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On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Holy Crow it’s Carpineto

03 Mar 2020

(April 2019) ... One of the highlights of my Tuscan trips is tasting the wines of Carpineto during the Vino Nobile days and during the dinner (over the years Carpineto has pulled out some of the oldest wines on offer and usually some of the best).

This time Carpineto comes to Toronto to taste through a whole bunch of old and new wines from 2015 all the way back to 1990 … Time to look at each wine on its own merit (some no longer available commercially, but for those with some in the cellar now’s a good time to learn how your investment is doing).

Here are some facts and figures about Carpineto and the region …

Carpineto is a Carbon Neutral winery with a 184 hectare Montepulciano estate

5 estates: Dudda (Greve, Chianti), Gaville (Chianti Classico), Gavorrano (Maremma), Montalcino (Montalcino), Chianciano - Montepulciano (Montepulciano)

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was Italy’s first DOC red appellation (1966)

Quote of the Day … “If you make red wine from only red grapes they age longer”


Vino Nobile …

2015 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … Rich and robust dark fruit, most notably plum, with lots of spicy character, good acidity and even some cedary notes. (****)

2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … soft, silky and slightly herbal. (no score) Carpineto 2012

2012 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … one of the best wines at the tasting, layered and complex with smoky blackberry, cassis and good acidity leading the charge – as it mellows there is a peppery note and starts to show this wine really has an elegant side; ready to drink now but has a few years ahead of it.  (****+)

2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … touch of prune with dried leaves, white pepper and nice acidity; soft and elegant it’s an older tasting wine than the years let on.  (*** ½)

2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … subtle pruney-ness but with blackberry, mocha, coffee bean and black cherry still has quite a presence in the glass.  (*** ½+)

2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … at 12 years of age this wine is perfectly aged and right where it should be; subtle fruit elegance, still fresh with vibrant acidity. (****)

1995 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … this wine has no right to be this good but it sure does make for an interesting sip to savour: fruit is still present with plenty of red and blackberry notes, there’s even some floral and the acidity is holding it all together.  (*** ½+)

1990 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva … floral and forest floor, there is an under-lying freshness but its age is showing within 15 minutes of being open.  (no score)

Other …

2012 Brunello di Montalcino … supple, soft and juicy with licorice, white pepper and even some notes of red peppercorns while other spices show the longer it sits; this one is going to age quite nicely.  (*** ½+)

2015 Chianti Classico … good red and black fruit with spicy notes and young, slightly aggressive tannins also with a delightful peppery finish.  (*** ½+)

2015 Gran Selezione Chianti Classico … great drinkability here with licorice, pepper, raspberry and cassis – worthy of the Gran Selezione moniker.  (****)


Washington Story 4

10 Feb 2020

April 3rd, 2019 ... A relatively busy day on the docket with four wineries on tap, but two happen to be in the same family (Chateau Ste. Michelle), plus earlier in the week I also visited the "mothership" in Woodinville; Washington VIneyardthere I ended up tasting through a whole bunch of wine including their Canoe Ridge, Cold Creek, and Col Solare lineups. The location in Woodinville is Ste. Michelle's white wine location, while the Canoe Ridge facility is devoted to their red wine production. A 600 acre vineyard planted in 1991 and located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, which has a very shallow top-soil made up of compressed volcanic ash ... During our visit certain tidbits are released like Ste. Michelle is the single largest producer of Riesling in the world and at this facility they produce 631,000 cases of wine (average annual).

From Canoe Ridge we move our party down the road a spell to Columbia Crest, another property now owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle. Columbia Crest was established in the 1980s and currently has 12,500 acres, but when they started it was a 1970 planting of a mere 2,200 acres. They produce three million cases of wine annually of which 1.2 are under the Columbia Crest label itself and there barrel program contains upwards of 130,000 barrels - that's a lot - they also have one hell of a bottling line.

Between the two wineries these were the wines of note one from each Ste. Michelle - Canoe Ridge - Columbia Crest:Washington Barrel and Bottle

Canoe Ridge 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cold Creek Vineyard … (****)
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Chardonnay, Cold Creek Vineyard … (****)
Columbia Crest 2015 Cabernet Franc, Beverly Vineyard … (****+)


From there we head to Mercer wine estate - to me this place proves that not all Washington State wine is all inspiring - sadly this is formulaic wine making trying to be something for everybody, but achieving mediocre results. Lots of easy drinking wine with lots of fruit but no substantial character oh, man I really hope this one gets better, to me and for me Mercer was a misstep. Only one wine stood out as having any kind of appeal.

2016 Reserve Heritage Blend … (*** ½+)


After the mistake of Mercer we end our day at Hedges - this turns out to be a real high point of the day with a relaxed in-the-kitchen dinner, beautiful views of the surrounding Red Mountains, and two wines that you could drink all day; and well Into the night. A great way to end our time in Washington State.Hedges Wines

2017 LeBlanc... (****)
2015 Red Mountain Red... (****+)




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