The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Castello dei Rampolla and Fontodi

Posted on | March 17, 2016 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

CamachoEarly on in my wine career I learned that Super-Tuscan wines are made in Toscana with non-indigenous grapes like Merlot and Cabernet. Because there is some truth to this, I had a common misconception that a Super Tuscan is always a Bordeaux-style blend. However, that is not always the case. Some Super Tuscans are made from 100% indigenous grapes such as Sangiovese, and others are Bordeaux blends, while still others blend international grapes and Sangiovese.

Super Tuscan winemakers are rebels who began breaking the DOC and DOCG rules in the 1960s. While DOC regulations help maintain the quality of Italian wine, there were winemakers that did not want to follow the rules and kept making wine in their own ways. But breaking the DOC rules meant that the wines had to be labeled simply Vino da Tavola, a low rating.  Fast-forward to the late 70’s, when American wine journalists decided to taste these controversial, supposedly awful wines. What they found were wines that were full-bodied and more intense, aged in French barrique instead of the traditional Slavonia barrel; they immediately fell in love. The journalists were so impressed with the wines that they could not call them simply “Vino da Tavola,” so they created a term they heard being used by the local rebel wine makers. Super-Tuscan wines were born.

In honor of the Tuscan rebels I would like to recommend two Super-Tuscan wines. One made of 100% Sangiovese, while the other has international grapes. Both offer astonishing Tuscan terroir and quality.

Castello dei Rampolla 2006 Sammarco $74.99

Near the town of Panzano in heart of Tuscany, Castello dei Rampolla has been making wine as far back as the thirteenth century. Sammarco is the original biodynamic Super Tuscan, and the estate pioneered the Tuscan blend by producing world-class wines. The 2006 Sammarco is a beautiful deep ruby color with a nose full of ripe red cherries followed by earth, spice and slight notes of balsamic and smoke. The palate is full, rich and opulent, showing minerals and grippy tannins that dance together, and it ends in a smooth elegant finish. Drink now to 2024.

Fontodi 2012 Flaccianello $119.00

Located in Chianti Classico, Tenuta Fontodi can track its origins back to the sixteenth century, and its Flaccianello is one of the first mono-varietal Super Tuscans made using the indigenous Sangiovese grape. First produced in 1981, Flaccianello quickly gained super status. The 2012 is deep and dark in appearance full with aromas of plum and licorice; with a bit of air, it gives way to notes of cedar and spice, followed by slight herbal and olive tones. The palate is silky and sexy, exuding elegance with a balanced mouth feel and tannins that seem to linger forever. Drink 2018 to 2030.



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