We would never have tasted Il Palazzino’s rare, highly allocated 2008 Bertinga, nor had the opportunity to feature the wine, if we hadn’t paid a hastily arranged visit to Alesandro Sderci and his son, Eduardo, one stormy day in June. We have admired Alesandro’s wines for many years and featured one of his single vineyard Chianti Classicos some years ago, but Bertinga was a completely new revelation. The average annual production of Bertinga is only about 300 cases and the 2008 vintage yielded even less than that. But we fell in love with this wine, and Sandro Sderci agreed to let us feature the 2008 Bertinga. So, our members have the opportunity to taste this rare offering for the first time. For starters, the deep purple, ruby-tinged 2008 Bertinga offers up heady fruit aromas reminiscent of blackberry and cassis laced with notes of cedar, chocolate and coffee. And to tantalize the palate, Bertinga provides plenty of deep, rich flavors that are both suave and utterly satisfying. Few Super Tuscans or Classified Bordeaux can match the savory cigar box scents and ripe black fruit flavors that flow from the 2008 Bertinga to ingratiate the palate, and thanks to Bertinga’s smooth tannic finish, the wine’s exquisite flavors linger long after the wine has made its graceful exit down the throat. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest decanting the 2008 Il Palazzino Bertinga an hour before serving. And like most fine reds, the greatest drinking pleasure appears to be at cool room temperature (60°-64° F) Anticipated maturity: 2014-2020. Enjoy!
Beef, lamb, pork and poultry all make excellent accompaniments to Il Palazzino’s smooth, sophisticated 2008 Bertinga, so fire up the grill and bring on the meat, but not just any meat; Bertinga deserves the finest cuts. Filet Mignon, Prime Rib, pork tenderloin, tender cuts of veal, and roasted game birds all rank high on our list of companions for this wine. In fact, a stuffed, slowly grilled veal chop wins our highest commendation. Seared Duck Breast served with a blackberry or cherry reduction provides another wonderful accompaniment. A splendid Porcini mushroom or truffle-infused risotto or pasta dish will fill the bill, too. However, we suggest you save heavy tomato sauces and garlic-laden dishes for simpler, more rustic wines. Bertinga’s purity and rich, suave flavors stand out best when not fighting with strong spicy flavors or raw garlic or onion. Buon Appetito!
In the hills south of Gaiole, Alesandro Sderci and his family produce some of the most seductive wines in all of Chianti Classico in addition to fashioning one of Tuscany’s most exciting red wines from Bordeaux varietals. While we have been long-time admirers of Il Palazzino and have enjoyed many splendid bottles of their Chianti Classico, a recent visit to the estate solidly reaffirmed our belief in the direction, quality and uniqueness of this extraordinary property.
Il Palazzino is part of a network of farms and country residences built or restored in the eighteenth century during the land reform enacted by Leopold Hapsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, whose aim was to improve the life of the farmers. The homestead of “Il Palazzino” had a small cellar, a rarity in those days, as the grapes were usually brought to the main farm to be vinified. In the mid nineteenth century, the Sdercis became the owners of Il Palazzino and the estate’s cellar. Through the tumult of world wars and the nearly constant revolution in both viticulture and official regulations governing the production of Chianti Classico, the Sdercis have assiduously worked their hillside vineyard plots, some of which are in excess of 1,300 feet in elevation. In short, this dynamic family has created a model estate where the flawless excellence of its wines is unsurpassed, even by many of the older, more famous estates in Tuscany. Moreover, the Sdercis are passionately committed to their work and they are always searching for ways to “push the envelope” and improve the quality of their already superb offerings.
Some of the ways Il Palazzino continues to “push the envelope” on quality are by transferring the entire estate completely to organic viticulture, using only natural wild yeasts, implementing preventative measures to combat diseases in the vineyards rather than chemicals, and eschewing all filtration of its wines. Since 1984, when the archaic and highly idiosyncratic laws proscribing both white and red grapes for Chianti Classico were changed, Il Palazzino has embarked on an odyssey to produce wines of unique and exceptional quality. And since being set free from the old canonical Chianti blend, which included Trebbiano and white Malvasia for Chianti Classico, Il Palazzino has fashioned pure, rich wines that possess extraordinary elegance and individuality – attributes that not all producers in Chianti Classico can claim. In the ensuing years, the Sdercis also planted Bordeaux varietals in order to make a special wine called Bertinga (this month’s feature) from Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.
Today, Il Palazzino fashions several Chianti Classico wines from vineyard sites of varying soil compositions. Chianti Classico Argenina springs from volcanic soil and is the lightest of the estate’s Chianti Classico wines, while Chianti Classico La Pieve and Chianti Classico Grosso Sanese originate from clay- and limestone-rich soils that produce more muscular wines for extended ageing. Bertinga, the estate’s flagship Toscana IGT wine, emanates from a venerable vineyard with a long history. Il Palazzino’s Bertinga averages less than 300 cases of superlative wine from a diminutive vineyard of less than 2 acres. Il Palazzino also crafts small quantities of outstanding Vin Santo, Tuscany’s unique dessert wine that is like no other wine on earth. What set all of the wines of Il Palazzino apart from the competition are complexity, finesse, richness and warmth coupled with beautiful aromatics.
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