This is the first time ever that I’ve returned to a wine in ten years of making recommendations. Usually, I seek to avoid repetition – there are always great new wines to feature and there’s nothing worse than lazy journalism. So to feature Caiarossa again shows that I hold this Italian red wine in very high esteem – this young estate really is one to watch and its star continues to rise with each new vintage.
Of course, it’s not really the same wine. The vintage featured this time is the 2006, on current UK release. Previously, it was the 2005 that received the accolades. To save repetition about the winery, biodynamic farming and the history of the estate you can read my review of the 2005 at Organic Wine Journal (July 15th 2009).
2006 was an excellent year in Tuscany; a steady, warm and lengthy growing season brought healthy ripe grapes and balanced wines. It was certainly proved to be an easier year than the cooler, rainier and more capricious 2005, even if it did not quite live up to the merits of the increasingly legendary 2004.
Caiarossa 2005 is a stunning wine, but in my opinion this 2006 is the best edition yet. Yes, the 2006 vintage was probably kinder but I would attribute the improvement to the exact composition of the blend which has varied markedly in every vintage since the first in 2003.
2006 brings Sangiovese, the signature grape of Tuscany, more to the fore, with a reduction in the proportion of Merlot used. The blend remains a melange of eight Italian, Bordeaux and Rhône varieties; Sangiovese (23%), Cabernet Franc (22%), Merlot (21%), Cabernet Sauvignon (12%), Grenache (8%), Syrah (6%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Mourvèdre (2%). In addition, the use of new oak barrels remains at a relatively low percentage and the wine seems even less marked by wood in this edition.
So why do I prefer the 2006? I’ll attribute it in the main to that extra Sangiovese, there’s just something a little more Italian on the nose and palate that for me brings a little extra sense of place. Those more entranced by the charms of Bordeaux varieties (and don’t forget that owner Eric Jelgersma owns Giscours and Tertre in Margaux) might disagree. The Sangiovese doesn’t dominate, just adds some extra tea-leaf perfume and perhaps a little welcome astringency on the finish in a wonderfully seamless and complex blend.
I first tried this 2006 at the Salone del Gusto in Turin in autumn 2010 back-to-back with the 2005. Even those few more months in bottle since then has seen it evolve but it is still youthful at less than 5 years old. Hence it had a two hour decant and was still tight when first poured. However, it opened up beautifully over the course of an evening (it really is best not to rush) and a glassful kept back for the next evening was open and singing. This will reach its peak in 8-10 years time but I’d say it will be drinking well from 2012/13.
There is great depth – reflected in the dark opaque colour and a rumbling bass line of earth and minerals. Plenty of primary fruit, there’s little development yet (hints of leather, tar and balsam lurk) but wonderful cherry, cranberry and damson fruit intertwined with brown spices and cedar smoke sit firmly on a bedrock of polished tannins that are still firm but just need time to melt. There is also grace and elegance that belies the alcohol level – this isn’t an over-concentrated blockbuster – that makes your heart beat just a little faster.
This wine exhibits such tremendous energy and vitality and while the blend itself is inconsistent each year the quality is most certainly not.
Postscript: The 2007 vintage in Tuscany was another stunner and Cabernet grown down near the coast in the Bolgheri seems to have been particularly successful – Caiarossa 2007 is a return to more Bordeaux varieties and less Sangiovese in the blend. Can’t wait to try it.