Today we travel from Città della Pieve, Italy north to Palazzone. Palazzone is located in Tuscany although it is almost on the border with Umbria. It’s been said that the terroir of this region is more likely associated with the terroir of it’s neighboring Umbria than it is of its big sisters’, Siena and Florence. Geographically, Umbria is much more centrally located. It therefore does not get the ocean breezes that Tuscany is known climatically for. Palazzone situated as such is part of the hotter and drier climate that can lend itself to earlier harvests and sweeter grapes. This year the heatwave that Europe overall has experienced is what the meteorologists have been referring to as “Lucifer” meaning The Devil. This hopefully gives you a good feel for just how hot it has been this year for the grape growers. I later have an opportunity to ask this question of a grower here in Palazzone.
I arranged a wine tasting at Cantine Ravazzi on this warm July summer afternoon. Alberto Ravazzi greets us as soon as we arrive. Alberto is the 2nd of 3 generations of this family owned winery. Cantine Ravazzi has been producing wines for over 60 years! This winery was started by his father, Enio and continues to evolve and improve on what have been and continue to be phenomenal tasting wines. We have a really fun afternoon ahead of us meeting Alberto and tasting their portfolio of wines.
Private Collection – 2015 Iroso
The first thing you notice right away is that the bottle’s label is simplistic with clean lines and a uniquely different logo than what the family’s classic labeling has been. Established as a new Collezione Privata”, Alberto is imparting his generational interpretation of the character of the vineyards and various varietals into this new fresh line of wines.
Iroso is a Tuscan blend comprised of 50/25/25 of the varietals Sangiovese/Cabernet/Merlot. Alberto tells us that his family started the Merlot varietal some twenty years ago. Older vines, such as these often have less grape bunches per vine and smaller grapes produced that are more concentrated in flavor than their younger counterparts. All clearly of benefit to the beautiful taste of this wine.
I am a visual taster so color is very important to me. The color of this wine is a half moon of deep rouge color with a pool of dark violet. It’s beautiful to see against a backdrop of the white surface I used. I do prefer a red that also has a bouquet upfront and this wine delivers that eloquently. It’s floral yet has a bit of essence of plums as well.
Some time after returning to the States I received my shipment of European wines. To taste this particular wine, I aerated a tasting portion and then let it sit for 15 min., tasted and then waited another hour. Had I been serving this for guests, I would have decanted the bottle roughly an hour before serving due to the medium-high acidity. After waiting for it to breath properly, the acidity moderated out pleasantly. I could taste how the Sangiovese earthiness contributes its own distinctive character to this wine. It tampers down what otherwise would be a full bloom of the florals and rich berry-ness that are derived from the Merlot and Cab. Many Americans want that very berry flavor but I prefer a deeper “dirtiness”. This wine accomplishes that and is very well balanced. Whether you are serving it with cheese or like I did with just focaccia bread & EVOO imported from Puglia, your menu and guests can be as varied as you choose. Just remember to set aside a bottle or two for yourself!
I should note that the bottle I tasted was from 2015. That year the weather was more typical and therefore the vines were not being subjected to the intense summer heat of what the 2019 harvest will experience. It will be an interesting comparison of the two vintages and how Alberto and his family apply their wealth of experience to what truly is expected to be a challenging harvest for many regions of Europe.
You can purchase this wine directly from the Ravazzi website for €22,00 (shipping is not included in the price)
Look for my upcoming tasting of another of Ravazzi’s award winning wines: Preziosa (“Precious”) Red blend. Ciao!