Fleshy and full on the palate, packed with juicy blackberry fruit, buttressed with tar and menthol.
“Readers who haven’t yet discovered Salcheto are missing out on some of the most delicious wines being made in Tuscany today.” That was the resounding endorsement issued by Antonio Galloni — the most respected Tuscan wine critic in the world — in his review of Salcheto’s masterful 2005 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. If you count yourself among the group yet to be introduced to this important winery, please read on.
Nestled in the rolling hillsides outside the town of Montepulciano, the Salcheto estate began as a sleepy farm in 1984, the land dedicated to crops, sheep, and a patch of Sangiovese. Thirteen years later, the property was jolted to life when Michele Manelli took ownership. Young and passionate, brimming with new ideas, Manelli was part of the influx of ambitious talent which rushed into the region at the tail end of the century, driving the renaissance of Vino Nobile. With characteristic energy, Manelli instituted an overhaul of the winery, gutting the cellar and rebuilding it in 2011 using the most innovative and sustainable technology available. Italy took notice: Salcheto won the “Sustainable Viticulture” award from Gambero Rosso in 2014.
While Manelli was determined to upgrade his facilities to the most advanced standards possible, in the fields he knew Mother Nature did some of her best work when men got out of the way. The main vineyard sits at almost 1,500 feet in elevation, one of the highest in the area, caressed by both the sun’s abundant, warm rays and cool, brisk breezes. The soil — primarily tufa clay, formed from volcanic ash — lends the Prugnolo Gentile grape perfect growing conditions. Manelli elected to pursue organic and biodynamic growing practices, making for vineyards that bristle with natural life — and wines that deftly walk the tightrope between plush modernism and dusty Tuscan rusticity.
Meanwhile, the superstars of nearby Montalcino were riding an incredible hot streak with Brunellos, leading importers to raise prices with abandon. Tuscan red enthusiasts, tiring of $80 price tags, found their heads turned by the incredible value of Salcheto’s Vino Nobile. Manelli’s terrifically rich and juicy Sangiovese was in some cases outpointing top-shelf Brunello at a fraction of the price. One of the heads turned was Galloni’s.
“Salcheto is yet another Montepulciano estate that deserves more attention,” the critic argued last year. “The top wines are endowed with superb pedigree … deep, intense and highly expressive.”
But it was the 2013 vintage that really set the critics singing. The growing season got off to a late start with a cool, damp spring. Ripening was slow and stubborn and after a cool August, the late-maturing Sangiovese vines were a couple weeks behind. But as we’ve long said, growing seasons are rarely made or broken in the spring and summer months. The drama really begins about a month before harvest. And when that bright Tuscan sun finally broke through in September, the vines regrouped and sprinted to the finish line. Harvest took place under textbook conditions. Yields were small, but sugars, acids, and tannins were perfect.
Galloni swooned over Salcheto’s release. “One of the most virile, ripe 2013 Vino Nobiles I tasted,” he wrote, praising the wine’s sumptuous intensity and pinning on 92 points.
The 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is 100% Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese), aged in oak barrels for 18 months. Deep purple with red ruby tones, infused with rich aromas of violets, top soil, air-dried meat and white pepper. Fleshy and full on the palate, packed with juicy blackberry fruit, buttressed with tar and menthol. Finishes dry with a zip of acidity and framing, dusty tannins. A superb wine for the price. Drink now to 2022.
92 points from Galloni, who can’t say enough good things about Salcheto. Elsewhere $30. At $19.99 from WineAccess, this is easily one of the top red bargains of the 2013 Tuscan vintage. 600 bottles.
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