Wine tasting: a bad year results in some good wines from Rocca di Montegrossi
April to October is a stressful time for winemakers as it only takes one hour for nature to destroy all their hard work. Marco Ricasoli of Rocca di Montegrossi counts 2013 as the worst year of his life. Unpredictable weather conditions affected the ripening of the grapes and caused diseases. It was a time when everything bad could happen. But by the end of August, prior to harvest, the sun came out and grapes were able to reach optimum maturity. Ricasoli looks back at this turbulent vintage and concedes that the results were fantastic. By the end of primary fermentation he said, "I am a good winemaker."
Ricasoli's family played a critical role in shaping the history of Chianti Classico. His family has been making wine for more than 800 years. Despite its long, illustrious history, Ricasoli refuses to rest on his family's laurels and is carving out his own reputation. At present, he believes that Chianti Classico has reached 60 per cent of its quality potential, but there is still room for improvement. In his own vineyard, Ricasoli farms the grapes organically; in the cellar, he aims to preserve the quality attained in the vineyard. It's stressful work but Ricasoli regards it as a labour of love. "The best part is being surrounded by beautiful scenery. Each new vintage keeps me alive. I am scared but very excited. In the end, hope is very important."
Rocca di Montegrossi Rosato IGT Toscana 2012
Rosé wines can be hit and miss affairs. But this Tuscan rosé is refreshing, dry and crisp, and perfect for a lazy summer's day in Tuscany. Made from the signature variety sangiovese, with a small component of canaiolo and merlot. An attractive, bronze-coloured wine. Fresh strawberry, raspberry and floral notes. Medium body with crisp acidity. Easy to drink. Enjoy on its own or with seafood and cold meat. HK$150
Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico DOCG 2011
Made from a blend of sangiovese, canaiolo and colorino. Cherry, licorice and some savoury notes. Elegant and well-balanced with fresh acidity and ripe, well integrated tannins. A modern, approachable wine with a focus on lovely summer fruits. HK$200
Rocca di Montegrossi Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2004
Vin Santo (holy wine) has roots stretching back to the Middle Ages. At Montegrossi, only 2,500 half-bottles are made. Ricasoli says that there are no financial benefits from producing this. A beautiful amber-coloured wine. Honeyed, dried fruits and toffee. Rich, and unctuous on the palate with concentrated fruit. Goes well with crème brûlée, blue cheese and braised dongpo. HK$650 for a 375ml bottle.