It’s not often that you get to taste a range of wines form a Super Tuscan producer but we were lucky enough to get the main man from Querciabella, winemaker Manfred Ing, to show us his wines with a little help from his colleague Giorgio Fragiacomo.
Querciabella has to be one of the most famous wine names in Tuscany. They’re one of the original Super Tuscan producers having first released their flagship wine Camartina in 1982. With some of the highest vineyards in Chianti, from the outset they were committed to producing a more elegant, terroir-focused wine than their contemporaries: the Burgundy to Bolgheri’s Bordeaux.
In Chianti, the vines run across the communes of Greve, Radda, and Gaiole. Their wines are a mosaic of different micro-plots – sometimes a single row – all harvested and vinified individually under the expert guidance of winemaker Manfred Ing. Alongside their land in the heart of Chianti Classico, Querciabella also established plots in Maremma on the Tuscan coast in 2000, and today they represent the largest holdings of certified vegan and organic vineyards in Italy.
Site selection is crucial to the style of the wines and is testament to the care and attention to detail employed by Manfred and his team.
“I talk about wines in terms of colours. People may laugh but it is the light and the dark and the textures that you get from each row, each plot that make the wine what it is.” He adds, “Bringing all those colours together is how we construct the nuances of the fruit and terroir in each bottle.”Manfred Ing, winemaker, Querciabella
Sustainability has always been at the heart of Querciabella – working with organic methods since 1988 and certified in 2000, biodynamic practices since 2000, and 100% vegan since 2010. Today, they practice a unique form of plant-based biodynamics that is tailored specifically to their location and style. It’s all about biodynamics and vegan wines here.
It made a change to have a South African, Manfred, and an Australian, Giorgio, presenting such quintessentially Italian wines but their knowledge shone through. A quick trot round the vineyard before the tasting with Manfred gave us a great feel for the height of the vineyards and the variety of plots and soil types in the immediate area. This is Tuscany at its best.
Chianti Classico 2017
“A declassified Chianti Riserva” according to Fragiacomo. Made from 100% Sangiovese this wine was first made in 1974, went organic in 1988 and biodynamic in 2000. It’s aged for 12 months in extra fine grained French oak barrels. The 2017 vintage was one of the driest on record in the region and the scarcity of rain, a cold winter, and a long, hot summer limited bunches and berries development. The high skin-to-juice ratio of the berries and ripe tannins made it a fine start for elegant wines of tension and structure.
Chianti Classico Riserva 2016
If the first wine was a declassified Riserva then this Riserva has to one of the best on the market. Spending 16 months in French oak, here the site selection becomes more important. The 2016 vintage was marked by a damp winter and cool spring but the almost perfect ripening conditions were supported by significant diurnal temperature variation that allowed for great phenolic maturation while preserving bright fruit flavours and zesty acidity.
A powerful blend of Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot this wine comes from the Maremma region, exclusively from the Alberese and Grosseto vineyard. Classified as an IGT to avoid the restrictive DOG rules, the Turpino shows the magnificent potential of this little known region squashed between Tuscany and the sea. Dry and hot, 2017 yielded a powerful wine which has been aged in fine grained oak for 16 months.
The original Super Tuscan from Querciabella, this is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Sangiovese, first made in 1981. The meticulous selection in the different vineyards and the winery, the galestro soils and the careful ageing for 18 months (30% new) make this a stunning wines in anyone’s book. The cooler vintage conditions make it a touch more reserved but still powerful and able to age for decades.
It was a privilege for our members to taste an older wine and with nearly 20 years on this one you can really see the potential of these wines. Fine, integrated and supple, the complexity of the different terroirs really are a treat. 2003 was a hot, dry vintage and you can taste the sun in this wine but the diurnal variation gives it a linear acidity, and the fruit still shines despite the wine’s age. A true example of Super Tuscan class.
Possibly one of the best white wines to come out of Tuscany. A legendary blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. This was a rare chance to taste a stunning wine (once called Batard, but the EU put a stop to that!) which has been vinified since the late 1980’s. The Chardonnay is produced in the characteristic galestro soils which give the wines it’s famed flintiness and precision. The Pinot Bianco north-facing plots with heavier clayey components give the wine a delicious rich texture. Maturation on the lees for 9 months in oak brings structure and toastiness but the fruit is still predominant. What a treat!