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Poggio Antico Lemartine Toscana 2016
In Lemartine, the Brunello grape still plays the lead role, as it does in all Poggio Antico wines, but here it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot (planted back in 1997 and 2003 respectively). These three varietals, rigorously and exclusively estate grown at 420 meters altitude, refine separately in small French oak barrels of varied toasts. On the day they are blended together, they become Lemartine. Prior to release, the wine enjoys a further refinement in the bottle for at least four months.
Poggio Antico is one of Montalcino's most elevated estates, with vineyards averaging 1476 feet above sea level, southwest of the famed medieval citadel. Both the unique location and altitude privilege the wines of Poggio Antico, which benefit from the perfect exposure and enjoy favorable overnight drops in temperature, ideal conditions that increase finesse and intense bouquet.
Poggio Antico was founded in 1976 and consist of 50 clayey, calcareous acres of Brunello di Montalcino. The estate has seen a phenomenal growth, going from 50 to the present 80 acres under vine, developing two parallel Brunello worlds – the more traditional, larger-barrel Brunello, aged longer in Slavonian oak and the modern, finesse-driven Altero, aged in tonneaux of French oak; securing a stellar position in the global market and extending and upgrading the facility to ultrahigh-tech standards.
In 2017 Poggio Antico changed hands and was purchased by Atlas Invest, and it is now directed by the new General Manager Federico Trost. Poggio Antico recently lead a soil survey to approach the plot-by-plot management which started with the 2018 vintage by identifying, and consequently harvesting and fermenting separately, the micro terroirs inside each vineyard. All the estate is currently under organic conversion and a renovation of the cellar and of the hospitality center are part of the new plans.
One of the most iconic Italian regions for wine, scenery and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simple to complex and age-worthy, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano coming in second.
Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines have their own respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, scattered with vineyards.
Sangiovese at its simplest produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright and juicy red fruit, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity and ageability. Top-quality Sangiovese-based wines can be expressive of a range of characteristics such as sour cherry, balsamic, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise and tobacco. Brunello expresses well the particularities of vintage variations and is thus popular among collectors. Chianti is associated with tangy and food-friendly dry wines at various price points. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, with or without Sangiovese. These are common in Tuscany’s coastal regions like Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Carmignano and the island of Elba.
Big, bold and modern in style, Tuscan Blends can be composed solely of international grape varieties or a mix of international and indigenous. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, are some of the most popular ones. They all marry with Sangiovese very well, or can be blended together without Sangiovese, or even made into single varietal bottlings!
Where did the idea come from? In the 1970s a few Tuscan winemakers had become disenchanted with Italian winemaking laws and decided to retaliate and get creative. They started making wine solely from these international grapes or adding them to Sangiovese, in differing proportions, with amazing success—and the phenomenon was born.
The most famous and revered Tuscan Blends from Italy are called “Super Tuscans.” One of the most well-known, ‘Tignanello,’ created by Antinori in 1971, is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.
Ornellaia, established by Marchesi Lodovico Antinori in 1981, with the help of renowned agronomist Andre Tchelistcheff, remains a stellar example today; since 2002 Marchesi de' Frescobaldi has been the sole owner. It is typically a blend of about half Cabernet Sauvignon, a third Merlot and the rest filled in with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Sassicaia, another, has earned itself an extraordinary reputation and global esteem, so much so that the Sassicaia property was actually awarded its very own appellation with the 1994 vintage. It is typically 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.