Altesino - Quietly stealing Caparzo's thunder!
The awards have been coming in thick and fast over the past 10 years for the Altesino vineyards and yet this wonderful producer still seems to be largely unknown to a wine community obsessed with the American owned Banfi and Antinori.
Altesino's most famous wine, the Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli (pictured left), has to be one of the best Brunellos ever made. The 1997, a 5 star vintage year, received 98 points from Wine Spectator magazine and exchanges hands for €130/$200 a bottle.
Our little gem is even first alphabetically in the expert round ups but, outside of Italy, Altesino just hasn't caught fire. The labels are classy, the website is flashy and the wine is top notch so what is stopping Altesino from joining the elite ranks of Tuscan super producers?
I'll let you answer this because truly I don't know and actually I don't care. The Altesino range of Brunello and secret stash of Alte d'Altesi "Super Tuscans" are one of the few Tuscan wines you can drink guilt free.
If Altesino's light is hidden under a bushel then even more obscure is the brand that bought them out, Caparzo. Alright, a true Italian wine enthusiasts should know who Altesino is, but I'm willing to bet a Sassicaia '85 that you haven't heard of Caparzo.
The 1997 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino La Casa (94 points WS) and under €60 is excellent value for money and improving every time I drink it. What I'm interested in though is the 2001. The best vintage in Tuscany for 10 years the 2001 Caparzo Brunello La Casa is massively under-rated and is easily holding its own against the 97. This wine is selling for under €40 a bottle!
We're talking about the estates top bottling, in its best year. The last time I tried this wine was Easter 2007 and it has really started to take on flavours and aromas of real Brunello perfection. The bottle hasn't been revisited by the experts in a few years and when it does (I'm blowing the secret here I know) the prices are going to rise.
I am strongly recommending all Brunello lovers to buy a case of this now. Take this as a virtual poke in the ribs ie. drop what you are doing and order this wine. It's still a little closed but the potential is becoming obvious and it's massively enjoyable right now, a thick jammy wine, the tannins need to calm down but this bottle is going to be epic.
You have to let this wine breath! It's such a big wine that it's been misread as simple but in fact it needs time in the bottle and needs to decant. I spoke to the owners of Altesino/Caparzo a few years ago about this wine and it was their belief that this was the best Brunello they had ever made at Caparzo.
Tasting notes to follow....
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino La Casa 2001 - €37 - BUY
Huge nose of blackberries, plums and earthy notes, hints of cedar. Massively full bodied and strong tannins this wine has the makings of a classic. Super ripe and fruity the palate is simple elegance but there is an overly tannic characteristic straight from the bottle but after some decanting the wine becomes smoother. Long finish that let's you appreciate the complexity of the wine. A sleeping giant leave this wine if possible 15 years+ 92 Points for today but I can see this being a 95+ wine over the next 5 years.
While we're talking about Altesino, I'd also like to share my notes on another wine from their umbrella of brands, the Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico Misciano Riserva 2004.
If you're not the type to spend €37 on a bottle of wine then let me introduce a Chianti Classico that has a very small production that is very popular in Italy but relatively unknown in the UK and the USA.
This is the best Chianti Classico I've tasted from 2004 and far better than the Cecchi/Banfi/Fontodi Chainti Classicos I'm seeing. This is the riserva bottling and retails around €15. This is a real VFM and is drinking beautifully today. Possible to cellar for up to 15 years if you wish to.
Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico Misciano Riserva 2004 - €15 - BUY
Beautiful nose full of spices, blackberries, cappuccino & oak, super structure and rounded tannins, a medium to full bodied wine with a fruity, pleasant, long and silky finish. 90-92 Points
The 2004 Chiantis haven't been reviewed yet but the comparison to 2003 is not worth making. I'm getting seriously good 2004's coming through so stock up on your favoured producers.
Question of the Day
Who is your favourite Tuscan producer and what is it about them that makes them so special?