Imagine that the ultra-cult Right Bank red blend of Cheval Blanc, which is dominated by Cabernet Franc, took its roadshow to Tuscany. That’s exactly how we described this rare 2012 Le Macchiole Paleo Rosso to a few winemaker pals over dinner in Pebble Beach a few weeks back — we were all floored by its opulence and complexity. Our little simile is even backed by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, which says the Paleo Rosso “has created the precedent for world-class Cabernet Franc from Tuscany.” In the superb 2012 vintage Le Macchiole came away with 97 points from James Suckling who found it “a rich, racy and wonderful young red.” Just $84.99 per bottle for one of Italy’s most spectacular reds, and the right to brag you found “the Cheval Blanc of Italy.” Just 360 bottles in mint condition, coming from cool Tuscan cellars.
Long before Bolgheri was the home of cult Super Tuscans, the lush, sun-drenched landscape entranced Eugenio Campolmi and Cinzia Merli. The husband and wife gave up the profitable retail and restaurant business Eugenio had inherited from his parents and bought a few acres in Bolgheri, near the Etruscan Coast, in 1975. The winery’s debut vintage was 1983, their early efforts powerful but rustic.
The couple brought on one of the country’s most acclaimed enologists, Vittorio Fiore, to improve the viticulture. In 1998, Le Macchiole released the first vintage of Paleo Rosso, the cuvée that Food & Wine would years later call “one of Italy’s greatest red wines.”
Paleo Rosso started out as a classic Bordeaux blend. But beginning in 2001, it was 100% Cabernet Franc, boldly demonstrating that Bolgheri’s terroir was capable of coaxing the grape to a state of perfection found only at the prestigious chateaux of Saint-Émilion.
With the help of consulting enologist Luca d’Attoma, the winery began controlling for the highest possible quality. They began to pick each site separately, focusing on low yields, and pioneered high-density planting in the region. Soon Paleo Rosso had an international reputation, named “one of the great wines of Tuscany and Italy” by Vinous’s Antonio Galloni and “the precedent for world-class Cabernet Franc from Tuscany” by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
Paleo Rosso set the gold standard again in 2012, one of the longest harvests in Le Macchiole history at 43 days. Fruit was drawn off prized vineyards on the 50-acre estate including Madonnina, Puntone, Casa Nuova, and Vignone. That elongated season allowed grapes to reach full maturity and ideal phenolic ripening, leading to graceful tannins, massive power, and delicate aromatics. Wine Spectator rated the year 96 points for Tuscany, the highest since the legendary vintages of 2001 and 2004.
Collectors know that opportunities to secure Italy’s finest Cabernet Franc at this incredible price don’t come knocking often.
Editor-in-Chief, Wine Access
We noticed that the credit card number you entered matches one of your saved credit cards. We’ve updated your saved card with the new information.