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A Road Warrior’s View of the Tuscan Harvest in 2006

Posted: Oct 30, 2006 2:50pm ET

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.

Guus Hateboer
Netherlands —  October 30, 2006 4:07pm ET
James, you mentioned the Brunello di Montalcino from Fanti. I always wondered: Is that the Fanti 'Tenuta San Filippo', and if so, how is this different from the domain you refer to as 'San Filippo' (with no mention of any Fanti), which also produces Brunello's? I always thought this was a bit confusing.
Marc Robillard
Montreal,Canada —  October 31, 2006 9:44am ET
James, any intention of doing a 1997 Brunello retrospective in 2007 to see how the wines are progressing. I am sure people would be interested in your opinion on these great wines developmentTough job but somebody has got to do it!RegardsMarc
Michael Culley
October 31, 2006 10:39am ET
I agree 100%. I follow the wine guides here pretty heavily, taste, and compare reviews from different wines and varying enologists. I attended a small tasting-seminar with Stefano back in 2001. He seemed reserved but solidly ensconced in his abilities. My biggest pet peeve is probably overoaked wines and I think he has the most deft touch when it comes to wood. If you've never heard of a wine and he is the enologist.....try it!
Fred Pitts
New Jersey —  November 1, 2006 11:58am ET
James: While you were travelling the world, I was spending time in your part of the world, including Siena and Montalcino. The weather was incredible while I was there in early October. I would like to "second" Marc's suggestion about a retrospective on the '97 BdM's, since I loaded up on them and they're probably ready to start "giving back". Any chance of seeing something along those lines here or even in the magazine? BTW, really enjoy the blog. It always reminds me of the fact that you have the best job in the world (Bordeaux and Italy).Fred

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