The conditions of Tuscany’s 2017 growing season was anything but ideal. Riddled with spring frosts, an extreme summer heatwave, amusingly nicknamed Lucifer, and historically speaking, one of the smallest harvests in decades- it is safe to claim that greatness was not the first expectation.
Grapes shriveled and overripened, and only those that were deemed worthy were picked. While a portion of chosen grapes did result in wines that express overripe, dry characteristics, those that survived ended up shocking the wine world with rich, intense blends. The most revered producers maintained their standards of quality and received adulation from famed and highly respected critics.
Super Tuscan is a term used to describe any wines from Tuscany made with non-indigenous grapes. Producers wondered what the wines would taste like if French varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were planted and blended into Sangiovese. The result was nothing short of divine. These 2017 Super Tuscans, are works of art from the dedicated winemakers who refused to give up on what most thought would be a less than impressive vintage!
Check out this breakdown of some of our favorite 2017 Super Tuscans!
“Guado al Tasso 2017 is intensely ruby red in color. Its nose is intact, clean and powerful and has hints of small red ripe fruits such as raspberries, wild strawberries, arbutus, wild blackberries and pleasant notes of laurel and mint. Its entry on the palate is soft, voluminous and persistent with a tannic texture that is dense and silky. Remarkable for its extraordinary balance and equilibrium between power and grace. This vintage can be enjoyed now but also possesses excellent aging potential for years to come.”
97 Points James Suckling:
“A big, very rich red with powerful fruit and tannins, yet always polished and beautiful. Intense vanilla to the underlying ripe currants and blackberries. Full-bodied, very tight and polished. Drink after 2022, when it will be more together.”
97 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:
“From a warm and sunny vintage that produced darkly concentrated fruit, the Tenuta Guado al Tasso 2017 Bolgheri Superiore Guado al Tasso is a teaser and a super pleaser. This is one flashy wine. This carefully calculated blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc and 15% Merlot pours from the bottle with a beautifully saturated and rich color. I double-decanted my sample before writing this review, and the wine’s aromas showed immediate harmony and intensity. The wine seduces and flirts with all your senses. This vintage caps many years of study regarding blending: The Merlot is slightly decreased here, and the Cabernet Franc is slowly taking on a more important supporting role. The Petit Verdot that was used as a peppery accent two years ago has now been removed altogether. The results are pliant, seamless and fluid, and that’s the big takeaway here. The wine is bountiful, round, supple and full-bodied. Unless you are decidedly not a fan of this style, there’s nothing not to love. I had anticipated more tightness in terms of possible hot-vintage tannins, but I am very pleased by the general integration of the mouthfeel. The Guado al Tasso vineyards are located not too far from the sea, at a low elevation of about 60 meters above sea level. The soils are alluvial with a unique mix of limestone clay and sand, with pockets of rocks and are generally known as the Bolgheri Agglomerate.”
“This wine is chiseled and sharp with blackberry, ripe cherry, grilled herb and barbecue spice. The aromas flow from the glass in a continuous stream and are all marked by radiant intensity. The mouthfeel is long and powerful. The crisp linearity of the wine’s tannic backbone is perfectly measured to the volume and depth of the fruit flavors.
Blend: 85 % Cabernet Sauvignon 15 % Cabernet Franc
Pair with rich flavors like braised meats, osso bucco and aged, hard cheeses.”
97 Points Wine Enthusiast:
“Aromas of exotic spice, baked plum and French oak mingle with camphor and blue flower on the nose. This boasts extraordinary elegance and freshness despite the hot vintage, delivering flavors of juicy Marasca cherry, spiced blueberry, tobacco and licorice. Velvety, fine-grained tannins provide support while coffee and crushed mint linger on the finish. Drink 2022–2032.”
“Le Serre Nuove dell’ Ornellaia 2017 expresses itself with outstanding elegance, combining great ageing potential with immediate enjoyability. A deep ruby red colour with purple highlights, a beautifully complex nose characterised by scents of small red berries and balsamic notes reminiscent of Mediterranean scrub vegetation. The quality of the tannins on the palate is particularly striking, smooth and silky. The mouthfeel ends with a lingering finish and unexpected freshness.”
93 Points James Suc
“An integrated, ripe red with currant, berry and light tobacco character. Medium to full body, silky tannins and a flavorful finish. Second wine of Ornellaia. Lovely now, but better in a year or two. Try after 2021.”
93 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate”
“The Ornellaia 2017 Bolgheri Rosso Le Serre Nuove dell’ Ornellaia is a real charmer of a wine with a sweet, soft and supple disposition. The exact blend is 54% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. Fermentation starts in stainless steel, and the wine is then racked over to barrique to complete malolactic
fermentation. It ages in oak for 15 months. Production is large, with some 250,000 bottles released in September 2019. The whole entire presentation here is seamless, from start to finish, with dark fruit and cherry slowly folding into leather, spice and pipe tobacco. Fruit was denser and more compact in this hot and dry vintage, and you absolutely feel that extra
richness and concentration. I recommend another quick two years of aging to relax the wine’s tannins that are extra tight in 2017.”
“The Ornellaia 2017 masterfully interprets what was a particularly warm and sunny year. The intense and dark color heralds a wine of beautiful concentration; the nose, rich and complex, releases scents of ripe red fruits, accompanied by notes of sweet tobacco and vanilla. The taste reveals an Ornellaia of great balance, a combination of firmness and pleasant freshness. Blend: 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Franc”
97 Points James Suckling:
“A big, rich wine for the vintage, yet poised and lively with firm, chewy tannins that give form and intensity to the wine. It shows loads of blackberry, blackcurrant and walnut flavors. Ripe yet polished tannins. Give this three or four years to come together.”
97 Points Vinous:
“A stunning wine, the 2017 Ornellaia offers a captivating interplay of richness and energy. Picking early was the key. Young vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc were harvested in August for the first time ever. In the glass, the 2017 offers up an enticing mélange of mocha, cedar, tobacco and licorice, with soft curves that add to its sensuality and allure. The 2017 is sumptuous and racy, as Ornellaias from warmer years tend to be, but it is not at all heavy or overdone. In a word: superb!”
97 Points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:
“This vintage of Ornellaia is called Solare and represents the 12th edition in the estate’s Vendemmia d’Artista series featuring artwork by Tomás Saraceno. His beautiful art depicts a radiant sun halo and is intended as a symbol of sustainability. That theme of sunshine and warmth is particularly well suited to a vintage such as this. The Ornellaia 2017 Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia is generous and fruit-forward with dense richness and concentration all driven by the smaller and more compact berry size that characterizes this dry, hot growing season. Black and purple fruits segue to spice, tobacco, leather and some of those beautiful Mediterranean notes of black olive and wild sage. These various moving pieces work together in perfect harmony. The tannins are beautifully managed here. If you consider the more astringent and rougher approach of the mid-tier Le Serre Nuove dell’ Ornellaia, this wine shows a whole other level of magnificent tannic management that could not have been easy given the diminutive berry size. This vintage sees a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 9% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard soils are characterized by reddish sand with calcareous rock. The wine is fermented in both stainless steel and cement and is transferred over to barrique to finish malolactic fermentation. It ages in barrique for 18 months followed by another 12 months in bottle.”
Do you have a favorite vintage of Super Tuscans? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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