Bordeaux vs Tuscany: November 8, 2016

What a pleasant evening we had! Two of the greatest wine regions of the wine world competing against each other. Bordeaux vs Tuscany, the epic battle! Of course, to be fair to both regions, we needed to focus our tasting on a style that can be compared, and the logical choice for us was the “Super Tuscans”.  For those of you that are not familiar with the term, “Super Tuscan” is used to describe red wines from Tuscany that may include the use of non-indigenous grapes, especially Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The creation of super Tuscan wines was a result of the frustration winemakers had towards a slow bureaucracy in changing the wine law of Italy during the 1970’s. Winemakers began mixing ‘unsanctioned’ wine varieties (like Merlot and cabernet sauvignon) into their blends to make high quality wines, often times by using French inspired techniques of winemaking, like the use of smaller French oak barrels. Since then, the Italian law evolved to make room for this new category within the IGP label, and many estates started to produce very interesting Super Tuscans cuvee alongside their classic wines made from indigenous varietals.

Our criteria to select our lineup were:

1: the grape varietals: we wanted to compare either single varietals or blends that are very similar, even if it was not always possible to find blends from Bordeaux and Tuscany that had the exact same percentages of each varietal.

2: Price point: Often times a good indicator of quality and expenses spent on the production of a cuvee. To be fair, we wanted to make sure to compare similar wines.

3: Regions: For the last pair of wines of the night, we wanted to put against each other two satellite regions that produce quality, but value oriented wines in a Bordeaux or Super Tuscan style.

We were extremely content with how the wines were showing, even though some, like La Mondotte and Le Macchiole, were obviously still infants. We decanted all the wines earlier in the day with the exception of the whites to make sure that they were showing their full potential.

The wines:

2013, Château Doisy-Daëne $39.99
100% Sauvignon Blanc
Bordeaux Blanc AOC, Barsac

Château Doisy-Daëne is a Barsac estate producing top-class, sweet Bordeaux white wines characterized by their finesse and richness. The property is owned by the late Denis Dubourdieu, a legendary figure in Bordeaux wine circles, especially for the way he has revitalized the reputation of the region’s dry white wines. This is a stunning example of their dry style wine made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Elegant, with notes of grapefruit and white peach on the nose and a characteristic pear skin and spice character on the palate. It is a beautiful expression of the varietal, with a long ageing potential (5-10).

AGAINST

2014, Montauto Enos I $38.99
100% Sauvignon Blanc
DOC Maremma Toscana

The top white from the Montauto family estate, which covers 200 beautiful hectares in one of the most wild and unspoiled corners of Tuscany’s Maremma. The Montauto winery has been in the same family for more than 60 years. Still family-operated, it is small but mighty, getting great attention across Europe. This crisp, complex white wine is made from old-vines Sauvignon Blanc, which does well in this part of Tuscany. With beautiful notes of lime peel, peach and herbs, it has a delicacy and an elegance to it that is simply outstanding. A Gold Medal winner at the prestigious 2016 “Concours Mondial du Sauvignon” global Sauvignon Blanc competition.

2009, Château Hourtin-Ducasse $54.99
65 % Cabernet-sauvignon, 30% merlot, 4% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot
Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc AOC

Fantastic value! “Nicknamed ‘Velvet,’ this red Bordeaux doesn’t require that you wait for 5 to 10 years to get the most out of it. You may store it for that time if you want and it should still show its good lineage. It is a typical Left Bank blend but the nose and palate gets a lot of sophisticated, bright black fruit, dark chocolate and coffee, with excellent balance and a long, savory finish. The tannins are tamed and smooth due to a good dose of new oak. The finish is long and memorable. 2009 was an excellent vintage in Bordeaux and this wine shows it.

AGAINST

2013, Poggio Al Sole Seraselva $47.99
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot
IGT Rosso Toscana

The grape growing and wine making traditions of the Davaz family go back several years. The Davaz have been cellaring wine in their estate between Fläsch and Maienfeld in the Bündner Herrschaft of Switzerland (Domain of the Grisons Lords ) since the early seventies. Sons Johannes and Andrea were originally winegrowers and cellar men who subsequently pursued a formal training as oenologists. The family then acquired «Poggio al Sole» where wine and wine oil were produced on this estate as early as the 12th century. Poggio al Sole is known for its excellent Chianti Classico, so Johannes Davaz was initially reluctant to plant Bordeaux varietals on his hill in Tuscany. But he can’t argue with the results: Seraselva, his Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%) wine, has won over critics in Italy and around the world, the latter being all the more impressive given the fact that it is a small production winery. The bouquet is intensive and fresh, warm with notes of ripe fruits. The palate is round and complex with ripe tannins. Spicy and mineral, with taste of licorice and black cherry fruit on the finish.

2012, La Mondotte $299.99
85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc
Saint-Emilion Grand Cru AOC

In 1971, Count Joseph-Hubert von Neipperg acquired four wine estates in Saint-Emilion: Canon La Gaffelière, La Mondotte, Clos de l’Oratoire, and Château Peyreau, four prestigious Châteaux with a long tradition of quality and excellence in the area. La Mondotte is located on the eastern part of the Saint-Emilion plateau next to Troplong-Mondot. This 4.5 hectare vineyard, the smallest of the Neipperg properties, is an absolute gem. Its outstanding terroir (clay limestone soil and rocky subsoil) has all the natural qualities to produce greatness. Sumptuous notes of bramble, spring flowers, kirsch, black currant liqueur, graphite and spice on the palate. Extravagantly rich and opulent, full-bodied and multidimensional, with soft tannin and moderate acidity. It will last for two decades in the cellar, but it is drinking incredibly well right now. An outstanding 96 Points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate that described the wine as one of the best of the 2012 vintage.

AGAINST

2009, Le Macchiole Messorio $265.99
100% Merlot
IGT Toscana

Le Macchiole was founded in 1983 on the desire of Eugenio Campolmi and Cinzia Merli to turn their passion for wine into their life dream. It was a revolutionary project rooted in their hometown of Bolgheri, at the time not as famous as now. Messorio, born in 1994, is a challenging dance between us and one of the most widespread varieties in the Bolgheri area: Merlot. Messorio is named from an Italian term pinpointing the period of harvesting. It is a moment of great importance in the life of our countryside, at one time linked to the reaping of crops, now, for us and inextricably identified with the grape harvest. Respect for the life and the natural environment is central: hence the decision in 2002 to manage the vines organically. On the basis of the characteristics of every area, rootstocks have been chosen with the most appropriate clones, so as to have, in every year, the best possible quality. Messorio is aged 20 months, 75% in new oak barriques and 25% in 2nd passage barriques. The 2009 emerges from the glass with dark cherries, plums, mocha, smoke, incense and grilled herbs. Determined by considerable complexity and elegance, which grows year after year from aging in the bottle.  This vintage has achieved a very respectable 97-points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine!

2010, Clos Cavenac Seizh Penn $31.99
Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Fer Servadou & Abouriou
Côtes du Marmandais AOC

Clos Cavenac is an 11 hectare vineyard, family own, located on the right bank of the Garonne river, in an area from the South West France satellite of Bordeaux called Côtes du Marmandais. Many Bordeaux grape varietals are grown in this area and the wines are commonly referred as “Bordeaux Copies”, even if a few indigenous varietals are required to be used as blending varietal, like Fer and Abouriou. The cooler and more continental climate here upriver tends to result in a lighter style of Bordeaux red blends, but in the best vintage, you can find outstanding value and concentration of flavours in these wines. Old Vines, low yields, Clos Cavenac is one of the great examples of the gems that can be found in these satellites appellations. Put a couple bottles away for 5 to 8 years and see what I mean by “gem”…

AGAINST

2011, Sportoletti Villa Fidelia Rosso $46.99
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
IGT Umbria Rosso

A KWM exclusive and a big, gorgeous rich red blend from Italy’s Umbria region! The Sportoletti family, who have been farmers for generations, have always been passionately dedicated to wine production. Towards the end of the 1970s, the brothers Ernesto and Remo, reaping the benefits of what their father Vittorio taught them, decided to dedicate themselves exclusively to wine production. In 1979 the first one thousand bottles were produced with their own label. Since then they have constantly been researching the perfect balance between innovation and tradition, using their skills to take the best advantage of the potential of the land-the hills between Spello and Assisi- where their 30 hectares of vineyard are situated. The winery also produces its own solar power  and gives surplus of almost 50% which is sold to the grid as clean energy.  This is a deep and penetrating wine that boasts enormous richness and inky black concentration. The bouquet shows similar weight and persistence with dark spice, dried cherry, blackberry preserves and Teriyaki smoke. This is a wine of enormous depth and power.

As usual, we asked our guests to vote for their 2 favorites of the night, but we also asked them to vote on each pair of wines that we put against each other.

The results:

Doisy-Daene (Bordeaux) against Enos I (Tuscany): BORDEAUX

Hourtin-Ducasse (Bordeaux) against Seraselva (Tuscany): TUSCANY

La Mondotte (Bordeaux) against Messorio (Tuscany): TUSCANY

Seizh Penn (Bordeaux satellite) against Villa Fidelia (Umbria; Tuscany satellite): TUSCANY SATELLITE

Overall:

#1 ex aequo:

2013, Château Doisy-Daëne $39.99
&
2009, Le Macchiole Messorio $265.99

#2

2011, Sportoletti Villa Fidelia Rosso $46.99

Was it Sebastian’s magic or were the Italian wines just more approachable than the French? We will never know. But one thing is sure: Tuscany reds were by far the stars of the night.

Thank you all for reading.

Santé! /Salute!

Sebastian & Christine

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