North east of Montalcino lies Innocenti Wines (www.innocentivini.com) run by Gianni and Patrizia. This is a small winery with seven hectares of vines and an annual production of around 40,000 bottles. Before going in we took a couple of minutes to breathe in the marvellous views from the hilltop location.
We were met by Patrizia who had a huge smile on her face, not just because she was pleased to see us but, more importantly, because they were celebrating the new wine. The 2015 Brunello was released, according to the rules, on the first of January this year and it is a stunner. Made from 100% Sangiovese, the grape of Tuscany, it is a beautifully structured wine with a wonderful nose full of red and black fruits of the forest, a long finish with well-balanced tannins and acidity and 15% alcohol.
Should this be a surprise after three long years spent maturing in oak? Well, in some ways it is because this is a wine that is only at the beginning of its life and it will continue to mature and develop complexity over the next 25 to 30 years so truly a collectors’ item. But if you want this, do not wait – Gianni only produces around 15,000 bottles of Brunello a year and not even every year. In 2014 it rained and it rained. The results were fat grapes with thin skins. Now, the skins provide the colour and essential tannins for the wine and so bad was the harvest that Gianni just said the quality was not good enough so no Brunello that year! The good news is that Patrizia tells me the 2016 will be just as good when it is released next year.
As well as a Brunello, they also produce a Brunello Riserva that has to spend six years maturing before it can be released and, again, this is a wine that Gianni will only produce if he thinks the harvest is good enough so look out for the 2015 Riserva next year. This spends even longer in the oak barrels – three years – and the result is even more full-bodied and complex. This is a wine to accompany big flavours such as bistecca fiorentina or game or just by itself whilst reflecting on how good life can be.
Alongside the Brunello, they also produce the Rosso di Montalcino which many say is its younger brother but, make no mistake, this is a fabulous wine in itself. Released from the first of September of the year following the harvest, this does not pack the punch of its elder brother and is more refreshing and fruity. It accompanies pasta and white meat such as pork beautifully and is a wine that I will choose above Brunello when the menu and my mood demand it.
Last, but definitely not least, amongst this cornucopia of oenological delights is the speciality of the house. Vignalsole is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon matured for 12 months in barriques of French oak and then a further 12 months in the bottle. This is what is known as a Super Tuscan which is a term used for a wine made outside of the traditional rules. This wine has the deeper red colour and pepperiness that come from Cabernet Sauvignon and appeals to a more international taste with its vanilla notes from French oak.
A visit to Innocenti Vini is always a pleasure but it is a small winery so be sure to book ahead.