I promised in my last column to tell you about our experience sampling the wines from Casanova di Neri.
Well, to get quickly to the point, they were phenomenal. They were so awesome that my brother, Ward, who doesn’t like wine and almost never drinks it, bought several bottles for shipment back to the USA. And he was not alone. Everyone in our group ordered wine.
Let me tell you about some of their individual reactions.
We started with the 2021 Giovanni Neri Rosso di Montalcino. As you’ll recall, the Giovanni Neri (named after the founder of Casanova di Neri) is the winery’s newest venture. It hails from virtually wild old vines residing in a vineyard that the Neri family had been trying for years to acquire. Persistence paid off in 2017. The 2021 is the inaugural vintage from this site.
Beautiful tannins with berry aromas. Several of our group also detected notes of cherry. My nephew, Tom Riley, found a strong rose scent. He described the taste as high on the palate with a tingle on the side of his cheek. Our friend, Sandra Chiusano, said, “Yummy! Well-balanced and smooth, with little or no harsh tastes. Grandpa would be proud of what his son and grandkids have achieved.” Terry tasted lots of berry, and she enjoyed the long, smooth finish with tastes of vanilla and mushroom.
Next up was the 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Etichetta Bianca, or White Label. (Remember that the grapes for the White Label will compose the Cerretalto when the Neri family decides the fruit warrants a Cerretalto vintage.) My son, Ted, and his fiancée, Yessica, combined their notes on the wines. They discerned adobe and clay smells and the black cherry and oak in the tastes. I delighted in the White Label. Very smooth taste and rich tannins that gave the wine some structure. This provided an enticing introduction to the potential of what Cerretalto can be. A winner.
I love tastings like the one Gianlorenzo furnished us. He starts with two outstanding wines and then proceeds to knock our socks off with the final three.
My first three words describing the 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova, “WOW! Absolutely amazing.” It’s a young wine with lots of body but it is approachable now (but I recommend you hold it for five years). Tom got sweet cherry in both the bouquet and in the tastes. Terry described the nose as understated berry, vanilla and baking spices. She got the same thing on the taste, along with earthy, forest floor inklings.
This was followed by the 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Giovanni Neri, the first vintage from this vineyard. Getting both oranges and berries from the wine, this was Sandra’s favorite, nosing out the Tenuta Nuova by one point. Tom found this take on Brunello to be consistent with the other fine offerings from Casanova. This is the fruit of 77-year-old vines, and I enjoyed it. I got woodsy aromas, along with mushroom smells and a dark chocolate taste. Terry’s take on the Giovanni Neri included notes of citrus and berry with an astringent finish. This is still a young wine. It requires decanting for at least two hours (likely longer) for it to show off all it has to offer.
We finished with the 2020 Pietradonice, Casanova di Neri’s Super Tuscan offering. It’s 100% cabernet sauvignon, and presented with a heavy, blackberry aroma and taste. Terry, who normally is not a big fan of cabernet, loved this. On the palate, she got cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and honeysuckle. Her description: “Very balanced from start to finish, it offers a long, soft finish. Despite aging in oak barrels for 18 months, there’s little discernable oak.” This was Ted and Yessica’s favorite as evidenced by their order of two bottles.
Thank you, Gianlorenzo, for an outstanding introduction to your family’s opera d’amore, or work of love. Do not miss the chance to try any offering from Casanova di Neri.
Carl Kanowsky is an attorney, a fledgling baker, an enthusiastic cook and an expert wine drinker.