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1996 vintage guide for Italy Tuscany


Forward, subtle, elegant wines

Weather Conditions

The spring was fine and warm and flowering was early over much of the region. Summer temperatures in Tuscany were lower than average however and this slowed the vineyards down. Then in the second week of September, with picking still some way off, it began to rain and continued intermittently until mid-October. There were no particular problems of mould or disease, but ripening was uneven and the fruit did not give the impression of great concentration.

Best Appellations

This is a Cinderella vintage, not particularly highly rated at the outset but now showing much better that expected. The wines to make an initial impact were Cabernet and Merlot, especially from Bolgheri and the Maremma. Straight Chianti was on the whole a little light, but had very attractive Sangiovese aroma. The surprises began with the Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riservas; they are not blockbuster wines but they have very good, mid-weight balance, fruit and elegance and very good varietal aroma. In theory not an ideal vintage for Brunello, but it would be hasty to prejudge.

Best Producers

From the coast, an elegant Sassicaia and the rich Cab/Merlot blend Lupicaia from Tenuta di Terriccio stand out. In the central hills there were good Cabernets from Paolo de Marchi and the Castello di Rampolla (debut vintage of the excellent Vigna d’Alceo) and the variety also did well in Sangiovese blends like Ruffino’s Cabreo Il Borgo and Antinori’s Solaia. Successful Chianti Riservas came, amongst others, from Fonterutoli, Cappanelle, and Vicchiomaggio. Pick of the Vino Nobiles are Valdipiatta, Poliziano (Asinone) and Boscarelli (Riserva del Nocio).

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