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1994 vintage guide for Italy Tuscany

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A good year for Brunello, Vino Nobile and stylish Chianti Classico

Weather Conditions

An early spring and warm May and June got the vineyards off to a good start, but record high temperatures accompanied in parts of the region by exceptionally low rainfall from mid-July through to early September stressed the vines and slowed down ripening. Fairly solid rain through the first three weeks of September then complicated matters further by introducing the risk of dilution. The weather turned friendlier at the end of the month, allowing the harvest to begin in early October. All the grapes were in by 15th. The fruit was healthy, with good sugar but lowish acidity.

Best Appellations

Early drinking vintage that, for the Sangiovese-based wines at least, was probably over-rated at the outset. In Chianti the vintage was officially ranked above the difficult 1991 and 1992, but below 1993. Producers who kept yields down made soft,fruity wines with nice ripe tannins butnot a lot of depth. In Montalcino the four-star rating turned out, with few exceptions, to be over generous for wines which didn’t have the structure for long barrel ageing. The best results came from Cabernet and Merlot which gave rich, chewy mono-varietals and added backbone to Sangiovese in many Super Tuscan blends.

Best Producers

Sangiovese wines made nice early drinking but have been overshadowed by the superb 1995s. Many Cabernet and Cabernet/Sangiovese blends however are still worth seeking out. Notable among these are Cafaggio’s mono-varietal Cortaccio, Elegia from Poliziano, Sanmarco from Rampolla and Querciabella’s Camartina. From the coast Antinori’s Guado al Tasso, Tua Rita’s Giusto di Notri and Ornellaia’s Merlot Massetto are all outstanding. Merlot also played a big part in the very good Siepi from Fonterutoli. Frescobaldi launched their joint venture with Mondavi by bringing out two vintages of Luce; the 1994 (aided and abetted again by Merlot) was very impressive.

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