Our tasting impressions
My third vintage of this Rosso from Innocenti and it’s unfathomable how good and sophisticated it is. A Rosso is supposed to be simple, light and fruity. The last two, it is, compared to their Vino Nobile and Riserva. But he sets the bar so high! After tasting with Vittorio last time, we had dinner at Osteria Acquacheta in Montepulicano and drank a Vino Nobile Riserva from one of the most renowned producers. I remember thinking, “this is good but I’d rather be drinking Innocenti’s Rosso.” Great nose, lovely body. Simply a terrific Tuscan Red.
About this wine
Rosso di Montalcino has been a DOC designation since late in the 20th century. Made principally from Prugnolo Gentile, aka Sangiovese Grosso. Other grapes are permitted. Innocenti adds Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo. The vines are planted on sandy soil. The wine is kept in oak barrels for 6 months.
About the grape blend
Sangiovese is the most planted grape in Italy and is the dominant grape throughout the central part of the country. There are many variants and even different names like Prugnolo Gentile, Brunello, Sangioveto and Morellino.
The grapes are dark and thick skinned, slow-ripening, acidic and tannic. Like Pinot Noir, Sangiovese is heavily influenced by its terroir and similarly can be quite transparent in its differences from place to place.
Traditionally, Sangiovese-based wines (except in Montalcino) have other grapes mixed in, but in recent history there have been many successful wines produced from 100% Sangiovese. So, today, they are quite common.
Canaiolo is a traditional blending grape with Sangiovese. It adds softness and elegance as well as herbal flavors. Mammolo means violet and indeed this variety is blended to enhance aromatics.
About the vintage
Damp and chilly weather ushered in the growing season reducing and concentrating the grapes. Much of the balance of the year was hot and dry. Overall, an excellent vintage in Tuscany with ripe, rich fruit that remained balanced.
On your table
A vegetable casserole garnished with a top quality olive oil will have the requisite tang and richness to make this Rosso pop. Best at a cool cellar temp. Definitely drink now but I might cellar a few as I suspect some mid-term increased complexity will emerge.
Vittorio Innocenti, a former philosophy teacher and his son Tommaso run this estate from a 13th century cellar in Montefollonico. They own 32 hectares in and around Montepulciano but only 12 are planted with vineyards of up to 50 years old. The vista views from the back patio are incredible.
They produce seven wines, but the cellars (in multiple locations) are dominated by the small barrels containing Vin Santo - a traditional Tuscan dessert wine. Vittorio says he has enough crops to produce more wine but he can’t because there is no room to store it.
Vittorio speaks no English and I no Italian. So we struggle to communicate in French unless, as usually is the case, his close friend Laura is on hand to translate. Despite the language gap, I like and have a deep respect for Vittorio. He is intensely committed to producing the highest quality wines and takes as much pride in his most modest offering as he does his top bottling.
VDLT is the only North American source for these extraordinary wines.