Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Nose Knows Tuscany - Casamatta Sangiovese 2011

I have always been swayed as much by the aromas of a wine as I have been by the taste. In fact, if the aromas are stunted or even worse, unflattering, then it almost doesn't matter what the flavors are. The aromas convey most of the nuance of wine, the art of it if you will, while the taste and mouth feel frame the picture. There's a posting on Wikipedia that says it very well;

"It is through the aromas of wine that wine is tasted. The human tongue is limited to the primary tastes perceived by taste receptors on the tongue - acidity, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness and savoriness. The wide array of fruit, earthy, floral, herbal, mineral and woodsy flavor perceived in wine are derived from aroma notes interpreted by the olfactory bulb.

In the entry level wine category that I frequent, there are very few examples that really give you that "sense of place". A recent and welcome addition to the inventory of my local joint is a Sangiovese from a producer named Bibi Graetz with the "Toscana" designation - an IGT. IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica and this designation was created to give credence to "Super Tuscans" that were being made in ways that did not adhere to the lawful requirements of DOCs and DOCGs.
In truth, I never really paid that much attention to those categories, and if you put this lovely $9.99 Sangiovese in a blind tasting with a bunch of entry level Chianti Classicos, it might show better than more than a few. A trained artist, the colorful labels of Mr. Graetz's wines are reproductions of his art.

Now back to the aroma thing. I could sit and sniff this wine all day. This incredible bargain gives much more complexity than is usual at this price point with classic Sangiovese aromas of red cherry, raspberry, licorice, cinnamon and that wonderful earthy element the Italians call "sottobosco", which means underbrush. It's got almost perfect balance and a soft medium bodied mouth feel with wonderful berry fruit flavors and currant notes. It finishes a bit short but soft and elegant. Imported by Martin Scott and fermented entirely in stainless, this wine sees no wood whatsoever. Cheers.

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