Who is Kaiser Soze? (Tuscany, Italy – Day Four)

When you hear names of regions and places for wines, many things may come to mind. Very rarely are you able to associate a specific wine or style with a specific place, but some famous examples are Champagne, Burgundy, Mosel, Rioja, Barolo and Chianti. It is not difficult to see why this phenomenon is common in the vast majority of regions outside of Europe, as the focus on producing regionally distinct wines from specific regions has only been a recent occurrence. In many cases entire countries that may have a huge variety of climates are associated with a particular variety, such as Australia with shiraz, New Zealand with sauvignon blanc, Chile with merlot, Argentina with malbec, and South Africa with pinotage. Anyone from these countries will happily tell you that this does not reflect the entire production, as they produce many more varieties and many more styles even with the same variety. This phenomenon is also common in Europe for a range of reasons. This may be because a range of different varieties are grown but no one or two are considered the best, it may be because the law allows much leeway for blending other varieties, or perhaps the wines are simply not good enough. In many countries this is further compounded by the setbacks in the first half of the 20th century, with most regions rediscovering the right variety for the best sites, and re-establishing many of the winemaking traditions. With so many regions in Europe, with some much bigger and more diverse than others, it is easy to get lost. Thus it is important to establish regional identity and distinction, rather than produce the same wines as everywhere else. Montepulciano is one such region that lacks clear regional identity, in spite of the fact that the most common grape grown is sangiovese.
New shoots on old vines in Montepulciano

Poliziano is not only one of the most important wineries in Montepulciano but also in Tuscany. Poliziano is the modern face of quality Montepulciano wines across the world, which is not an easy mantle to carry. The winery was established back in 1961 by the Carletti family, and over the decades grew to account for 140 hectares of vineyards, fairly large by Tuscan standards. Vineyards are owned in various parts of the Montepulciano DOC, which is technically part of the broader Chianti region. Sangiovese is the most planted variety, but a wide variety of other indigenous and imported varieties are also grown. Like many other wineries in Tuscany, Poliziano have invested in the Maremma region where they are producing consumer friendly wines. The jewels are undoubtedly some of the historic and most sought after vineyards, most famously the Asinone vineyard, with which they produce a single vineyard wine. The modern facilities where the wines are produced include such equipment as sorting tables and conical fermentation tanks, with a range of tanks and barrels of different sizes. Wines are left to settle in bottle before being labelled packaged and distributed to over 40 countries around the world. Many people visit the winery, a large proportion from English-speaking countries, and as such the hospitality staff is proficient in the language, including a writer from the United States who relocated to Tuscany several years ago. Wine education is taken particularly seriously, with regular wine and food matching sessions hosted for guests. After a tour and tasting I was able to sample some of the charcuterie and cheeses from the area with some wine. Click here to read my tasting notes.

Fruit processing area at Poliziano

Boscarelli is a winery that has managed to establish a reputation that far exceeds the size of their production. The De Ferrari family are very modest and humble producers growing wine from only 14 hectares of vineyards, and have been doing so since 1962. Preferring to focus on the estates they have, they are committed to producing the best wine they can from what they have. This was perfectly illustrated when they purchased several hectares of vineyards nearby, but resold the property as they were being spread too thin. Harmony with the environment is the key in the vineyards, and they aren’t afraid to try new things like planting varieties like gamay in parts of the property prone to moisture and frost. The cellars are very modest and somewhat disorganised, which suggests they are focused on the viticultural side producing the best fruit possible. Nicolo De Ferrari showed me around part of the vineyard, showing me difference in soils, trellising, shoot development post-budburst, variety and elevation. The estate is divided up into very small parcels, which each have their own identity and name, the best of which is probably the Nocio parcel. With the evolution of the region and the estate in the past 20 years, the range has changed very subtly to reflect the times and qualities. Click here to read my tasting notes.

Nicolo De Ferrari in the cellars of Boscarelli

My evening was spent in the agriturismo of Il Cocco in Montalcino, where they have begun producing their own wines very recently with the worldwide emergence of Brunello di Montalcino. The estate is one of the highest for viticulture in the area, and the winery is modestly housed in the old farmhouse. The wines are all exemplary for the price, but for the region are very immature and will benefit from more vine age and experience producing the wines.

Just a few barrels at Il Cocco in Montalcino

Click here to see more photos from Day Four in Tuscany, Italy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Winery Visits

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s