The Vinous Bel Canto

Covering just under 22,300 sqkm and with a total population of approximately 3.75 million, Tuscany (Toscana) is the fifth largest and ninth most populous amongst Italy’s 20 regions. Whereas Rome’s status as the political centre of Italy is unassailable, the regional capital of Tuscany, Florence (Firenze), is perhaps the cultural centre of Italy.

Arguably the birthplace of Italian Renaissance, a disproportionately large number of classical writers are Tuscans, including Francesco Petrarca (born in Arezzo), Giovanni Boccaccio (born in Certaldo), Dante Alighieri, Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini (all born in Florence). The Tuscan dialect, therefore, became the basis of Standard Italian.

With their burgeoning merchant classes, Florence and its southern neighbor Siena used to be the preeminent economic hubs of Italy. Indeed, the oldest bank still in existence today, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which ran into financial trouble in recent years, was founded (and is still headquartered) in Siena in 1472. The legacy of the aristocratic merchant houses in Tuscany is still visible to this day, with the likes of Marchesi Antinori, Marchesi Frescobaldi and Barone Ricasoli, whose most famous member would be Bettino Ricasoli, the secound and seventh Prime Minister of the unified Kingdom of Italy.

In addition to its illustrious heritage, Tuscany is also the most ancient wine region of Italy, tracing its history back to the 8th century BC, when the Etruscans developed viticulture and winemaking, while the Greeks did the same in southern Italy. Known for its rolling hills, Tuscany is a moderately elevated region. Its climate ranges from Mediterranean in coastal areas to Apennine in its hinterland. Its temperature, climate, diverse terroirs, and modest altitude are as ideal to viticulture as they are to tourism.

The historical rivalry between the Republic of Florence and Republic of Siena might be long gone, but on the wine scene, they are still competing against each other as the holy grail of Sangiovese, with Florence and its surrounding areas renowned for various

Chianti blends, whilst Siena and its vicinity revered for Brunello di Montalcino, the single-varietal expression of Sangiovese.

wb1-ciacci-piccolomini-daragona-rosso-di-montalcino-2010Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso di Montalcino 2010

Rich garnet with carmine-crimson rim, the fragrant nose offers cranberry, red cherry, eucalyptus, liquorice and peony. With vivacious acidity and succulent tannins, the complex palate delivers blackberry, black cherry, bouquet garni, red tea and forest mushroom. Medium-bodied at 14.5 percent, the delicate entry evolves into an elegant mid-palate, leading to a stylish finish.

wb2-ciacci-piccolomini-daragona-ateo-2010Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Ateo 2010

Inky garnet with carmine-rosso corsa rim, the aromatic nose presents blackberry, cassis, cocoa, tobacco and cigar box. With vibrant acidity and ripe tannins, the potent palate supplies plum, prune, liquorice, caffè mocha and leather. Medium-full bodied at 14.5 percent, the fleshy entry continues through a generous mid-palate, leading to a redolent finish.

To be continued… 

Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France,
and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages


Categories World of Bacchus