A handful of Binny's people recently traveled to Tuscany. We spent our nights in Florence, our days touring wineries throughout the region. My impression of Tuscany: rolling hills lined with vineyards and olive trees, multiple-course "light" lunches, two-hour dinners that don't even start until half past eight, and a sea of locals who remain uniformly young and fit despite living this lifestyle.
The architecture of the area is traditional yet modern. The style breaks down to basic geometry: brick and plaster walls, square windows, ambivalence for right angles. Simple elements come together to create something classic, timeless.
This mindset is reflected in the food and in the wine. Pasta and wild boar (cinghiale) come together in an enduring dish. The wine shows pure fruit, acidity, minerality touches of wood streamlined, classic in proportion yet modern in style. There's this simlicity that lends a timeless quality.
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On a low hill outside Chianti is the medival town of Vico, home to Fattorie Marchesi Torrigiani. Binny's is a major US clearing house for these wines, and there is a reason we sell so much. They show reverence for the land with an emphasis on the sangiovese traditionally grown in the area, but with touches of merlot and cabernet sauvignon that add elegance and weight.
While touring the winery, we were able to taste some of the '09 varietals from the barrel. The sangiovese is focused but big, with lots of floral notes and raspberry and acidity; the cab and merlot are darker, balancing chocolate, dark fruits and peppery herbaceous notes. It will be interesting to see how these blend at bottling, and how they will open with time.
The 2008 Chianti is more modern than I expected, with heavier fruit and coconut up front and herbal notes pushed to the back. At $8.99 (on sale now for $7.99) this stuff is an incredible value and a good point of entry for anyone curious about Chianti. We also tasted several vintages of Torrigiani's Torre de Ciardo and Guidaccio from newer and older vintages. I have to say that I favor the older stuff; extra bottle age gives these wines time to calm down. Both the 2003 and 2004 vintages are showing quite well.
This estate is noteworthy for their breathtaking values. Tusany is becoming known for combining traditional Sangiovese with Bordeaux varietals, but seeing truly thoughtful wines in this category in the low teens, even at $25, is increasingly rare.
After a short car ride South from Bolgheri, near the town of Suvereto, we found Azienda Agricola Tua Rita. The vineyards here are much more flat, gently sloping away from the Mediterranean coast. Binny's hasn't carried many of these wines lately. They are marvelous, and worth seeking out. The theme here is pure, vibrant fruit. These wines balance freshness with structure and acidity in a very monolithic way.
Our tasting began with the 2009 Rosso dei Notri. Though this is an entry-level wine, it reflects the theme we would taste throughout the lineup: pure, beautiful fruit. The nose is bright, fresh, super-fruity. The same on the palate, the 2009 has notes of bing cherry and orange peel, almost like sangria, but balanced with racy acidity. Binny's currently has the 2008, which I tasted just yesterday it's much darker, with heavier notes of raspberry and plum. I hope the '09 stays fresh on its journey here.
We also tasted the 2008 Tua Rita Perlato del Bosco, Giusto di Notri and Redigaffi. These wines all show notes of fresh and sweet fruit, with increasing acidic and tannic structure. These are lean, sleek, racy wines that are absolutely stunning for their pure fruit. I hope that Binny's can offer more from the Tua Rita portfolio in the future.
Thanks for reading.