May 07, 2020
On February 20th, I visited Carpineto’s Montepulciano estate.
While Carpineto owns five estates around Tuscany (Chianti Classico, Maremma, Montalcino, Montepulciano), it was their Vino Nobile I was there to learn more about.
The visit was specifically to taste back vintages of their Vino Nobiles from 1998, 2004, 2010 and 2015.
This sprawling 184-hectare (442 acre) estate is home to more than 84-hectares (207 acres) of dry farmed vineyards planted predominantly with Sangiovese. The stone farmhouse located at the heart of the estate was built in the 1700s, and is now surrounded by a modern winery and visitor’s center.
Combined, all five of Carpineto's Tuscan estates equal about 500-hectares, making the Montepulciano estate’s production the largest of Carpineto’s 3.5 million bottle production.
On the previous night I had sat at dinner with Antonio Zaccheo Jr. in Montepulciano, and as it turns out, again the following night in Montalcino where we drank his Brunello di Montalcino (along with numerous other producer’s). He’s a sociable man with a firm understanding of his wines and the markets where he sells them. One of his favourite places to visit is Vancouver. He admitted he usually returns home with several hundred dollars worth of seafood every time he travels here.
Carpineto was born when Antonio Jr. was just a child.
In 1967 his father, Antonio Mario Zaccheo and Giovanni Carlo Sacchet established Carpineto; their goal was to make superior Chianti Classicos--ones that would be admired around the world.
After the tasting at the Montepulciano estate, I had a chance to speak with Antonio Mario Zuccheo and asked him what makes Vino Nobile unique in Tuscany.
“Vino Nobile is the one with less reputation than the other two [Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico] mostly due to poor marketing. 25 years ago the wines here were simple ones makes from sangiovese; what was wrong? The soul of the Sangiovese grape is the same, so it was man’s fault.”
Continuing, he shared, “We [Carpineto] were the first to make only Vino Nobile Riservas as we felt they could be just as good as Brunello. Yes, at the time it was risky to do so, to make [premium] wine in a place without a good reputation; it could have been a flop.
Slowly Vino Nobile became at least as respected as the other two—the scores have been higher overall for the Vino Nobiles proving the quality level has grown very much.
The tannicity of Vino Nobile is so mild compared to others in Tuscany: silky and sweet, warm and rich.”
While I’m not sure I would agree with his comment on the tannins of Vino Nobile specifically, the Carpineto wines from the Montepulciano estate are superior to many of the region.
Also in attendance, winemaker Caterina Sacchet (keeping it in the family) joined us to talk about the wines.
1998 Appodiato di Montepulciano ‘Vigneto di Poggio Sant ‘Enrico-IGT
*Enrico is the cru of the Carpineto vineyard—cru status was achieved in 1999 but in 1998 was still IGT.
Expect savoury smoked herbs ands toasted spice, balsamic and some rosemary and saline undertones. The palate is supple and well woven with tertiary flavours layered with sweet fruits. It boasts impressive posture and is notably firmer than the ’98 Vino Nobile. Freshness throughout and the finish is sweet with drying tannins. Average age of vines in Enrico is currently 30-years but some were planted in 1978.
1998 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG:
Sauvage and roasted meat aromas and layered with dried fruit, balsamico and soy, wet fur and saddle leather. Sweet and silky and nicely balanced; the tannins are still quite firm but smooth and sweet. It’s also engthy and fresh but shows definite age and tertiary characters.
The blend here is 80% Sangiovese with Canaiolo and Colorino among others. Like all riservas, it was aged three years in oak of different sizes with additional time in bottle.
2004 Appodiato di Montepulciano ‘Vigneto di Poggio Sant ‘Enrico-Vino Nobile:
*2004 was considered one of best vintages of that decade.
The nose is rich, dark and brooding; sweet cherry and plum aromas, are woven with saddle leather, horse sweat and dark chocolate. The palate is firm, lengthy and complex.
2004 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG:
Immediately more intense on the nose. Purple fruit, a deep grapey nose with black cherry, leather and smoked meat—a very savoury nose. It’s a supple wine with still fresh sweet fleshy fruit. Powerful, with polished but firm tannic structure. Fruit flavours are melded with soy and balsamico dark chocolate and toasted spices. A long finish trails cocoa. Overall, it has buoyancy, suppleness and a slick and sweet character.. For me, this was the best of the bunch.
2010 Appodiato di Montepulciano ‘Vigneto di Poggio Sant ‘Enrico-Vino Nobile:
Expect a savoury brooding and concentrated nose; dark fruit, black earth, saddle leather and savoury spices aromas. The entry is sweet; it has good extraction. Not coarse, it’s got style but still needs time on the finish to come together up. Slightly hot finish.
2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG:
The nose is extracted and brooding. The aromas are tightly wound with dusty dark cherry and some red plum/prune, tobacco, saddle leather and dry earth. The palate is fresh on entry and shows good acidity throughout. Bittersweet tannins show some chewiness, they have texture and grip. Bittersweet cocoa lingers across the finish—this wine still needs time yet, still wound too tight.
2015 Appodiato di Montepulciano ‘Vigneto di Poggio Sant ‘Enrico—Vino Nobile:
Notably brooding and powerful, salty notes are layered with cocoa and espresso; it’s earthy and a bit rustic. In the mouth it is salty on the attack, it’s also dark and raspy’ espresso, smoked spices and meaty flavours dominate. The tannins are textural and drying but not harsh or too firmly extracted.
2015 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG, 2015:
Young and assertive with grape-y aromas, toasted oak spice and some green oak/herbal undertones. The palate is fresh and lively on the entry; high-toned grapey flavours on the attack lead to bittersweet cocoa and espresso on the finish. It is grippy, extracted and brooding but a well-structured wine that needs time. These wines can age for 25-30 years.
~Daenna Van Mulligen