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Tuscany Comes to Turl Street

Thursday 12.4.18

Presented by Emily Silva

The Oxford Wine Company, 6 Turl Street, Oxford, OX1 3DQ

Being married to a Tuscan man, wines from this region probably account for about 80% of our collection at home, so it's a tasting I felt fully qualified to lead! I wanted to show people that there's more to Tuscan wine than just Chianti, covering the classics as well as a few surprises.

We started with the Calasole Vermentino. White wines from Tuscany are often thin and fresh - great as accompaniments to seafood while the sun is shining, but not much more. This wine proved that there are some bottles that break that rule! With a touch of lees ageing, this wine had a touch of body and nice complexity that made us all wish we were sipping under the Tuscan sun!

Our second white wine of the evening was the Le Pupille Bianco IGT Toscana. This is a wine that isn't currently stocked by The Oxford Wine Company, but that I had tasted - and loved - in the past. I wanted to see how well it went down with the crowd. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer and Petit Manseng, this was miles away from the usual Tuscan white wine, and we all agreed it tasted like something from the North of Italy - or even Alsace!

We moved on to another off-list wine - the Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano. Made by Elisabetta Geppetti, aka 'The Lady of Morellino', this was an excellent example of Sangiovese - Italy's most important grape variety. A touch of Alicante and Malvasia Nera added some weight and colour to the wine.

Next came another example of Sangiovese - the Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We learned that the Avignonesi family got their name hundreds of years ago when they emigrated to Italy from France. None of the locals could pronounce their French name, so they were simply known as the 'Avignonesi'. We also delved into the confusing and complex nature of Italian wine, and the difference between Montepulciano the town, and Montepulciano the grape variety - both of which are very different things!

We could hardly have done a tasting of the wines of Tuscany without including a Chianti,and the Ormanni Borro di Diavolo Chianti Classico Riserva did not disappoint. In fact, we all agreed that it was the wine of the night. 100% Sangiovese, this wine showed complex deep berry fruit, a lovely ferrous note, and the toasty, woody flavours of barrel age. A far cry from the poor quality Chianti rife at the lower end of the market!

The final wine of the night came from the Super Tuscan category. Le Volte dell'Ornellaia is the third wine of legendary producer Ornellaia, who make some of the finest wines in the world. A blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine shows how well international varieties can thrive when grown in the maritime climate of Maremma, southern Tuscany.

Overall, a very enjoyable tasting, which left us all in the mood for a good bowl of pasta to accompany some of these very tasty wines!