Just recently I had the pleasure of joining Poggio Amorelli for a night of wine, food, and a bit of wine education. This evening was a special event since Poggio Amorelli is located in the Tuscan region of Italy and they rarely make it to the states. Their wines are not sold in stores in the US. They are only available through visiting their vineyard or online though they like to keep it that way because they feel it allows them to concentrate on the quality of the wines they produce instead of quantity.
(Photo by Poggio Amorelli)
The Mazzarrini family own this grand Tuscan vineyard and estate. It was established in 1988 by Tuscan oenologist and agronomist, Marco Mazzarrini and his wife, Adriana. Their dream and their passion was to follow the ancient Tuscan tradition and make high quality Chianti. This vineyard is completely family owned and two of their three children have begun to help continue this Italian legacy. To this day, the company has three estates in Tuscany and produces six types of wine, Vin Santo, Grappa, and olive oil.
(Photo by Poggio Amorelli)
The main Poggio Amorelli estate is located in the center of Chianti. Just a few kilometers from the historic village of Castellina. This main site is where the grapes are grown, and vinification and bottling take place.
Our evening was hosted by Poggio Amorelli’s own Gloria Mazzarrini, Lavinia Mannucci, Marco Bauknecht, and house Sommelier, Lorenzo Moschini and was set up by sommelier, Meghan Vergara of Veritas Consultants. As we arrived, our hosts individually introduced themselves while we made ourselves at home and took part in the different Charcuterie provided. As our group gathered in the main room, the Sommelier, Lorenzo, began to lead us through the different wines they provided that evening.
Our first wine was their Vermentino Spumante Extra Dry. This sparkling wine is a very drinkable and refreshing wine. According to Lorenzo, this wine was made from 100% Vermentino grapes (hence the name). The Vermentino are light skinned grapes primarily found in Italy. This sparkling wine deemed popular amongst the group with smiles all around.
We then moved onto their Morellino Di Scansano (DOCG). This is an Italian red wine made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% merlot grapes. Lorenzo began by having us test the color of the wine against a white background, like our napkins. By looking at the vibrant ruby red and violet color, you could tell that this was a young wine. It was a smooth red wine with scents of cherry and blackberry. The finish was slightly peppery. We were told this wine ages well.
As the evening went on, we tasted their Chianti Classico (DOCG), Chianti Riserva (DOCG), Super Tuscan (IGT Toscana), and their Vin Santo. The most popular wines were their Chianti Riserva (DOCG) and Super Tuscan (IGT Toscana). There were no surprises there considering those were the two premium wines of the evening. That being said, I can honestly say all of the wines produced by Poggio Amorelli are premium in taste and in quality.
Throughout the evening, a lot was learned about Poggio’s wines and Italian wine in general. For example, if a glass of red wine is slightly tilted and held up against a white backdrop and it looks bright red or violet, it’s a young wine. If it looks slightly brown, it has been aged. We then went on to talk about Italy’s wine abbreviations DOCG and IGT and what they mean. Under Italian wine law, DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin). This designation was created in 1980 to differentiate the top Italian wines. DOCG’s guidelines are the most strict out of the assigned designations. You’ll find it often on Chianti wines. IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica. This designation was created for wines that don’t meet the typical DOCG regulations. It gives wine makers a bit more freedom to produce a great wine.
(My picture with Sommelier, Lorenzo Moschino)
One of the fun things we learned about was the black rooster shown at the top of most Chianti bottles. The story is a bit funny. Apparently around 800 years ago, the towns of Siena and Florence had a territorial feud. They both wanted a more generous border for their land. So, legend says that they decided to pick a horse and a rooster and have a race. At the crack of dawn, each city would send a rider into their territories and wherever they met up would be the boundary delineation between the two towns. Each town picked a rooster to wake the riders. Siena picked a fat white rooster and decided to over feed him in hopes that he’d wake sooner in order to have another meal. Florence chose a skinny black rooster and decided to starve him in hopes that he would wake sooner with a hungry belly, ready to eat. Well, Florence’s idea worked and their rooster woke earlier, giving their rider an earlier start, in turn giving Florence a larger border. The black rooster was adopted as the official emblem by the League of Chianti in 1384 and officially adopted by the Chianti Classic Wine Consortium in 2005. That, my friends, is why we see a black rooster on the necks of many Chianti bottles today.
This was a wonderful evening with old and new friends. One that I won’t soon forget. You could see and hear the passion Poggio Amorelli has for their wines. They also make olive oil and have their own line of aged balsamic vinegars, which were each wonderful (hello balsamic vinegar aged 36 years), but their passion and knowledge shows in their wines. I highly recommend stopping in to see them any time you find yourself in Tuscany. It’s a visit you won’t regret.