Posts tagged ‘fabrizio bindocci’

The Decade’s Best Producers – Part One

Falanghina Vineyard of Mastroberardino (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

 

For my final post of 2009, I want to salute some of the finest Italian producers of this decade. Each year in the Spring issue of my Guide to Italian Wines, I list the year’s best wines and producers. I’ll be working on that shortly, but for now, let’s focus on the most important producers of the decade. There is no way I can do this with a single post, so this is part one. I’m juding not only on the quality of the wines, but also the influence these producers had in the marketplace and media and among their peers.

PIEMONTE

Vietti

If Luca Currado at Vietti only made Barolo, this winery would have made the list, but there are also gorgeous bottlings of Barbera, as well as a sleek, delicious offering of Arneis. The wines are beautifully made and sell through in good order.

Cavallotto

This family-owned winery makes the list for maintaining its traditional winemaking methods, as the great Barolos are aged in botti grandi - no barriques here. Is there a more graceful and ageworthy Barolo than the Bricco Boschis San Giuseppe Riserva?

Roberto Voerzio

Very modern Barolos here, aged in barrique, but amazing concentration and style. You may or may not like this style of winemaking, but you cannot help but admire the class of the offerings here.

Produttori del Barbaresco

Ultratraditional wines that show what the local terroir of Barbaresco is all about. An excellent Barbaresco normale and outstanding (often stunning) cru bottlings from the town’s best sites, including Asili, Rabaja and Montestefano. General manager Aldo Vacca is as classy as his wines!

Orsolani

I am saluting Gian Luigi Orsolani for his outstanding work with the Erbaluce grape, an indigenous white variety from northern PIemonte. Orsolani is the finest producer of this grape type in my opinion, crafting first-rate examples of dry white, sparkling and passito versions.

Braida – Giacomo Bologna

Splendid bottlings of Barbera d’Asti, from the humble to the sublime, especially the Bricco dell’Uccellone and the Bricco della Bigotta. Still one of the finest and most influential producers of Barbara d’Asti. Also a superb Moscato d’Asti (Vigna Senza Nome) and arguably the finest bottling of Brachetto d’Acqui. Raffaella Bologna is continuing her late father’s work in fine fashion.

Raffaella Bologna, Braida (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Fontanafredda

This gorgeous estate in the heart of the Barolo zone has been improving dramatically for the past decade, thanks to the efforts of general manager Giovanni Minetti and winemaker Danilo Drocco. A few years ago, Oscar Farinetti, the owner of the gourmet food store, Eataly, became the prinicpal owner of the winery and has already shown his influence by introducing value-priced Barbera and Dolcetto. There are so many excellent wines produced at Fontanafredda; this is an estate that has numerous wines for a wide consumer base and any producer that wants to grow their business in the coming decade should be looking at this model.

TOSCANA

Tenuta San Guido/Tenuta dell’Ornellaia

I am putting these two estates in Bolgheri together, as they both produce outstanding examples of local reds that not only are beautiful wines on their own, but are also known around the world. These estates, along with Grattamacco and Le Macchiole continue to be the identity for Bolgheri, Tuscany’s new light.

Bottles of Ornellaia and Masseto, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia

(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Il Poggione

Brunello di Montalcino has been in the news as of late, and not for all the right reasons. So let’s salute Il Poggione for making Brunello the right way – the traditional way. Winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci has a gentle winemaking hand, as he prefers to let the local terroir shine through in his wines. I’ve tasted examples of Il Poggione Brunello from the 1970s that are still in fine shape. As for the recent controversy about the possible inclusion of grapes other than Sangiovese in Brunello, well, there was never any doubt about that at Il Poggione; so the respect for the land and the wine as seen here (as well as at dozens of other local estates such as Biondi-Santi, Col d’Orcia, Talenti and Sesta di Sopra to name only a few) needs to be saluted.

Poliziano

Federico Carletti has done as much as any producer in Montepulciano to revive the fortunes of its most famous wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The regular bottling is always very good, but it is the Vigna Asinone bottling is the star here. Deeply concentrated with new oak and sleek tannins, this is a modern, but very precise wine that is one of Tuscany’s finest.

CAMPANIA

Mastroberardino

Campania’s most historically important winemaking estate, this winery continued to improve after a family split in the 1980s (some of the family members established a new winery in the Avellino province) and the change in leadership from Antonio Mastroberardino to his son Piero. Clonal research became an important factor here, and today, the family is producing the best examples of Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino and Falanghina they have ever made. Of course, Taurasi is still the most important wine here, and if today’s bottlings are not as staunchly tradtional as those from the 1960s and early 1970s, they are still first-rate and just as importantly, are not covered up by the vanilla and spice of new oak that other Taurasi producers seem to prefer these days. How nice that this defender of the local winemaking heritage is doing so well these days!

Feudi di San Gregorio

This estate made a splash with its entrance on the scene in the mid 1980s and they are still one of Campania’s most important producers. Rich, deeply concentrated bottlings of Taurasi, but even more impressive white wines, especially Cutizzi Greco di Tufo and Pietracalda Fiano di Avellino. Now there are even beautifully made single variety sparkling wines in the classic method produced from Greco, Falanghina and Aglianico. Congratulations to owner Antonio Capaldo on his innovative efforts at this great estate!

Luigi Maffini

Luigi Maffini is making some of the most brilliant white wines in all of Italy as his small estate in the province of Salerno, south of Napoli. While his reds made from Aglianico are nicely done, the whites made from Fiano are routinely outstanding. There is the non-oak aged Kratos and the French oak-aged Pietraincatenata, an age-worthy Fiano. There is also a sumptuous Fiano Passito, which in my opinion, is one of the greatest dessert wines in all of Italy (the 2004 is particularly exceptional).

Cantine Marisa Cuomo

This small estate, located in the town of Furore on the Amalfi Coast, is set in an exceptionally beautiful seting, as the pergola vineyards cling to steep slopes a few hundred feet above the sea. Marisa and her husband, winemaker Andrea Ferraioli, are best known for the exceptional white, Fiorduva, a blend of indigenous varieties (Ripole, Fenile and Ginestra), but I think the Furore Rosso Riserva is also an important wine. This is extreme viticulture at its finest!

Pergola Vineyards in Furore, Cantine Marisa Cuomo

(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

December 30, 2009 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

Il Poggione – Top 100

Naturally, some of my Top 100 producers of Italian wine will include a few estates in Montalcino. The first Brunello producer that I’m writing about is my favorite, Il Poggione.

Leopoldo Franceschi, Owner, Il Poggione (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

 

The origins of Il Poggione date back to the late 1800s, but as a producer of Brunello di Montalcino, the recent history begins in the 1950s. The estate is owned by Leopoldo and Livia Franceschi and is located below the beautiful hilltop town of Sant’Angelo in Colle, one of the finest zones for Brunello di Montalcino.

What makes Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino so special can be summarized by two factors: superb vineyards and outstanding winemaking. Fabrizio Bindocci, a thoughtful, gracious man, makes Brunello today as he always has – in the traditional method. He ages his Brunello di Montalcino in grandi botti, the large casks that ensure the natural flavors of the Sangiovese grapes are preserved along with the characteristics of the Sant’Angelo terroir. A regular bottling of Brunello di Montalcino is produced each year and in the finest vintages, a Riserva bottling is also made (this wine receives at least one extra year of aging in wood). 

Fabrizio Bindocci, Winemaker, Il Poggione (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

 

A few years ago, Bindocci decided to use the casks of a different cooper than what he had used in the past, so today the grandi botti used at Il Poggione is French instead of Slavonian oak, but that is one of the few changes made in the cellars of Il Poggione over the past decade. The wines are as complex, elegant and as ageworthy as ever, offering beautiful red cherry and currant fruit with notes of cedar and precise acidity.  I recently tasted the 1970 and 1975 bottlings, both of which were in superb condition (especially the 1975); both should be drinking well for another decade.

There has been an explosion of new producers of Brunello di Montalcino over the past several years; today there are over 140 estates in this small zone as opposed to a few dozen in the mid-1960s. Yet despite all the new vintners and new winemaking and grape growing techniques, there are few more classic examples of Brunello di Montalcino that that of Il Poggione.

The best wines of Il Poggione include:

  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
  • Rosso di Montalcino
  • Mazzoni (IGT)
  • Vin Santo
  • Moscadello di Montalcino 

This last wine is truly special, as this is a slightly sparkling, slightly sweet Moscadello made like a Moscato d’Asti. Il Poggione is the only producer to make Moscadello di Montalcino in ths manner. It’s absolutely delicious on its own or with some fresh fruit.

December 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment


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