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.

The Pillars of Supertuscans

13 Jul 2023

(February 2023) … Consorzio Vino Toscana was founded in 2018 to protect the name of Tuscan wines, namely those without a DOC or DOCG designation … in other words those deemed IGT. This is an area of Italian wine that has seen a growth of 126% over the last decade. And includes some 1400 IGT bottlers.

Toscana IGT is the 2nd most productive appellation and encompasses 77% red and 18% white, producing 95.5 million bottles or 145 million dollars in sales: 67% of which are exported and 31% consumed domestically. They represent 13,500 hectares, an output of 640,000 hL (on average).

Three grapes make up the pillars of SuperTuscan wines: Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. And although they started playing in this sandbox back in 1968, it was not until 1994 that the IGT designation was established. By then the names had become brands, which in turn sparked a revolution; the wines then became iconic in their own right ... No one seemed to care what varieties were being used – it was the wines that spoke for themselves.

Interesting to note as we look at the wines below – and this was pointed out by the moderataor (Gabriele Gorelli); wines ending in “ello” are Sangiovese based – wines ending in “aia” are Bordeaux-grape based.

The Showcase Wines …

Felsina 2018 Fontalloro    
Racy acidity, big tannins, with coffee beans, and a whole lotta oak. I’d say lie this down, but I’m not sure it will help.            

Marchesi Antinori 2018 TignanelloTignanello
(Sangiovese / Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc)
Tignanello is the top Italian wine on LivEx for fine wine – it’s a global brand and considered a Tuscan wine ambassador. The first vintage of this wine was in 1970.
Dark cherry, mocha, with a hint of floral; sweet tannins and a silky finish - really flavourful.

Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari 2018 Cabreo il Borgo
(Sangiovese / Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot)
First vintage 1982 … Very wood based with aggressive tannins, earthy, smoky, notes of cedar and smoky on the finish. Another one to lie down and let’s see where it goes.            

GiramonteFrescobaldi 2020 Giramonte
(85% Merlot / 15% Sangiovese)
First vintage 1999 … Here, there’s a silkiness in the mouth, but with aggressive tannins that want desperately to back away (with aeration), that’s a good thing. Dark and blue-ish fruit, nice herbal character along with some blood orange on the finish. Spicy as hell, with vanilla and coffee kicking around as well.            

Tenuta Sette Ponti 2018 Oreno    
(50% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot)
First vintage 1999 … Aggressive tannins and a ballsy structure; coffee, mocha, black cherry – really drying of the palate; but these are angles that seem to drive this wine in a variety of directions.            

Banfi 2019 ExcelsusBanif Excelsus
(47% Merlot / 53% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Banfi created their first Super-Tuscan in 1985 (Summus) … This is a leaner, more approachable SuperT with a nice finish; there’s blackberry and cassis, herbal and notes of minerality; plus fresh acidity to clean everything out.            

Tenuta San Guido 2020 Guidalberto
(60% Cabernet Sauvignon / 40% Merlot)
First vintage 2000 … dry and round in the mouth, fruit is dried and dipped in balsamic. It’s young, so the wood dominates now, but there is also plenty of plush dark fruit, subtle balsamic & spice notes with the tannins nipping playfully. The acidity is on-point and the finish is long – this should turn opulent with time.       
AlbolaCastello di Albola 2018 Acciaiolo
(100% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Plenty of acidity here as it comes from a cool climate location: smoky, spicy, and forest floor – with salty/mineral, fine tannins and a dry finish. Feels older than it is.

Casanova di Neri 2019 Pietradonice
(100% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Coffee and black cherry dominate, but this is also smoky and black olive, all with some concentrated dark fruit and aggressive tannins; but they also integrate so well with time.


The Podcast Plus: Ponte1948

30 Jun 2023

(February 2023) ... Meeting with Gabriele Fasan from Ponte 1948 at Mike's Back Door in Mississauga, for a podcast about the winery – with a big thank you to J. Cipelli and Dana Pancer, listen here or read below (My recommendation ... Do Both)

Ponte1948 is a co-op winery with plenty of excellent wines in their portfolio. We started with sparkling wine, which was the highlight of the tasting, followed by a couple of reds and whites.

Ponte has over 3000 hectares and 1000 family vineyards that are spread out along the River Piave in such areas as Treviso, Venice and the Dolomites. They have over 70 years of history - enhenced by the 1948 that follows in their name.

60,000 tons of grapes are collected annually, 1.6 million cases of wine produced and five wine shops (Enoteche di Ponte) - wouldn't that be nice ... I speak here to the smaller wineries in Ontario who do not have this option.

Under their purview, 53% of the grapes grown are Prosecco (aka Glera), 25% Pinot Grigio, 5% Chardonnay, 5% Merlot, 2% Cabernet (Franc) as well as other varieties that are in the mix.

As for the wine's tasted:

Ponte 48In all honesty, those Proseccos we drank were a delight from the base-model ($17.95) with the Blue Label to the Organic ($19.95) green label - which to be honest are the same wine just using a different growing method. The Orange Label is their vintage version. At this tasting it was the 2021, and it has 15% Chardonnay - pure joy on the palate and probably the one we most sat around and drank for fun afterwards ($22.95) . While the Valdobbiadene, 100% Glera, was a brut style with plenty of mineral goodness ($24.95). Pour either of the last two wines and you'd probably fool 75% of your friends into thinking they are drinking a higher priced traditional method bubble.

Because Andre was involved, a Chardonnay had to be on the table and for the same reason, a Sauvignon Blanc showed up as well. For those not familiar with the podcast, Andre has a love-hate relationship with these grapes: he loves Chardonnay, hates Sauvignon Blanc. Both wines were good from a quality price ratio stand point..

Also part of the Gio series of wines (the whites above were also part of this series) We tasted a 2021 Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon blend; Cabernet Franc is big in this area, but finds its way into blends more times than not; and a Merlot, Refosco, Cabernet Franc blend, where 10% of the wine is dried / namely the Refosco. Again, both wines offer up good quality to value ratio.

To learn more about Ponte1948 - listen to the podcast here.


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