This Bolgheri Rosso is the entry-level red for Grattamacco. But this is one wine that I would show people as typical of Bolgheri while being high quality too. The 2018 vintage saw issues with humidity in Bolgheri. But great producers like Grattamacco will sort fruit and make sure the wine they bottle is pristine. This Bolgheri shows typical currants, cherry and plum fruits with a hint of balsamic. Ripe and fleshy to begin with and then comes a tannic backbone to balance the wine. The finish is composed and refreshingly aromatic. Drink either right now or after 2027. Pair it with roast beef.
Grattamacco Bolgheri DOC is a blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 20% cabernet franc 10% merlot, 10% Sangiovese. It comes off 10 hectares of calcareous sandstone, marl and calcareous flysch mixed to clay and calcareous clay. Vinification takes place in a mix of open cone-shaped oak and steel vats. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrique, followed by 10 months of aging in barrel and a minimum of 6 months in bottle.
Founded in 1977, Grattamacco sits on top of a hill facing the sea between Castagneto Carducci and Bolgheri at 100 m asl. The estate totals 50 hectares with 25ha of vineyards and 5ha of olive groves. The vineyards are steep and hilly with an average vine age of about 25 years. The estate follows the criteria of organic farming, guaranteed and certified by ICEA.
Bolgheri is in the commune of Castagneto Carducci in Tuscany. Bolgheri has a Mediterranean climate paired with its soil types allow the red Bordeaux varieties to excel. A Decanter magazine tasting helped Bolgheri find international renown when a 6-year-old Sassicaia’ Super Tuscan’ was ranked higher than a range of Bordeaux. Red wines may be up to 70% Sangiovese, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, and other local red varieties can make up 30%.
Bolgheri Rosso ages 24 months before release.
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’.
Cabernet Franc is one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, along with Sauvignon Blanc (oh! The name makes sense now!). It is most famous for being the third most crucial grape in quality Bordeaux. But also excels in the Loire Valley (where it lived before it went to Bordeaux), especially Chinon and Saumur. The wines are bright red, highlight aromatic with raspberries, rose petals, violets along with tobacco, cassis and some herbal elements. The best examples can live as long as any great wine.
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.
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 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 the 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.
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.