I spoke to Stefano Chioccioli over the weekend at home in Tuscany on the telephone. Stefano said he was exhausted from this year’s harvest in Italy. It was one of the longest in memory, lasting almost two months. The weather was almost perfect the entire harvest, especially during the end. In fact, it was 80 degrees Fahrenheit today, bright and sunny. He said that some of his clients didn’t finish picking their Cabernet Sauvignons until Oct. 14.
He said that he had racked up more than 20,000 kilometers in his Mercedes-Benz S320, traveling from Basilicata to Friuli and just about every major wine area in Tuscany in between. And this was in just two months! He even makes wine in Bordeaux. Stefano is best know for his work in Tuscany, producing such wines as Redigaffi, the great Merlot from Tua Rita, and the Brunellos di Montalcino of Fanti.
He kept ranting on about the amazing quality of late-ripening grape types in Tuscany this year, in particular the Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. He said the long, bright and sunny growing season really gave the edge to these grapes. “The polyphenolic development in the grapes was near perfect,” he said—which means ripe and rich tannins and dark colors. He also said that the perfumes and acidity in the wines were equally impressive in addition to good levels of alcohol. He was slightly less sure of the Merlot in general, but he said that it should be very good quality.
“It’s going to be a sensational vintage for wines in Tuscany,” he said. “It should be something like 2001 or better … I am so exhausted but it was worth it!”
I can't wait to taste the wines. Stefano is short on BS and long on making excellent wines.