Monday, March 12, 2007

New Montevertine Releases

First: give credit where credit is due. Eric Asimov wrote about Montevertine in his blog about a year ago, and his profile of the producer really spoke to me, the late Sergio Manetti and his son Martino. Why? They seem to make wine to the beat of their own drum, rejecting the obvious road to higher profits and instead delivering wines according to their own vision, a graceful expression of their grapes and soil. Their wines are elegant and lovely, sometimes intense, but not the powerful meaty heavyweight bombs that garner the higher scores from Wine Spadvocator.

I love people who reject authority, so I am biased in this producer's favor, but if you have tasted any of Montevertine's wines, I suspect that you will see that my bias is meaningless - the wines are just great, impossible not to like.

According to Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book, there hasn't been an excellent vintage in Tuscany since 1999. 2000 and '01 saw some excellent bottles but wines were irregular, '02 was a washout, and '03 was the heatwave year, with late ripening grapes (and I suspect Sangiovese is not late ripening, but I am not sure - anyone?) doing well according to Johnson. 2004 seems to have been a pretty good year.

My first taste of Montevertine wine was the 2002 Pian del Ciampolo and I really liked it, light and graceful but intense, like a good Pinot. I had this wine a few more times and liked it so much that I splurged on a few bottles of the 2001 Montevertine, the second level wine. This was just outstanding, and I have a few bottles sleeping in the cellar. The 2003 Pian del Ciampolo was also quite nice, but it didn't hook me like the 2002.

Chambers Street just put the new Montevertine wines on the shelves, the 2004 Pian del Ciampolo and the 2002 Montevertine. The Le Pergole Torte too, but at almost $90 a bottle, I just can't go there (I think). So I grabbed a few bottles of each, and popped one tonight with the last of our yummy spaghetti and meatballs.

2004 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo, $21.
Clear ruby, straight to the rim. Focused nose of spices - cinnamon? Baking spices? There are also herbs and treebark on the nose, some dark fruit and roasted meat underneath. What a nose! Really interesting and lovely. The palate goes in a different direction. Juicy plums all the way, some cherry cola, some herbs, and a lingering fruit finish with nice acidity. There are some pleasant tannins that are well integrated already. This wine doesn't have the grace of the 2002, or the leathery earth of the 2003. But it is elegant, particularly on the nose, and it is more exuberantly fruity and fresh tasting than either of its predecessors. At 12.5% alcohol and $21, I would be happy to drink this wine quite often.

I may have to commit the sin of opening the second wine, the 2002 Montevertine, just to taste it, although it should probably age for at least 5 more years in order to truly shine. I'll let you know how that goes...

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