Our tasting impressions
Gifted winemakers can make great wine in weak vintages. So, what do they do in string vintages? Knock it out of the park! The 2015 Rosso is all about the beautiful ripe fruit. Innocenti’s 2016, by comparison is a structured behemoth but there is so much pure red fruit to balance. While it may not be a liquid party like it’s older sibling, this is undoubtedly a superior wine - particularly for the longer haul. Keep in mind, this is his “basic” Rosso that he’s already bottle-aged for years. Incredible, and given the price...unbelievable!
About this wine
Rosso di Montepulciano 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. The vines are planted on sandy soil planted 8-23 years ago in medium clay soil in Montepulciano. Fermentation and maceration is on the skins for about 10-12 days. Aging is 1 year in barrel before bottling with a wide-grain filter.
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
2016 is a modern day classic vintage in Tuscany. A near perfect growing season that started slowly, warmed up nicely through the summer, and ended with a classic autumn. Ample warm days and cool nights produced a slightly reduced crop of wines that combine the richness of low-yields with the near perfect balance of mature tannins and bright acidity.
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Liberté
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.