Teruzzi & Puthod Terre di Tufi 2011
When it comes to stellar quality white wine in Tuscany, the Teruzzi & Puthod estate in San Gimignano stands heads and shoulders above the rest. This pioneering producer helped to usher this region’s historic Vernaccia di San Gimignano wines into modern times, and today is the indisputable benchmark against which all other Vernaccia wines are judged.
The Teruzzi & Puthod winery was founded in 1974 with the mission of producing high quality wines, thus improving the standard of this unique territory, rich in winemaking history and tradition. It was two outsiders from Milan – husband and wife, Enrico Teruzzi and Carmen Puthod, who pioneered the area’s winemaking renaissance, leading a quality revolution with avant-garde methods of vinification, the art of aging wine in barrique, and the blending of indigenous and international varietals. The latter is famously exemplified by the estate’s “Terre di tufi,” which debuted in 1984. Considered one of Italy’s best whites, it has been a cult wine since its creation. For years, Teruzzi & Puthod has been part of “Global Quality,” an eco-friendly project that avoids the use of products which, while permitted, are not particularly compatible with the environment.
The estate covers a sizable 445 acres with 232 acres planted with vineyards. 148 acres are dedicated to Vernaccia, making Teruzzi & Puthod the largest privately owned estate cultivating this grape variety. The region has a continental climate, with cold and rainy winters and hot summers.The soils are mostly sandy with some clay.
Teruzzi & Puthod’ consultant winemaker, Giuseppe Caviola, is considered one of Italy’s most respected consultants, having traveled and worked throughout much of Italy. Giuseppe’s wines consistently garner critical acclaim and awards. The estate is owned by Terra Moretti Vino, an Italian company with strong ties in wine production, including the premium Franciacorta estate, Bellavista. As the parent company, the Moretti group acts in a supporting role, continuing the Teruzzi & Puthod’s legacy for producing outstanding white wines.
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.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.