2016 Le Miccine, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
This antic podere (ancient estate) in the hills of Gaiole in the famous Chianti Classico region of Tuscany has been on a roll since being taken over by the youthful talents of Paula Papini Cook, the Canadian winemaker who after studying in France and Spain came to her family’s sleepy Le Miccine and has made it a world class label. Bringing her energy and attention to detail, she quickly brought a new level of quality to the wines here and started an organic and holistic conversion to the vineyards that has really given her latest releases a boost, especially her gorgeous 2016 Le Miccine Chianti Classico Riserva, which I just received from the winery along with Paula’s Chianti Classico (white label) 2018, which people are saying is looking like another exceptional vintage like 2016 was in Tuscany as well as her single vineyard Merlot, a wine that, like Castello di Ama down the road, should not be overlooked, the super limited Gran Selezione, her ultra luxurious and flashy special edition offering that I will give a bit more time before reviewing, plus her Bianco and Rosato. The 2016 Reserva shows exceptional purity and ripe density, it drinks very much in the same class as a Brunello and or a Vino Nobile, with structured layers of dark fruit, sweet tannins and well judged savory elements showing black raspberry, plum, cherry and bright currant fruits, zingy spices, a touch of orange rind, tangy herbs, tobacco leaf, grilled fennel, subtle floral tones, mineral and a light cedary shading. This wine is dark garnet in the glass and an absolutely joyous on the rich palate, it drinks so nicely now you’d not want to wait, but patience should pay rewards as well here, and as with all of Paula’s wines, it really goes best with food. Le Miccine is a winery that deserves to be mentioned in the company of the stars in the region, like Felsina, Montevertine, Carpasa and the mentioned Ama, to name a few, the wines here are more soulful, rather than flamboyant, much to their credit and are deliciously natural, which I find more alluring.
The 2016 Le Miccine Riserva, made from certified organic grapes, a top selection of the best of the vintage, is almost all Sangiovese (95%) and with maybe just a tiny amount of Malvasia Nera (5%) as well, depending on vintage, coming from the highest south facing parcels above Gaiole that soak up the sun and get refreshed by the cool night time temps at this elevation that adds depth, balance and complexity. The Le Miccine property has long been a farm and an important stop on the Chianti trail, it was a way station or rest area for travelers, traders and their donkeys, which were very common for hauling goods and produce, like olive oil and lava beans, as well as wine of course, in fact the name Le Miccine is translated from the local dialect meaning a small female donkey. The vineyards here were initially planted in the sixties, alongside the old olive trees and that is when the estate began to produce their own wines, which were rustic and traditional in style, but it wasn’t until the Quebec born Paula Papini Cook came here in 2008 that the true quality of the terroir was unlocked and the vines started to realize their full potential. The traditionally crafted Riserva saw, as per the DOCG rules, 24 Months in oak, which smoothed out the raw edges without overt wood showing at all letting the natural character of the Sangiovese sing in its best voice virtually solo and with an expressive and elegant style. The estate has at least six unique clones of Sangiovese in the vines here along with other native grape red varieties such as Malvasia Nera and Colorino, as well as the plot of Merlot, which is now only in the solo effort and not added to the normale Chianti Classico or Riserva bottlings. I have been a fan since I first tried the early Papini Cook made Le Miccine efforts and while I loved her awesome 2013 version, this 2016 is on another level, I highly recommend chasing her wines down, in particular this fantastic stuff. This wine, with its sense of place, got me dreaming of getting back to Tuscany, a great escape of my mind from the darkness of the year, I can’t wait to visit these picturesque ancient hilltop villages and historic vineyards.
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive