A little less than a year ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to not only trying more Italian wines, but to also have more of an open mind when drinking them. For as long as I can remember, I have eschewed wines from Italy for a couple of reasons. First, most of the wines that I could actually afford tended to be over-stewed acidic train wrecks (the reds) or insipid, bland, and flabby (the whites). Second, I have spent most of my time in France trying to get a handle on the myriad French wine regions and in doing so also picked up the inherent French disdain for Italian wines.
Since I have been writing this blog, I have come across scores of people who have challenged my opinion on Italian wines and called me off track, mis-guided, or worse. So I have made a concerted effort to try more Italian wines this year, and this is my latest foray. (Yes, it is now December, but it is never too late to keep a resolution, right?)
When it comes to Tuscan wines, Piccini is a titan: the company produces more than ten percent of all Chianti wine and approximately 15% of all wine from Chianti Classico. The winery is relatively “new” as it was founded in 1882 by Angiolo Piccini, who purchased a modest 15 acres in a small Tuscan village. Since then, the holdings have grown to over 1000 acres spread across three Tuscan regions (Chianti Classico, Montalcino, and Maremma). Despite its size, Piccini still produces quality wines that strive to express a sense of place often at a modest price.
Piccini Prosecco Extra Dry: Retail $18. This is the type of Prosecco that I enjoy as the focus is on the fruit and freshness and the nutty component that you find in a lot of Proseccos is absent. In other words, this is not a wine that is trying to make you think about Champagne in any way, it wants you to appreciate Prosecco. Green apple and a hint of cinnamon, interestingly. Refreshing, bright, and fun. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
Piccini Memoro: Retail $12. 40% Primitivo, 30% Montepulciano, 20% Nero d’Avola, 10% Merlot del Veneto. This is a blend of not only several grapes of various origins in Italy, but also of different vintages. Completely new world approach as it is quite fruity in a cherry cola kind of way. Eventually, with time, a bit of earth sneaks in, balancing out the fruit a bit. There are hordes of people who would love this wine, particularly with some pizza and that movie that you have been meaning to get to on the DVR. Good to Very Good. 85-87 Points.
2014 Piccini Chianti DOCG: Retail $10. 95% Sangiovese, 5% Ciliegiolo. The distinctive orange label is easy to spot as is the screw-top closure (I love seeing this on Old World wines!). I have never been to Chianti (I know, I know), but I have a feeling I would love it there (thanks Captain Obvious). I only speak a few words of Italian, but all of them are centered around food and wine, so I would certainly not starve, nor die of thirst. This is a solid effort and an inexpensive entry into one of the more fabled wine growing regions in the world. This is not a wine for romantic late-night sipping, but one for some spaghetti Bolognese or a nice roast chicken. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2011 Piccini Chianti Classico DOCG: Retail $18. 85 % Sangiovese, 15 % Merlot. The Classico region is a sub-section of Chianti. In fact, it is the original Chianti territory before the region gradually expanded its borders. Sour cherry and cassis on the nose, and rather fleshy (particularly for a Chianti) on the palate. This is the current release, and even four years in, this wine has a ways to go–there are plenty of tannins on the back-end. This is certainly worthy of more serious contemplation than the standard Chianti, and would be able to handle a wider variety of foods as an accompaniment. One of the better Classicos I have had at this price point. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2010 Piccini Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Villa al Cortile: Retail $45. 100 % Sangiovese. This is one of the downsides to getting samples (yes, there is a downside, even a couple): this wine, while drinking well now, will certainly get better over the next few years. Thus, I feel as this were a bit of infanticide going sampling this wine. Plenty of fruit, but in a reserved, tempered way, balanced acidity, and solid tannic structure on the finish. Like I said, this is Outstanding now, but will certainly improve over the next 5 years plus. 89-91 Points now, potentially 91-93 Points in a few years once those tannins start to soften a bit. Without a doubt, this is a wine that I would hold on to for at least a decade, much to the chagrin of my wife.