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Putting the "super" in Super Tuscan, 2004 Brancaia Ilatraia Maremma Toscana

  • Nov 9, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
If you are not familiar with Brancaia, but  you're in love with Super Tuscans or maybe you just want to become more familiar with wines that have this moniker, then this is a great wine to get a hold of, one thing I can promise you won't be disappointed.
If your new to wine and are looking around your favorite wine store for a "Super-Tuscan" and maybe you don't want to look foolish and you're wondering why there is no ST section, well here's a few tips which may help. While you are in the Italy section of the store, just take a gander at the back of the bottle where you should find in small print, IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) this is one clue that you have a ST in your hand. The second clue is when you see an I.G.T. wine selling at $50.00 you have a pretty good idea it is a ST, but sorry, no guarantees. The third clue in my opinion is the varietal make-up should at least feature a large percentage of Sangiovese or you just have an American styled Meritage.

The wine service at Locanda di Pietracupa (San Donato in Poggio (FI) Via Madonna di Pietracupa)was a little unusual also, as the waiter came to the table to show us the wine, then turned to the table behind us to uncork the bottle and then sniffed the cork. Then returned to pour the glass, for my first evaluation to see if I agreed with his assessment he derived from the cork, curious But the service was first rate and the food was extraordinary. As you can see my hand was a little shaky taking this picture table side, with no flash, so the pictures are a little fuzzy.
Vino da Tavola use to be the catch-all category for everyday wines until the super-Tuscan revolution hit Chianti and Maremma. The creation of I.G.T. was made necessary by the inadequacies of the D.O.C. regulations and by the widespread revolt against them by many famous and politically powerful wine producers, when in doubt just follow the money!

Brancaia, located in the Tuscan Maremma, is made up of two estates, Brancia and Poppi, that have been owned by Barbara and Martin Kronenberg-Widmer since 1981. Their consulting oenologist Carlo Ferrini oversees winemaking at Brancaia, which also owns vineyards in the Chianti Classico and Morellino di Scansano zones.

The Wine: 2004 Brancaia Ilatraia Maremma Toscana IGT (Italy, Tuscany ...

Varietal: It's what they call a Proprietary Blend, meaning this wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Sangiovese (30%) and Petit Verdot (10%).

Wine Makers Note: The 2004 shows a very pretty Maremma warmth in its expression of sweet dark fruit, herb, tobacco and earthiness, with good length and excellent overall balance.

Aging: It spent 18 months in French oak and bottle-aged another 4 months before its release. This wine can be cellared until 2016, but you probably can't wait that long as this wine is drinking fantastically right now.

Soil Type: The 60 acres of vineyards are stony with clay and lime soil.

Price and Alcohol: Ranges in price from $49 - $64.99 depending on where you shop and the alcohol percentage of fourteen does not scare up any appreciable "hotness". It has the a perfect level of alcohol on the nose for my liking. It should technically be labeled a table wine, because the phrase "table wine" (but that would be a crime) in the US is a legal designation set by the government to denote all wines of less than 14.5% alcohol of which this wines just falls short.

First Swirl: The waiter put the freshly poured glass on the table and I tilted it ever so slightly to the side against the bright-white table cloth, which revealed a deep garnet core fading to a brick toned rim.

First Sniff: This wine had tremendously fragrant and complex nose: A veritable bramble bush of dark fruit aromas on the initial whiff that transitions into cherry, strawberry, flowers, ginger, and cinnamon.

First Sip: While dining at this lovely Italian restaurant, we sipped on this lovely wine with a very fruity and nuanced mouth feel, co-mingling nicely with a tangy spiciness and sweet dark fruit, spice and earth tones. The finish was long and lasting, blending ever so nicely with our meal.

Other Voices: The 2005 92 points: "Aromas of blackberry and mineral, with hints of fresh herbs. Full-bodied, with soft tannins and a long, caressing finish. Balanced and pretty. Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot. Best after 2009. 2,750 cases made." Wine Spectator Rating: The Wine Advocate gave this wine a mere 88 points, which is a crime! Easily 92 points in my book! From WS, James suckling's Recommended Wines FRom Tuscany include the 2007 Brancaia Ilatraia Maremma Toscana with a whopping 96 points. I became an instant fan of Brancaia after tasting the 2004 while dining on my trip to Italy. I had no idea that Mr. Suckling thought so highly of the 2007, until I wrote this review of the 2004. So now of course the whole wine world will be doing some trophy hunting on this bottle and driving the prices up.

Where to buy: JJ Buckley Fine Wines has this wine for $49.99 each and this is a great price as I paid about 56 euros for my 2004, so do the math. This is a great deal! But they only have about two cases available.

My Recommendation: I would grab some of the 2007 if you can and also some of the 2004 vintage which is still available. This is one of the best examples of Super Tuscan you are going to find under a $100 dollars anywhere. So if you want to see what all the fuss is about, just use the wine-searcher link on my page to right on your screen and type in the name, it will give the name of all the shops or on-line stores who stock this wine, along with the prices. So this is another of my "run don't walk" recommendations. Until next time stay thirsty my friends! Cheers!
 
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November 20, 2009
great review ccwb, I'll have to look up Brancaia at my local shop. I'd love to get my hands on some 07 italian anything. Spot on comment about the DOC. Cheers!
November 20, 2009
Hey thanks and no doubt you have seen the WS Top Ten list where little brother TRE from Brancaia took the #10 spot with 93 points and a crazy price point of $19, making this the QPR winner of the year as well. But if you love a good Brunello 04 is one of their recent best vintages!
 
November 09, 2009
Thanks for the pointer on how to find a Super Tuscan.  I had never heard of them before reading your review, but now I'm curious as to what's so super about it!  And "stay thirsty my friends"?  Who do you think you are?  The Most Interesting Man in the World? :P

As always, I love how in depth you get in your wine reviews! :)
November 10, 2009
I just laughed when I saw your reply, no just the most interesting wine reviewer in the world! The "super" designation comes from the fact that these winemaker Super-ceded Italian wine law with the this type of blend. Also these wines were so popular because of the great blends they represent and the wonderful high scores from the wine press.
 
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Quick Tip by . November 09, 2009
"Aromas of blackberry and mineral, with hints of fresh herbs. Full-bodied, with soft tannins and a long, caressing finish. JS @ WS 92 pt
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    Brancaia in Chianti Classico, encompassing the two estates Brancaia and Poppi, has been owned by the Swiss couple Brigitte and Bruno Widmer since 1981. Barbara and Martin Kronenberg-Widmer run the winery together which is located in the heart of the Chianti Classico area.

The estate had a vertical take-off when it’s vintage 1983 won first place at a major Chianti Classico tasting. Since then, through uncompromising dedication to quality and a strong own identity, the continuous recognition of BRANCAIA was built up – spearheaded by the estates top-wine Brancaia IL BLU, being already a classic for many wine lovers all over the world.

Martin Kronenberg is responsible for the management of the company and the worldwide distribution. Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer, as a learned winemaker, takes care of the production. They enjoy consulting support by the brilliant winemaker Dr. Carlo Ferrini. La Brancaia is one of Tuscany’s top wine-growing estates, winning national and international awards every year. Its wines are sold – and bought – all over the world
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Wines, Italy Wines, Italian Cities, Super Tuscan, Brancaia Ilatraia, Chianti Classico, Travel Italy, Planning A Trip To Italy, Maremma Toscana

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