2015 Ampeleia, Alicante Nero, IGT Costa Toscana, Italy.
Wildly sweet and sour this Alicante Nero (True Grenache or Alicante Bouschet?) from Elisabetta Foradori tastes like Cru Beaujolais meets Jura Trousseau/Poulsard with fresh and vibrant flavors and a light to medium body picking up substance and ripe character with air, while still having a charming old world earthy/savory core. This is part of Ampeleia’s ‘Monovarietali’ single varietal project, coming from a small plot of organic estate vines known as “Vigna della Pieve”, grown on Tuscany’s coastal sandy soils and strewn with pebbles at about 800 feet above sea level, and sees native ferments and aged only 6 months, in cement tank. This pretty Mediterranean red has bright flavors and is wonderful fresh and vibrant with layers of medium bodied fruit and ripe textural mouth feel shows sour plum, cranberry, brambly raspberry, mini backyard strawberries, minty herbs, a hint of leather, dusty stones and snappy anise. Turns a bit more lush with air and gives a warm impression, gaining in style and complexity with every minute in the glass, while all the while still being vivid, transparent and elegantly focused, this is lovely expressive wine that highlights the diversity and uniqueness of this sleepy little part of Tuscany. Interesting, the winery (and many places in Italy) often refer to Alicante as a form of Grenache, though it really is not the same grape, Alicante Bouschet was an old crossing of Petit Bouschet, which was a earlier crossing of Teinturier du Cher and Aramon, and Grenache Noir which has been cultivated in France since around 1866 and is now found around the world, though used mainly as a blending grape or found in heritage field blends. Alicante Bouschet is one of the few red grapes that actually has red juice and pulp, it has a thick skin and does well in almost any climate, it’s in Spain, in the western Galicia where it’s known as Garnacha Tintorara and blended with Mencia, it’s also in Alentejo Portugal as well as in old vine vineyards in California, where it is usually blended into Zinfandel blends, like Ridge Lytton Springs and I believe Bedrock and Bucklin’s Old Hill Ranch. In some ways Alicante reminds me of Cinsault or Trousseau, though usually darker in color, but this one has a Gamay like juiciness and a bit of tannin and floral notes that are like Petit Verdot too. Drink this lively fun wine now and often, it’s naturally delicious and is a great food wine.
($27 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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