Provence Cabernet – Château Vignelaure 2006

Next week a small but quite interesteing bunch of wines are to be released here in Sweden. And among them a one from the estate that was the first to plant cabernet sauvignon in Provence – Château Vignelaure.

The original cuttings were taken from Château La Lagune in Bordeaux/Médoc by the former owner Georges Brunet in the 1960s. Today the estate covers around 60 hectars of vine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Grenache) in AC Coteaux d’Aix en Provence and since 2007 it is owned by swedish/danish couple Bengt and Mette Sundström. The winemaker is Philippe Bru.

The Château Vignelaure 2006 is a blend of 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Syrah and 5 percent Grenache. The wine has been aged in french (95 percent) and american (5 percent) oak for 14 months. And it is a beautiful combination of power and balance.

Dark blueish-red in colour. Young slightly closed and perfumed aromas of dark berries, farm yard and herbs on the nose. Medium bodied and concentrated taste of dark berries (black berries and black currants), garrigues, and spices. Still young with quite pronounced tannins and elements of black peppar and tobacco. Quite firm but long and balanced finish. Great now – but will be even better with some more bottle age!

Wonders of Tuscany – Tenuta di Valgiano

Have you ever heard of Colline Lucchesi? No!? You are not alone! The vineyards on the hills of the small town Lucca in the norh-west of Tuscany may not be one of the most well known wine districts in Italy – but there are some truly amazing wines coming out of the DOC.

I recently tasted my first wine from Tenuta di Valgiano – an estate with 16 ha under vine that are run by Moreno Pietrini and Laura di Collobaino. The production is certified biodynamique and all wines are made in what they describe as a traditional way to reflect the terroir with a minimum of technological intervention.

In the cellar that means among other things a gravity-fed winery where fermentation takes place in small wooden vats with daily plunging. Maceration times can be anything between 6 and 18 days depending on which grapes we are talking about and where they have grown. The malo and maturation is done in french barriques (20 percent new oak) for 12 to 15 months and sulphur dioxide is used sparingly.

The Tenuta di Valgiano 2007 is a stunning wine – one of the best “supertuscans” or blends of indigenous and french varietys that I have tasted in a while. Gambero Rosso’s monumental guide to Italian Wines 2011 is equally impressed and writes:

“it’s breathtakingly authenticity and natural, tumultuous development. It is so rythmic and vibrant with endless flavour that it is simply not possible to describe in mere tasting notes”.

And I agree! The 2007 Tenuta di Valgiano is a blend of 60 percent sangiovese and 20 percent each of syrah and merlot. And it is an awesome power pack of dark berries, game, farm yard, spices, chocolate and oak. Complex and concentrated and yet well balanced with nuanced mineral flavours. It should develop wonderfully over the next 10 years or so.

Carmignano – the first supertuscan (Il Sasso 2004)

So you think that Tenuta San Guidos Sassicaia was the first supertuscan? Think again! The producers in Carmignano has been using french/international varietys (mainly cabernet sauvignon) for centuries. And the wines are awesome!

Carmignano might not be as well known as neighbouring Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino. But the district deserves a place in the limelight – and the wines can truly be called the first supertuscans!

Okay it was not until 1975 they got the go ahead to officially use cabernet in their DOC-wines! But the winegrowers had been blending sangiovese with cabernet since the 18th century. And the result was and is stunning wines that combine sangioveses perfumed cherry flavours with cabernets great tanninstructured dark berries.

In Sweden we seldom see bottles of Carmignano in our wine and spirits monopoly – Systembolaget. But Piaggias modern classic Il Sasso do pop up from time to time. It is a wine that usually get fantastic reviews in Gambero Rossos Italian Wines. And it is a blend of mostly sangiovese with cabernet sauvignon & cabernet franc, merlot and sometimes canaiolo. It gets 15 months on french oak and another six months in bottle prior release.

I bought a handful of 2004s a few years back and I have been sampling it occasionally. And this past weekend I opened another bottle. And it was fantastic.

Deep dark red in colour with an orange/brick-tinged rim. Big aromas on the nose with dark cherries, dark berries, chocolate, oak/vanilla and crème brûlée. The wine is still powerfull on the palate with a mediumbodied structure. The cabernet shines through with quite firm tannins and loads of dark berries (cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants). Hints of chocolate, crème brûlée, herbs and vanilla. Long focused finish with great tannins that are beginning to soften. Drink now or keep up to 10 years!