There I was having this arduous job of just tasting some charming sparkling wines and then I was going to try some Italian wines while I was at the Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. All the wines that were being featured were from Maisons Marques & Domaines through there local distributor The Vintage Wine Company. Maisons Marques & Domaines may have originally been the American marketing arm for Louis Roederer, they have since branched out and are the marketers for forty-three brands both domestically and abroad.
In 1974 Giuseppe Castiglioni, an industrial entrepreneur and lifelong wine lover bought a single hectare vineyard on a Tuscan hillside. A place to grow his favorite grapes: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, plus a couple more. In the 1980’s he was joined by his son Sebastiano and they converted the estate to organic viticulture in 1988 and made Querciabella one of the original wineries in Italy to go that route. Sebastiano also was for animal rights and made the winery plant-based. From that single hectare vineyard in Tuscany, there are now more than a hundred hectares under the Querciabella name as they are also in Chianti Classico and in Maremma.
The Querciabella Batar Toscana IGT 2015 was the first of the wines that I tasted from this winery. This wine is a blend of equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Some of the fruit comes from the original vineyard and then the other parts come from newer acquisitions and there are two distinct types of soil which lend to the terroir of this wine, one is of a sandstone setting and the other a schist and slate type of soil. The fruit is hand harvested and after fermentation the wine is aged on the lees in French Oak for nine months and stirred once a week. After the two wines are blended, they are then aged an additional six months in concrete vats. While the wine is drinkable immediately the winery feels that four years is when the wine will really show its personality and they think it will hold its own for twenty years in the cellar. The wine was very impressive and one of the few white “Super Tuscans” that I have had and priced like a fine red from the region. The wine was rich, almost Burgundian with layers and nuances that were wonderful for a young wine, offering both terroir and peaches, honey and almonds. I could have stopped here, but I did go on with the tastings. The Querciabella Mongrana Toscana IGT 2016 is from the Maremma region and the Chianti Classico region and is a red “Super Tuscan” wine. Since the inception of this wine, it has always been biodynamically grown. The wine is fifty percent Sangiovese, twenty-five percent Cabernet Sauvignon and twenty-five percent Merlot. The soils from the varied vineyards are a mix of gravel, pebbles, silt and alluvial sand all which impart terroir or as I affectionately call it dirt. The juices were aged in either cement or stainless steel and then blended together. This wine was what all the red “Super Tuscan” wines should be, especially in this price point which was very affordable and even in a restaurant would still not break the budget. It was a rich, deep Chianti that had plenty of nuances from the different grapes and was made to be enjoyed young and up to ten years in the cellar. Very easy to drink by itself or with food and light years away from that old “Dago Red” that was probably some of the earliest wines that I ever had as a kid.