Our tasting impressions
In the previous vintage of Acerone - 2011, which we enjoyed, the Innocentis tried new American barrique aging. Previously, the oak barrels were used. The 2015 brought an end to that one vintage experiment - and boy are we glad! This one is more like the glorious 2010. It has better balance, refinement and subtler charms. Amazingly, with an hour of air, it's drinking pretty nicely. Despite its extreme youth, there is great balance, depth and fine fruit. Another stellar example of Acerone, which is Vittorio's favorite wine and we've learned to always listen to the master.
About this wine
IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica. Technically, it is the humblest designation for Italian wines. In Tuscany, IGT was in the spotlight when producers, who were railing against the constraints of the DOC system, introduced Super Tuscans.
Named for an eastern-facing single vineyard in Montefollonico, this Rosso Toscano is made only in the best vintages and uses Innocenti's best hand-harvested Sangiovese grapes from vines planted in the 1940's at an elevation of about 350 meters in clay soil. It is the only wine they make with 100% Sangiovese.
The grapes are manually harvested and destemmed (they consider Sangiovese tannins too green to do whole cluster). Fermentation is with natural yeasts and maceration on the skins lasts 15 days. They perform délestage (draining the wine off the must and then gently pumping it back over. The caps are punched down.
After experimenting for one vintage with new American barrique, the Innocentis reverted to used barrels for 2015, where the wine aged for 5 years. It was bottled with a wide-grain filter and left to rest in the cellar prior to release - sometimes for years. It is Vittorio's favorite among his wines.
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
Damp and chilly weather ushered in the growing season reducing and concentrating the grapes. Much of the balance of 2015 was hot and dry. Overall, an excellent vintage in Tuscany with ripe, rich fruit that remains balanced.
Vittorio Innocenti, a former philosophy teacher, started producing wine from his family's vineyards with the 1978 vintage from his 13th century cellar in Montefollonico. There are 32 hectares of vines in Montepulciano and Montefollonico but only 12 are planted with vineyards of up to 80 years old. The vista views from the back patio are incredible.
Today, Vittorio's son Tommaso and his partner Vincenza (aka Nancy) handle most of the work. But Vittorio is the keeper of the intellectual capital for all seven wines - in particular both versions of Vin Santo.
The Innocentis are a gracious, wonderful family. The Guru has known them longer than any other wine producer. He admires their intense commitment to producing the highest quality wines - taking as much pride in their most modest offering as they do in their top bottling.
VDLT is the only North American source for these extraordinary wines that are released much later than most top estates in the appellation. The Vino Nobile, Riserva and Acerone are capable of long and magnificent aging. In the photo to the right, we enjoyed a 1985, 1988 and 1993 at a recent lunch. Their freshness and vibrancy belied their ages.