Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Il Poggione Vertical

Leopoldo Franceschi, Owner of Il Poggione (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

One of my favorite Brunello producers for years has been Il Poggione, located just below the town of Sant' Angelo in Colle. Owned by Leopoldo Franceschi, the wines are beautifully made by Fabrizio Bindocci, a strict traditionalist. He ages his Brunello only in large casks (botti grandi); a few years ago he switched coopers and now uses French oak rather than Slavonian.

Bindocci and his son Alessandro hosted several journalists including myself for a wonderful vertical tasting at the winery this past February. Not only was it a rare opportunity to try several vintages of this great Brunello at once, it was also a chance to taste what Brunello was like more than 40 years ago. As Brunello has become a collector’s item, many new estates have sprouted up over the past 10-15 years. When the Il Poggione wine was made in 1966, there were only 26 producers of Brunello; today there are over 150. The local wine scene has certainly changed, but the outstanding quality of Il Poggione has not!

Deep garnet with a brick edge. Aromas of cedar, orange marmalade and a hint of truffle. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Earthy finish with very good fruit persistence. This should drink well for another 10-12 years. Outstanding

Deep garnet with aromas of still fresh cherry, a hint of strawberry and cedar. Medium-full with excellent concentration. Long finish with beautiful acidity, subtle oak and refined tannins. Gorgeous wine – still with another 12-15 years of life to it. Outstanding

Deep garnet with aromas of cedar, dried currant, sage and dried truffle. Medium-full with very good concentration. Very good fruit persistence and a long finish with a light herbal note. Lively acidity and subtle tannins. Drinking beautifully now, this should offer pleasure for another 7-10 years. Outstanding

Pale garnet with a light edge. Aromas of dried currant, truffle and a hint of marmalade. Medium-full with excellent concentration. Quite elegant, this is beautifully balanced with subdued tannins. Nearing peak, this will drink well for another 5-7 years. Excellent

Pale garnet with a brick edge. Aromas of cedar and truffle. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Lengthy finish with pinpoint acidity. At peak- enjoy over the next 3-5 years. Excellent

I tasted the 2004 at a separate event. Here is my review of that wine:
As this is one of my favorite producers of Brunello di Montalcino, I expected an outstanding wine from the 2004 vintage; I was not let down. Deep bright garnet with aromas of red cherry, wild strawberry and cedar. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Generous mid-palate and an elegant entry on the palate. Long, long finish with excellent fruit persistence, lively acidity and young, refined tannins. Typical class! Best in 15-20 years. Outstanding

Fabrizio Bindocci, Winemaker, Il Poggione (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

So much goes into making a great wine. Certainly having great material in the vineyards helps; Fabrizio Bindocci mentioned that as the local weather has been getting slightly warmer over the past few years, they have been planting new clones specifically created to work better at higher temperatures.

But perhaps the principal reason the Il Poggione team succeeds so brilliantly is their humility along with a constant belief that they can always improve the quality of their products. "I never think I make the best wine," Bindocci told me. "That way I can make better and better wine every year."

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