Gems from Tuscany’s Spectacular 2006 Vintage
I continue to be impressed with the
consistently stunning 2006s from Tuscany. Most of the entry-level wines have
been on the market for some time. As I have written here before, the
vintage offers incredible quality from top to bottom in all of the region’s
main appellations. Over the coming months many of the high-end bottlings will
be arriving on retailers’s shelves. The best of these wines offer breathtaking
richness in a style that marries ripeness with structure to a degree that has
seldom, if ever, been seen in Tuscany. Although 2006 is very
strong across the board, I couldn’t help notice that Maremma in particular was
graced with a number of simply profound wines that readers won’t want to miss.
The 2006s are big, full-bodied
wines loaded with super-ripe fruit, but with plenty of stuffing
underneath. In many cases the wines were
made in the last month or so of the growing season, particularly in Chianti
Classico, where warm daytime temperatures alternated with cool evenings. These
conditions extended the grapes’ hang time and allowed the fruit to reach full
phenolic ripeness while achieving maximum development of aromatics, acidity and
structure. Growers had the luxury and peace of mind to harvest without being
rushed. In a few spots producers reported harvesting into October, particularly
for the Sangioveses. The 2006s will be tempting to drink young for their
opulent fruit, but the best wines have the potential to age gracefully for many
years. If the vintage has a weak spot it is the dry tannins that show up in a few
wines where the warm conditions did not allow growers to achieve the level of
sweetness and ripeness in the tannins that was evident in 2004.
Based on what I have tasted so far,
2007 is shaping up to be another potentially outstanding vintage in many parts
of Tuscany. Weather was much more irregular in 2008, but where hail and the
cool, wet spring weren’t too much of an issue, early reports are promising.
This is especially for true for later-ripening varieties such as Sangiovese and
Cabernet Sauvignon which had time to recover from the difficult spring and benefited
fully from the gorgeous late September and early October weather.