The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Tua Rita and…Tua Rita!

Two expert selections from John Camacho Vidal

CamachoYou might think that if you taste wine made from French grapes you would encounter pretty much the same taste no matter where the wine comes from—after all, Merlot is Merlot and Cab Franc is Cab Franc. However, that is definitely not the case. Grapes adapt to their various terroir and regions and develop individual personalities that express unique aromas and flavor profiles.

One producer that will make you think differently about French grapes is Italy’s Tua Rita estate. Started in 1984 by husband and wife Rita Tua and Virgilio Bisti, this estate makes big, bold, rich Super Tuscans that have reached cult status. The organically farmed vineyards sit near the medieval town of Suvereto between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the upper Maremma in a region known as the Colline Metallifere, or Metalliferous hills. This location is of special note because, as you might guess from the name, it imparts an iron-like nuance to the aromatics of the wine and lends a delicious hint of salinity and minerality on the palate. Tua Rita makes its wines in small production, so they’re difficult to obtain, but their big personalities let you know that they are from Italy.

Tua Rita 2012 Giusto di Notri $79.99

This classic Bordeaux-style blend speaks Italian, and it has become the estate’s signature wine. The grapes come from the first vineyard that Rita and Virgiolio planted, and is a tribute to Justus, the patron saint of Suvereto. Composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, the wine ages for 18 months in new and once-used French oak barriques before bottling. The elegant nose is full of black fruit and spice, followed by hints of tobacco menthol and minirality. The palate is nice and full with noticeable fruit that gives way to silky tannins and a slight sweet wood on the finish. The 2012 bottle commemorates the wine’s 20th anniversary and bears a specially designed label. Drink 2016-2024.

Tua Rita 2013 Redigaffi $299.99

This is an intense Merlot that shows the full expression of the region with a nose that wants to explode from the glass. Red cherry, plum, black licorice and spice all meld together with slight hints of balsamic and smoky leather traits. The palate is spicy with grippy tannins and bright acidity and a hint of cedar and vanilla on a lingering finish. This single-vineyard Merlot, named after the stream that runs through the vineyard, is aged for 18-20 months in new French oak barriques before being bottled. Drink 2018-2032.

Inside IWM October 19-22, 2015: Hearts and Minds

A look back at the week that was

Grape vines at Tuscany's Tua Rita

Grape vines at Tuscany’s Tua Rita

Let’s begin at the ending and end at the beginning, because this week is all about appealing to hearts and minds. Julia Punj, who works at IWM Aspen, loves gin, so she wrote a post praising Sloe Gin. To win you over, she also included a trio of cocktails that feature this herbaceous liquor. John Camacho Vidal can’t tear himself away from Frappato, one of Sicilia’s emblematic wines, and his post on Valle dell’Acate’s 2014 bottling of its Frappato Vittoria will likely convince you to pick up a bottle (it’s under $22!). And Janice Cable visited Tua Rita, which she describes as the beating heart of Suvereto.

IWM’s experts were simlarly guided by their hearts and heads. Will Di Nunzio was reminded of the greatness of the wines of the Veneto, so he picked a pair of very affordable bottles from Venturini Massimino and Nicolis. Prompted by his love of Sangiovese, Michael Adler selected two very different bottlings that feature the Tuscan grape, including one value Rosso di Montepulciano. Crystal felt nostalgia about her family trips to Oregon, prompted by recent bottles from the Willamette Valley’s Soter Family Vineyards. And John Camacho Vidal found two recent Pinot Noir bottlings so compelling he had to write about them; Burgheads want to read this post.

Here’s to making choices based on what you love–especially when it comes to what’s in your glass!

The Heart of Suvereto, Tua Rita

You really can’t go wrong with Tua Rita

IMG_1445 The day I visited Tua Rita, the grass had just been cut, and the air was filled with the green of grass tinged with the pointy scent of wild scallions that grow in and among the grass. It was a day of bright blue skies, wispy white clouds, and the heat of springtime sun warming the earth from its long winter nap. It was an ideal day to visit Suvereto’s Tua Rita, a winery that is pure heart.

There’s a cheery, open disposition to the winery, from the shambling gate of the estate’s old dog to the down-to-earth guide, Francesca, who didn’t proffer a business card. Like Le Macchiole’s Cinzia Campolmi who runs the estate after her husband Eugenio’s death, Tua Rita’s eponymous Rita runs the winery that she started with her late husband, Virgilio. The estate is the epitome of the cliché “labor of love.” Everything about the estate feels like a business run by a family who really enjoys what they do.

IMG_1455The smell of the air seemed to match the relaxed, convivial visit that ended with Francesca’s expansive opening of the estate’s entire line of wines, and her drinking the Syrah. “It’s my favorite,” she said conspiratorially. “Don’t tell anyone.” But, really, how could I not? There’s a wink in her eye, and a wink in all that Tua Rita does. While the surface seems to be all fun and warm love, there’s also a steely resolve and a serious entrepreneurial work ethic at Tua Rita. The wines taste like the salt of the earth, and that only makes them sweeter and more engaging.

IMG_1443Tua Rita’s wines are always favorites of clients, critics, and just about anyone who drinks them. It’s not hard to see why; Tua Rita’s wines throw their arms open and welcome you to their ample bosoms. It’s not that they they lack finesse or complexity. Rather, it’s that pure, unadulterated, even giddy pleasure is at the foundation of these wines. They taste delicious, and they make you smile, even when you remember them years later.

IWM presented the new 2013 release of Redigaffi, Tua Rita’s Merlot in today’s eLetter. It’s going fast.

Inside IWM, June 15-18, 2015: Drink It Up!

A look back at the week that was

The author with Paolo Bea in Umbria

John Camacho Vidal with Paolo Bea in Umbria

IWM has always believed that when it comes to wine, knowledge is more than power: it’s enjoyment. This week our blog was dedicated to deepening your understanding and love of wine. We began with the second part in our Italian white grape discovery series, this one looking at grapes from Drupeggio to Grillo. We ended the week with Julia Punj’s spirited guide to the cocktail known as the “Flip.” (While these adult beverages aren’t wine, we want you to love what you drink, even cocktails!) In between, Michael Adler poured out his love for Frecciarossa’s under $20 Riesling sparkling wine, and John Camacho Vidal gave you a guide to get the most out of your winery visits.

Our Experts were similarly motivated. Looking toward Bolgheri, David Gwo picked two iconic Merlot wines that he loves, one from Le Macchiole and another from Tua Rita. Will Di Nunzio finds that, as much as he gets caught up in the spectacle of new releases, sometimes unusual, obscure wines with great back stories pull him to the glass. And Crystal Edgar let her first love, Bordeaux, be her guide in her selection of a pair of St. Emilion vintages from Château Pavie.

Here’s to knowing–and loving–what’s in your glass, whatever libation it may be!

Expert Picks: Le Macchiole and Tua Rita

Two expert selections from David Gwo

David Gwo 12.8.14Today our focus will be on Merlot coming from Tuscany’s Bolgheri region. Commonly referred to as one of the “Bordeaux” or “international” varietals, Merlot is one of the main grapes used in the red wine blends in both the Left and Right Banks of Bordeaux, as well as the famed region of Pomerol. Merlot is called an international varietal because, like Cabernet Sauvignon, it appears in many wine-producing regions around the world. Believe it or not, though, there are far fewer examples of exceptional Merlot as a single-varietal wine.

There are three top Italian Merlots coming out of Italy that immediately come to mind, they are: Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto, Tua Rita Redigaffi, and Le Macchiole Messorio. On its own Merlot can be rather mediocre, but a few places do extremely well with the grape, and Bolgheri happens to be one of them. My focus is on the 2009 vintage of Tua Rita and Le Macchiole. 2009 was a great year for the wines of Bolgheri, if you’ve yet to be impressed by Merlot, these bottles will not disappoint. If you can be patient, I’d encourage you to wait a bit before popping their corks; these wies will offer years of drinking pleasure down the road.

Le Macchiole 2009 Messorio $189.00

Le Macchiole is famous for its mono-varietal bottlings. While the estate’s entry-level Bolgheri Rosso is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, Le Macchiole’s other wines all focus on a single grape, and the Messorio is their flagship 100% Merlot offering. This wine is consistently great in every vintage displaying dark plummy fruit backed by notable structure and notes of earth, chocolate, and spice. This wine always possesses really terrific concentration and enters a great drinking window 5-8 years after the vintage date.

Tua Rita 2009 Redigaffi $299.00

Redigaffi is undoubtedly one of my favorite expressions of Merlot anywhere. The estate only started producing wine in the mid-80’s, but it skyrocketed to wine super-stardom in the ‘90s with this flagship Merlot bottling, which grabbed the attention of major wine critics and publications. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting some back vintages of Redigaffi, and it always impresses for its depth, complexity, and sheer drinking pleasure. If you enjoy full-bodied wines that age gracefully, this is one to have in your cellar!

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