Tag Archive: Sangiovese

Haven’t opened a cellar wine in a while and simply felt the urge this evening. Went into this one with reasonably high expectations given how remarkably well Montiverde’s 1998 Vigneto Cipressone Chinati Classico showed a few months back.

Appearance: black-cored brick with terra cotta edges

Aroma: faint black cherry, tomato leaf, anise, and saddle leather

Palate: opens fruit-light and dominated by incredibly lively acidity, baking spices and leather. But, after an hour-plus, evolves into light black cherry liqueur; and overt tanginess

Finish: clove/leather sueded tannins

Certainly still alive and not over-the-hill, but a bit off-balance. Acid shows plenty of life but overwhelms the understated fruit. Overall, pleasant but a good bit of fruit shy of a success. Paired well with lentil loaf.


Origin: Era Valley, Chianti Superiore, Tuscany, Italy

Composition: 80% Sangiovese, 20% Canaiolo

Appearance: deep black-cored violet

Nose: closed dried lavender and rich licorice

Palate: black cherry reduction sauce, delicate baking spice, back-palate acidity followed by a long sweet anisette/lavender finish

Mouthfeel: pretty full-bodied for a Chianti, sleek front-end with velvety tannins

Matteo Cantoni visited my old wine shop a few years ago and gifted me with this signed bottle. No sense in not giving it the treatment it deserves: sharing with my wife on a snowy day off at home over a dinner of mixed left-overs and scrounged possibilities (pumpkin soup, grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches, chili, and thick-cut potato “chips”–all homemade, of course).

This is just lovely. The dark richness is a testament to the Cantoni family’s commitment to the Canaiolo grape and attention to detail in the vineyard and winery. Showing about as spot-on as it could right now. The balance of rich, dark fruit, back-palate acidity and velvety tannins shows what an incredible value this was at about $17 upon its release. You could probably get away with a few more years of cellaring with this, but it is drinking so well now, why wait?

Day 2: flintiness comes on strong. Nice to see some of that rusticity show itself, but the fruit is still super-ripe and lush. Better day on two, I’d say.

The bottle is empty. That counts for something, right?

It’s hard for me not to like Mr. Thackrey as a renegade intellect in this industry—his philosophy is very much in line with mine right down to the rambling and often self-contradictory nature (for more long-winded details from the man himself, look here). When a wine-maker is as outspoken about the balance of place, fruit, and the craft/art/alchemy of wine-making (while minimizing the importance of each of those individually), the expectation is that those elements should present themselves obviously and indelibly as specific to that wine-maker. The problem is, I’ve never thought he has achieved that as well as others who aren’t as obsessed with the idea. Perhaps this is a “can’t see the forest for the trees” situation for him and/or me.

I have always consumed his wines with ambivalence. Sure, they’re generally pretty good, but are they successful at conveying what he wishes them to? I hope not, because, while it is a stated goal, I can’t imagine that all he is shooting for is simple pleasure. Otherwise, why chose such curious vineyard sites and such esoteric grape varieties? When creating a broad non-vintage blend like Pleiades (which varies in composition every year) wherein fruit is sourced from various sites, nearly all that remains is a sense of wine-maker’s influence—there is no balance of place, fruit, and craft.  This is in line with his belief in the indelible imprint of the wine-maker on his wine even in the least interventionist manner of production. But it steers towards his obsession being reduced to self-importance (intentional or not).

Oh, well. He would ultimately say something like, “all that matters is what is in the glass now”, anyway. So here’s what is in mine:

Pleiades XX
Light-to-medium-bodied strawberry-and-clay red. Clearly a good amount of Sangiovese and Pinot Noir in the blend but, also, a good bit of aroma-lifiting and spicy Viognier in there to lighten the whole thing. Served just right at about 60° F which allows the lightness of body to shine. It is nice the way the Viognier lifts the dominant floral Sangiovese, spiciness of the Pinot Noir/Zinfandel, and the touch of earthy Mourvédre, but I would have liked some mid-palate acid to call me back to the glass. Juicy strawberry and ripe cherry fruit with undertones of earthy spice and a surprisingly dominant salinity. Tasty and easy-drinking if a bit lacking in the vibrancy expected of such a blend. The fruit-sweetness countered the spicy heat of my basic chili spot-on. Got the wife and me tipsy, so it worked as expected in that regard. Not particularly “special”, but certainly very drinkable and pleasant and will find plenty of enthusiastic drinkers. Drink now—do not wait, as it is just barely clinging to its peak.


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