Castiglion del Bosco Dainero 2012

W Dainero 2012Merlot from Riparbella, Pisa, Tuscany, Italy

90% merlot

10% sangiovese

13.5% alcohol

Purchased: 6 March 2017  –  $16.99

Opened: 28 Feb 2018

els: 8.5/10

James Suckling: 92

Wine Spectator: 90

Cellar Tracker:84

Tuscany, a central Italian region bounded by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west and the Apennines Mountains on the east, is a name synonymous with Italian Renaissance art, ancient history, landscapes of exquisite beauty, and wine. Its wine history dates back to the enigmatic but successful Etruscans in the 8th century BC, growing rich by trading their wine with the Gauls to the north and the Romans and Greeks to the south and east. The aura and renown of Iron Age Tuscany wine secured its perpetuation through the endless generations of Romans, Christian monks, Florentine merchants, Medicis, Hapsburgs, Bourbons, Bonapartes and todays modern Italians. Good wine and time immemorial happily going hand in hand.

Tuscany has the third highest quantity of acres planted in vines in the country but because of its extremely poor soils and the wine makers emphasis on lower yields, it is only sixth in volume, producing just shy of 300,000,000 liters of wine in 2016. The area has a plethora of DOCG and DOC wine regions plus 5 IGT sub-regions that will bewilder even the most diligent and attentive of students and that’s before the Super Tuscans enter into the smorgasbord of categories; all with their rules about grape varieties and percentages spread over a bursting profusion of wineries and vineyards. The better known regions include: Brunello di Montalcino producing rich, full-bodied sangiovese wines; Chianti and Chianti Classico producing the famous medium-bodied wines; and Bolgheri, the region that first produced the well received Super Tuscans.

Merlot is the 3rd most planted grape in the world and 5th most common in Italy. It is one of the primary grapes for Bordeaux blends and is very popular as a stand alone variety. It is a dark blue to purple grape with a soft, velvety structure with medium tannins and low acidity, producing dark fruity flavors.

Sangiovese is the most planted grape in Tuscany and all of Italy, deriving its name from the Latin for the “blood of Jupiter”. It is possible that this grape dates back to the time of Etruscans and is closely related to the Ciliegiolo grape. A sangiovese wine has an earthy cherry flavor that readily acquires a taste of vanilla and oak after aging in barrels.  The tannins are not too strong but the acidity is high.

The Castiglion del Bosco traces its heritage back to 1100 AD when the castile was built and in the 13th century the family owners added stone walls around the castile. Skipping forward a few years to 1967 the estate joins with a few other local families to found the Brunello di Montalcino wine association. Brunello eventually becomes one of the first Italian wines to be granted the DOC and DOCG categories. Massimo Ferragamo, in 2003, purchased Castiglion del Bosco to add to his winery in Riparbella. By the end of the decade he has added guest villas and a golf course to the Castiglion del Bosco estate.

Dainero is produced from the grapes grown at Castiglion del Bosco’s 25 acres of vineyards at Riparbella, less than 8 miles from the western coast and just north of the Bolgheri wine region. The vineyards are located within the wide-ranging Toscana IGT appellation. The vineyards enjoy an Mediterranean  to a sub-continental climate with cool ocean breezes drafting over the 1475′ above sea level west-facing, vine-covered hills.  The iron-rich, alluvial, clayey soils containing metamorphic gravels and pebbles, ensure that the vines are well-drained, healthy and stable. The vineyards are planted with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. The diurnal growing season temperature-range for the vineyards is 50-85ºF with rainfall averaging 3-4″ per month.

The Merlot grapes were harvested during the first part of September while the Sangiovese grapes were harvested during the last part of this month. The grapes are processed at the Castiglion del Bosco cellars. After sorting the grapes they are gravity fed into steel tanks and fermented for 15 days at 82ºF .  The wine spends 6 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which is new and 70% old.  The wine then spends 6 months in the bottle before it’s marketed to the public.

A ruby-red wine trending towards purple with a tawny rim. Aromas of black fruits, currants, and spice. A medium to full-bodied, balanced and structured, but somewhat thick in the mouth.  The tannins and acidity are working well together producing a slightly sharp and long finish. I rated this wine at 8.5/10 mainly because I believe it is past its prime, not as clear and crisp as it should be.  The wine likely peaked about a year ago.

Enjoy this wine with a dish of spaghetti and Italian sausage.  A platter of hard cheeses would also do this wine justice.

A good wine that you shouldn’t spend more than $10 on. Drink this year. Decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking.



Falesco Tellus Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

W Tellus 2013Cabernet Sauvignon from Montecchio, Terni Province, Tiber Valley, Umbria, Central Italy, Italy

100% cabernet sauvignon

13.4% alcohol

Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $14.99

Opened: 18 Feb 2018

els: 8.9/10

James Suckling: 92

Wine Advocate: 90

Wine Spectator: 88

Cellar Tracker: 87

Umbria in central Italy is one of the 20 political regions and also one of the 20 wine regions in Italy.  This land-locked area is one of the smallest wine regions, 15th by vine acres planted, and 17th by wine volume produced, in Italy and is totally eclipsed by its larger and more famous adjacent northern neighbor: Tuscany.  This wine region maintains 4 levels of quality: DOCG, DOC, IGT, and table wine. The region grows Sangiovese and Sagrantino in profusion but recently, better known, non-indigenous grapes have successfully taken root in the area such as: Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine region is famous for its Orvieto wine, a sweet or a dry white wine blend of lesser known grapes such as: Procanico, Verdello, Grechetto, Canaiolo Bianco, and Malvasia Toscana.  This wine is named after the town of its origin, which is also the home of Nobelist: Enrico Fermi.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross, believed to have occurred naturally sometime in the 1600s in France, between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It is now the most widely planted grape in the world. In terms of acreage planted in this grape, Italy has the 8th largest plantings in the world, behind Argentina and ahead of South Africa. A thick-skinned grape that’s relatively easy to grow and maintain, exhibiting high tannins and acidity, along with cool climate-grown aromas of peppers and currants.

Brothers Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella, founded the Falesco winery in 1979 near the southwestern edge of the Umbria region. Falesco provides wines to Leonardo LoCascio Selections, a Winebow Group company that imports and distributes the family’s wines in the US.  The winery produces 4 IGT wines: Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a white blend. Additionally it produces a DOC white blend based on the Trebbiano grape.

The vineyards are located about a half mile east of the Tiber river and 4 miles west of the Apennines Mountains. There are 925 acres planted with various grapes which produce 2.6 million bottles of wine every year. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown on 25 acres of calcareous clay at 990′ feet above sea level. The growing season diurnal temperature range is 55-85ºF.  Rainfall is plentiful during the growing season ranging from  1.5-5.5″ per month.  Occasionally, there may be a few days of snow in January or February but it doesn’t accumulate and it shouldn’t have any lasting detrimental affects on the vines.

The grapes are picked in early September then fermented and macerated for 15 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then racked into oak barrels for malolactic fermentation. A final 5-month racking, before bottling, occurs in new, 60-gallon French oak barrels. The winery targets a production of 80,000 bottles for this wine. These are young vines and 2013 was the first crop and vintage for the Tellus, a Latin word for Earth, Cabernet Sauvignon label. Not a bad first effort.

A ruby-red wine with a garnet rim. Aromas of blackberries and plums, with a hint of vanilla and spice. A medium-bodied wine with mellow tannins. A very nice, medium finish.

A good wine at a fair price. Try with a traditional Umbra dish of truffles pasta. An easy dish of fettucine, shallots, heavy cream, truffle shavings, truffle butter and butter.  Add some spicy meatballs on the side to complete the meal. Drink now, but should last until 2020-2023.


Pecchenino San Luigi Dogliani Dolcetto 2016

W San Luigi 2016Dolcetto from Dogliani, Piedmont, Italy

100% dolcetto

13.5% alcohol

Opened 11 Dec 2017

els: 9.0/10

Wine Spectator: 91

Wine Advocate: 90

The Pecchenino wine estate has been passed from father to son since the late 18th century. The estate, since the 1970s, has tripled in size and now encompasses approximately 62 acres northeast of the commune of Dogliani, a small town of about 5000 people, which is  less than 40 miles southeast of Turin.  The estate has 70% of its acreage planted in Dolcetto vines with the remaining 30% dedicated to their better known cousins: Barbera, Nebbiolo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Dolcetto, known in area since at least the early 1400s, is a cool weather, dark-skinned grape with high tannin levels but low acidity, necessitating an early consumption since it will not age well in the bottle much beyond 4 or 5 years. This is not catastrophic, actually just the opposite, since the 2016 vintage is a nice wine to drink right now while you wait for the regions Barbera and Nebbiolo wines to age for 3-5 years.

The Pecchenino soils consist of unconsolidated calcareous alluvium, somewhat fertile but lacking in substantial organics. The vines are perched at an altitude of 1275-1400 feet above sea level, with a generally southern exposure.  Temperatures range from the low 80s during the growing season days to the mid 50s at night.  Rain amounts of 1-3 inches per month are typical.  October is the wettest month with up 3.5 inches expected and July is the driest with an average rainfall of a little more than 1 inch.

A brilliant, medium colored red wine with fruity and earthy aromas. Nice tannins and not too dry, producing a pleasant and satisfying finish. Serves well with, and not trying to be cliché, pizza and pasta.

An outstanding wine. Decant and aerate for at least one hour.



Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva 2013

W Nozzole ChiantiSangiovese from Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

100% sangiovese

13.5% alcohol by volume

els 9.1/10

Vinous 93

Wilfred Wong 90

The Italians, Ambrogio, and his son Giovanni, the seventh and eighth generations of wine makers in the Folonari family, acquired the Nozzole Estate in 1971; continuing the family tradition of producing fine Tuscany wines since the 1700s.

The Nozzole Estate, less than 20 miles south of Florence, was known as a producer of fine wines as far back as the 1300s. The immediate proximity of the estate to Florence is prima facie evidence that the winery supplied the city with a significant amount of Nozzole’s output, making a claim to the creative spirit and charm of this city.

Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance in the middle 1300s was known, from historical records, to import, during this time period, 6 to 7 million gallons of wine inside the city walls each year; estimated to have a population of 80,000 to 95,000 citizens; happily providing every person with a bottle of wine every day. It is no coincidence that the Florence of old is synonymous with the creative brilliance, magnificence, patronage of notables like Leonardo, Botticelli, and Medici: paintings, sculpture and money.

Moving into the present, estimates are that the world produces upwards to 36 billion bottles of wine every year, barely enough to give every soul a miserly bottle of wine every 2 or 3 months. It is no coincidence that the world today generates copious amounts of lawyers, guns and…money.

The Nozzole’s vineyards are  222 acres of Sangiovese grapes, grown in the Chianti Classico sub-region of central Tuscany, sunning themselves 1000 feet above sea level on the rolling hills of weathered sandstone and chalky marlstones. Mild nights, temperatures from the low to high 50s, and hot days reaching up into the mid-80s persuade the grapes to give up a full-bodied wine, nudged along with 1.5 to 3 inches of rain per month during the growing season.

This Chianti is a dark, purple to ruby-red, aromas of acidic, dark cherries and raisins, tannins just right for a long, structured finish.

An outstanding wine.


Baracchi O’lillo 2014

W Baracchi OlilloTuscan Red Blend from Tuscany, Italy
25% cabernet sauvignon
25% merlot
25% sangiovese
25% syrah
14.5% alcohol by volume

els 9.0/10

James Suckling 93

Wine Spectator 90

The Baracchi winery and vineyards are located on the southern, sunny slopes of the Apennine Mountains, in the eastern central area of Tuscany, just outside the stone walls of the ancient, small city of Cortona.

Legend has it that Cortona was originally established by Noah, shortly after the great flood; falling in love with the fertile soils and natural beauty of the area. Umbrians, Etruscans, Romans, Guelphs, Medici, Italians have all called Cortona theirs. The town, at approximately 1600 feet above sea level, overlooks Lake Trasimene, the setting for one of the Roman Empires great military defeats at the hands of Hannibal in 217 BC (Carnage and Culture, The Punic Wars).  When touring the Tuscany wine region this is a required stop to cherish and savor the legends, the history, the scenery, the food, and certainly, the wine.

The Baracchi Estate, winery and vineyards, a family business since 1860, is run by Riccardo and his son Benedetto, producing some of the best wines in the region. There are 4 vineyards sitting about 1000 feet above sea level, enjoying hot days, rising to the high 80s, and cool nights dipping down to the chilly low 50s. The rains, coming roughly once a week, deliver from 1.5 to 3 inches of water per month to the thirsty vines. The soils range from sandy to clayey and chalky. The wines are aged in French oak barrels.

This red blend is a brilliant ruby-red, redolent with red and black cherries and just a whisper of black pepper.  The tannins are about as smooth as a cloudless Mediterranean sky, with an enjoyable, hearty and long finish.

An outstanding wine.


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