Cru Wines Exemplify the Diversity of Tuscany

It is easy to think that all Tuscan wines taste similar. But recently, I had lunch with Nicolò D’Afflitto, the winemaker for Frescobaldi Toscana who shared the Cru wines from the most prized vineyards in the Frescobaldi portfolio. In my column in the Napa Valley Register, reposted below, Nicolò D’Afflitto shared his thoughts about terroir over variety as we tasted his wine.

“A variety can be from anywhere. I sell terroir,” said winemaker Nicolò D’Afflitto as I sat down to have lunch with him.

D’Afflitto is the director of winemaking for Frescobaldi Toscana. The 700-plus year-old Frescobaldi family owns seven estates in Tuscany that cover 1,400 hectares (3,560 acres). He oversees all of the Tuscan estates and, as he believes that the quality of the wine begins with the vine, he manages each of the vineyards as if they were his own children. “I know each vineyard, the rootstock, the clones,” he explained.

D’Afflitto grew up on a farm and studied in Bordeaux. He moved to the U.S. and worked in Monterey before returning to Tuscany to consult. In 1991, Nicolò joined Frescobaldi, working at Castel Giocondo and by 1995 he was overseeing all of the estates.

He is dedicated to producing unique wines and is particularly focused on the production of the “Cru” wines. The Cru wines come from the most prized vineyards at the various estates. Each of these wines represents the terroir of the vineyards and demonstrate the diversity that Tuscany offers.

Pomino Benefizio Riserva 2016, Pomino Biano Riserva DOC

  • This 100 percent chardonnay wine comes from Castello di Pomino, a hidden gem in the Florentine mountains northeast of Florence. The mountain vineyard sits 2,300 feet above sea level, and Chardonnay was first planted on this property in 1855. The 2016 Chardonnay is barrel fermented and does not undergo malolactic fermentation and spends 10 months in oak. It is a delicate golden color and has notes of citrus, green apple, hazelnut, acacia flowers and spice. On the palate, the wine is fresh with soft acidity and lightly coats the mouth as the flavors linger.

Montesodi 2015 Toscana IGT

  • Montesodi, which means “dry mountain”, is a single vineyard from Castello Nipozzano located in the heart of Chianti Rufina. This Cru was first designated in 1974 and Montesodi is only produced in the best years. The wine is 100 percent Sangiovese that spends 18 months in large oak barrels. The wine has notes of raspberry, cranberry, dried flowers and spice. On the palate, the tannins are well-integrated, and the acidity comes through on the finish.

Mormoreto 2014 Toscana IGT

  • Another cru wine from Castello Nipozzano, Mormoreto comes from the Mormoreto Vineyard that was planted in 1976. The wine is blend of Cabernet Sauvignon that comes from sandy soil and Sangiovese, Cabernet France and Petit Verdot, which come from clay soils. The wine spends 24 months in French oak and the resulting wine is an intense ruby color with a complex nose. There are aromas of blueberry and raspberry, tobacco and coffee bean and a touch of vanilla. The wine is balanced with grippy tannins and a persistent finish.


Giramonte 2012 Toscana IGT

  • This wine made from Merlot and a little bit of Sangiovese comes from Tenuta di Castiglioni in Colli Fiorentini, southwest of Florence. Tenuta di Castiglioni is Frescobaldi’s oldest estate and Giramonte is the rarest and most exclusive Cru. A ruby red color, the wine has notes of blackcurrant and raspberries, as well as cinnamon and vanilla. Heavy clay soils contribute to the wine’s muscle, but it is also elegant with dense tannins and a long finish.

CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2013

  • Tenuta CastelGiocondo is located in Montalcino, 200 kilometers south of Florence. The vineyard is located at an elevation around 1,000 feet and consists of three soils. Grapes from the white clay at the bottom adds softness, grapes from the sandy loam in the middle add the perfume and grapes from the galestro and schist at the top add the power. The intense ruby red wine is a selection of exclusively Sangiovese and has aromas of raspberry, lavender, dried flowers and herbs. On the palate, the wine is balanced and elegant with good structure and a mineral persistence.

The Cru Wines from Frescobaldi do demonstrate the diversity that Tuscany offers.

Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.