I had some friends over for dinner the other night, about 16 in all! And I decided to serve only magnums from my cellar. Most were 1997 Super Tuscans, including Castello dei Rampolla Toscana Sammarco, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto, and Fonterutoli Siepi.
They were all superb. And, like I nearly always write, anyone who says that 1997 didn't make extraordinary reds in Tuscany is an absolute fool! I have not come across a bad bottle of red from the vintage, if the wine was stored properly. And all the wines that I have drunk that I bought a long time ago have been wonderful.
That dinner the other night made me realize that last summer I did a complete vertical of Siepi and I never published it. Sorry. So here it is.
Nowadays, the production of Siepi equals about 30,000 bottles a year. The wine comes from a blend of Merlot and Sangiovese. And the vineyard is located in the south part of Chianti Classico. The Mazzei family, with the help of consulting enologist Carlo Ferrini, makes the wine. The first vintage was 1992, although that was sold under the Concerto label in the beginning. Fonterutoli is better know for the tens of thousands of bottles of Chianti Classico it makes, as well as a racy red from the Maremma called Belguardo. But the Siepi is it’s flagship wine.
The Siepi vineyard actually encompasses about 45 acres, but it’s the old vines that make the wine garnering its name. And those encompass about 15 acres. It’s about half Merlot and half Sangiovese. These two parcels were planted in 1985.
The grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats, then go through malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels. They spend between 16 and 18 months aging in wood. The top vintages are 100 percent new oak.
I find Siepi comes into its own about seven to eight years after the harvest, but the wines are extremely balanced and beautiful when young. Stay tuned for my notes on the 2004, which I am tasting this summer in my office in blind tastings for my annual report on Tuscany. Note that the wines below were not tasted blind.
2003: Just as I remember it. Extremely pretty blackberry and dark chocolate character aromas with just a hint of spice. Full-bodied, with juicy tannins and a long finish. Soft and round. Very balanced and racy. Lots of structure. Still needs three or four years of bottle age. 93 points, non-blind
2002: Very pretty aromas of violets, berries, with herbs. Medium to full bodied, with good fruit, dried herbs and a medium finish. Slightly tough and angular tannins but I like it. Mostly Merlot because the Sangiovese was less good and left out. Couple more years of bottle age. 89 points, non-blind
2001: Gorgeous mint, berry, currant and light spice. Full bodied, tightly wound with silky tannins and a long, long finish. Still a baby. Better than I remember. Try after 2008. 94 points, non-blind
2000: Very ripe with coconut and raspberry aromas. Full and thick with lots of chewy tannins. This needs some time still. Try after 2008. 90 points, non-blind
1999: Subtle aromas of chocolate, oak, berries and meat. All there. Full-bodied, with a lovely elegance and refinement. Long, long and gorgeous. But in the end lacks a bit of a center palate to be truly outstanding. Drink up. He said that they pruned slightly wrong and had a high production. 90 points, non-blind
1998: Super ripe with intense raisin and steak aromas. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and lots of fruit. This is powerful and structured. Gorgeous with a long life ahead of it. Impressive. Holding on very well. 92 points, non-blind
1997: Incredible nose of ultra-clean and ripe fruit. Violets, berries and cherries. Refined. Full and very silky. Goes on and on. Wonderful now but will age for a long time. 93 points, non-blind
1996: This is very ripe and rich with lots of fruit but it turns slightlly maderized. Volatile acidity is a little high. Tasted twice with consistent notes. I still like it though. Drink up. 84 points, non-blind
1995: Aromas of fresh herbs, berries and licorice. Full-bodied, with medium fine tannins and a blackcurrant, tobacco aftertaste. Like a lot of 1995s. It needs drinking. 88 points, non-blind
1994: Much better than what I tasted in 1996. This is silky and refined with lovely leather, tobacco and chocolate character. Full, silky and long. Very well done. 88 points, non-blind
1993: Incredible aromas of violets, berries and cassis follow through to full-bodied with super fine tannins and a long, long finish. Superb. 93 points, non-blind
1992: Exquisite nose of black olives, berries and flowers follow through to a full-bodied palate, with fine tannins and a slightly diluted palate. A little acidic but holding on. 87 points, non blind
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — July 13, 2007 2:55pm ET
Lorenzo Marras — dubai — July 13, 2007 8:19pm ET
James Suckling — — July 14, 2007 4:08am ET
Peter Czyryca — July 16, 2007 2:59pm ET
Steve Wooden — Montreal, Canada — July 16, 2007 8:59pm ET
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