Under the Tuscan Sun: 2008 Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo [update]
Oh my, I heartily concur with that thought. This is one of my all-time favorite wine producing regions in the world called; Toscana, Italy. Well known for many things like fab-food, Chianti Classico, Brunello and an array of fantastic olive oils.
It's also home the now iconic Super-Tuscan. A style of wine that it has been said has "broken the mold" of traditionalism and whose winemakers were billed as daring risk-takers, while the wines themselves screamed experimentation.
Many will argue that Super Tuscans are not a wine that shows "place" and perhaps you'll even be invited to an unsolicited rant about terroir. The retort back is of course, yes you are right, that's why they call them "super" as they supersede the boundaries of tradition, while still giving homage to their Tuscan roots.
This style of wine is a blend of non-native varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah with Tuscany's native grape Sangiovese often playing a minor role.These wines were forced to be labeled Vino da Tavola [table-wine]. Most folks find that this wine lean, a bit more toward being a fruit forward style of Chianti in character and flavor.
Boy do I love this place, I spent just a little over a week there ten years ago during the harvest and man-o-man it was hot and muggy. Perhaps not the best time of the year to visit, but a trip to the Chianti region is one I would highly recommend anyone who would love to get a first-hand peek behind the Chianti-Curtain.
Italians are very friendly and welcoming of guests, producers of Brunello really "get" the touristy New World approach in creating the tasting room experience and have made getting around in Montalcino so much more comfortable than their counterparts in the Chianti Classico [my experience]. I guess the main takeaway here is to please make an appointment and then expect some overwhelming hospitality. If using GPS, I would recommend using the latitude and longitude for finding exact locations, as addresses don't seem to mean as much as they do in the states.
Still, my wife and I loved nearly every second of it, as with anything "new" there's that period of adjustment, which can take a vacation from the sublime one moment and give you anxiety attack in the next second. I liken it to a "cherry" [newbie] flying low over St Mere Eglise DZ in a C-130 Hercules for the first time, with the Jump-Master up in-their-grill, screaming to get the bleepity-bleep off his plane, if you've been there, you get the picture.
It's no wonder the young lady checking in at the rental desk ahead of us was howling with crocodile tears after being informed that her vehicle did not come with GPS. Only after my trip was over, recalling my own experiences driving in Italy for the first time did I truly appreciate and understand her plight all the more. In thinking about some of my own experiences; I would use them as a voice of caution and not a roadblock to your wine-swirling adventures abroad.
Now regarding what makes a "Super-Tuscan" so super and what they are all about, honestly there are plenty of resources on the web to find this info so I won't be going into the detail here. Simply put, Super-Tuscans are brilliant Italian wines found with the IGT classification. If you want to read more on the subject, I did cover this topic with a little more depth on a previous article entitled, "Putting the Super in Super Tuscans."
I also wanted to point you to a site [Tuscany and Wine] that has the skinny on the subject, so click here for the details. I also came across another interesting article which you should take a look at, seeing that it has been about a decade since the rise of the "Super-Tuscan." The author Lettie Teague [WSJ] takes a look back to discover that the once highly-prized and sought-after wine is perhaps a victim of its own popularity and maybe in decline.
Time for the review, seeing this wine while shopping a couple of weeks back I was really interested in giving it a swirl. It had a few good reviews and seemed very promising. So the wine in the review spotlight today is the 2008 Tenuta Sette Ponti "Crognolo."
Th Slurp Down: After more than an hour in my the decanter just before dinner, I poured myself a little splash and wow a beautiful ruby colored core from this Sangiovese [90%] and Merlot blend. Snuffing my fat half-Irish nose down into the glass, a bit of muted flavors of cassis, plum, tar and a shot of earthy tones, not impressive so far. Now time for a splashdown, nothing but silk and tight beam of ripe red and dark fruit flowing to the lush finish. It weighed in at 13% abv and will pair perfectly with any Tuscan themed entrees.
The Score: This wine will definitely improve with more time in the bottle,
five in 6 months to a year before I would recommend approaching again. This wine achieved a score of 84 92 points and gets the "why-bother" coveted, drink now and drink often recommendation. I panned this wine initially, but after opening the second bottle which I sat on for six months, I have to admit my initial impression was wrong. This is really fantastic juice. So yes folks I got it wrong, chock it up to bottle variation or jumping to conclusions it's your choice.
Price & Purchase: This wine can be purchased from a variety of online purveyors, who are selling about $35 most places, but I picked mine up at local San Diego Costco for somewhere south of $28 at their Morena location. This wine is well worth the price of admission, those hard-earned dollars would be well spent on this Tuscan Treasure. For best results, my advice would be to just lay this wine down for 6 months to a year, it will improve immensely.
Other Voices: Wine Speculator, had this to say about this wine, "Very silky and fine, with currants and berry on the nose and palate. Full-bodied, with a wonderful mouth-feel. Clean, fresh and direct" and scored it 92 points and went on to say, it Offers very, very pretty aromas of crushed berry and green coffee bean. Full-bodied, with super well-integrated tannins and a polished, caressing mouth-feel. Right on point!
That's it for today folks, stay tuned for the next post as a little spring is about to be sprung in the next review until next time sip long and prosper cheers!