Jancis Robinson review on Tenuta di Ghizzano

by Heidi Chan

Tenuta di Ghizzano, Il Ghizzano 2014 Costa Toscana
Source: JancisRobinson.com, view full article here

 I found to my amazement that, although I have been aware of this producer for many a long year, our database of nearly 134,000 tasting notes had no reviews of Tenuta di Ghizzano wines until I recently tasted my way through the current releases.

This may be because of its location. It is north and west of Chianti country and, despite the (relatively new) denomination, quite a way inland. It is also well north of Bolgheri and the famous estates on the Tuscan coast. Tenuta di Ghizzano is south of the Pisa-Florence road, rather closer to the leaning tower than Brunelleschi's dome.

It is one of those sickeningly beautiful estates owned by the same family for 600 years or so, the Venerosi Pesciolinis in this case. They have been producing olive oil and wine for centuries, cereals too. About 20 ha of the total 350 ha is devoted to vineyard around the little village of Ghizzano on top of a hill about 200 metres above sea level. The maritime influence saves it from the frost and climatological extremes that can sometimes try the patience of their counterparts in Chianti Classico. The vineyards have been certified organic since 2008 and they claim, as so many wine producers do today, that they are moving in a biodynamic direction.

The best-known wines of Tenuta di Ghizzano are the strangely named Nambrot, dominated by Merlot, and Veneroso based on the local Sangiovese. (Nambrot was apparently the name of an ancestor in, if you please, the ninth century.) Nambrot has been a regular three-glass winner and is a darling of that segment of Italian wine culture that worships French grape varieties and barriques (although the proportion of new oak is being reduced and is already down to 30%). I tasted Nambrot 2013 and, while I could see that much skill had gone into making it, and admired the fact that it was not trying to ape bordeaux, it's hardly the sort of quintessential Tuscan I would seek at around £30 a bottle. It's also still quite youthful and I would not think of opening it for another 18 months or so. (The links from these wine names lead to my tasting notes.)

I was particularly impressed by Veneroso 2013 and Veneroso 2012, wines composed of about 70% Sangiovese with 30% of (surprisingly discreet) Cabernet Sauvignon – foot trodden, apparently, and aged in 500-litre casks – whose average price is about £21 a bottle. Winesearcher.com do not yet list any stockists of the 2013 but this is a vintage of which Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini who currently runs the estate is particularly proud. The 2012, in which the Sangiovese tastes even more dominant, is already drinking gloriously with polished tannins and great persistence, but it was a relatively small crop. The 2013 is more concentrated and should drink well from next year. I liked the balsam note on it, though Veneroso is definitely a wine for food. 

But the wine I am recommending today as a particularly good buy is a sort of baby Veneroso. Il Ghizzano 2014, recently relabeled, is their introductory wine and sells for the equivalent of only £9 a bottle average price according to Winesearcher. Made from Sangiovese with just 5% Merlot, it was grown in a difficult cool, wet growing season but I loved its quintessentially Tuscan quality with a very direct, winning, fresh, ripe Sangiovese nose. It's just the sort of red to serve before or at the beginning of a meal with aperitivo type pre-prandial nibbles. A bit of salami, proscuitto, some hard cheese ... it may have been a difficult season but there is nothing remotely weedy about this, and it has admirably well-worked tannins. It's 13% alcohol and I suggest enjoying it over the next two or three years.When looking up this wine, be aware that the estate also makes a white wine called Il Ghizzano, the current one being Il Ghizzano 2015. It's a blend of Vermentino, Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia that is fine, and more perfumed than the average Tuscan white but, as usual for this part of the world, it's the red wines that are of much more interest.

Find out more about Tenuta di Ghizzano wines available in Hong Kong on Cuvees.com.