La Calonica – An Innovator in Tuscany

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Giovanni and Fernando

La Calonica has to be one of the most beautiful estates in Tuscany–with wines match. Fernando Cattani bought the estate in 1973 and he and his son Giovanni run it today.  The property is 45 hectares and straddles the line between the provinces of Arezzo and Siena. The vineyards are in the wine appellations of Montepulciano and Cortona. The Montepulciano appellation is DOCG while the newer Cortona is DOC.

The vineyards are mostly Sangiovese and Canaiolo, the traditional red grapes of Tuscany, but there are also smaller plots of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. There are small plots of Malvasia, Trebbiano and Grechetto for Vin Santo. No Tuscan estate would be complete without olive trees and Fernando has 300 trees for a little top-quality, extra virgin olive oil.

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Fernando and Esther

I visited Fernando, his wife Esther and Giovanni in 2008. I started buying the Vino Nobile in 2002 and have always liked the wines. The estate buildings sit on a gentle rise and the vineyards are on the bordering slopes. The cellar at the estate has a mix of the large Slovenian oak barrels and modern barriques for aging but the wines are made at the cellar in Cortona. Cortona is an ancient town founded by the Etruscans and the museum has artifacts that have been uncovered in the town, often when street work is being done.

In Tuscany, this is a must-see place.

To taste the wines from this beautiful appellation, a few recommendations are below.

Riserva.jpgLa Calonica Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva – Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy

This is the pinnacle wine of the estate. It’s 90% Sangiovese with 5% each of Canaiolo and Merlot aged for 36 months in barrel and another 6 months in bottle before release. The bright garnet color leads to notes of red cherry, spice and violet. The longer aging yields a wine ready to drink with pasta and red sauces and grilled meats. $32

La Calonica Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy

This was the first wine ABC picked up from the estate in 2002. The blend is 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo. Aged for 24 months in barrels, the wine leads with garnet color and notes of violet, red cherry and spice carried on a medium structure. It’s truly a noble wine for grilled or roasted meats. $20

Rosso.jpgLa Calonica Rosso di Montepulciano – Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy

The Rosso is 80% Sangiovese and 20% Canaiolo from the younger vines. It’s aged in barrels for 3 months and is meant to be enjoyed soon after release. It shows a ruby red color and notes of red cherry, strawberry and a touch of pepper on a medium framework. At this price, it’s a wine for every day with pasta and grilled meats. $15

La Calonica Sangiovese – Cortona, Tuscany, Italy

This wine is unique as the blend is 85% Sangiovese and 15% Syrah. The wine is aged for a short time and shows bright ruby color with cherry and spice notes from the Sangiovese and some currant and plum from the Syrah. It’s one to drink now at a great price. $14

Sangiovese Cab.jpgCapanne Vechhie Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon – Tuscany, Italy

Fernando volunteered to make some wines especially for ABC and we started with these in 2011. The Cabernet blend is bright ruby in color with notes of plum, cherry and raspberry with ripe tannins for early enjoyment with pasta and red sauces or grilled meats. $13

Capanne Vechhie Sangiovese/Merlot – Tuscany, Italy

We liked both blends so we added the Merlot too. It’s garnet in color with red cherry and raspberry from the Sangiovese and suppleness added by the Merlot. The firm tannins make it a solid match to pasta with red sauces. $13

Bianco.jpgCapanne Vechhie Bianco – Tuscany, Italy

The latest addition from the estate, the Bianco is mostly Sauvignon Blanc with some Trebbiano. The Sauvignon Blanc yields structure and grassy notes while the Trebbiano adds melon and peach. It’s the perfect match for grilled and chicken and Florida’s seafood. $13

Brad Lewis, contributing wine expert

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