Monday, February 13, 2012

Italian Winemaker Massimo Piccin Introduces Sapaio Super Tuscans

Massimo Piccin believes winemaking is a creative process with the focus on quality – not reproducing an industrial process. He brought his artistry and new releases to Corks Wine and Liquor in Rossford last week. 

Massimo founded Podere Sapaio in 1999 with the intent to experiment and find new expressions of Bordeaux style wine in the Bolgheri region of Tuscany. Sangiovese is the most famous of Tuscan grapes, and is front and center in wines from Brunello and Montepulciano. But the trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate in the small DOC of Bolgheri. Unlike some other regions, the use of these Super Tuscan varieties conform to regulations in the relatively new (1994) Bolgheri DOC.

Massimo grew up in Venice and later moved to Tuscany where with the help of his father he began making wines. Sapaio is an 80-acre estate winery that stretches between Castagneto Carducci and Bibbona. His wines are imported by Specialty Wine Co. of Sandusky, which is owned by Claudio Salvador, who is also partner and winemaker at Firelands Winery.

The first Sapaio wine sampled was the 2009 Listra, a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Syrah aged 10 months in French oak. The wine is made for Specialty Wine according to a blend determined by Claudio. The wine is an easy drinking red that sells for $22.

Volpolo is a DOC Toscana Rosso, which is a less expensive and lighter alternative to the DOC Toscana Superiore. This is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. The wine is aged 14 months in French oak with prominent notes of cherry and vanilla oak. This wine copped a 90 rating from Wine Spectator.

The flagship wine is Sapaio, a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 10% Merlot aged 18 months in used French oak. The flavor is concentrated, but with round tannins. On the tongue the wine is thick and lush with generous blackberry and coffee sprinkled with cherry. This wine not only has been praised by Wine Spectator (92 pts.) but earned the Italian Gambero Rosso Tre Bicheri award. This full bodied wine retails for $55.

“The focus is on artisinality,” said Massimo. “This is my idea of a contemporary wine. It is drinkable when released, but has a long life.”

Podere Sapaio wines have arrived in the Toledo area. Seek them out to enjoy an artistic glassful of Tuscany.

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