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Tuscany: Good Things Come in Threes
By James Suckling
With 1999, Tuscany looks to be on a roll with its third top vintage in a row. Despite the wet weather in most of Italy, the region remained hot and clear for most of the growing season, although there was intermittent rain during the harvest. Many wine producers said that the slightly wet weather helped revitalized the vines, which had suffered from the earlier drought.
"We have made something very good this year," said Klaus Johann Reimitz, son-in-law of the owner of the Tuscan wine estate Montevertine (best known for its all-Sangiovese Le Pergole Torte) in the Chianti Classico region. "We picked very late, but we picked under sunshine. The rain in September and October did very little to dampen the quality of the grapes. The wines show a good balance of fruit and tannins."
"I am very excited about the quality of this year's harvest," said Sean O'Callaghan, winemaker for Riecine, a Chianti Classico maker. "The ripeness I have in many of my grapes is amazing."
The impressive ripeness of this year's grapes may in fact be the only drawback. Some winemakers are reporting ripeness levels nearer to Port than to table wine. Due to the hot growing season, wines with natural alcohol levels of more than 15 percent are not uncommon this year. (Normal alcohol levels for Tuscan table wines fall between 12 percent and 13.5 percent.) This suggests that wine producers who were prudent in how and when they picked their grapes should make the best wines.
Niccolo Incisa della Rocchetta, manager and one of the owners of Tenuta San Guido, producer of Cabernet-based Sassicaia, was extremely happy with the 1999 vintage, though he was waiting to see how the wines evolve. He commented, "It may not be as good as the exceptional 1997 or the even better 1998, but it is very good."
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