly flash an image of the Chianti in the basket, a mere table wine—this used to be the norm. Although you may first think of the wine called Chianti, it is actually also a place, and it is here that Sangiovese used to be blended with the white grapes Malvasia and Trebbiano. The rules of Chianti Classico changed, while still allowing lesser-known native red grapes (Canaiolo, Colorino etc) to be blended with Sangiovese. Constantly evolving,—in part because of consumer demand and in part because of families like Antinori in the mid 70’s-- Bordeaux varieties helped to create the ever-popular ‘Super Tuscan’ wines. To blend or not to blend has become the question. Are you an outlier if you choose to not blend? Are you more authentic if you blend with native grapes? These are the questions of modern day Tuscany.

In my early days of wine I recall seeking out Montevertine winery’s Le Pergole Torte, made from 100% Sangiovese. This wine made me stop in my tracks, because of the balance of available red berry fruit without a jammy note, and because of the silky elegance on the palate. Bypassing the tradition of blending required by law, the winery made one of the first Super Tuscans produced in the Radda in Chianti in 1981 . Originally labeled as a simple table wine, it was upgraded to the IGT in 1998 (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)—a winning classification for these quality producers who chose to navigate their desires against the formal tradition. I never really cared that the wine was labeled as a table wine – when the wine speaks so clearly to you, its classification simply doesn’t matter. I have always thought that the labels of Le Pergole Torte, designed by the artist Alberto Manfredi, are reminiscent of a Pucci dress, or of an elegant woman in a Pucci dress. Coincidentally, Emilo Pucci was an Italian designer who was born in Naples but who lived and worked in Florence, the capital city of Tuscany, for the remainder of his life. I would say he was a leader in showing functionality with his clothing design—ready-to-wear function meets grace. Le Pergole Torte’s first vintage was 1977, and I see a parallel to a designer’s collection of clothing laid out before you in a show room, to the vintages of this wine with captivating labels, each one different and representing a new year, a new wine, like the unfolding of fabric to the unfolding layers of the wine.

 

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Photo: © 2020 Vinous Media LLC

 

Evening dresses from the "Vivace" Spring Summer Collection; 1967
Emilio Pucci Archive, Florence

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Wines from our tasting:

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Berardenga 2016: Felsina is a benchmark producer in Chianti. This producer is among the camp of not blending, and they never use international varietals. Here in the Berardenga bottling we see 100% Sangiovese. This was the favorite in the tasting this week, and I was surprised—I thought the heft of the Super Tuscan would win, but the grace of Sangiovese here shines through. Some notes were tart cherry fruit and leather on the palate. Some tomato and dark berry on the nose. This wine benefitted from air—as the tasting went on, we saw the wine keep evolving in front of us. By the end this was clearly the winner.

Ornellaia, Le Volte Dell’Ornellaia Toscana 2017: Le Volte is the second wine of Ornellaia. 2017 was a hot vintage. The aroma is more stewed fruit and smoky undertones, while the palate is playful—the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese work well together and have some dusty tannin structure. Some of these savory notes conjured images of Tuscan beef stew with crusty bread, and the Tuscan landscape to tie the whole dream together.

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If you would like to buy these two wines please contact Shiraz Noor at Acker Wines. LBV Social Club members get a discount through our partnership!

 

Claire Paparazzo is an LBV Social Club member who also leads some of the Club's wine tastings. This is her reflection on the tasting that took place on July 22nd, 2020. Find her on Instagram at @clairepaparazzo and @wineifyouwantto.

 

First photo: © 2020 In Between Pictures

 

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