Tuscany New Releases, Part 1


This first installment of our Tuscany coverage looks at a wide range of new releases across a region that is vast, wonderfully diverse and full of wines that are well worth exploring. From the big, bold reds of Maremma to those of perhaps slightly lesser known appellations such as Carmignano, Montepulciano, Cortona and Orcia, Tuscany offers readers so much to discover. The journey with Italian wines is truly never-ending. Tuscany alone is a great example of that. Best of all, many of the wines in this article also offer terrific value in today’s world.

A landscape view of Suvereto, with Montepeloso's Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards just below.

A Look at Recent Vintages

In 2018, rains in August and September yielded wines that are quite variable from region to region and estate to estate. On the positive side, the 2018s are elegant, persistent and refined, but if they lack something, it is a bit of mid-palate depth, especially if compared to a consistently outstanding vintage like 2016. Well-draining soils and warmer micro-climates have a natural advantage in years such as 2018.

Conditions in 2017 were unrelentingly warm and, especially, very dry. That caused dehydration on the vine and a host of other issues. In some spots, the heat and drought were enough to block physiological ripening. That comes through in some wines where the tannins are aggressive, and others where the fruit profiles are decidedly roasted. In the most dramatic cases, some wines were not bottled at all. If warmer zones were favored in 2018, the exact opposite is true of 2017. The one saving grace of 2017 was a bit of cooling at night towards the end of the growing season. Diurnal shifts are critically important in the production of high-quality wines, and that evening respite is what separates 2017 from 2003, where temperatures remained elevated, even at night.

Two thousand-sixteen remains a magical vintage for Tuscany. Across all regions, and from the humblest wine to the most pedigreed, the 2016s are simply magnificent. Readers will find wines of dimension, stature and tremendous character. Of course, there is always an exception or two, but overall 2016 is an exceptional vintage. So many entry-level 2016s will give readers a taste of what the vintage holds at the upper tiers of both quality and price.

I tasted most of the wines in this article in August and September 2019. As readers might have seen in some previous articles, severe water damage in my home last summer delayed my tasting schedule and the publication of some articles, including this one.

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