Querciabella Camartina 2001 – Super Tuscan without the bite
Camartina Querciabella is truly a marvelous wine. The Super Tuscans were the first designer wines to be officially recognized as a category of wines that were not heirloom or table wines. Italian legislation has most recently recognized the designer wines with the denomination IGT allowing more experimentation in the creation of designer wines. This evolution is evident in Camartina. It should also be remembered that the great wine master and Patriarch, Giuseppe Castiglioni passed away in 2003. The reigns of the business had already been passed into the capable hands of his son Sebastiano several years earlier, however, I cannot help but associate the change in the wine’s composition to the change in the winery’s structure.
The 1997 Camartina, smooth, structured and encompassing contained 70% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and Syrah while the 2001 is 50% Sangiovese, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and Syrah. This change in composition may seem insignificant, both Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese are master grapes, but the end product does change. The 1997 is full bodied, vibrant and fruity while the 2001 is more austere with notes of leather, espresso and a bit of must.
The wines are produced and aged separately for at least one year before mixing. The final product is the result of numerous tasting tests. The wine is then bottled and allowed to settle for at least six months before release. Maturity is achieved between 4 to 7 years from harvest and will remain top notch for more than 15 years.
We tried this wine in our usual manner, without the patience to allow the wine to breathe, immediately we dribbled a bit into the bottom of our glasses. The bouquet is enticing and the first sip holds a bit of a bite from the tannins but this is to be expected. As the wine had a chance to settle and to breathe, the tannins took a back seat to the tastes of Raspberry and Bing Cherries, the coffee flavor was ever so slightly evident. The finish was sweeter than we expected but still nice. Normally I would have expected more acidity of the tannins of the oak barrels but they were not evident. This makes Camartina 2001 an excellent drinking wine also away from the table, perhaps with a cigar or while chatting in front of a fire.
I would pair this wine with most white and red meats, medium aged cheeses, sweet or chocolate desserts, very savory fish and fowl. I would not combine this with wild game or spicy and aged cheeses. Although I would not use this as a substitute for my favorite Super Tuscans, Solaia, Ornellaia, Sassicaia, and Tignanello, I think this wine can be a great compliment to the cellar. It can be consumed both with and without food. It also will be great with moderately savory dishes.
Grape: Sangiovese 50% - 45% Cabernet Sauvignon - 5% Merlot and Syrah.
Color: Deep Red with Purple highlights.
Bouquet: Leather, Espresso and a hint of Must.
Flavor: Raspberry, cherry and mocha. Good balance but it needs just a little more acidity and poise, some sweetness on the finish.
Alcohol Content: 14.0 %
Serving Temperature: 15-18 c.
Decanting: at least ½ hour.
Pouring: Pour slowly, angle at 55 degrees or less.
Glass: Wide-bellied Red Wine Glass.
Aging: This wine is released 30 months after harvest. It reaches maturity 4-7 years after harvest and will maintain its high quality at least 15 years and perhaps longer.
Tags: Designer Wines SuperTuscan Red Wine Italian Wine Tuscany Sommelier Food and Wine Travel Italy