Monday, July 3, 2017

Tenuta di Trinoro (Val d'Orcia, Tuscany): The vineyards and the wines

With lunch behind us, we made our way back down the hill from Andrea's home to the winery/vineyard zone. Carlo was ready to lead me on a vineyard and winery tour; I needed a post-lunch nap.

Given its location, Tenuta di Trinoro gets sufficient sunlight to bring its grapes to maturity during the course of a growing season. But there are other climate issues that are sources of concern. Up until 2004, the area experienced Mediterranean growing seasons (mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers) but the growing seasons are now more tropical; that is, more rain and cooler summers. Carlo sees these changes as resulting from climate change. The grapes, he said, produce less concentrated wines in years of above-average rainfall (In a post-publication comment, Andrea said that these new seasonal effects allow them to make better wines than they could with the scorching Augusts of the past. The prior August heat left the vines paralyzed which lengthened the ripening process and brought up the sugar. These are much better years, he says, with 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016 all great vintages. He also pointed out that the concentration is better under these new growing conditions.).

There are a total of 22 ha of the estate devoted to vineyards, distributed between 36 separate vineyard plots. As shown on the map below, the vineyard is planted solely with Bordeaux cultivars to include 17 Cabernet Franc and 13 Merlot plots. There are three cru vineyards which lend their names to 100% Cab Franc wines made with the grapes sourced therefrom.

There is a 200-meter difference in elevation between the lowest and highest points in the vineyard with the lower portion being alluvial while the higher portions are clay mixed with limestone and quartz fragments that have split from the underlying bedrock.

The vineyards are planted at 10,000 vines/ha and are a mix of double Guyot and double Guyot Poussard. The initial plantings were double Guyot but these are being transitioned to Poussard which promotes maintaining the same sap route from year to year and keeping pruning wounds to the top of the cordon. Carlo mentioned that Esca is a problem at Tenuta di Trinoro; a 2002 study by Geoffrion and Renaudin found the Poussard system to be less conducive to Esca infection than other modern training systems.

Plants are kept low -- Bonsai vineyard concept -- with each allocated 1 sq meter of canopy. Sheep manure is the only type of fertilization used on the property and spray material consists of copper and sulfur. A mix of clay, propolis, and grapefruit seed extract is sprayed in the pre-harvest period to ward off botrytis and other molds that may occur on the grapes as they approach full ripeness. There is no irrigation except for newly planted vines.

Vini Franchetti characterizes its vineyard work at Tenuta di Trinoro as follows:
We generally every year go into the vineyard and treat every vine 20 to 25 times during the growing season: to thin, hold up, cut away, spray glues or powders, hoe and dig, top and pick. We then do innumerable pickings for two months at harvest. In the winter four more long visits are spent on each vine to prune, tie, and to mend the poles and wires,
As he does at Passopisciaro, Andrea walks the vineyards at Trinoro incessantly. He makes the decision to pick based on taste. Each plot is harvested, vinified, and aged separately according to the process shown in the chart below.

Concrete tank
At the end of tours of the vineyards and cellar, we crossed over to another building to taste some wines. Now, Carlo and a few of the other employees were traveling to Vinitaly on the following day and there was a bit of a mixup with the wines that Carlo wanted me to taste. After a while he stepped back over to the cellar to get the right wines. The wines we tasted, then, were a little bit cooler than Carlo would have liked plus they were "Coravinned" into the glasses. Not a lot of oxygen exposure.

The Le Cupole is the estate's second label. The 2015 edition is a blend of 58% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Petit Verdot. The yield was 50 hl/ha. We tasted a cement vat sample. Concentrated with soft tannins.

The 2014 Magnacosta is a 100% Cabernet Franc which, like the other crus, had been aged in new oak for 8 moths and then transferred to cement vats for an additional 11 months of aging. The year had been cool, according to Carlo but the grapes were ripe and showed as sweet and concentrated in the wine. Herbal and peppery with well-integrated tannins.

The 2014 Tenaglia showed black and blue fruits, licorice, and tae. Fruit carries through to the palate. A little more power than was the case for the Magnacosta. Salinity. Lengthy finish.

The 2014 Carmagi was not giving on the nose. Blue fruit, duskiness, and salinity on the palate.

The fruit was so good in 2009 that Andrea resurrected the Palazzi as a wine in that vintage. We tasted both the 2009 Palazzi (100% Merlot) and the 2009 Tenuta di Trinoro (42% Cabernet Franc, 42% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Petit Verdot) but both were too cold to reveal themselves fully. The Palazzi showed mushrooms, a savoriness, and a hint of green. Mineral finish. The Tenuta di Trinoro did not reveal much on the nose and opened up just enough to give a hint of layered complexity.

We were all disappointed at the way the wines showed so Carlo gave me the Coravinned bottles of Palazzi and Tenuta di Trinoro to take with me and taste at a later date. I took them home and popped them today.

Both of these wines were significantly more appealing than when I tasted them initially. Today the Tenuta di Trinoro showed intense spice and dark fruits on the nose along with leather, cassis, and licorice. On the palate, dark fruit accompanying a rich, thick creaminess and beautifully integrated tannins. A long, rich, creamy finish. The Palazzi showed ripe dark fruit, licorice, spice and chocolate. Balanced. High note resulting of pleasing acid levels. A creamy finish.

This was a mammoth expenditure of time and effort on Carlo's part; especially given the fact that they were driving to Vinitaly the following day. I would like to express my thanks to him and the organization for making this experience possible.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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