2009 Rocca di Frassinello Rocca di Frassinello Maremma Toscana
Expert Ratings
ST 93+ points
RP 93 points
(Read the full reviews below)
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Barrel Room Amphitheatre Rothschild's Super-Tuscan: 93+ point Frassinello

Decades ago, trailblazed by the likes of Piero Antinori's Tignanello, "Super Tuscans" took America by storm. And why not? There was much to say for these hypothetical marriages of floral Sangiovese, buttressed by the broad shoulders and blackberry jazz of Cabernet Sauvignon. By the early 1990s, it seemed like every cantina from Siena to the coast was hopping on the bandwagon. Prices skyrocketed.

But for every Tignanello, there seemed to be a dozen wannabes, bottles dominated by flavors that spoke more of the New World than the Tuscan coast. Consumers became increasingly confused -- and disappointed. Before anyone really saw it coming, collectors would realize that most of these "Super Tuscans" weren't so super after all.

Why did the wheels fall off the bandwagon? Simple. Farming Sangiovese to physiological maturity is a nightmare. One often forgets that just 40 years ago, Chianti Classico was all but worthless. Few cantinas bottled their wine, and those that did, struggled to sell it. Without the resources to invest in the vines, most Tuscan Sangiovese was thin and insipid. Fully aware of Sangiovese's caprice, many that jumped on the Super Tuscan train eschewed the variety, focusing instead on the reliability of Cabernet Sauvignon. In the process, they yanked the Tuscan heart right out of their blends.

When the dust finally settled, many cantinas gave up the fight. But a few stuck to their guns, eschewing the Super Tuscan moniker as they pumped resources into their high density Sangiovese plantings. Of those who persevered, none would do so with more rigor and passion than the Baron de Rothschild and his Tuscan partner, Paolo Panerai.

In the superb 2009 vintage, this fabled marriage of Franco-Italo winegrowing expertise gave birth to one of the most stunning releases in Tuscany. The extended growing season provided for added hang time, allowing Panerai and Rothschild's vineyard crew to nurse these low yielding Sangiovese clones to perfect maturity. As to the Baron's calling cards -- the Bordeaux varieties -- 2009 would prove to be a field day for Frassinello Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, offering concentration that would remind the Baron of his Pauillac 100-pointers.

Dark ruby in color, with ethereal aromas of crushed red fruits, tinged with ripe cassis, the attack here is rich, warm and voluminous, packed with red raspberry, dosed with blackberry liqueur, all bracketed by the fine, dusty tannins that speak purely of these poor soils and the glorious Tuscan sun.

In what would be the top under-$30 Super Tuscan on WineAccess in 2012, the critics would strike a common chord. 93+ points from Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. 93 from Parker's Wine Advocate. 92 from Wine Spectator. No surprise.

Tasting Notes

2009 Rocca di Frassinello Rocca di Frassinello Maremma Toscana
"(a blend of 60% sangiovese and 20% each cabernet sauvignon and merlot; 70% new oak): Very bright, full ruby. Sappy aromas of cassis, blueberry, mocha, licorice and vanillin oak. Juicy and lively on the palate, thanks to harmonious acidity that lifts the dense, sweetly spicy red and dark cherry flavors. Finishes with substantial but very polished tannins that hit the palate quite late. A wine of surefire potential, and yet another strong showing in this estate's lineup."
93+ points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

"The 2009 Rocca di Frassinello impresses for its polish and supremely elegant personality. Sweet red berries, roses and licorice are among the aromas and flavors that emerge from this pliant, polished red. This is a more feminine style than the 2008 and ultimately a touch more refined as well. The Rocca is 60% Sangioveto, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2021."
93 points -- Antonio Galloni, Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

"Focused and intense, offering cherry, raspberry, licorice and tea flavors. The ample fruit is offset by assertive tannins, leaving a grainy finish now. Needs time to integrate. Best from 2014 through 2025."
92 points -- Wine Spectator

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