2016 Le Miccine, Carduus, Rosso di Toscana IGT, Italy.
The beautiful and silken dark garnet Carduus Rosso di Toscana is a special 100% Merlot cuvee from Paula Papini Cook of Chianti Classico’s Le Miccine that aged in French “hogsheads” 330L barrels and comes off these Gaiole estate’s old vines and mostly calcareous soils. This is a luxurious and smoothly textured wine, making a fine example of Tuscan Merlot and it is very rich and elegant with seamless layers of blackberry, plum, currant and cherry fruits along with cedar, pipe tobacco, anise, vanilla and delicate florals. This wine is very pleasing, especially in mouth feel and gains dimension with food, adding a regal presence and weight on the palate without heaviness along with a touch of loamy earth. The structural side is based around some opulent and ripe tannins that are incredibly well integrated, talk about soft power, that is how I’d explain it, this is a lovely vintage of Le Miccine’s Carduus and one that will be very memorable for this estate that just gets better with almost every year. Paula Papini Cook, the French Canadian winemaker, who after studying in France, where she also worked, and Spain, came to her grandparents sleepy Le Miccine Chianti estate, better known for olive oil than wine and turned it into a winery of high quality that has garnered great critical acclaim.

Since taking over her family’s ancient property, named after the small local donkeys that used to be the means of hauling trading goods through these hills, Paula Papini Cook has turned Le Miccine into a force in this part of Chianti Classico with a studied and delicious collection of wines. She set about rejuvenating the vines here and going all holistic and organic has brought lots of energy and charm to these wines, along with her natural gift as a winemaker, which is considerable, especially evident after tasting her latest set of wines and in particular her Chianti Classico Riserva, from this same 2016 vintage, a year that looks set to become legendary. Maybe it is her experience in Bordeaux, where she worked in Fronsac, that has helped here in this Merlot, this is a graceful effort and it should provide smiles for many years to come. Merlot has a long history here in Tuscany, and it makes for some of the most sought after wines here, like Masseto by Ornellaia over in Bolgheri as well as just down the road at Castello di Ama, who’s Merlot single vineyard offering is a cult classic. While not yet on that level, the Le Miccine Carduus is an exceptional value by comparison and not a wine to be overlooked, it’s not far off the fabulous set of Sangiovese based wines here. Le Miccine is well worth searching out, though still hard to find in the States, but the winery does ship direct and at reasonable prices.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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