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Campo Al Mare 2012
In 1912, Italo Folonari – Ambrogio Folonari’s grandfather – and his brother Francesco purchased the Ruffino company in Tuscany that was famous for its Chianti wine in straw-covered flasks.
After World War II, major changes in terms of economic development and improving standards of living began taking place in Italy. This also affected the wine industry where the Folonari family and Ambrogio in particular were among the first to promote this trend by producing new, high quality wines that contributed to creating the “new frontier” of the Italian wine.
Since 1999 Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari began purchasing land in the Bolgheri area, right below the ancient town of Castagneto Carducci, 70 km south of Livorno. The area is blessed with a very favorable climate, tempered by the sea breezes from the nearby Tirrenian Sea. The terrain, a mixture of clay and sand, for the most part slopes slightly toward the sea. It has proved to be extremely well-suited to the Bordelaise combination. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and white varieties like Vermentino reach veritable heights of quality.
An outstanding wine region made famous by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted Cabernet Sauvignon vines for his own consumption in 1940s on his San Guido estate, and called the resulting wine, Sassicaia. Today the region’s Tuscan reds are based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which can be made as single varietal wines or blends. The local Sangiovese can make up no more than 50% of the blends. Today Sassicaia has its own DOC designation within the Bogheri DOC appellation.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.