After being seated at an Italian restaurant in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, winemaker Alessandro Bindocci introduces himself (It's the first time we have met) and immediately, the Sommelier of the house rises to the occasion with a bottle of 2014 IL Poggione Rosso di Montalcino, in hand. Alessandro is quick to say that 2014 was not the easiest year for the winemaker. Poor weather conditions made winemaking harder and much patience was needed to meet the high standards of IL Poggione.
I am an avid consumer of Rosso di Montalcino because the little brother of Brunello di Montalcino has always been an affordable alternative to the big brother. Bottles are normally priced between the $20-$28 level and over satisfy the constant urge I have to taste the heralded Sangiovese grape.
Bindocci makes wines that focus always on the fruit element of the Sangiovese grape-he wants 'clean fruit freshness' in each sip-and goes the extra length by ageing the Rossi di Montalcino for 12 months in oak barrels and barriques, then an additional eight months in the bottle before release.
Going the extra mile pays off for IL Poggione, as the vineyard is considered one of the elite properties in Tuscany.
Alessandro Bindocci guided me through his families association with IL Poggione and how both farming and grape growing work cohesively on the property. His father, Fabrizio took over as winemaker for IL Poggione in 1978 and still works hand in hand with his son, Alessandro, in crafting the wines for the Francesci family, who has owned the property since the late 1800's.
Both father and son work together.
Winemaker Alessandro Bindocci
Mr. Bindocci discussed the deep roots his vines have, which causes his team to cut the secondary roots. French oak is the only oak they use to age wine. The barrels are used for 20 years, an unheard of practice for other vineyards. Every ten years they buy new barrels. Alessandro explained that the property is perched on a hill. The property is large, covering 1500 acres and is more of a farm then a vineyard. They raise cows, pigs, lambs and other animals on the property.The estate practices sustainable farming and grows grain and harvests olives for olive oil. It is a working farm.
The vineyard is 300 acres in size and has been producing wine since the late 1800's. The owners of the vineyard, the Franchesi family, are into their fifth generation.
Sustainability is practiced.
2011 IL Poggione Brunello di Montalcino
As our discussion progressed, the Sommelier poured a luscious 2011 Brunello ($79) that was made with 20 year old vines, natural yeast and aged three years. The result was a subdued dried cherry wine, full of ginger spice, balanced and full-bodied with an extra long, magnetic palate finish.
Only to outdo himself, a bottle of 2010 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Vigna Paganelli ($119) was poured. This wine and vintage were on my bucket list.
The vines are over 50 years old. The wine is aged for four years in oak and two years in the bottle. The result is a masterful Sangiovese with exceptional varietal character, elegant finesse and clarity between sweetness and acidity.
IL Pogigone prides themselves as a master of interpretation of the Sangiovese grape. That statement sums up their true passion for one of the world's most liked grapes.
Philip S. Kampe