Tasted: G. Mascarello 1997 Barolo Monprivato Ca’ d’ Morissio

An astounding wine. Layers and layers of nuanced fruit and earth on the nose, with this fantastic black licorice, almost menthol note that is always a signature in wines from this vineyard. Rich tar and mushroom in the mouth, with harmonious red berry and red stone fruit. But it was the acidity, tongue-splitting acidity, as Tracie P would have said — even in the warm 1997 vintage! — that took this wine over the top. In Italian wine parlance, you often say that the acidity is a “backbone” that “supports” the flavors of the wine: this wine was the embodiment of this notion.

—Jeremy Parzen

Proposed changes to Rosso di Montalcino DOC advance

Reported by VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani at Vino al Vino.

On December 15, the 15-member advisory council of the Brunello di Montalcino producers association approved proposed changes to the Rosso di Montalcino DOC including the allowance of up to 15% of grapes other than Sangiovese, the use of synthetic corks, and an easing of monitoring protocols.

Proposed changes will need to be approved by a majority of the 250+ members of the producers association. Observers on the ground anticipate that the changes will be approved when the body reconvenes in 2011.

Opinion: Roberto Stucchi on why IGTs should be included in Chianti Classico debut tasting

Chianti Classico producer Roberto Stucchi is one of Italy’s leading winemakers.

I was at the assemblea [assembly]. There was little discussion about the IGT wines at the Anteprima [the annual debut of the new Chianti Classico vintage, held in Florence each year in February] at all. A few criticized it, but that’s it. The main topic was the reorganization of the C[hianti] C[lassico] appellation, and the one thing that came out very strongly was the rejection of the proposal of a “light young C. Classico” to help in this difficult economic time. The majority (but there where no votes) spoke in favor of reviving the riservas, and re-qualifying [re-classifying] the whole appellation. Also a mostly favorable opinion on the idea of sub-appellations by comune [township], but with very differentiated ideas about how to do it.My opinion about IGT at the Anteprima: why not? Many are pure Sangiovese. And unfortunately some Chianti Classicos are Bordeaux-like.

As a C[hianti] Classico producer that has always worked only with Sangiovese, I’m not scandalized by the proposal to present IGT’s at the Anteprima. After all many are entirely from Sangiovese grapes.

I find a lot more questionable that the rules have gradually increased the amount of non-traditional grapes allowed in the blend (now that’s a slippery slope to me).

The Chianti “Bordelais” lobby keeps pushing to increase this percentage, the last proposal was to allow up to 40%. (It failed for now.)

I need to make clear that I’m not at all against growing other varietals in Chianti; quite the opposite, I think that the Classico appellation should allow wines from other varietals to be called Chianti Classico, with a varietal appellation added.

It’s just that CC alone shouldn’t be fattened by Merlot or Cab. It would be nice if things were more transparent, with things clearly stated on the label.

I love CC from Sangiovese for its elegance, finesse, food friendliness, and for how the light penetrates it and gives it brilliance.

What really bugs me is when an overly concentrated and heavily oaked muscular wine pretends to be a Sangiovese.

—Roberto Stucchi

Feudi di San Gregorio acquires Vulture producer Basilisco

According to a post published Friday by one of Italy’s top wine bloggers and leading expert on southern Italian wine, Luciano Pignataro, Campania giant Feudi di San Gregorio has announced its acquisition of one of Aglianico del Vulture’s most respected producers, Basilisco.

The move comes as a surprise to many in the light of the fact that Campania producer Feudi di San Gregorio is already well established in the neighboring region of Basilicata with its Locanda del Palazzo property and vineyards.

“Everything will remain exactly how it is now,” said Feudi di San Gregorio president Antonio Capaldo, who noted that Feudi will help to “support sales” of Basilisco’s wines thanks to the Campanian producer’s “25 years of experience” in the field.

The acquisition has prompted some observers of the Italian wine industry to ponder whether or not the merger will lead to heightened consumer awareness of the Aglianico di Vulture appellation in general.

Chianti Classico producers decide not to allow Super Tuscans at debut tasting

Errata corrige: VinoWire originally reported that a vote was held to determine whether or not IGTs would be included in the vintage debut; in fact, the body’s president decided to retract the offer after a discussion of the issue was held during a general assembly of the body this morning.

The Chianti Classico producers association has decided not to allow member producers to present IGT or so-called Super Tuscan wines at the annual presentation of the appellation’s new vintage, to be held in Florence in February 2011.

The decision was reported by VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani on his blog.

According to reports previously published in Italy (notably by Mr. Ziliani and by Enoclub Siena), the producers association had offered its members the option of presenting IGT wines (i.e., wines that did not meet Chianti Classico appellation requirements) for an additional fee of Euro 50 per wine.

The sea change represents a victory for proponents of traditional winemaking — including wine bloggers and winemakers — who vehemently opposed the inclusion of IGT wines within the framework of the appellation’s official new vintage release debut, held annually in Florence.

According to anecdotal reports obtained by VinoWire editors, members of the producers association also voted against proposed changes in appellation regulations that would have created a new and “less restrictive” DOC intended to accommodate the production of “Supertuscans” [sic]. (Proposed changes had been previously published by the finance and politics blog Il Fatto Quotidiano in a post entitled “Chianti Classico Masochism?”.)

In surprise move, Chianti Classico to allow Super Tuscans at annual debut event

In a memo sent to members of the Chianti Classico producers association and obtained by VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani, Chianti Classico producers will be allowed for the first time to present one IGT bottling on the second day of the annual vintage debut event, to be held February 15 and 16, 2011, at the Stazione Leopoldo events space in Florence.

“Starting on the second day,” write the authors of the memo, “for an additional charge of Euro 50, not included in the attendance fee, it will be possible to present an IGT wine produced in the appellation.”

As Mr. Ziliani notes in a recent post on his blog, the surprise move marks a significant break from past precedent. Historically, the annual debut of the new vintage of Chianti Classico was intended by its organizers to promote solely the Chianti Classico appellation, one of Italy’s most recognized “brands” and one of its greatest wines.