'Herbs and peppers' says winemaker Luca as we taste together via zoom. He's right the nose is an explosion of fresh Tuscan herbs and crisp yellow pepper. Fresh and brimming with promise. On the palate it's simply delicious. Already deeply enticing. Such fine grip, a rub of fresh blueberry skin adds form to the beautiful core of dark fruit.
2017 was not straightforward, nature made it challenging, but the team here have done an unbelievable job, first in the vineyards and then in the cellar. Luca has been increasingly developing the soft touch in the winery. Less punch down, less wood and more concrete vats. On the evidence of this staggering wine, in a less than perfect year, - so poised, intense and yet incredibly defined, there is no doubt he's got this spot on!
Luca is clear, for him whole bunch does not work well with Cabernet Franc - the results end up too woody and loaded with greener tannins than he is after - so this is 100% de-stemmed. Drinking range: 2023 - 2035 L&S (Mar 2021)
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The 2017 Paleo Rosso is superb. It is also the wine in this range that seems to have handled the rigors of 2017 best. Then again, that is the magic of Cabernet Franc on the Tuscan Coast. The aromatics alone are so alluring. Sweet pipe tobacco, mocha, dried flowers, mint, sage and cedar give Paleo its aromatic lift. Some varietal character has been baked out because of the heat of the year. In exchange, readers will find a Paleo Rosso that will drink well with just a year or two in bottle. The 2017 was fermented in cement and aged for 14 months in French oak barrels, 90% new with light toast. Drinking range: 2025 - 2037 Rating: 96 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Jan 2021)
The Three Graces of Le Macchiole are Messorio, Scrio and Paleo (Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, respectively). Of these three top-tier releases, my favorite is the 2017 Paleo. This is an upright and direct expression of the grape that carefully sheds some dusty or mineral aromas before opening the way for determined black fruit, charred meat, spice and cured tobacco or cigar. There is quite a bit of oak, but it works beautifully against the natural intensity and rich concentration of the hot vintage. More unexpected are those pretty tones of lilac, blue flower and aniseed that add to the detailed rendering and complexity of the bouquet. This wine won my heart. Drinking range: 2022 - 2045 Rating: 97+ Monica Larner, The Wine Advocate (www.robertparker.com) (Oct 2020)
Initially put onto the wine map by Eugenio Campolmi in 1983, the Le Macchiole estate has been run by his wife Cinzia since 2002. In the heart of Bolgheri, with 22 hectares of vineyard over much of the best soils of the region these are, along with the Sassicaia and Ornellaia's vineyards, also among the oldest and most established vines in Bolgheri. Their careful selection of grape varieties and cultivation techniques according to climate and soil has led them to concentrate on Merlot, Syrah and most importantly Cabernet Franc, a variety which can express itself so well in the hands of Le Macchiole.
All of their wines are marked by a unique and unmistakable character. Full bodied wines, and yet with clean and elegant flavours, leading to great freshness and finesse, they are incredibly sought after world-wide. The estate has been organic since 2002, and they are experimenting with biodynamics.
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