The wine world is full of passionate winemakers and characters and a few people who market their wines very well. Andrea Franchetti is all, and none, of these things at once. He tries to keep things simple so when asked "what have you changed at Trinoro recently in the wine making, in the cellars?" he pauses for 45 seconds or so (that's quite a while in a room of twenty five people) and just replies "nothing". He's a thinker and a do-er at the same time. More hands on than ever in both Tuscany (Tenuta di Trinoro) and in Sicily (Tenuta di Passopisciaro). Having Andrea in the office to show some of the new releases was great and massively informative. The wines from the two estates are very different and should be dealt with as two different estates, something Andrea himself is keen on. So to the wines:
Tenuta di Passopisciaro (Etna)
"Sicily is one thing Etna another". This is a unique environment it can be cold in August due to altitude. So although you have sun and heat you also have freshness. The wines:
Guardiola 2012 from 100% Chardonnay. As an interesting aside Andrea really doesn't like discussing grape varieties very much, in fact he loves it when a wine has become a wine alone rather than a wine made from a specific variety. This 2012 is the best yet from this plot or Contrada as they are called in Sicily. A Contrada is specifically termed "a terrain that is different", this is 1000m above sea level. The 2012 is the result of 19 passes though the vineyard. The 2013 will be released in 2015. This wine has a richer denser texture than the previous vintages but at the same time somehow still has an elegance of fruit. 17.5-18/20.
Passopisciaro 2011 from 100% Nerello Mascalese. This wine is perfumed, persistent, light and lithe. In technical terms it is made like a white wine with juice not skins. The 2011 is a great vintage as everything went smoothly. The wines comes from a variety of sites at 500-900m above sea level. I often think of these wines in a simple way as approaching Pinot Noir fruit with Nebbiolo structure. I think they will eveolve but Andrea feels they are not wine for the long term. Say 2-6 years. 17/20.
At Passopisciaro there have been single vineyard sites "Contrada's" made since 2008. For 2011 there is a new addition with Guardiola making a red (not to be confused with the white above). These brief notes are actually from a separate tasting but I wanted to include them here:
Fresh, reddish fruit, nice savoury and sweet balance, acidic lift to the finish. Nice. 17/20.
Slightly darker, more meaty with deeper fruit, more bramble, less sweet. 17.5/20.
Classy, poised, refined, more red than black fruit with great focus. 18/20.
Softer, looser, less refined, a good finish after a less stunning middle. 16.5/20.
The most complete of all the sites, very balanced and together. 18.25/20.
These are fascinating wines and any wine lover should try to do this range. Especially those who love the concept of terroir and in looking at the small differences that result. Right, off to Tuscany now...
Tenuta di Trinoro (Val d'Orcia)
"Like being on a larger planet than being at Passopisciaro" is how Andrea put it. Four wines from this site:
Le Cupole di Trinoro 2011
This is essentially a second wine in Bordeaux terms. A rich, hot year with high levels of alcohol. From a plot on Limestone and Clay. A little like a hot year on the left bank on Bordeaux but with redder and higher toned fruit. A little like the 2007 was but even better in balance terms. Less extreme that the 2011 Trinoro. 17-17.5/20.
This was first made in 2011. It is 100% Cabernet Franc from a vineyard that went into Trinoro in most years, a specific site by the river. The cuttings are from Vieux Chateau Certan in Pomerol. The translation of the name is "eating the ridge", as it is from the remainder of the erosion. The 2012 was picked in Mid-October but was in no way over ripe. The wine is richly expressive with a slight savoury dryness, the tannins are there but in balance, impressive. 17.75-18.25/20.
Palazzi di Trinoro 2012
100% Merlot picked in one single picking. Only 13.5% Alcohol (very low for Palazzi). Juicy with less tannin that the Magnacosta, almost a sweetness, this has a very vibrant fruit. 17.5-18/20.
Tenuta di Trinoro 2012
As Palazzi and Magnacosta were made in 2012 this has a much higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon than usual (60%). The resultant style is deeper and darker in fruit character, the nose is classical Cabernet but with no extrovert mint or eucalyptus. A very classy structure, more savoury. A slightly different style of Trinoro than previously. Amazing wine 18.5-19/20. I think this could be an absolute star.