TUES 2/2 So You Think You Can Drink Week Part 1: Meleto

Tell me you haven’t thought about making your own wine not even once. This recurring fantasy invariably involves the restoration of a lapsed estate in Tuscany or Provence.

Castello di Meleto was/is exactly one of those storied, but lapsed estates. Only problem is that someone else beat us to the punchdown. It’s not a small estate — over 2,400 acres of which 450 or so are devoted to vineyards —, so I probably couldn’t have afforded to buy it anyway.

Under the guidance of winemakers Stefano Chioccioli, Federico Cerelli and GM Roberto Stucchi (formerly of Badia a Coltibuono), the winery seems poised for a comeback.

Federico Cerelli is in town doing some big Italian trade event at some fancy downtown hotel. He and importer Donald Shannon of Vias Imports, have graciously made some time to visit with us Tuesday night from 6:00-8:00pm. I think I’ve met Cerelli once before, maybe a year or two ago. A very soft-spoken, super smart wine person who seemed personally committed to this project. I have a soft spot for Sangiovese from Gaiole. Why? When they’re great, they’re almost Pinot Noir-like in their purity and finesse. And this seems to be the goal under the new management at Meleto.

Here’s the lineup:

2007 Rosso Toscano $12.95

2006 Chianti Classico $19.95 (90% sangiovese and 10% merlot from a fantastic vintage.)

2004 Chianti Classico Riserva $39

Galloni, WA: “The 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Casi is an earthy, powerful wine imbued with dark cherries, tar, licorice and toasted oak. The wine needs another year or two in bottle to settle down, but this is a gorgeous, layered wine of considerable potential, with pretty notes of sweetness that linger on the long finish. The Vigna Casi is 85% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 10% Merlot aged in medium-sized barrels. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. This year I was particularly impressed with the top bottlings at Castello di Meleto, a medium-sized property located in Gaiole.” 92 pts

2004 Rainero $58

Galloni, WA: “The estate’s 2004 Rainero is equal parts Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 14 months in new French oak. Nothing in particular stands out here, this is just one of those rare wines of outstanding balance and harmony where everything is in the right place. Medium in body, the wine offers a core of dark fruit beautifully framed by finessed, ripe tannins and beautifully-integrated oak. It is another outstanding effort from Castello di Meleto”. 92 pts

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