In October 2016 I was invited to a tasting and dinner of the ines of Castello del Terriccio. I had tasted the wines before but this time the owner, Gian Annibale Rossi Medelana would be present. At dinner, I made sure to sit next to him and found him to be very charming, knowledgeable, easy to speak with and passionate about his wines–he referred to Lupicaia as “my Super Tuscan.”
Even though the history of the winery goes back many years, it was not until Signor Medelana inherited the winery in 1975 and took it in a new direction concentrating on making top quality wines that it became one of the leaders in the Super Tuscan movement. Sadly he passed away in 2019. Today the ownership of the winery has passed to Vittorio di Rosignano Rossi di Medelana, his nephew.
Recently I received an invitation, from Daniela Porro of Coangelo & Partners, for a lunch and tasting of the wines of Castello del Terriccio at The Leopard at des Artistes in NYC. The wines to be tasted were the Lupicaia and the Castello del Terriccio.
The speakers were Giacinta Pocci Muti, Sales Manger, and Jeff Porter, Sommelier, Consultant, Educator and Media Host. I have been to a number of tastings where Jeff was the speaker and was always impressed with his wine knowledge.
The winery is located in the Maremma, near Bolgheri, south of Livorno in the region of Tuscany. There are 65 hectares of vineyards. Giacinta said the property allowed the vines to be planted in a leopard spot pattern on the most favorable plots, on the basis of the quality of the soil, dew point, exposure to the sea breezes and the light. The vineyards are facing the sea and therefore receive reflected light with more exposure compared to areas lighted directly by the sun.
Jeff spoke about the wines and how they evolved over the years. All of the wine are IGT( Indicazione Geografica Tipica Toscana).
We tasted the Lupicaia and the Castello del Terriccio side by side from the 2007, 2010 2016 and 2017 vintages and it was a very interesting comparison. The alcohol of the wines was 14 to 15 degrees depending on the vintage.
Lupicaia was first produced in 1993 and is the estate’s flagship wine. The name of the wine comes from the area where the grapes are planted which was a favorite hunting grounds for the wolves that once roamed in the area. Giacinta said the two characteristic red-brown segments on the label symbolize the typical red color of the soil.
During the break up of the soil in the 1980”s to plant the first vineyards of Lupicaia, a relic depicting the Etruscan sun was found in the ground and from that moment it has been used a company logo.
Lupicaia 2007 made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. The vineyards are at 120 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. There are between 3,600 and 4,200 plants per hectare. The soil is calcareous-sandy with a rocky structure. Harvest begins on September 5th for the Merlot and on October 5th for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 16 days and for the Cabernet Sauvignon for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation lasts for about a month. The wine was aged separately in French oak Allier/Troncais for 18 months. The wine was bottled in March 2010. This is an elegant complex wine with hints of black cherry, blackberry, black currant and a touch of spice. It was my favorite wine of the tasting.
Starting with the 2010 vintage, the blend for Lupicaia is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot without the Merlot.
Castello Del Terriccio 2007 made from 50% Syrah, 25% Petit Verdot and 25% other red grapes. The vineyard is at 150 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is sand with a strong presence of organic substance. There are 5,600 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest is by hand from the 12th to the 29th of September. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 18 days. Malolactic fermentation is for 4 weeks. Aging is in barriques and tonneaux for 18 months. The wine is bottled in June. The wine has hints of violets, blackberries, black currants, chocolate, a touch of spice and a hint of mint. The three roses on the label represent the rose bushes once found in abundance around the ancient castle. They are now planted in front of each row of vineyards being used as am early indicator of potential diseases.
Insalatina di Farro Organico con Verdure Grigliate
Lupicaia 2010 made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. Harvest is by hand between September and October, 16 days of maceration for the Petit Verdot and 20 for the Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged in barriques and tonneaux d’Allier for 22 months.
Castello Del Terriccio 2010 made from Syrah and Petit Verdot. The soil is rich in ferrous minerals with the presence of stones and fossils. There are 3,600 plants per hectare for the old vines and 5,600 for the new. Harvest is manual beginning in mid September. There is a second selection of grapes in the cellar. Grapes are gently destemmed and carefully pressed in order not to break the skin of the berries. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in open cap stainless vats at a controlled temperature with maceration of the grapes for about 20 days. There is daily délestages. The wine is aged in new French tonneaux for about 22 months, then assembled and bottled. The 2010 vintage developed perfectly with a slow and gradual growth of the grapes.
Pappardella Al Sugo di Lepre
Lupicaia 2016 made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Aging takes place in French oak barrels for about 22 months and another month in bottle before release.
2016 was a excellent vintage and both wines will need at least another 8 years before they are ready to be enjoyed
Castello Del Terriccio 2016 made from Syrah and Petit Verdot.
Tagliata di Manzo con Patate al forno
Lupicaia 2017 made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. 2017 was one of the hottest and driest years ever. Rain finally came toward the end of summer creating very good conditions for late ripening grapes.
The 2017 needs another 5/6 years before it can be enjoyed.
Castello Del Terriccio 2017 made from Syrah and Petit Verdot
Zuccottto al Panforto
Both of these wines are true ‘Super Tuscans’ in the best sense of the term. They are complex, elegant and full bodied wines that will age very well for many years. These wines need food and matched very well with all the courses, especially the steak prepared by executive chef/partner, of IL Gattopardo, Jordon Frosolone.
In both wines there was a certain consistency so that you could tell you were drinking the same wine from the early to the later vintages. The two wines are very different and you could tell them apart. In the end, I preferred the Lupicaia and with lunch I drank the 2007 Lupicaia which was my favorite.