From Crayons to Perfume

August 1, 2009

That’s the phrase that jumped into my mind!

After years of tasting, I have finally learned to trust my first impression of a wine. Not discounting the fact that wine, indeed, will change with its exposure to the environment outside the bottle, I believe that the first sight, smell, and taste of a wine usually is the best portent of what’s inside the bottle.

I was tasting a wine and reading the producer’s history simultaneously. It was at that point that the phrase from the 1967 movie To Sir with Love, starring Sidney Poitier, hit me. Actually, the phrase is from the soundtrack to that movie that had been sung by Lulu. The lyrics, “How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?” definitely applied to this wine that I tasted for the first time.

The estate of Castello del Terriccio is a huge plot of land comprising approximately 4,200 acres. It dates back to the mid 1800’s. Until as recently as 15 years ago, this land was planted almost exclusively to cereals such as wheat, maize, and barley.

This property is located in the Maremma area of southern Tuscany. Our readers already know what has happened in this part of Tuscany over the last 20 years – the planting of international varieties of grapes to produce the high-end wines called the Super Tuscans.

Dr. Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana Ferri, the manager of this property, had decided to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc alongside their indigenous Sangiovese. Under the direction of Carlo Ferrini, they have made some limited-production Super Tuscan wines that have been getting rave reviews.

Castello del Terriccio makes a wine with equal parts of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot that they call Tassinaia. This is a big structured wine, however, its fruit and tobacco nuances, along with soft tannins made it immediately enjoyable.

Lulu’s lyrics thank a teacher for helping to guide her from adolescence to young adulthood. The taste of the Tassinaia made me thank the management and consultants of Castello del Terriccio for allowing its land to make the transition from one that produces cereals to one that grows grapes that make such exquisite wine.

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