Tuscany Uncorked: 2003 Castellare I Sodi DI S.Niccolo Toscana

"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble", 19th-century humorist Josh Billings remarked, "It's the things we know that just ain't so." 

One thing, I like to think I know; is how to pick winners and losers when it comes to wine. It does not matter if it's a varietal, I've never experienced before or a wine that is very familiar and or common place. Because once you've built a tasting frame work or foundation, you start to see patterns [or at least I do] and from this, the rather easy ability to give the thumbs up or down.

That said, I've finally uncorked a Tuscan treasure, I brought back from my first trip to Italy back in 2008. Wow, folks this wine is as good or perhaps even better than the day we purchased it while visiting Castellina in Chianti. A great little town to visit within the heart of the Chianti Classico area, replete with upscale restaurants in town, a modest but fun to see wine museum, a castle to climb into and a overall easy going laid back atmosphere to soak up the beauty of the Tuscan country side.

Mrs. Cuvee and I stayed on a vineyard right outside of town, about a stones-throw from Castellare di Castellina and just a short jaunt into town.  We were there in September, right before the harvest and oh-man was it humid like a San Diego August often can be. If you don't mind the heat, it's a great time to go, experience the harvest first hand, pick a few grapes yourself, along with plenty of opportunities to slurp down a lot wonderful styles of Sangiovese. If you happen to find yourself in the Tuscan region, tooling around the country side, looking for a great wine tasting experience, Castellare in Chianti is a wine destination which demands your attention. I wanted to bring back more of these wines, but between Mrs. Cuvee's stern glare and my burgeoning suit case I had to settle for just one bottle [sigh]. We tasted so many well made, layered and complex wines in their modern, well maintained, tasting room that day, it was a shame I couldn't bring more back with me.

Looking back at the details about this wine, this tasty blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Malvasia Nera appears to be their flagship wine and for good reason. This wine has made the Wine Speculator Top 100 wines list on numerous occasions and has even wowed the Cellar Tracker crowd, with an average score of 92.3 points. So when I slapped this bottle with 93 points, I see my score is in fine company. By the way their highly touted and high-scoring 2005 is available at the Mission Valley Costco for about $58, if I recall correctly, just a couple of cases in stock though.

This wine is completely shot through, with layers of complexity, that were only unwound and worked out in a two hour decanter session. On the nose, brilliant ripe plum notes, meaty earth and florals were abundant. After the first slurp, the
dried spices and flowers, red currant, dark ripe plum, shot through with unsweetened but very subtle black licorice, while this wine wonderfully, full-bodied, plush velvety tannins, there is abundant rich, ripe and yet delightfully complex fruit found in the first sip and the last drop. Again, this wine is another of those bottles in which you wish you had purchased the magnum.  I hope you find a few of these bottles for yourself in the near future, to see what I'm talking about, until next time sip long and prosper, cheers!


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