Tenuta di Carleone

2019 Tenuta Carleone Chianti Classico


Current stock: 9

2019 Tenuta Carleone 'Il Guercio' Chianti Classico 

 The wine that reminded us all just how exciting a bottle of good ol’ Chianti can be is back! And better than ever, too. We are so pleased to announce the arrival of the new vintage of winemaker Sean O’Callaghan’s Tenuta Carleone Chianti Classico- PRIMA’s 2021 Wine of the Year! For the as yet uninitiated, we’ve known Sean, Chianti’s famed ‘one-eyed rascal’ since the early nineties when he was making the iconic wines of Riecine in Gaiole-in-Chianti for the late John Dunkley.  Walking into the old cellar and seeing that sly one-eyed grin for the first time, he seemed like exactly the kind of guy to whom I could relate.  He, you see, was- like myself in younger days- an inveterate world traveler who, one day, some thirty plus years ago, hopped on his motorcycle, fresh out of winemaking school in Germany and landed in Chianti Classico.  In Dunkley he found a kindred spirit- passionate, uncompromising and committed- and, under John’s tutelage, they turned the old Riecine property into one of Chianti’s very finest.  When John passed in 1996, though, Sean stuck around at Riecine and made wine for several subsequent owners, the most recent of whom built him a brand-spanking new winery with all the bells and whistles any winemaker could ask for.  But, despite the ultra-modern trappings (and helipad!), the new owners were more interested in living a glamorous Tuscan-style lifestyle than obsessing about the wine part, and, when, after 26 years at Riecine, Austrian businessman Karl Egger asked Sean to make a new wine from 20 hectares of Sangiovese Karl had just purchased, and offered him carte blanche to make any kind of wine he wanted, Sean quickly made the move from Gaiole to nearby Radda.  O’Callaghan, uncompromising when it comes to his Sangiovese, implemented an organic, biodynamic regimen in Karl’s vineyard and insisted  A complete back-to-the-future non-interventionalist approach. The fermentations would be natural and aging would only be in traditional, large format wood.  The results, predictably, have been fabulous from day one, and in only a few short years, the wines of Tenuta di Carleone have garnered a cult-like reputation throughout Europe.  Sean looks at Sangiovese like he would his favorite wines from Burgundy or Barolo, and aims for a mono-varietal expression of the grape that is long on finesse but with a formidable structure and noble tannins.  Maybe that’s why I love them so much!  If Nebbiolo were to be grown in the heart of the Chianti Classico region, it would probably taste a lot like Sean’s.  These are not powerhouse Tuscan wines, rather they accent the pure, more elegant side of the grape with classical structures and, probably, age-ability as well. The new 2019, coming as it does from an absolutely tremendous harvest in Chianti, is slightly darker than the 2018 with a bit more lift and stuffing. It still, though, highlights the more charming, aromatic side of Sangiovese with distinctive florals to go with a deeper core of  dark cherries and lots of Sangio’s spice, yet with a strong, pronounced backbone.  Savory and delicious, it’s an impressive example of Chianti that as much shows of Radda as it does Sean.  For years I begged Sean to get some of his new wines to us in the states but he hemmed and hawed and proceeded to sell them all in the EU…until this year!  Thanks pandemic…  We’re so pleased with the 2019 and know you will be as well.  And, by the way, we still have around a case of Sean’s so-called Super Tuscan- a name he hates but best describes Il Guericio, the top wine in the cellar. In the months we’ve had it, Il Guercio has shed a bit of its youthful baby fat and has developed into an absolute stunning expression of Sangiovese. Il Guercio is dark where the Chianti is brickier. The nose is ultra-distinctive with a ton of Sangiovese’s florals on display with vivid red cherries, freshly shoveled earth and a bevy of baking spices weighing in as well.  Full and rich yet somehow not, how it manages freshness, weightlessness, elegance and oomph at the same time is one of those miracles one rarely associates with Tuscany, but it’s all there now. It’s $95 a bottle so not for everyone, but definitely worth it! In any event, it’s so fun to have Il Guercio in the house. Maybe I’ll drink mine with one eye closed……