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Savoring A Tuscan Merlot

One might not think of Merlot when it comes to Tuscan wine. Perhaps this is due to the influence and popularity of Tuscany’s largest and best-known Sangiovese-dominant wine region of Chianti. The Sangiovese grape is the most planted grape variety in all of Italy and, according to Italian Wine Central statistics of 2015, Merlot is ranked number seven. Merlot is one of several major grape varieties used in the production of Super-Tuscan wines but it is also produced as a 100% varietal in the Tuscany region.

Sorting through yet another recent delivery of vintage wines leftover from our restaurant days, I came across a bottle of Marchesi de Frescobaldi “Lamaione” 2000, a 100% Merlot.

The Frescobaldi family has been part of Tuscany’s winemaking tradition for 700 years. From generation to generation they have passed on their tradition of cultivating the best of Tuscan diversity and production of fine wines. With seven estates spread throughout Tuscany, Frescobaldi’s main focus is sustainable farming in addition to developing and enhancing the diversity and maintaining the identity of each estate’s terroir.

Map courtesy of Frescobaldi

The Merlot grapes for the Marchesi de Frescobaldi Lamaione were sourced from Frescobaldi’s Castelgiocondo estate located southwest of Montalcino. Vineyards are planted in clayey terrain rich in limestone and mineral elements at an altitude of 300 meters (984 ft.), facing southwest on sunny slopes with well-drained soil and an arid climate.

Photo credit:  Frescobaldi

Marchesi de Frescobaldi “Lamaione” 2000, Toscana IGT
This 100% Merlot was aged in 90% new and 10% single-use French oak barrels for 24 months and then aged for another 12 months in the bottle.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Since I tasted this wine alone, I used my Coravin system to pour a glass so that I could share the rest of the bottle at a later date. As soon as I started pumping this garnet colored wine into my glass, delightful fruit aromas wafted up, always an encouraging sign! As the wine opened up, aromas of dark cherry, blackberry, dried berries, sweet spice and vanilla were evident. My first sip told me that I was in for a treat. Although the wine was slightly past peak, it entertained my palate over the next hour with an array of flavors. I tasted black cherry, blackberry, cooked plum, spice, earth, pepper and a very nice finish of dried fruit and fennel. This wine had a good balance of tannins and acidity. I will definitely pop the cork on this bottle in the next week or so…this is a wine to share!
Alcohol:  14.5%

So, the next time your craving a Tuscan wine, try a Merlot. Trust me, you'll be happy that you did!

Photo credit:  Penny Weiss

Until next time...



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