Rocca delle Macie at Cioppino’s: Vancouver International Wine Festival 2015
Dinner at Cioppino’s is inevitably a highlight event at every wine festival. This year’s Rocca della Macie dinner was perhaps the best dinner I’ve been to at the wine festival over the years.
What makes a good wine dinner? Winemaker attendance is essential for one. Sommelier service and food pairing the core. All of this was fully in play during this dinner, a testament to Chef Pino’s professionalism. The final touch was juxtaposition of a respected Tuscan winery and Pino’s perfectly executed Italian plates.
Gran Selezione, Again
Rocca delle Macie’s Sergio Zingarelli is president of the Chianti Classico Consorzio. I can’t imagine the politics of such an entity in a country like Italy, but I have no doubt the challenges are formidable. As such, as one would expect, at the dinner those from the winery were all on talking points about the importance and value of the new Gran Selezione classification. In my view, while Gran Selezione has much potential as a brand, it remains to be seen whether it will properly promote the terroir of Chianti Classico. I believe this despite the fact Gran Selezione requires wineries to make wine from all estate fruit, because the Consorzio is not focusing on the uniqueness of the crus or vineyards (i.e. there is no vineyard classification). Vineyard classification is obviously not a panacea, as can be seen in Alsace where debates continue about whether the premier cru system should be adopted in the face of issues with the grand cru system. However, I still think the growing pains of vineyard classification is preferable to a broad regional brand that doesn’t focus on diversity, leaving promotion of vineyard sites to the individual wineries with no objective oversight.
In Rocca della Macie’s case, the Gran Selezione is from a single vineyard called Fizzano. We tasted the 2011, which had a noticeable oak footprint, dark cherry and black fruit. This is a modern style Gran Selezione, which seems the house style across the board: modern, fruit driven but balanced and fresh. I rated it Excellent.
That said, the more ‘basic’ Riserva was perhaps the more impressive Chianti of the evening with its elegance and fine tannins. To della Macie’s credit, while they include cab sauv as part of the blend today, the are putting in significant effort to move towards 100% Sangiovese as they believe it is the best vehicle for site expression whereas Cab Sauv, while making good wines, is less terroir focused (if you read my last Chianti article you’ll see not everyone agrees with this). It was a wonderful pairing with Chef Pino’s impressive ox-tail stuffed Cannelloni. Excellent.
Don’t Forget about the IGT
Despite their tasty and well made Chianti Classico Riserva and Gran Selezione, I think the estate’s IGTs are their best products. The duo of a 2010 Ser Gioveto (80% Sangiovese and 20% Cab Sauv and Merlot) and a 2010 Roccato (50% Sangiovese and 50% Cab Sauv) was the standout flight with Chef Pino’s brilliant duo of Alberta Wild Boar “Dolce Forte”, which had a chocolate based sauce that played perfectly off the two IGT’s different styles: a richer boar preparation with the darker fruit and chocolate notes of the Ser Gioveto and a lighter prep for the red berried Roccato. The Ser Gioveto was not only the darker of the two wines but had softer tannin and voluptuous cascades of fruit (Excellent to Excellent+). The Roccato, in contrast, was more about red berries and had a more significant tannic structure (perhaps due to not having the softening influence of Merlot). The finish was very long. I rated this Excellent to Excellent+.
In case we think Tuscany is only red wine, Rocca della Macie makes a lovely, aromatic and fresh but weighty Vermentino that is one of the great white wine deals in the province at $20. Very Good+ and Highly Recommended Value.