Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Vintage Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Carpineto Poggio Sant' Enrico Toscana at Italian Village Business Dinner

We had a mid-week business dinner with my team and a key partner visiting from overseas. We dined at our regular dinner meeting site Italian Village Chicago, as I wrote in a recent blogpost.

While my staff pokes fun at me for being such a creature of habit, our guests don't know any better and are well served by the experience. Wine Director Jared Gelband took good care of us as usual with a couple exemplary wines suited to the occasion and to our dinner selections.

The depth of the Italian Village cellar, with over ten thousand bottles, allows them to hold and serve a wine that is going on ten or beyond twenty years of age, at or near its prime drinking window, as opposed to turning their inventory and serving wines early and young.

Normally, as I did at another business dinner the next evening, I would take the opportunity to taste several wines, ordering a different wine with each bottle. Tonight, contrary to my usual practice, this was so good, we drank three bottles of the same label.

Gianni Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva Villa Gemma 2011 

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is made from the Montepulciano wine varietal grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy, not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the Tuscan wine made from Sangiovese  grapes. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was classified as Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) in 1968. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is one of the most widely exported DOC wines in Italy.

Founded in 1981, Masciarelli and its wines have become a standard-bearer for Abruzzo. Since the age of 22, producer  Gianni Masciarelli has dedicated his life to his home of Abruzzo and its native grape varieties to produce world-class wines. He focused on intense rigorous vineyard management, reducing yields, working organically, thereby greatly increasing fruit quality.

In the winery, he adopted new conventions of gently and precisely handling fruit, and introducing French barriques to add depth and complexity to his wines, resulting in better integration of tannin. The work of Gianni and his wife Marina Cvetic in the vineyards and the winery has been rewarded with 29 Tre Bicchieri and they are today recognized as a groundbreaking and iconic winery in Italy.
Started in Gianni Masciarelli's grandfather's basement, Villa Gemma highlights the best of Abruzzo, showcasing the terroir of the region and the Montepulciano grapes of Abruzzo.

Villa Gemma Montepulciano d'Abruzzo produces powerful, intense wine of character and complexity, with deep fruit and complex earthy and spicy secondary characteristics that represent the highest achievement of the potential from the Montepulciano grape in Abruzzo.

This wine is produced from a single designated site in Montepulciano, from the Colle Cave vineyard in Chieti, the vineyard directly behind the house of Gianni's grandfather, and where his grandfather first started making wine in 1930. This terroir of the steep-sloped site consists of limestone, clay and gravel, and the historic traditional pergola vine training has been replaced by the modern day French Guyot training system.

This is the winery’s flagship label, produced from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It embodies all the style and taste of the winemaker Gianni Masciarelli in an austere and complex Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Villa Gemma that represents a perfect interpretation of Abruzzo’s most noble grape, now fairly acknowledged in the world map of viticulture that counts.

Dark blackish garnet colored, full bodied, intensely structured, rich, complex, powerful yet graceful at the same time, ripe black and red fruits with hints of anise and toasted nut and oak, the tannins are restrained and silky smooth on the polished and elegant finish. 
RM 93 points.  

James Suckling rated this wine 94 points.


Our second wine of the evening was this Toscano IGT Sangiovese. 

Carpineto Poggio Sant' Enrico Toscana IGT Sangiovese 1999

As I write this, I reached back to Jared to make sure I had the correct label. Even though I saved the cork for reference, it mentioned the producer and Appodiati which is their name for their Single Vineyard Collection. 

Carpineto Single-Vineyard-Collection wines are only produced in great vintage years. The vineyards are selected based on the vintage results showing exceptional characteristics, which fully exemplify and glorify the terroir - the microclimatic characteristics of each area. The wines are crafted for very long ageing and are bottled without undergoing any kind of treatment. They are released only after a minimum of 5 years of bottle ageing.

This is 100% Sangiovese sourced from the Poggio Sant’Enrico Piccolo vineyard that was planted in 1978.

Ironically, as I researched this further, I noted that we drank the exact same label a year ago, almost to the date, with my same leadership team.

Tonight's experience was consistent with my tasting notes of a year ago when I wrote: 

"At nineteen (now twenty) years of age, this is at the apex of its drinking window but not likely to improve with further cellaring, rather more likely to start to diminish from here forward. '

"Dark, deep, blackish-ruby colored, full bodied with firm backbone of bold, intense black berry and ripe plum fruits, notes of black pepper, hints of smoke, leather and subtle vanilla with a long lingering supple tannin finish."

RM 90 points.