Grapelive Winery Profile: Montepeloso
By Kerry Winslow
I just tasted Fabio Chiarellotto’s newest releases from his fantastic Tuscan coast vineyards, and without knowing a thing about his wines I knew right away I was tasting something remarkable, then of course I heard the news that Parker’s Wine Advocate had rated his wines somewhere close to perfect! Well, never one to be jealous about that, I would wholeheartedly agree, as these are some of the finest Tuscan wines I’ve ever had and rate in the same league as Ornellaia and Sassicaia, though these 2008’s of Montepeloso just might out class either, especially the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon “Gabbro” which has all the best character of Sassicaia with lots of Lafite or Latour thrown it!
Fabio Chiarellotto makes a stellar line up of wines from his estate south of Bolgheri, and while he does focus of native grapes for most of his wines, the Cabernet Sauvignon Cru Gabbro is the flagship wine. His vines cling to rocky hillsides that produce tiny yields, giving intense flavors and unique terroir components. He has a rare selection of grapes as well, he has Tuscan Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Alicante and a hybrid grape that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache known as Marselan that was developed for special Mediterranean climates and has been planted on his estate for about 10 years with noteworthy success.
2009 Montepeloso “A Quo” Tuscan Red.
This young vine cuvee is a blend of all the different grapes grown on the estate including Marselan, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fabio Chiarellotto makes a point of saying this wine is not about the varietal it is about the terroir, and tasting the wine confirms this statement as the wine shows perfume and mineral tones that are not usually found in these grapes and can be tasted in each of the estate wines as well. This entry-level rosso is a dynamic and lavish wine that has depth and pleasures of wines twice the price making it a super value. The nose is red flowers, sweet herbs, wild berries and cassis leading to a balanced palate of black cherry, mountain berry, plum and dried roses with mineral and subtle oak notes.
($28 Est.) 90-91 Points, grapelive
2008 Montepeloso “Eneo” Tuscan Red.
The Eneo with mature vines and extended oak aging is a much deeper and richer wine that the A Quo and it shows off a glorious inky color and has intense flavors that highlight the best of each varietal in the blend, 40% Montepulciano, 25% Sangiovese, 25% Marslan and 10% Alicante Bouschet in normal vintages. The vibrant and grippy palate shows spiced plum, blackberry, strawberry and cherry with cedar, smoke, crème de cassis and minty fennel. This wine has power and focus with sweet refined tannins that hold the fruit in check, plus the Eneo has good acidity to keep everything fresh, so it should get better with a touch more age as well. A wonderful wine from a newer superstar estate that should be worth watching.
($45 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2008 Montepeloso “Nardo” Tuscan Red.
This wonderful Tuscan red is the old vine cuvee of Italian varietals, mostly Montepulciano and Sangiovese done in high quality French oak. The concentration is amazing and the ripe vivid fruit is pure heaven with loads of savory and sweet black fruits on the round full palate. This wine is very dark and thickly textured, but still bursting with life and while powerful and tannic it seems juicy and not bitterly drying on the lengthy finish. The nose is smoky sweet with flowers, oak and mineral spices with layers of blackberry, currant, strawberry and tangy cherry with dried rose petals, mountain herbs and subtle vanilla. This is a fantastic effort and nothing short of brilliant, a wine that will compete well with top Brunello Riservas and surpass most anything the region can offer!
($150 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2008 Montepeloso “Gabbro” Cabernet Sauvignon, Tuscany.
100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Grabbo Cru on Fabio Chiarellotto’s estate south of Bolgheri, the Montepeloso “Gabbro” is a special wine of terroir, but it also has very classic Pauillac like character and can easily stand next to Lafite or Latour! Without question there is also some Italian charm too, though more like a top vintage of Ornellaia or Sassicaia, but even that comparison does not really capture it’s essence or does it justice. I reviewed the Wine Advocate notes from the two prior vintages, 96 and 97 Points, and see that this wine falls in line with those notes, though I believe this wine could be better still. The 2008 has inky, almost opaque black color and has lots of crème de cassis, smoke and pencil lead with black olive notes before a lush palate of blackberry, blueberry, plum and currant fruit. The complex mineral, tobacco, licorice and cedar mixes well with the Bordeaux style subtle French oak shadings in the background and the finish is amazingly long and overall this is almost a perfect Cabernet. I would place this sublime wine among Italy’s finest or call it an Italian First Growth!
($180 Est.) 96-98 Points, grapelive
Available through www.sfwtc.com