Florence born and bred, Ferrini knows vinous Tuscany as well as anybody—before becoming a freelance consultant in 1992 he was chief agronomist to the Consorzio Chianti Classico. Today he works with renowned estates such as Castello di Brolio, Castello del Terriccio, and Fattoria Carpineta.
Working in so many different areas means that “the challenge is to give each wine at each estate a character,” said Ferrini. The wines presented at this tasting were all of good quality but sometimes the winemaker’s hand was stronger than the terroir and the result lacked tipicità (typicity).
Ferrini spoke of his techniques: higher-density planting, lower yield per plant, and riper (or later-picked) grapes. The resulting wines were typically deeply colored, with low acidity, smooth tannins, and some new oak makeup. As such, they are very representative of the modern style of Italian, and particularly Tuscan, wine, though not necessarily outstanding examples of what is perceived to be “classic” Italian wine.
Nicolas Belfrage MW wrote in his great book Brunello to Zibibo: The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy that “another aspect of modern Italian oenology that threatens tipicità is the increasing influence of itinerant oenological consultants.” Belfrage rightly acknowledged that consultants have done much to improve overall standards but “they tend to stamp their mark on the wines they produce.” That is Ferrini in a nutshell.
Although Ferrini speaks some English, the London-based journalist and wine educator Andrea Sturniolo translated his comments. Ferrini quipped, “I hope the wines are not as tragic as my English!” He was also appreciative of the tasting’s opulent venue at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair: “My days are usually spent with ugly men in different surroundings!”
Below are notes on the 13 wines tasted here.
Tenute Costa DueCorti Dolcetto DOC 2008
This was Carlo Ferrini’s first vintage in Piedmont. The Dolcetto is produced from a two-hectare vineyard on the hillside that faces the Castle of Serralunga. “I love doing long fermentations but I hate bitter wines,” explained Ferrini. This wine had 20 days cap-punching, which produces a gentler extraction that pumping-over. Nonetheless, this is a structured and serious style of Dolcetto, warm and spicy rather than fruity. Drink 2010–12. The 2008 Barolo might be similar to Roberto Voerzio, suggested Ferrini. “I hope to be accepted in Piedmont as a good winemaker. So far no one has smoked me!” he said, referring to the Piedmontese joke about Toscano cigars.
Poggio Bonelli Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2006
Sangiovese 100%. Some oak on the nose. The palate shows more fruit—dark, spicy and supple. 2012–16? “I’m trying to avoid the bitterness in Sangiovese. In these wines there is no bitterness,” claimed Ferrini. Nobody disagreed with him.
Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2006
Some Merlot and Cabernet in this blend but no more than 5%. Ferrini told us, “I prefer Cabernet in warmer vintages, Merlot in cooler vintages.” 18 months in barriques, 2/3 new, but there is less oak apparent here than with the Poggio Bonelli. Nice fruit and a delicious finish. A good example of modern Chianti. 2012–15?
Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2004
Sangiovese Grosso 100%. Some oak. A modern, sleek style of Brunello. The bright fruit is pleasant but not very typical of classic Brunello. Some smooth tannins in the finish. 2010–15.
Poliziano Asinone Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2006
Prugnolo Gentile 5%, Colorino, Canaiolo, and Merlot 15%. Darker nose than the Brunello, with more character. Very tannic of course! 2014–18.
Tenuta Mater Domini Casili Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2006
Pure Negroamaro from 50-year old bush vines. Very modern nose, sleek but not oaky. The palate is more characterful, especially the finish. Crunchy but smooth tannins. Good wine. 2010–12.
Pometti Tarchun us Toscana IGT 2006
Cabernet Sauvignon 80%, Petit Verdot 10%, and Sangiovese 10%. Modern Tuscan wine in excelsis. Sleek, sexy, smooth, and not at all like “proper” Chianti! 2010–12.
San Fabiano Calcinaia Cerviolo Toscana IGT 2005
Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Leaner, with a less bright nose than above. But still modern—luscious and smooth. Delicious. But not Chianti! 2010–12.
Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino Dofana Toscana IGT 2006
Sangiovese with Petit Verdot. The deepest color yet. Big, rich, some grip but smooth. Velvet rather than silk. Tuscan international style. 2010–14.
Podere Sapaio Sapaio Bolgheri DOC Superiore 2006
Cabernet Sauvignon 55%, Cabernet Franc 25%, Merlot 10%, and Petit Verdot 10%. Very Cabernet Sauvignon in its flavors. Bright red fruit, with mint and something a bit green and savory. Good. 2010–15.
Petrolo Galatrona Toscana IGT 2007
Merlot 100%. Deep color again. Sweet finish. Very luscious and smooth, in a similar style to the previous wine. Ripe but some savoriness too. 2010–13.
Tenuta San Leonardo San Leonardo Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2001
Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Cabernet Franc 30%, and Merlot 10%. Meaty nose and flavors. Still crisp and lively. Smooth and mature. Drink now to 2012.
Castello del Terriccio Lupicaia Toscana IGT 2004
Quite closed on the nose. Some eucalyptus flavors. Meaty too. Very distinctive and very Tuscan, with a smooth finish. 2010–15.