Sunday, June 3, 2012

Il Solissimo Toscana 2001

Wine Facts for Il Solissimo Toscana

Grape Varietal: This Super Tuscan is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Classification of Super Tuscan: IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
Vintage: 2001
Country: Italy
Region: Gaiole in Chianti
Producer: Castello di Lucignano
Price: We forget! (probably high $20 to low $30)
Place of Purchase: Vintage Wines, Harrisonburg, VA

Additional facts: We "found" this wine as we were reorganizing our wine collection after a move. We don't have that many bottles, but I think we bought this one and just forgot about it for a little bit. However, we looked up the wine online because we were surprised that we have a 2001 vintage lying around. Imagine our surprise when it turned out to be a highly regarded wine that some people were saying had just reached peak flavor. What luck! A D.C. restaurant was featuring this as a "Wine of the Week" and we were happy to go ahead and open this to enjoy it at the probable peak.
The maturation listed on this bottle is that it was left in French barriques for 15 months. According to my research, French barriques are made of highly regarded French oak and seems to be much more desired as opposed to American oak. So, this matured in the highest quality oak barrels before being bottled.
This is a Super Tuscan, which means that it is an Italian wine with a significant Sangiovese component that is combined with grapes not traditionally associated with Italy like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. This separates it from "Sangiovese blend" which is used for wines which are predominantly Sangiovese and combined with traditional Italian varieties. There is often confusion as many wines most famous associated with the term "Super Tuscan" like Sassicaia, Masseto and Ornellaia have no Sangiovese and are properly linked to 'Red Bordeaux Blend.' In fact, Super Tuscan was a term coined to refer specifically to wines such as Sassicaia and Tignanello. These were wines that "fell out" of the official DOCG classification of Italian wines because they either contained grapes not permitted (international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot) were aged differently (i.e. in barrique) or were 100% Sangiovese - which was not permitted at the time for Chianti (e.g. Fontodi Flaccianello.) Forced to be classified as simply "Vina di Tavola" these wines nontheless quickly found favour in international markets and comanded prices above the highest quality DOCG Chianti Classico & Brunello di Montalcino wines at the time. The wine industry and press began to refer to these wines as SuperTuscans because of their popularity and quality, but also because of the prices they commanded. Subsequently, the Italian authorities, under the Goria Law 1992, redrew the classifications, and included the category IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) to classify the SuperTuscans. This wine is an IGT.
Characteristics of Il Solissimo Toscana
Appearance: A rather thin, watery-looking wine with a brownish-red tinge; I had heard that some red wines look more brownish than anthing else but I had nver really seen such a wine. So very interesting to see!

Bouquet: A very rich port-like scent assails the nostrils when you first let this wine out of the bottle. As it aerates, the bouquet lightens and seems to become more sweet and juicy.

Adam's Overall Thoughts: The nose of this wine deceives the tongue a bit, not nearly as sweet and fruity as hinted at in the first whiff. The taste is full and robust, filling the mouth pretty quickly. As it settles, a bit of a bite traces from side to side and front to back. The tannins hang around for less of a time than expected, enough to leave me wondering how much I was enjoying the wine. It could be that I've been spoiled by the smoothness of recent Malbecs, but this Super Tuscan left me with mixed feelings towards it. For example, while it paired well with spaghetti, it did not work well with the brownie afterwards, which was surprised me.

Cathy's Overall Thoughts: The wine initially seems very plain during the first few drops on the tongue. However, as you keep the wine in your mouth, the tongue starts to tingle a bit and a tartness starts to slowly build toward the back of the mouth. The build is so very pleasurable because the wine seems so plain and almost sour at the beginning but has this great burst. It almost seems like a young, childish wine that grows to an adult in the blink of an eye. Yes, the "grown-up" quality might seem a bit boring to some, but it made me happy to see structure melding with surprise in the body of this wine. The tart bite though, at the end, can feel a bit overwhelming and the wine didn't seem to linger in my mouth as some other wines have. Those are small drawbacks for such a fine wine.
Overall, I give this a 9.32/10 on my scale.

We paired with: spaghetti one night and a medley of cheeses, fruit, and pizza rolls the next
We recommend this with: I think anything that has structure (Italian food, steaks, cheeses, etc) would really work well for this wine.