Tag Archives: Maremma

All About Aragone

ImageLa Mozza was founded in 2000 after our esteemed consultant and agronomist, Maurizio Castelli was informed by his talented winemaker son Simone (owner and winemaker at Podere 414) that there was a lovely vineyard for sale just over the hill from his own…Image

Morellino di Scansano was the first logical step, but a flagship wine was in order. The idea of a “Super-Tuscan” was obvious, but the approach needed to be different.

The area of the Maremma is much hotter and drier than the central part of Tuscany where haunting mists cling to the vineyards in the mornings. Maremma has a more Mediterranean climate, so rather than fall into the usual “Sangiovese + (Bordeaux) = SuperTuscan” formula, Maurizio looked at grape varieties that thrive in hot, dry climates. Maurizio explained that the culture of winemaking had disappeared in this area after the Etruscans disappeared, until the Spanish revived it there 400 years ago. So the idea of a “Super-Mediterranean” was born: 40% Sangiovese holds down the fort for Tuscany, with 25% of Syrah representing southern France, 25% of Alicante connecting with Spain, and a dash of 10% Carignan to represent Sardinia.

The result is a ripe red with body and structure that doesn’t come off jammy or cloying… Spicy and earthy and brooding… Velvety tannins, supple acidity and plenty of complexity that never tires out the palate.

And the goodness doesn’t stop there… Just last week we had the biggest Aragone competitive tasting EVER here at the winery in Friuli..

Image(L to R: Gabriele Gadenz, Winemaker La Mozza – Emilio Del Medico, winemaker Bastianich – Maurizio Castelli, superconsultant)

We BLIND-TASTED 2 vintages of Aragone against some of the heaviest hitters in all of Tuscany (Tignanello, Paleo, Ca’ Marcanda (Gaja), Grattamacco, Saffredi to name just a few!) and we noticed a couple of things:

–We could have stayed there tasting for hours. Maurizio commented that for these wines at this level and seeing how the wines developed in the glass over time, we SHOULD have spent another THREE HOURS examining these wines.

–All of these wines were very good. The general level of quality was quite high and the difference between the best and the worst was not very large.

–The key to success in this category is over-delivering on price… And for that, Aragone won hands down.

Everyone’s notes rated Aragone 2007 or 2008 in the top 4 or 5 wines. But then factor in price and we could only conclude that in terms of absolute quality, the ROI on spending 2 or 3 or 5 TIMES the money for one of those big names just isn’t worth it. Aragone was the best way to get a great “Super-Tuscan experience” without spending tons of $$$.

We liked that.

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Another New Year… 2012 starts with The Morellino Challenge!

I’m a big fan of New Years… Blank calendars, infinite possibilities, new beginnings, resolutions, all that stuff. I enjoy looking back on the good things, jettisoning the bad things, and I love looking forward to the new… New journeys, new wines, new vintage…

What matters here is my desire (I fear using the word “resolution”) to commit to TWO BLOG POSTS PER MONTH. I think this is a reasonable and attainable resolution and the minimum frequency to honestly and respectably call this a “blog”. I put this out there as a way of self-motivation and the risk of humiliation if I don’t follow through…

So let’s kick off 2012 with what has become an annual event here… The Morellino Challenge!MorellinoChall1

This year we conducted the challenge at the beautiful home of AnnaMaria Cruciata (right, above) and her husband Hugh Maxwell, owners of the Val di Toro winery… And what a place to taste Morellino! MorellinoChall2
Smack-dab in the middle of the gorgeous hills of Maremma…

We had a battery of 16 Morellini to taste blind. In attendance there was Maurizio Castelli, Gabriele Gadenz, Luca Felicioni, Giulio Serafinelli, along with AnnaMaria and Hugh, our gracious hosts. We also had our own Emilio del Medico and Dennis Lepore, with yours truly rounding out the tabel of 9… MorellinoChall3

MorellinoChall4
(L to R: Emilio, Luca, Gabriele, Giulio, AnnaMaria)

These tastings are important for us because it gives us an idea of where we stand compared to the competition, and if there are any trends in the Morellino world we should know about. For that reason I never show results here, but the 2009 I Perazzi Morellino from La Mozza arrived more or less in the same position as last year’s challenge, but we noticed a trend with some wines to lean toward the sweet and overly oaky. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a trend. Morellino should be fruity and generous, but with good structure and a level of acidity lower than, say , chianti… Making it quaffable and easy for a red, but not insipid.

The wines that did well were mostly well-known producers, which seems to me to indicate that their fame was a result of quality, not marketing or mass production. Ours being one of those that faired well in the scores…

MorellinoChall5Plenty of debate, too.. Here Emilio is explaining something passionately to Maurizio…

This is a format we will repeat for other wines this year, for Aragone, for Vespa Bianco, for Adriatico

Hey! Counting this. that’s 4 out of 24 blog posts right there!