Every year, at the end of winter, Tuscany presents its latest vintages to the world. So from February 13 to 22, we travelled along the shores of Maremma, the rolling hills of Montalcino in the Province of Sienna, Florence, San Gimignano and Montepulciano. This vast picture-postcard landscape is where the wine growers of Tuscany give free rein to their talent.
There were two major highlights this year: the Anteprima del Vino Nobile de Montepulciano in the town of the same name, and Benvenuto Brunello in Montalcino. It gave François Gilbert, who attended both events, the opportunity to review these monuments of the Italian wine industry.
In Montepulciano, the tastings featured 44 wine growers in the fortress (Fortezza). Two red appellations were on show – 2013 DOC Rosso di Montepulciano and 2011 DOCG Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The first is light and fruity and often combines a minority proportion of Merlot with Sangiovese; the second is more structured yet always fresh and aged for longer in oak – it only permits native grape varieties Sangiovese (at least 70%), Canaiolo and Mammolo.The same duo were in Montalcino, where 127 wine growers presented their 2013 Rosso and their famous 2011 Brunello di Montalcino or 2010 Riserva, entirely made from Sangiovese and aged in oak for lengthy periods of time then matured in the bottle.
The events provide sheer moments of pleasure and huge satisfaction every year, particularly in 2016, due to the evolution in the style of these top wines which increasingly favour purer, fruit-forward expression, freshness and minerality. Oak, an essential component of the production process, is more and more subtle as a result of the increasingly widespread use of large containers – or botte grande – to the detriment of casks. Tuscany, like most other major European wine regions, is accomplishing a silent revolution, much to the delight of captivated wine lovers.
Benvenuto Brunello: In Montalcino, Tuscany, primary school children were taking part in a mosaic project in order to immortalise the 2016 Anteprima event. The initiative is an interesting way of encouraging children to use their imagination and artistic flair on the theme of wine so that they can identify with a product symbolising their culture, heritage and identity.