Brancaia’s SuperTuscan ‘Il Blu’ made its debut with the 1988 vintage and has since garnered 11 Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri. Brancaia Il Blue A blend of 25% Sangiovese, 70% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Brancaia Il Blue has a very vibrant and dense nose of blue and black fruits, floral hints, caramel oak, spice, tart, fruit cake, and terracotta like notes. The palate is rich, silky with a fair whack of young cabernet like tannins. The core of the Brancaia Il Blue has an incredible intensity, and the wine lingered for a long time.
Brancaia Il Blue keeps for medium to long-term. After 5 years Brancaia Il Blue settles down. And at the 10-year mark, it starts to flourish.
Brancaia is one of Tuscany’s leading wine estates, each year winning national and international awards. The Brancaia winery is in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone at Poppi. Which is in Radda in Chianti, and draws on its own fruit from Poppi and La Brancaia in Castellina. The vineyards have ideal south-facing hillside locations at between 230–400 metres, planted to 6,000 vines per hectare on lean, stony, calcareous soil. Yields are naturally low, giving winemakers ample ammunition in the three-level gravity feed winery.
The Brancaia wines are definitely in the modern, clean camp, but that is part of the charm of the wines Brancaia makes.
Brancaia Il Blue Tuscan IGT 2015 Wine Review
Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate
“This is the wine that put Brancaia on the map of Tuscany’s most celebrated estates. A blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese and a smaller percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (fermented with indigenous yeasts in conical steel vats and aged in new and neutral barrique for 20 months), the 2015 Il Blu is a wine that enthusiastically embraces the energy, heat and sunshine of the vintage. The fruit is dark and slightly sweet with aromas of black cherries and dried blackberries. Those flavors deliver rich, soft intensity. The wine is not quite full-bodied, because the mouthfeel is elegant and finessed, but it does deliver lasting power, freshness and polished tannins.”
Widely cultivated across Italy from Emilia-Romagna to Campania. Sangiovese produces as much wine as Barbera in Italy. Sangiovese has a wide range of clones. Couple this with hugely diverse growing conditions and you get a lot of variety: Rosato (rose), easy-drinking ‘quaffers’, all the way to benchmarks. Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Sangiovese di Romagna and Morellino di Scansano are all top examples.
It gets a tough time most of the places it is grown. But in Pomerol and Saint-Emilion Merlot not only dominates but makes some of the best wines in the world. Perfume, silky and plush. Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon season the wines with structure and acid but in some places, like Petrus, they are almost not needed.
The main grape of Bordeaux’s left bank. Cabernet is late-ripening and full of acid and tannin. The great wines have structure but finessed with beautiful cassis, violets, and it also transmits the flavours of the soil it is grown in really well. Cabernet isn’t a drink now variety; it needs 10 or more years to show its best. But when you get there, WOW! Often blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc or in Australia Shiraz to fill out its mid-palate referred to as the ‘Cabernet doughnut’.
It is essential to understand it is a name that does not have any legal status. The wine trend started because the Chianti laws stated that you could only use 70% Sangiovese and had to include at least 10% of local white grapes in your blend. It meant that a lot of Chianti was more like Rosato and did not age.
The Super Tuscans were a group of producers who chose to ditch the Chianti laws to use international varieties and/or higher amounts of Sangiovese to make the best wine they could from their terroir. These wines were labelled at Vino da Tavola and were selling for significantly more than the best wines of Chianti.
In the 1990s the laws were changed, and a lot of the Super Tuscan wines could legally use Chianti again. But most of them used the Toscana IGT appellation, which came to be to allow these experimental wines to exist too.
Italy’s most famous wine region. Beautiful lightly wooded rolling hills covered in vineyards, olive groves and cypress trees. The reds from Chianti Classico received its most significant boost in quality from being awarded the much more stringent DOCG rating.
When most people think of Central Italy, they think of Tuscany. Not surprisingly because Chianti is an ocean of vineyards within the winegrowing region of Central Tuscany. Chianti produces more than 750000 hectolitres of wine each year. Tuscany’s wine history starts somewhere in the 8th-5th Century BCE when it was part of Etruria. Vernaccia from San Gimignano and reds from Montepulciano were known and loved before the Renaissance. The Tuscany we know now started in 19th Century with Chianti gaining the ascendancy. Brunello di Montalcino debuted in 1888, and the Super Tuscans took shape in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Beyond Tuscany, there are the magical places of Emilia Romagna, Marche, Abruzzo and Umbria. Each area has a unique history and personality that deserve a night of their own. Better still, a few nights in situ.
There are 1000s and 1000s of grapes in Italy. There are sub-alpine cool-climate regions in the North and Sun-baked vineyards in the South. Add to that, volcanoes and many cultures within one Country. You could struggle to find anything uniform about the wines. The best of the best include Tuscan reds from Sangiovese or Cabernet. Nebbiolo from Piedmont, especially Barolo and Barbaresco. The aromatic whites of NE Italy from Garganega, Pinot Grigio, and numerous crazy blends. The volcanic wines of Mt Etna in Sicily. And many more.
The only generalisation I will make is that a lot of Italian wine is undervalued when compared to a similar French style.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is special. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fun fact; most of the colour for wines comes from the skins. There are only a handful of grapes that have red juice. Alicante is the most well known of these grapes.
By macerating the juice on the skins, the wine gains tannins, and flavours. Certain compounds change the chemistry of the wine too.
Red wines tend to have higher alcohol. More tannin and more oak flavours compared to other styles of wine. But the thousands of grapes and terroirs they grow in influence this.