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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > ITALY: Tuscany, including Montalcino

Winner Details

Italy: Tuscany, including Montalcino

2016 Gold: 6 Silver: 8 Bronze: 4 Commended: 8
2015 Gold: 3 Silver: 10 Bronze: 5 Commended: 7

Tuscan winemakers, it’s safe to say, are not averse to a bit of showing off: gleaming oak, manicured fruit and blingy price tags pretty much come with the territory. It screams wealth, ego and ambition – and being such a well-adjusted modest bunch, such things make our tasters somewhat uneasy.

Six places on the Gold List was Tuscany’s best haul in the Sommelier Wine Awards since 2013, but while there was often real appreciation for the better wines, there were plenty of caveats, too. Price is the most obvious one. A good number of sommeliers made the point that these kind of wines’ sweet spot is around the ‘£50-£60 on a list’ level (ie £12-£15 ex-VAT), but there was no shortage of preening starlets aiming far higher than that.

The other issue would be drinkability. A lot of otherwise very good wines were simply not ready to drink yet – even with several years of time in bottle, making them impractical for restaurant lists.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘Most of the interest was in the middle ground. The very serious wines were often too tight, concentrated, over-oaked and alcoholic. Some had a beautiful austerity, but not for drinking now.’ Matthew Cocks, WineEd 

‘Our customers look for names when it comes to Tuscany. If a name is good, they’re happy to pay for that consistency.’ Enikő Heidenwolf, 67 Pall Mall

‘With their hard tannins, these kind of wines are hard to suggest to a customer. They tend to prefer something softer and more rounded; something more charming.’ Giacomo Dragoni, Galvin La Chapelle

‘This is a style that sells well for us. They are very food friendly, from the savoury ones to the more structured, fruit-driven wines, there was a nice variety, and they all had a place. Tuscany is a region that people are familiar with.’ Mya Brown, The Ledbury

‘A lot of the ones that came in here we wouldn’t be able to sell in a restaurant yet, though the ones that got medals do have an approachability now, with smoother tannins.’ Jonathan Kleeman, Social Eating House

‘A lot of them were over-priced by £10-£15 a bottle. I was expecting more excitement. Over-extraction was a problem. They were trying to do too much.’ Maurizio Palomba, Sushi Samba

‘There’s good value here. A few were slightly reductive, but not to a fault – a little can be beneficial with Sangiovese.’ Andrés Ituarte, Avenue Restaurant

‘If you want a good Montalcino, the price starts in the high teens, it is not a cheap place.’ Charles Pashby-Taylor, Dabbous

Award winners

Found 26 wines

Italy: Tuscany, including Montalcino

Argentiera, Bolgheri Superiore, 2012, Tuscany , Italy

Gold medal winner

A second Gold for Argentiera with this serious yet silky wine. 'Rich, heady aromas with warm oak and a developing character,' began Mya Brown of The Ledbury, with Matthew Cocks of WineEd noting its 'concentrated fruit and quality oak', and the WSET's Michael Best noting that it opened slowly, but when it did 'each visit rewards with a different flavour'.

£33.70 Eurowines

Argentiera, Villa Donoratico, Bolgheri, 2012, Tuscany , Italy

Gold medal winner

While 67 Pall Mall's Enikő Heidenwolf highlighted its 'black cherry and plum fruit and ripe tannin', the WSET's Michael Best felt this was a 'versatile wine. It will be a lover of food from the most simple rustic stew to the precise cooking of fine dining.' Matthew Cocks of WineEd felt that its 'plush, dense and modern, powerful style is well suited to tempting lovers of Malbec back from Mendoza to the Old World'. Interesting challenge…

£16.32 Eurowines

Frescobaldi, Pietraregia, Morellino di Scansano Riserva, 2012, Tuscany , Italy

Gold medal winner

'A beguiling combination of power and elegance,' said Vincent Pastorello of Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, continuing: 'Intense and youthful nose with violets, spices and black fruit, the palate is elegant with juicy fruity, crunchy acids, and fine firm tannins.' Team leader Jade Koch felt it was 'robust yet feminine, daring and elegant'.

£16.39 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

San Polo, Brunello di Montalcino, 2011, Tuscany , Italy

Gold medal winner

'Aromatically this is so exciting,' began an intrigued Michael Best of WSET, continuing: 'It's boisterous but highly intelligent, still opening up so has much potential. Classy fruit with herbal chalky notes, the cheek of spice, oak and balanced acidity.' Mark Dorber of The Anchor at Walberswick was similarly entranced: 'Lovely colour, this is mature and harmonious, spicy and long, with a touch of incense.' 'Lovely length, delicious and moreish,' concluded JKS Restaurant's Sunaina Sethi.

£30.00 Liberty Wines

Ruffino, Modus, 2012, Tuscany , Italy

Gold medal winner

This one will 'warm up your body and heart', according to Enikő Heidenwolf of 67 Pall Mall, who said: 'Old style, pronounced black olive and sweet spices with bready, fruity notes. Rich on nose and palate, super-smooth with ripe tannins. Pricey, but worth it.' Team leader Jade Koch agreed, saying: 'With its dark, brooding flavours it feels like a treat.'

£25.46 Matthew Clark

Barone Pizzini, Poderi di Ghiaccioforte, Estatatura, Toscana Rosso, 2010, Tuscany , Italy

Gold medal winner

Complexity and a memorable finish helped Barone Pizzini strike Gold. Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant found this wine 'fantastic value', noting: 'Massive tannins, dark cherry and plum with a good dose of zippy acidity.' 'Sour red cherries, spices, plus a touch of leather, this is fresh and creamy, with hints of mint chocolate. Outstanding,' said Rossano Antonelli of Hawksmoor Air Street.

£11.95 Vintage Roots

Mantellassi, Le Sentinelle, Morellino di Scansano Riserva, 2011, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Good expression on the nose, with lovely sweetness and purity of fruit on the palate. Very good,' said Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs, while team leader Tom Forrest picked up 'savoury red and black fruit aromas, soft black cherry and blueberry with tobacco notes and a lifted cherry finish'.

£15.32 Please contact winery for further information

Castello di Querceto, Cignale, Colli della Toscana Centrale, 2010, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Fantastic, with grippy tannins, balanced zippy acids, and vegetal but ripe on the palate. So delicious,' said an approving Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant, adding: 'Pure and lovely.' 'Needs time, decant before serving,' advised Hakkasan Group's Tobias Brauweiler MS.

£28.00 Barwell & Jones

Capezzana, Villa di Capezzana, Carmignano, 2012, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Lifted red cherry fruits on the nose, followed by a soft, red cherry palate with light spice notes, oak and a little tannic dryness,' said team leader Tom Forrest. 'Leather and tobacco nose with a bright fruit profile on the palate,' added Harry Crowther of M Restaurants.

£17.40 Liberty Wines

Castello Vicchiomaggio, Ripa delle More, 2012, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Nice aromatic profile, with blueberry and blackberry fruit, soft tobacco notes on the palate, with tannin and light earthy notes on the finish,' said team leader Tom Forrest, while Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs found it 'very complex, with unexpected herbal notes of dill and aniseed'.

£28.90 Hallgarten & Novum Wines , Matthew Clark

Ceppaiano, Alle Viole, 2011, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

Tobias Brauweiler MS of Hakkasan Group enjoyed its 'blueberry, blackberry, earthy' character, and also pointed out its 'full fruit, integrated tannins, black olive notes and firm structure'.

£9.72 Bibendum Wine

Poggio al Tesoro, Sondraia, Bolgheri Superiore, 2012, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

With its 'rich, full and rounded profile of acidity, minerality and tannins', Jonathan Kleeman of Social Eating House could see 'very good ageing potential' still with this wine. 'Hints of green peppercorn and black cherry on the nose, developing firm and savoury tannins with a persistent finish,' added Devon Pryor of Blandford Comptoir.

£21.00 Liberty Wines

Villa Le Prata, Brunello di Montalcino, 2009, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

'Rich, full of very juicy red and black berries and intensity of fruit and tannins,' said Fiona Bastia of Park Chinois, with team leader Jade Koch noting: 'Amazing, seductive smoke and currants on the nose, this has seen a bit of ageing and feels weighty, elegant and stylish.'

£27.15 Jascots Wine Merchants

Il Valentiano, Campaperi, Rosso di Montalcino, 2013, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

Team leader Jade Koch highlighted its 'warm, juicy and mid-weight' style, while Michael Best of WSET noted its 'red and blue berry fruits, brightness on the palate with tannins in balance', and Mark Dorber of The Anchor at Walberswick said: 'Well made and quite intense – a food wine.'

£11.25 Top Selection Ltd

Mantellassi, Punton del Sorbo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maremma Toscana, 2011, Tuscany , Italy

Bronze medal winner

Devon Pryor of Blandford Comptoir found it 'firm and rustic, but not awkwardly so', and said: 'Smoky, peppery nose, earthy but fresh on the palate, well made and understated with dried fruits and a savoury finish.'

£11.93 Please contact winery for further information

Capezzana, Trefiano, Carmignano Riserva, 2010, Tuscany , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Classy Italian style, nicely evolved primary and secondary aromas with lovely intensity,' said Gabriele Galuppo of Theo Randall at the InterContinental, finishing: 'Fresh yet good tannins, completed by a medium-length finish.'

£22.70 Liberty Wines

Castello Vicchiomaggio, Ripa delle Mandorle, 2015, Tuscany , Italy

Bronze medal winner

Juicy and approachable, with soft red fruits and softly integrated tannins. 'Good floral notes, sour cherry and balsamic, expressive with nice length,' said Zigmars Grinbergs of Vinoteca.

£11.69 Hallgarten & Novum Wines , Matthew Clark

Castello Banfi, Brunello di Montalcino, 2010, Tuscany , Italy

Bronze medal winner

'Very well balanced with raspberry and blueberry fruit and a balanced finish,' began Emilie Sagot of The Sign of the Don, while team leader Jade Koch felt it was a 'textbook example, voluptuous and inky with chewy tannins, bright fruit and menthol notes'.

£22.67 Bibendum Wine

Mantellassi , Mentore, Morellino di Scansano , 2014, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

£10.58 Vinum

Terre di Talamo, Tempo, Morellino di Scansano, 2013, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

£18.00 Wine Traders

Poggio al Tesoro, Dedicato a Walter, Bolgheri, 2011, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

£35.00 Liberty Wines

Capezzana, Capezzana, Barco Reale di Carmignano, 2014, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

£10.35 Liberty Wines

Renieri, Rosso di Montalcino, 2013, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

£20.00 Wine Traders

Antinori, Guado al Tasso, Il Bruciato, Bolgheri, 2013, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

Tolaini, Picconero, Tenuta Montebello, 2011, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

£39.97 Eurowines

Pianirossi, Sidus, Montecucco, 2013, Tuscany , Italy

Commended medal winner

£10.15 Eurowines