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A superb Italian red in a vintage whose small crop produced an aromatic, almost pinot noir-like quality. This is a Brunello of considerable finesse, a blend of their Canalicchio vineyard beside the cellar on rich soil, with their classic Montosoli site on galestro, Tuscany's classic schistous clay.
Product Code: IT27271
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Located in Montalcino in Tuscany, this fine estate is run by the gifted Francesco Ripaccioli, whose parents first decided to leave the local co-operative and bottle on their own wine in 1966. As well as vineyards, the family estate also contains two hectares of olive groves.The heart of the estate is 16 hectares of Brunello vines. Importantly, these are in two different locations, which combine to add extra complexity to the family’s wine. 10 hectares are on clay soils at Canalicchio, to the north of the town, while six hectares are at Gode di Montosoli on rocky, galestro (schist) soil, giving added structure. Only vines which are over 20 years old are used for the family’s Brunello.
The large Central Italy region embraces Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo and Molise and Lazio. Geographically Central Italy is split by the imposing Apennine mountain range that runs the length of the centre of Italy like a slightly curved spine dividing, for example, Tuscany and Umbria from Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche. While there is the usual diversity of grape varieties when you drill down in to the vineyards of these regions, one grape variety dominates – sangiovese, whether it stands alone or is blended. At the heart of Tuscany is Chianti, spreading from north of Florence to south of Siena. Rolling green forested hills of captivating beauty characterise much of the Chianti area with vineyards sometimes planted at over 500 metres. The wines are dominated by the sangiovese grape supported by canaiolo, colorino, mammolo and ciliegiolo of the traditional varieties of the region but with the additional weight and structure of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot which are now permitted.Other great wines from Tuscany are Brunello di Montalcino (‘brunello’ being a very localised clone of sangiovese, and the only permitted grape), Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (from the town of Montepulciano and nothing to do with the montepulciano grape; Vino Nobile is again made from sangiovese) and the so-called Supertuscan blends of several grape varieties, some of which are not permitted under DOC rules in areas such as Brunello. The most famous of these Supertuscans are Sassicaia and Ornellaia, both of which are essentially Bordeaux -style blends from Bolgheri close to the Tuscan coast in the west. The region, partly with the impetus of these regulation bucking blends, has been a driving force in improving quality in the region and consequently across Italy. Umbria to the south of Tuscany has developed an impressive reputation for its wines, such as the aromatic, tannic but delicious sagrantino from vineyards around Montefalco. Here too sangiovese is widely grown, making impressive Torgiano and blends together with varieties like merlot and cabernet. Higher ground in the north is cooler than the southern zone. Orvieto lies almost between the two in the west of Umbria. The wines of Orvieto are beginning to find their feet once more after decades of underperformance now that many growers are focussing on the grechetto grape that had once been ubiquitous but which had been pushed aside by the higher cropping but far less interesting procanico (aka trebbiano Toscano). Lazio is the region around Rome which is struggling to creep out from the shadow of the dull wines that historically fed the thirst of a ready market in the Eternal City. Basically, there was too little incentive to change. Now there are a number of producers working hard to make Frascati of real character by improving their clones and their methods and by lowering yields.Across the Apennines from Umbria is Le Marche with its mountainous national parks and sunny Adriatic coast. The best white wines are the two verdicchios, dei Castelli di Jesi and di Matelica, with the latter making the more characterful examples from its higher altitudes. Pecorino grapes from zones to the south produce fruity, interesting white wines with real potential to rival the best verdicchio. Reds are improving all the time, including Rosso Piceno (sangiovese with montepulciano) and Rosso Conero (montepulciano). North of Le Marche is the region around foodie Bologna, Emilia-Romagna. Home to Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and balsamic vinegar, the region has not developed a similarly impressive canon of wines to rival its reputation for fine foods. Much is unimpressive but the best sangiovese di Romagna from south-east of Bologna can be excellent, and as with elsewhere in Italy there are a growing number of growers and winemakers intent on improvement. The wine best known to British consumers is Lambrusco. Sadly the association many will have is with sweetened characterless froth from the 1970s and 1980s but the Lambrusco drunk by the Bolognese is very different and we are starting to see its appetising acidity and bracing bite, designed to accompany the salty hams, tangy cheeses and rich meat sauces of its home region, reach the UK. As with Le Marche the vineyards of Abruzzo are squeezed between the great mass of the Apennines and the Adriatic, and the mountains have influenced the character of the Abruzzese and their food. To match their hearty dishes they drink montepulciano d’Abruzzo, invariably gutsy and full of lively red fruits and a Society wine of many years standing. Rosés such as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo are also becoming increasingly well known for their value and constantly improving quality when growers lower yields and winemakers take them seriously. Further south is the little known Molise region where montepulciano, aglianico and trebbiano grapes make characterful, rustic reds and whites. The Biferno DOC was created in the 1980s and there are producers here who are making some very promising examples.
2014 was one of the trickiest Italian vintages for a long time. Most people who holidayed in Italy can attest to the fact that they would have had better weather if they'd stayed in the UK! Only Sicily and Calabria really escaped the challenges of the weather but elsewhere some good wines have been made, particularly amongst organic producers and where growers were able to take advantage of the good weather that came in September and October. Fontodi in Chianti, Coffele in Soave, and Barberani in Orvieto have all done well, we are happy to report.In Piemonte, it has turned out to be a surprising year. It was cool and wet, so work in the vineyard was the key. The wines are unlikely to be good across the board, as hail hit some vineyards and those who cropped too high or didn't work hard enough in the vineyard will have produced pretty poor wines. Those who did work hardest have made good wines with good colour and perfume and good levels of acidity. Dolcetto suffered most in such a difficult vintage.In Barbaresco things were a little better than in Barolo, and some exciting wines can be expected. Though some rain during flowering reduced the crop, and July was pretty wet, August was dry and there were no problems with hail either.
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Press & Journal 21st Mar 2020
"… perfumed, there are savoury tomato notes and spice with tobacco. It's full and ripe with structured tannins that will soften over time. There's plenty of underlying dark berry ripe fruit, raisins and prune. - Carol Brown"
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