Our tasting impressions
Oh, what to expect from this? Many top estates in Montepulciano did not produce a Riserva in 2014. Indeed, there will be no Acerone from Innocenti because that single vineyard did not achieve a level of fruit quality to satisfy Vittorio. For the rest of his vines, he slashed yields and sold off the majority of his grapes. This commitment to excellence allowed him to make a small amount of excellent Riserva. It's leaner and less fruity than prior vintages but no less powerful and beautifully represents the vintage character. It's a winemaker's wine but don't think we are damning with faint praise. If you enjoy Innocenti's wines, this one shouldn't be missed.
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.
For a number of years, Innocenti produced this from 100% Sangiovese. Recently, Tommaso decided that it is better distinguished from the Acerone when made from a traditional Tuscan Sangioves blend. So, small quantities of Canaiolo and Colorino are included. The grapes come from vines in Montepulciano planted 30 years ago.
Fermentation and maceration are on the skins for approximately 15-20 days. The wine ages in the oak barrels for 3 and 1/2 years, filtered with a wide-grain and aged 6 months more in bottle.
N.B. Innocenti uses the same front label for this as the Normale. The Riserva designation appears only on the back.
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.
Canaiolo and Colorino are traditional blending grapes for Tuscan Sangiovese. Colorino is sparsely used today. Apropos of the name, its deep pigmentation mostly adds color to the blend but also tannins. Canaiolo balances the other two with softness and imparts graceful herbal flavors.
About the vintage
2014 was a challenging growing season, particularly the first half. Lots of rain, little sun and lots of heat might have resulted in unripe and dilute wines. But the late summer improved, and an extended Indian-summer helped the grapes ripen. Innocenti drastically reduced yields and selected only the healthiest, ripest grapes to meet his own quality demands
Suggested Glassware: Grassl Liberté
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.