May 2011 issue no. 3

Title Gary_jersey

Chianti, Brunello, Montepulciano... oh my! Nearly half of this month's 100+ wine reviews come from the much-hyped 2006 and 2007 vintages in Tuscany, where I found the good, the bad... and the ugly. In the video below, I describe my take aways from this month-long Tuscan focus, among a handful of other regions and trends to watch for. Plus, I hope you'll capitalize on the sick (in a good way) wine deals I curated for all you VIGs this month. Thanks and enjoy!

This was an eye-opening month of wine tasting for me in many ways. The May newsletter has a major focus on the 2006 and 2007 vintages in Tuscany, with 45 wine reviews between the two vintages. This focus was really a result of Daily Grape episode #24, where I did a brown bag blind tasting of Super Tuscan wines. I was left pretty impressed across the board with all three wines, reminding me that I need to revisit this category of wine that I'd, admittedly, somewhat overlooked these last couple of years.

I'm not alone in ignoring Tuscany, though. It seems like yesterday when Wine Library customers would practically run through our doors, hunting down the latest releases of Ornellaia, Sassicaia, and other highly scored (highly priced) IGT blends from Tuscany. While the big dogs that established brand equity remain pricey, the category as a whole has fallen out of favor these last few years. Despite consistently big scores from the press, especially in these highly hyped vintages of 2006 and 2007, demand is dwindling in Tuscany across the board. Sure, Brunello di Montalcino still has a loyal following and commands hefty price tags, but Chianti Classico, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and so many other wines have become untapped resources for value among today's buyer. With decreasing demand, prices have fallen, which creates enormous opportunity for the consumer who appreciates this style.

Popularity aside, how is the quality of wines in 2006 and 2007? In general, I found plenty to get excited about - the 2007 Fattoria Le Fonti Chianti Classico at 18-bones (92 points) and the Il Colle Rosso di Montalcino at just over $20 (92+ points) are two wines that need to be in your wishlist.

And of course, there were clunkers. In one of my tasting notes, I said, "An over extracted, manipulated wine. This is everything that is wrong about the mid-2000's style of winemaking across the world... There's absolutely no indication that this wine is from Tuscany". In a region that is equally known for its food as it is its wine, some of these wines drink more like a cocktail than something to pour with dinner - over-oaked, over-manipulated, over-sugarfied - overrated! Structure and quality of these '06 and '07 wines is high, but pick and choose carefully.

Finally, in last month's newsletter, I addressed the loss of one of our industry's great pioneers, Jess Jackson of Kendall-Jackson wines. I'm saddened that we've lost another wine visionary and friend this month in Budge Brown of Cleavage Creek, a former guest of Wine Library TV, when his plane crashed above the El Dorado National Forest in California.

I pay a short tribute to Brown in the video above, in addition to hitting on several other key trends in the industry emerging out of Chile, California's "cult wine" scene, and France's white-wine players. As always, I'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts on where I'm taking this newsletter - hit me up on Twitter, leave a comment on Facebook, or email us directly, or with any and all comments!

Thanks, stay well, and I hope you had a great May.