Our tasting impressions
In a word, Stupendous! There is such intensity in this wine yet it is entirely under control - even restrained. If there is a better Sangiovese on the planet, I haven’t tasted it. Impeccable balance despite the blistering temperatures of the vintage. The genius of Vittorio is on full display here. It will be a struggle to keep my hands off these, but I expect this Riserva will develop into an elite mature wine over the decades to come.
About this wine
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is, along with Brunello and Chianti Classico, the epitome of Sangiovese-based wines in Tuscany. At their best, Vino Nobile combine the power of Brunello with the finesse of Chianti.
This is 100% Sangiovese. DOCG regulations require 3 years of barrel aging for a Riserva. Innocenti’s 2011 was not in bottle until spring of 2019. This is now available at the same time other top producers are releasing wines from 2013-2015.
N.B. Innocenti uses the same front label for this as the Normale. The Riserva designation appears only on the back.
About the grape
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.
About the vintage
2011 was a yo-yo year for weather - except August, which was consistently scaldingly hot. Those who knew when to pick, like Innocenti, produced rich wines that also were fresh and lively.
On your table
A rich game dish would be my first choice. If too challenging, try a beef infused farro with ample rosemary, oregano, parmigiano and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Serve at cellar temperature.
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.