The rise to prominence of Bolgheri , an appellation within the Tuscan coastal region of Maremma, was nothing short of spectacular.
As recently as the 1970s, the region’s flat marshlands, sandy areas, and steep slopes were not deemed suitable for much more than everyday white wines and rosé. Today, Bolgheri produces some of the most sought after, age worthy red wines in the world.
Tenuta Argentiera is among the region’s top ranking estates. Established in 1999, the winery was named for the silver (“argento”) mines that once stretched across the region’s hills. The 80 hectare property is a patchwork of four distinct vineyard sites, bordered by pine forests, olive groves, and pasture lands.
Located in the southernmost part of Bolgheri, Tenuta Argentiera is the closest of the appellation’s estates to the Tyrrhenian Coast and also the highest in altitude, with vineyard sites at 200 meters above sea level. These cooling factors help temper the region’s hot, Mediterranean climate allowing mid-to-late-ripening grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc.
In a recent virtual sit down with winemaker, Nicolò Carrara, and owner, Stanislas Turnauer, the team at Argentiera took us through the unique facets of their terroir, telling the story of each of their four vineyards through its distinctive wines.
2019 Tenuta Argentiera Bolgheri Superiore DOC
The bulk of the estate’s vineyard holdings are located in a 40-hectare expanse surrounding the winery. The vines sit along a ridge, sheltered by forests, facing east towards the sea thus exposing them to gentle, aerating winds.
The soils are incredibly diverse here, with areas rich in clay, galestro, and schist – stonier and rocker in higher sub-zones, lighter and sandier in lower lying areas. This vast and varied landscape is home to plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Vermentino.
The 2019 estate red features Merlot in a starring role, with a significant portion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, and a dollop of Cabernet Franc. According to Carrara, 2019 was “one of the best vintages the winery has known since its inception” due to its very balanced ripening.
Aromas of ripe dark plum, crème de cassis, graphite, and balsamic notes feature on the nose. The palate is fresh, weighty, and moderately firm, giving way to a plush, concentrated mid-palate, then tapering to ripe, yet grippy tannins which need time to soften. Cedar, baking spice, and dark chocolate notes linger on the finish.
2020 Villa Donoratico Bolgheri Rosso DOC
The 11-hectare parcel of Villa Donoratico has younger, red clay and sandy soils. This north facing plot was once considered too cool for quality grape growing, but is increasingly showing its potential to produce bright, balanced wines in a warming climate.
The vineyards climb from 30 metres to over 100 metres on gentle slopes planted to Bordeaux varieties. The 2020 growing season started well, with beneficial rains in the spring and a warm but not overly hot summer. The headaches started at harvest with erratic episodes of rains which pushed back pick dates for Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, yet ultimately yielded fresh, yet elegant wines.
Inviting aromas of crushed dark fruit, Provençal herbs, and cedar on the nose. The medium-bodied palate is dry and subtly chalky in texture, balanced by tangy red and dark fruit flavours. Finishes on a pleasantly warming note.
2018 Ventaglio IGT Toscana
The five-hectare vineyard of Ventaglio is named for the unique fan-like distribution of vines, spreading out around a central hillock at 120 metres’ altitude, to the north, south, and west providing 270° sun exposure.
Here, the red, sandy coastal soils give way to clay limestone soils with gravelly top soils providing excellent drainage. The site is entirely dedicated to Cabernet Franc, vinified with minimal new oak to enhance the fresh, floral personality of the grape.
The 2018 vintage is redolent with aromas of green peppercorn, dried sage, and vivid, red fruits. With aeration, peony and black currant notes emerge. The palate is highly complex, with a chiselled, full-bodied structure that is lifted and lengthened by ripe, chalky tannins, fresh acidity, and vibrant fruity and earthy flavours. Ripe, sinewy tannins frame the finish.
2020 Poggio ai Ginepri Bolgheri Rosso
The final Argentiera vineyard lies just one kilometre from the coast, in a fairly flat area covering 25-hectares. A wide variety of red and white varieties thrive in the red sandy soils here. Whereas the estate’s other sites produce structured, ageworthy reds, the wines of Poggio ai Ginepri are have a softer, early drinking appeal.
The 2020 red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Bright red and dark fruit notes mingle with sandalwood on the nose. The medium weight palate is supple and fruit-forward, with a dry, fresh finish.
(all wines are rated out of a possible five apples)
To learn more about these terroirs and visualize the area, check out the great video put together by Tenuta Argentiera. Copywrite for all pictures in this post go to the estate.
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