Here are two wines from the SuperValu Italian Wine Sale, and specifically a Piedmontese pair that caught my attention at a virtual press tasting. These are both “Guest wines”, i.e. they are sourced via local suppliers rather than direct from the producer, giving the retailer more flexibility.
Before we get to the wines themselves, a quick look at the wine regions of Tuscany and the producer Castellani:
The most famous wine region of Tuscany (and Italy) is Chianti; I posit that most wine drinkers are still not aware of the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico and they are grouped together in most people’s minds. Brunello di Montalcino is less well known among the general wine buying population, though it has a strong following among the cognoscenti. Brunello is the local synonym for Sangiovese, specifically the Sangiovese Grosso clone which is native to the area. The third and least well-known Sangiovese area of Tuscany is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This is (obviously) made in the area around the town of Montepulciano from the local Sangiovese clone called Prugnolo gentile.
One other difference between the three DOCGs is the allowance of other varieties. Brunello – and its baby brother Rosso di Montalcino – must be 100% Sangiovese; Vino Nobile has to be a minimum 70% Sangiovese plus Canaiolo Nero, Mammolo and other local varieties; Chianti and Chianti Classico can range between 75% and 100% Sangiovese with Canaiolo and others making up the balance.
For Vino Nobile di Montepulciano the major confusion has been with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a red wine made from the Montepulciano grape in the province of Abruzzo. The governing Corsorzio has therefore recently started promoting the wine as simply Vino Nobile…easier (and shorter) for folk to say and remember.
Vermentino is an Italian treasure and one of the key white varieties of Tuscany, but it is actually grown further afield under the same and other names. It is widely planted in Sardinia under the same name, in Liguria as Pigato and as Favorita a little further north in Piedmont. On the French Mediterranean coast (the Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence) it is usually known as Rolle, but increasingly labelled as Vermentino as customers have more awareness of this name.
In Tuscany it is generally grown close to the coast to benefit from cool coastal breezes, allowing flavours, aromas and acidity to develop without excessive alcohol. For Castellani this Vermentino is one of their biggest sellers in Italy. Clonal selection is very important to maintain consistency.
Alfredo Castellani established his winery in Montecalvoli in 1903, after previously being solely a grape grower. His sons Duilio and Mario subsequently took over and expanded the firm significantly. Duilio’s eldest son Giorgio coordinated a huge export drive, and was later joined in this by his brother Roberto after a serious flood. Another disaster was to take hold in 1982 when a fire destroyed Castellani’s premises. Giorgio and Roberto bought the Campomaggio Estate and were able to use the facilities of the new property to rebuild the business. They were then joined by Piergiorgio who added a scientific take to the firm’s vinous artistry, and continues to run the firm to this day.
Piergiorgio has been experimenting with ways to make Tuscan wines which appeal to a younger, less tradition-bound generation. This includes funky new labels which are less intimidating than those the consumer is used to seeing, but also by gently increasing the residual sugar to give a richer, rounder wine. He is not aiming for noticeable sweetness, and a little tartaric acid is added to keep the wines fresh.
All that said, here are brief notes on two dry Castellani wines that I tried and really enjoyed recently:
Corte Alle Mone Vermentino Toscana 2019
The Corte Alle Mone Vermentino is pale in the glass and lightly aromatic on the nose. It shows citrus and stone fruits with hints of balsamic aromas. The palate is bright and tangy yet creamy and round. This is a delicious example of the variety and a great introduction to Tuscan Vermentino.
- ABV: 12.5%
- RRP: €10.00 down from €14.99 from 20th May to 9th June 2021
- Source: sample
- Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie
Corte Alle Mine Vino Nobile De Montepulciano 2016
The introduction to Tuscan wines above gives you the background to Vino Nobile. This example from Castellani’s Corte Alle Mine has a textbook Sangiovese nose of dark fruits, tar, coffee and balsamic aromas – presumably from the 24 or more months it spent in large format oak casks. The palate is smooth without being bland, with a balance between the fruit and smoky black elements. Piergiorgio believes that a year or two more in bottle would bring out more savoury, umami tertiary notes. If you like the sound of that then lay a few bottles down, but it’s drinking beautifully right now; this is a complex, quality wine that is an outstanding bargain at this price.
- ABV: 13.5%
- RRP: €15.00 down from €19.99 from 20th May to 9th June 2021
- Source: sample
- Stockists: SuperValu stores and supervalu.ie
Other Wines in the SuperValu Italian Wine Event
- Canto Novo Pinot Grigio: €7.00 down from €15.99
- Canto Novo Rosé: €7.00 down from €15.99
- Emotivo Pinot Grigio: €8.00 down from €10.00
- Castellani Arbos Sangiovese: €8.00 down from €12.99
- Intrigo Negroamaro: €9.00 down from €11.99
- Intrigo Primitivo: €9.00 down from €11.99
- Ragnatella Negramaro: €9.00 down from €12.99
- Baffo Rosse Chianti: €9.00 down from €13.99
- Sammicheli Chianti Reserva: €9.00 down from €19.99
- Burdizzo Vermentino Toscana: €10.00 down from €12.99
- Barone Montalto Passivento Rosso: €10.00 down from €13.99
- Cantina Tombacco Aglianico: €10.00 down from €12.99
- Castellani Chianti: €10.00 down from €13.49
- Il Capolavoro Appassimento: €10.00 down from €14.99
- Zonin Montepulciano D’Abruzzo: €10.00 down from €12.99
- Zonin Pinot Grigio: €10.00 down from €12.99
- Governo All’Uso: €10.00 down from €15.99
- Orso D’Oro Red: €10.00 down from €14.99
- Forte Ambrone Red: €10.00 down from €14.99
- Castlemondo Ripasso €10.00 down from €18.00
- Ricossa Gavi: €12.00 down from €13.99
- Castellani Chianti Classico: €12.00 down from €15.49
- Ill Capolavoro Primativo Di Manduria: €12.00 down from €15.99
- Freixenet Pinot Grigio: €12.00 down from €14.99
- Freixenet Chianti: €12.00 down from €14.99
- Freixenet Rosé: €12.00 down from €14.99
- Zonin Chianti: €12.00 down from €14.99
- Masi Campofiorin: €15.00 down from €17.49
- Barone Montalto Ammasso: €15.00 from €18.99
- Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano D’Abruzzo: €16.99 down from €18.99
- Grifòn Prosecco Frizzante Magnum: €18.00 down from €24.00
- Ricossa Barolo: €20.00 down from €24.99
- Costa Mediana Amarone Della Valpolicella: €20.00 down from €25.00
- Masi Campofiorin Magnum: €25.00 down from €40.00
- Barone Montalto Passivento 3 litre Bag In Box: €28.00 down from €45.00
- Masi Costasera Amarone: €35.00 down from €37.99