Can’t get to Tuscany this Summer? Try tasting Tuscan wines at home!
Report by John R. Dunham, wine enthusiast exclusive to advicesisters.com
The Advice Sisters have waxed poetic about the fun and excitement of Snooth’s virtual wine tastings in previous articles. To find them, type “Snooth” into our search box and at least half a dozen features will show up for your perusal. Last last month, once again, Snooth.com scored a big hit with a virtual wine tasting. Snooth.com’s Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz, hosted a virtual tasting featuring four wines from Fattoria dei Barbi.
As we have reported in the past, the Snooth.com virtual wine tastings are an excellent way to share outstanding wines with friends over dinner or munchies while learning abut the wines from experts, including the winemakers themselves. In addition, because the wine tastings are held over the Internet, they are a way to connect with friends and family all across the country, In fact, I attended this tasting from a hotel room in Virginia while Alison Blackman, Editor in Chief of advicesisters.com, tweeted from New York.
Fattoria dei Barbi is located in the Montalcino region, located in the southern part of Tuscany, Italy. The estate is fairly young, founded in 1790, though the family that started the winery owned land in the region since 1352. The region is located in a warm and dry part of Tuscany and is hilly with a blend of soil types including clay, limestone and mineral laden volcanic deposits. The degree of variability in the region requires vintners to experiment with different grapes from different vineyards each year, with those in rock soils performing best in wetter years, and those planted on clay doing well in dryer years. Like its larger and more well know Chianti neighbor, the Montalcino area is dominated by the Sangiovese grape varietal, but unlike Chianti, for a wine to be labeled with Brunello di Montalcino it must be made with only Sangiovese.
For the Snooth.com tasting, Mr, Dal Piaz was joined by the owner of Fattoria dei Barbi, Stefano Cinelli Colombini, who is not only a wine producer but a true wine scientist having worked on projects with a number of universities to help develop new ways to produce Sangiovese. Fattoria dei Barbi provided us with five examples of their Montalcino wines starting with a table wine (which by the way we were able to obtain at local grocery stores in Frienza the following week) to distinctive aged Riserva bottlings all of which are available at Snooth.com. *Check Out This Link to hear the live feed from this Barbi Winery event .
The wines from the tasting were:
2013 Brusco dei Barbi: A blend of 85 percent Sangiovese and 15 percent Caniolo Nero, Bruco cannot be labeled with the Montalcino DOCG classification, but is rather a Tuscan wine, it is however, produced in the same way as the Brunello di Montalcino bottlings. Priced at about $15 in the US (and about 6 Euro in Tuscany!) This “Chianti from Montalcino” as one participant on the tasting labeled it, showed like a chianti. It was light ruby red in color wit strawberries and some flowers on the nose. The wine was fresh and fruity with the cherry notes one expects from Sangiovese, ready to be drunk now with soft tannins.
2011 Rosso di Montalcino: This 100 percent Sangiovese is labeled with the Montalcino DOC, is a powerful wine sourced from the estates younger vines. It is priced at about $28 a bottle. Ruby red in color, the nose was distinctive with hints of mint or eucalyptus along with the fruity red berry notes. The wine itself was somewhat spicy to go along with the expected red cherry flavors that are dominant with the Sangiovese grape. Many on the tasting found the menthol notes strange, and while the wine itself was more complex and balanced with medium body and bright acidity, the price point suggested that the Brusco was as better bet.
2008 Brunello di Montalcino: This DOCG classification wine is 100 percent Sangioese, and is known as the Blue Label Brunello. This is the producer’s flagship wine and has been bottled since 1892. Priced at about $38 a bottle, the wine had a zinfandel feel to it, fruity tobacco, but with the red cherry that one expects from the grape. It was a darker red in color with maraschino cherry on the nose, The palate carried these notes along with some licorice notes. For those who like the taste of a zinfandel without the heaviness this would be a great selection.
2008 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva: The red label wine is mode only in the best years and from the best vineyards. This is why the price of $90 a bottle is justified for this DOCG Sangiovese. The wine is a vivid ruby red, and while tight at first if opens up quickly. Similar to the blue label Montalcino, this wine had red and black fruits on the nose, and maraschino cherry, but it also had a bit of cocoa and a range of spices that came and went across the nose. The wine was well balanced with a good levelof acidity that give is a long finish. There were tastes of dried cherry, plum and maybe apricot, and had we decanted in advance, likely more interesting notes would emerge. This is a special occasion wine with a high price point, but it does provide a lot of heft and complexity.
2007 Vigna del Fiore: This DOCG is 100 percent Sangiovese and is priced at about $90 a bottle. Admittedly, by now I was a bit too intoxicated to write good notes, and the tasting was rushing to an end. Other participants suggested that this wine was ethereal and reminded them of spring, while others thought it could still use some time. The winemakers notes say the wine is garnet to ruby red, with complex aromas of cherry, blackcurrent, plm almond and vanilla, which repeat on the palate with some added spice. And while the wine is ready to drink upon release it will age well. I for one am going to see what happens with it and hold it for a bit.
Virtual wine tastings, like those offered by Snooth.com provide an excellent opportunity to try different regions and wine types, and they make a great occasion to have a few friends over to share dinner, wine, conversation and their thoughts. Why not join us and try one for yourself as they’re really a lot of fun! If you decide you join in on the next Snooth.com virtual wine tasting, we are logged in as “advicesisterA” and would love to chat with you! If you are signed in to Snooth.com you can view the rest of the Virtual Tasting video were able to experience during the Vouvray Presents event (we added two portions of the video feed on The Advice Sisters Snooth.com Virtual Wine tasting review called “Hooray for Vouvray “). You can also see our comments when we’re participating on Twitter @advicesisters. or on Facebook (see @advicesisterA -Alison Blackman) in a snip portion of the actual chat room conversation above).