Our first group wine tasting of 2022 was delayed all the way into April due to a surge in COVID, but the results were worth the wait. Departing slightly from our usual format, each taster was asked to bring a specific type of Sangiovese-based wine. Poured blind, it was an interesting way to observe the variations in six Italian reds that had plenty in common, but also subtle differences.
Descriptions of dust, cherry, leather, and tobacco were common this night, which are typical of Sangiovese, but the wines differed in texture, concentration, and refinement. Almost all paired very well with food.
Our favorite wines of the night turned out to be the most expensive, with the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano coming in first, followed by the Brunello di Montalcino, but there was agreement that all the entries (except for Kristin's) were well-made and exhibited "correct" Sangiovese qualities, and our top wines were not separated by vast numbers of points. Plus, this night was more about comparing Sangiovese wines than competition anyway.
Chelsea was on hand this month to randomly number our bagged bottles, as well as for the reveal.
First Place: Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2018. Dark, dusty nose that featured earthy qualities, plus violets, leather, licorice, cornstarch, and fruit punch. Also dark on the palate, with flavors reminiscent of cherries, oregano, and bay leaves, with plenty of acidity, and a long, tannic finish. A prune or date note emerges late. Brooding, but concentrated and intense. Ali was reminded of "my nana's tomato sauce." Received 27 points. Andy's bottle. About $33.
Second Place: Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2015. Tasters found scents of marshmallow, yogurt, cinnamon, snickerdoodle, baking spices, eucalyptus, menthol, dust, and a hint of a barnyard. Diana deemed it "sweaty", while Ali detected "Ben Gay". Excellent texture, with refined tannins and flavors that crescendo and flow across the palate, like notions of Dr. Pepper, rhubarb, pomegranate, tobacco, and leather. Diana noted that it was "like the tide flowing in." Received 20 points. David's bottle. About $45.
Third Place: Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2018. Aromas of iodine, seaweed, violets, black pepper, leather, dark tobacco, dairy, molasses, goldfish crackers, smoke, ashtray, and fresh fennel. A hint of some decomposition. Brighter in the mouth, with flavors of cherries, licorice, salt, and game meats. Good attack, and has solid tannins, but a slightly underwhelming finish. Ali was reminded of "pork in tomato sauce." Received 18 points. Diana's bottle. About $20.
Terenzi Morellino di Scansano 2019. Stemmy nose, suggesting broccoli rabe, green banana, and green tomatoes, but also scents of ripe plum, cherries, dry earth, and a dark umami quality. Tasters found flavors of coffee syrup, dark plums, cherries, coffee grounds, and dark spices. Vibrant on the finish. Solid tannins and plenty of acidity. Received 15 points. Matt's bottle. About $15.
Antinori Chianti Classico Peppoli 2019. Shy, dusty nose, reminiscent of dried orange rind, fresh oysters, bubble gum, and leather. Kristin was reminded of a "far off skunk smell in the night." Well-integrated cherry flavors, with a pleasing texture and finish, plus notions of Fruit Stripe gum, mint, and tomato stalk. Received 4 points. Ali's bottle. About $22.
Torrebruna Sangiovese 2018 (Toscana). Smoked and unsmoked tobacco, green stems, eucalyptus, menthol, pine resin, shitake mushroom, and eggplant aromas. Matt described it as "mysterious", while David felt that the alcohol stood out a bit too much. Ripe on the palate, tasting of grilled nectarines, dried blueberries, Lifesavers, and green bananas. Turns spicy toward the finish. Kind of one-note, and not evolved. David felt that it had "fruit and stemminess at the same time", while Ali detested it, saying that it "just tasted like vomit to me." No points. Kristin's bottle. About $10.