This Thirsty Thursday, Wayward Wine splurges and satisfies its Europhilia with a bottle from Italy. Box Chianti this ain’t. No, within Tuscany, within Chianti, within Brunello di Montalcino, within Il Poggione’s 309 acres, sits a single vineyard called Vigna Paganelli.
These grapes sit over 1,000 feet above sea level, in the hottest, driest, most windswept spot in Tuscany. Brunello regulations are extremely strict. Barrel aging must last at least 2 years, bottling 4 months. Only 100% Sangiovese makes up its wines. At least usually. 2008’s Brunellopoli saw some cheating, imprisonment, and bans in the US. This is what happens to one of Italy’s most expensive wines.
But tonight is for Il Poggione. Five generations deep, Il Poggione was one of the original founding members of Brunello. While I meticulously excavated an Etruscan kiln a few miles north, 2006’s grapes were ripening in their single vineyard.
That summer was warm and dry, especially in Montalcino. 2006’s hand harvest was ideal enough that Il Poggione decided to make a Riserva (they rarely do). So eight years on, how is it?
Appearance: Although clear, this looks a deep ruby with a narrow, clearish garnet rim.
Aromas: Borderline enveloping aromas of violet and cherry liquor, maraschino, basil leaf, and pine nut draw my mind back to that dusty summer.
Palate: This feels serious and austere, like our ceramics specialist. Dryness, high toned acids, ripped tannins, and warm alcohol all hide beneath a fairly robust body of fruit.
Flavors: Ponounced intensity dry cedar wood planks and dried herb frame lean tart cherry. Red apple skin tannins lead to a lean but long finish of mineral and lavender.
Conclusions: Il Poggione’s 2006 Riserva is very very very good, hell, outstanding (5 of 5). This wine manages to balance extremes of structure with ample fruit, spice, and intricate complexity.
The only problem with it is context. Try as I might to pretend, I’m not in Italy with it and a fabulous plate of wild boar ragu on rough, hand-cut pasta, dusted with Parmigiana, watching sun drenched tourists amble by. All that tannin and acid begs I feed my stripped, starved palate protein to revive it.
But the problem is me. This wine is classic.