What could be better than enjoying a wine tasting curated by a winemaker; well, that is what was happening when I was at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source. Lorenzo Gatteschi was representing his family through their Podere Ciona wines from Gaiole, Tuscany, Italy. Toscana IGT is the most famous of the IGT designations and it actually has three sub-regions already, and there are ten provinces that are allowed this designation. Tuscany is the home of Italy’s most famous IGT category, but it was where this category forced the hands of wine classification for a new designation, because some of the wine makers felt constrained by the current rules, and originally had to use the lowly Vino de Tavola or Table Wine designation for their new wines. Finally, in 1984, Sassicaia was granted its very own title of DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia and the floodgates were opened. IGT is Italy’s version of the Common Market’s designation of IGP.
Our first Super Tuscan was Podere Ciona Semifonte Rosso Toscana IGT 2018, and in all the excitement of the moment, I somehow forgot to photograph this bottle, but I have a photo of the 2017 vintage, that we had with dinner one night. The wine is a blend of seventy-five percent Merlot and twenty-five percent Alicante Bouschet from nineteen-year-old vines planted on their estate of quartz, clay schist and marl. The fruit is hand harvested and the initial fermentation is for ten days on the skins in Stainless Steel vats, with Malolactic fermentation occurring for an additional twenty-five to thirty days still on the skins and still in Stainless Steel. The wines were then aged for twelve months, seventy percent in French Oak barrels and thirty percent in once used French Oak tonneaux. Afterwards, the wine was fined and did an additional twelve months in bottles before distribution. There were two-hundred-six cases produced of this wine. A pretty purplish-red wine with notes of red fruits, spices and nuts. On the palate the taste of plums, nuts and pepper, on a balanced wine with a nice finish; of course, I have always been a strong advocate of Merlot.
We then had a nice vertical run of Podere Ciona Le Diacce Rosso Toscana IGT 2015, 2012 and 2011. Le Diacce is the estate’s flagship wine featuring their finest Merlot grapes with a touch of Alicante Bouschet. The 2011 vintage was pure Merlot of twelve-year-old vines planted on quartz, clay schist and marl. Initial fermentation was for ten days in Stainless Steel vats, followed by an extended thirty-thirty-five days of Malolactic fermentation in French Oak barriques. Aged for eighteen months in French Oak, with an additional twelve months in the bottle. Two-hundred-fifty cases were produced. The 2012 vintage was ninety-eight percent Merlot with two percent Alicante Bouschet. Initial fermentation was ten days in French Oak, followed by thirty to thirty-five days of Malolactic fermentation in French barriques. Aged for twenty-four months in a mix of new and once and twice French Oak barriques, with an additional twelve months in glass. Three-hundred-thirty cases of wine produced. The 2015 vintage was ninety-seven percent Merlot and three percent Alicante Bouschet. Initial fermentation for ten days in French Oak, followed by Malolactic fermentation for thirty to thirty-five days in French Oak barriques, and the cellared for twenty-four months in a mix of new and used French Oak barriques, with twelve months in glass. Three-hundred-thirty-three cases were produced. The 2015 vintage was a deep purplish-red with notes of red fruit, chocolate and nuts. On the palate was a feisty intense red berries flavor, balanced with a nice finish; this wine needs some cellaring in my humble opinion, but others were really excited about the fruit forward taste. The 2012 vintage was deep purplish-red with notes of red fruit, chocolate and nuts. On the palate the red fruits had mellowed with the tannins offering a great bottle of aged Merlot with a lingering finish. The 2011 vintage reminded me of the 2012, but even more mellow and my first scribbled note was “excellent,” but then I extremely partial to mature wines, especially Merlot, and I make no bones about it.