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Wine brings friendship

10 March 2017

Wine brings friendship; and my good friends always bring along good wines. Today, I had a lunch with an old friend, each of us bringing along a bottle of good wine, which are both from Tuscany out of coincidence – one from Brunello di Montalcino, and the other being a ‘Super Tuscan’.

Bill brought along a bottle of Tassi Bruello di Montalcino Franci 2012.

Brunello di Montalcino is made with 100% of a local Tuscan type of Sangiovese called Brunello. It’s noted for having larger berries than Sangiovese from Chianti or Chianti Classico and, because of this, Brunello produces wines with exceptionally bold fruit flavors, high tannin, and high acidity, which altogether provide the wines with ageability.

Tassi Franci is one of the traditional producers who use large, old Slavonian oak casks, which allow the wine to age and evolve but which do not impart significant character themselves. Such bottes are used simply as vessels to encourage tertiary flavour development (i.e. dried fruit and leather) through oxygen exposure. This is contrasting with the more modern producers who use small, new French oak barrels, which give the wine more structure and an unmistakable note of sweet vanilla.

The wine here is delicious with a very fine linear structure of ripe and polished tannins, dried mushrooms and ripe red fruit character, with hints of minerals and lovely acidity.

I brought a bottle of Tenuta di Biserno 'Il Pino di Biserno' Toscana IGT 2009, made of 45% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, a special blend of grapes that makes Il Pino a classic wine of the Upper Maremma in Tuscany.

“Super Tuscan” is used to describe red wines from Tuscany that are made from non-indigenous grapes, particularly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The creation of super Tuscan wines can be dated back to the 1970’s when the winemakers were frustrated about the wine law, which restricted them to make wines only from indigenous varieties such as Sangiovese. Winemakers began mixing ‘unsanctioned’ wine varieties (like Cabernet Sauvignon) into their blends to make high quality wines. Eventually, the legal system changed in 1992 with the creation of IGT, a new designation that gave winemakers the ability to be more creative.

The wine I brought to the lunch is made from grapes which were sorted, de-stemmed and gently crushed, and then undergone fermentation in stainless steel vats for 3 to 4 weeks; with some portion undergoing malolactic fermentation in oak barrels, and the remainder in stainless steel. 75% of the wine has been aged for 12 months in new and second-use French oak barriques; the remaining is aged in stainless steel vats. The wine has been aged for another 6 months in bottles before release, showing notes of cassis, spice and chocolate. It gives an elegant, complex and seamless palate with silky ripe tannins and a long fresh finish.

The two wines provided a very good atmosphere under which we have had a good chat leading us to contemplate something big which perhaps may make an impact to the wine industry in Hong Kong…

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