Today’s post is all about Lombrone, a Sangiovese varietal that hails from Montecucco in Tuscany. Montecucco is a wine-producing area which sits between Scansano, best known for Morellino di Scansano, and Montalcino, birthplace of the world-famous Brunello di Montalcino.
Vines have been cultivated in Montecucco for centuries and the locals have a long tradition of producing wine but it was only in 1998 when the area was awarded DOC status. The best vineyards are not too farm from Castel del Piano and Cigniano. These two towns form together the heart of the Montecucco appellation. Abroad Montecucco enjoys without a doubt less success than the wines from Montalcino or Montepulciano which is not necessarily a bad thing because this allows for more competitive prices.
While the majority of vines planted in Montecucco are red, the disciplinary also allows the production of white wine, sourced primarily from Vermentino or Trebbiano. A Montecucco rosato also exists and is often a blend of of Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo.
Montecucco Rosso is produced with at least 60% Sangiovese. Blending partners are local grapes like Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo but also international ones like Cabernet Sauvignon. Popular are also Sangiovese varietals. Montecucco’s top quality Sangiovese varietals are not afraid of competing against Brunellos. Montecucco also enjoys a warmer climate than Montalcino allowing its reds to become ready-to-drink faster than its cousins from Montalcino.
According to their website, the Consorzio Tutela Monteucco has 32 member-wineries.
Colle Massari is the winery behind one Montecucco’s flagship wines: Lombrone which has been renamed to Poggio Lombrone in 2010. The cellar of Colle Massari is situated on the foothills of Mount Amiata, a large lava dome not too far from Lake Bolsena. The winery is quite huge and extends over 1200 hectares. On about 110 hectares they grow vines, on 60 hectares olives and on more than 400 hectares mixed crop. Colle Massari also owns and operates two smaller estates in others areas of Tuscany. One is in Montalcino (Poggio di Sotto) and the other one in Bolgheri (Grattamacco). All three estates are certified-organic.
Below is a map showing Mount Amiata, Montalcino and Scansano.
2010 Lombrone vs 2009 Lombrone
Lombrone is a varietal Sangiovese and therefore classified as Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva. All grapes are handpicked. The wine underwent fermentation in oak barrels of 40hl and aged afterwards for at least 18 months in oak. The annual production of Lombrone is about 6000 bottles.
Before we get to the tasting notes we should take a closer look at the two vintages which were very different.
2010 was a terrific vintage for Tuscan wineries even though the weather conditions were slightly complicated. Overall it was a cold year with low yields and a late harvest. But the results are perfect throughout Tuscany, especially for Sangiovese. The wines possess great structure, have lots of depth and are very aromatic. An amazing vintage through the region. It is expected that these wines have a great aging potential and depending on the area they should be cellered for some years before they are ready.
2009 was a complicated vintage for Tuscany with very cool temperatures in winter and spring. The summer on the other hand was extremely hot, especially in August. The area which suffered the most from the heat wave was the Maremma which includes Montecucco. Montecucco is in the Upper Maremma. Some areas suffered less like the Chianti Classico but on average 2009 was not a good vintage. As a result, many top wineries produced no or very little of their flagship wines. The wines are often criticized of lacking both character and body. On the bright side, 2009 is a vintage which can be drank quite young. These wines are not meant for very long aging.
Prior to drinking, the wine was decanted for about 90 minutes. The label-indicated alcohol by volume is 15.5%.
The 2010 Lombrone has a beautiful, deep ruby red color in the glass. On the harmonious nose there is an explosion of aromas: It all starts with cherries, black pepper and cinnamon. But that’s not it. As the wine further evolves in the glass, blackberries, vanilla and hints of herbs become more present. The contrast between spicy and fruity aromas is amazing.
In the mouth, the wine is full-bodied and extremely well-balanced. Present but very smooth tannins. Balanced acidity, slightly sapid and silky texture. On the palate, fresh, elegant and fine with a notes of berries and lots of chocolate. Very complex. 2010 Lombrone possesses a stunning depth and is full of energy. Wonderfully intense, lingering aftertaste.
Update: I retasted the ’10 Lombrone and this time the wine showed even more personality and I’d say it’s pretty close to a 5 star rating. Will drink this wine a few more times and the decide if my rating changes to 5 stars or remains at 4.5 stars.
The wine was opened roughly 60 minutes before drinking it (no decanting). 15% is the label-listed ABV.
In the glass, the wine has a promising-looking, deep ruby red color with garnet hues. Aromas of red cherries, redcurrant, leather and hints of coffee and viola.
Very dry and warm with a medium body. Smooth tannins and a marked acidity. There are notes of marasca cherries and cocoa which slightly recalls the taste of Mon Cheri chocolates. The 2009 Lombrone is already a bit tired. It would have profited from more complexity and a bigger body. Medium-long finish.
One wine; two different results. Both vintages have an average price of €29 on Wine Searcher but cost far more in Munich (about €40/bottle). Like all wines from Colle Massari, Lombrone is certified as organic wine.
The 2009 Lombrone is a good wine from a difficult vintage. Better drink it now than in a couple of years.
The 2010 Lombrone is an excellent, must-try varietal Sangiovese. It offers great value for money. It can be enjoyed now or cellered for a long time. I strongly suggest that you try it. This wine rocks!
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That’s it for today! I’d love to hear how you like Lombrone and what your favorite vintage of it is.