100-Point Winemaker’s Everyday Super Tuscan Luxury
As under-$20 Super Tuscans go, it doesn’t get any better than “O’Lillo” — the Tignanello-inspired Bordeaux blend. It was the previous vintage of O’Lillo that floored Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, and James Suckling and catapulted it to the world stage. 100-point winemaker Stefano Chioccioli’s newest release, the 2016 Baracchi O’Lillo — is at it again. A smitten James Suckling raved over its “full body,” and “layered” mouthfeel in his 91-point review. Little wonder, given that 2016 presented a fantastic vintage in Tuscany. At $17.99 per bottle, the Wine Access clients who have stockpiled the previous vintage know that this is the Super Tuscan bargain of the century.
Lovers of fine Italian wines know that two factors combine to create excellence from The Boot: winemaking pedigree and location. Chioccioli’s 100-point score from Robert Parker only adds to his burgeoning list of accomplishments, which include more than 100 Tre Bicchieri “Three Glasses” awards — an astounding feat. Add to that his pick of brilliant fruit from Tuscany, and it’s no wonder that his O’lillo Super Tuscan is a critical darling. And with such winemaking prowess at hand, one might expect owner Riccardo Baracchi would have raised prices accordingly. But just as had been the case during the early days of the Super Tuscan craze, Riccardo remained a downside player. Here’s why.
In 1971, the first vintage of Sassicaia debuted — a 1968 Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon drawn off a small vineyard in Bolgheri. That same year saw Piero Antinori craft his first “Tignanello.” Next came Solaia and then Ornellaia. By the early 1990s, these four “Super” Tuscan reds were among the most sought-after and expensive wines in Italy.
Piero’s neighbors took careful note — particularly Riccardo Baracchi, who was fully aware of Tuscany’s Antinori-inspired cash-flow bonanza. But rather than raising overhead costs on labeling and marketing efforts, Baracchi zeroed in on Antinori’s clonal and vineyard protocol. On each of his three properties — the sandy soils of San Martino, the clay and chalk of Gabbiano, and the classic limestone and clay of Montanare — Baracchi planted Bordeaux varieties that were best suited to each terroir. And though he continues to be the critical darling of Tuscany’s under-$20 Super Tuscan category, he holds firm on prices, refusing to inflate his stupendous IGTs. There’s nothing left to do but say, “Thanks,” and stock up before it’s all gone.