Answer: A grape variety (being a cross of between Madeleine Angevin & Gewurztraminer) used to produce white wines. Originated in Germany but now is being grown in England and Canada finding better acidity balance. Tasted recently true examples of the Siegerrebe variety from Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Rocky Creek Winery on Vancouver Island and Chaberton from the Fraser Valley all within British Columbia Canada. Check it out.
The Antinori history dates back to 1385 with the famous wine family presently at 26 generations and growing. The modern era began with Marchese Piero Antinori (who took over in 1966 from his father Niccolo) and later joined by his 3 daughters Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia. Their influence on Tuscan wine has been enormous over the past decades with innovations that already have become historic. Among them was the establishment of the so-called Super Tuscan of International grapes blended with the native Sangiovese grape. The first one was Sassicaia but other important milestones were Tignanello followed by Solaia.
Our Vancouver Group of Eight (Event #111) enjoyed an outstanding function on June 20, 2023 over dinner at Blue Water Cafe reflecting on the amazing Antinori contributions to the world wine scene and tasting eight vintages of Tignanello. All of this was made possible due to the kind generosity of member Fred Withers in donating all wines for the evening from his collection. Many thanks. Some excellent bottles indeed.
The aperitif was a unique Grower Champagne located south of the Côte de Blancs near Sézanne of ULYSSE COLLIN LES MAILLONS BLANC DE NOIRS EXTRA BRUT Lot 12 Vintages Blend Disgorged February 2016. I was first introduced to this very perfumed apple “Burgundian” style with less bubbles at the restaurant of Chef Thomas Keller at PER SE in New York. Worth checking out.
The digestif was one of the very best Sauternes vintages 2001 from a top property CHATEAU SUDUIRAUT that displayed a rich golden colour (with lots of tartaric crystals in the bottom of the bottle) with a complex “dried sweet apricots” bouquet exquisitely matched to the apricot tartlet dessert.
The main tasting was eight vintages of Tignanello plus a mystery wine in two flights cleverly orchestrated by Fred (see his comment sheet with excerpts and tasting notes quoted from Wine Spectator) to start with the cooler years and finish with the more classic riper Sangiovese vintages.
Tignanello was previously spotlighted on this Blog here on February 29, 2016 with some useful background and some tasting notes for the underrated 2009 and the first one 1971 (100% Sangiovese). Also important to note that the first 20 vintages were by the winemaker Giacomo Tachis with influence from Emile Peynaud from Bordeaux to emphasize more in that style. 1982 was the start of the blend in current use and since the 90s Renzo Cotarella has brilliantly evolved the classic style with more finesse & grace. Note that between 2008 & 2009 there was a complete renovation of the vinification cellar which helped the ever-improving quality. Some brief impressions from your scribe:
FIRST FLIGHT: 2009 TIGNANELLO: Fresh, bright, and savoury So elegant and stylish. Approaching “Brunello style” (but not 100% Sangiovese). Paired so well with the rich Oxtail Cappelletti course. First flight favourite Tignanello of both Fred and myself.
2006 TIGNANELLO: Cooler year shows on both the nose and palate. Some mocha spice plus vibrancy but noticeable acidity with less classic definition.
2005 TIGNANELLO: Darker look goes deep right to the rim. Riper than 2006 with middle fruit consistency. Touch of floral teas with smoky pepper.
1999 TIGNANELLO: Lighter maturing colour. Delightful herbaceous minty bouquet lovely for current drinking. Popular group choice.
2008 TIGNANELLO: This has much riper stylish Sangiovese cherries compared to the first flight. Obviously, well-selected consistent pure fruit used here. Admire the perfect balance and the wonderful textures. Like this statement made far more than the Wine Spectator 93 rating. Perhaps continuing to improve with more aging in the bottle?
2007 TIGNANELLO: Fine lively but leaner than 2008 showing good plummy fruit with excellent elegance. A bit reluctant at first and this bottle is not the impressive depth of mid-flavours and length of the 2008 one.
2004 TIGNANELLO: Bouquet seems cooler and greener than expected. Leather tobacco is developing. Flavours are rather typical but starting to dry out. This bottle doesn’t warrant the highest score of 98 given by Wine Spectator for comparison. Bottle variation? 2004 could have been in the first flight in exchange with the 2009.
1997 TIGNANELLO: Some Bordeaux-like aged bouquet on the nose. Lovely. Structure is good with sous-bois flavours but not as complex as a Super Second. Drinking well with Rabbit “Porchetta” main course.
2004 SOLAIA: Mystery wine served blind. Dark deep appearance right to the edge. Young bigger dense fruit concentration is remarkable. Complex! Easy to guess as Solaia with the textbook Left Bank Cabernet Sauvignon obviously there. Guessed 2002 Solaia (only one produced with 100% Cabernet). Usually it is around 75% Cab Sauv & 25 % Sangiovese. Note that the first one was in 1978 and no Solaia was made in 80, 81, 83, 84, and 92. Great mirror opposite contrast in style to the Tignanello of 80% Sangiovese with less Cab.
Question: Are there going to be rule changes coming to Gran Selezione Chianti Classico?
Answer: Yes the Chianti Classico Consorzio have now agreed to make regulatory changes mostly starting with the 2027 vintage (2030 release) for Gran Selezione (which was introduced in 2014). Summary:
1) Permitting (but not required) to be named on wine labels revised geographic sub-divisions called UGA (additional geographical units) on Gran Selezione. Encouraging a sense of “place” for Chianti Classico.
2) Raising minimum Sangiovese now at 80% to 90%. Note Brunello di Montalcino now is at 100%.
3) Restricting remaining 0% to 10% allowed to only native Italian grape varieties and not international ones. Encouraging traditional Chianti styling.
Lots of hype for the impressive showings of 2022 red wines currently resting in oak barrels in Bordeaux. Surprising early fresh vibrancy being shown in the wines produced from smaller berries with lower acidity. The weather started out early in 2022 with very dry warm conditions and continued with drought plus very hot Summer temperatures. Reminds some of us old-timers of the 2003 vintage which also had extreme heat but with fewer cool nights diurnal cycle swing than in 2022. As well, 20 years later the vines seem to be adapting better to this climate change and the vineyard-winery management know-how has increased substantially. More cover crops for both the grapes and the soil also is helping out. The result is overall better consistency in perfectly ripening the grapes – even less over-ripe Merlot which was a problem on the Right Bank in 2003. Regular followers of this Blog will remember earlier postings on 2003 Bordeaux on July 28, 2013 here and October 5, 2015 here plus a question on our Ask Sid feature on May 13, 2015 here about the exciting 2003 Duhart Milon. On June 12, 2023 the Vancouver Branch of La Commanderie de Bordeaux showed a 2003 horizontal tasting in two flights with excellent food matching by the Five Sails restaurant. No Duhart this time but the parent chateau Lafite Rothschild showed outstandingly. A brief summary:
2003 MALESCOT ST. EXUPERY MARGAUX: Still dark red but the rim is paling. Evolving palate is starting to dry out in a leaner style but an interesting open rather non-typical 2003 fresh herbaceous minty “pretty” bouquet. Surprises. Drink up.
2003 BRANAIRE DUCRU SAINT-JULIEN: Deeper and darker right to the rim. Riper nose hinting of 2003 but balanced with rich creamy full fruit true flavours of St. Julien. Underrated property. Lovely drinking with the exquisite duck course. Enjoy now.
2003 PAVIE-DECESSE ST. EMILION: Listed on the menu as Clerc Milon but blind substitute served. Good colour but big much riper forwardly softer with a bit of jammy textures. Wondered about St. Emilion (here 90% Merlot + 10% Cab Franc) but because of the strong super mint and my expectation of Left Bank (probably Pauillac) guessed 2003 Lynch Bages. Similar to the controversial style of big sister Pavie in 2003 with lots of intense classy fruit still there to go on further. Distinctive & rather unique. No rush.
2003 GRAND-PUY DUCASSE PAUILLAC: Darkest of the flight with a more late picked styling. Simpler coarser riper Pauillac style with sweet jammy fruit but not quite as cedary and elegant as Grand Puy Lacoste.
SECOND FLIGHT: 2003 PONTET-CANET PAUILLAC: Deep solid young fruit. Ripe and graphite but not over the top. Very classy cedary Pauillac with an impressive long finish. Not quite singing as brilliantly as some of their best memorable vintages but excellent nonetheless in tough company here. Still needs time to develop more complexity.
2003 PICHON LONGUEVILLE COMTESSE DE LALANDE PAUILLAC: More elegance shows here with open delightful tertiary perfumes. Less depth concentration of fruit than the other three in this flight but lovely with 30+% Merlot showing in the blend. Softer tannins less intense but drinking beautifully tonight with superb Bison dish. Most forwardly one of this flight.
2003 LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC: Third Pauillac in the flight. Dark enough. Reaches another dimension on the bouquet singing beautiful music from that 86% choice perfectly ripe Cabernet Sauvignon. What an amazing definition of Pauillac this is! So well balanced in a vintage where that attribute was the hardest to find. Expected a lot because Duhart Milon is consistently delicious drinking. Lafite lives up to my expectations at 20 years with pure seductive class. Perhaps approaching that 100 point score or certainly could with even more cellar time. 2003 MONTROSE ST. ESTEPHE: Big dark very deep rich concentrated fruit is so impressive. Shows why those clay soils to retain moisture in St Estephe were so important in the scorching hot 2003 vintage. Some tobacco notes are starting to develop on the nose from the powerful cassis Cabernet and sweet ripe Merlot (high 34%) blend. Lots of still unresolved tannins to meld with the buckets of intense fruit it has to go on forever. A beauty for long term aging in your cellar. Wow.
This recent tasting shows in this last flight how sensational 2003 wines from Pauillac & St. Estephe can be. It is a hopeful shining beacon for the promising similar weather 2022 to deliver in the future some outstanding wines across many more appellations. Continue to monitor and purchase some.