When it comes outside Burgundy how many Chardonnays in the entire world (old and new) can one count that have managed to reach the top? Well not so many I have to admit, although there are good intentions by many producers aiming high. It maybe the case that too many examples want to impress in a very upfront way or that oak handling is not so delicate and maybe the balance is more to the sweeter side of fruit rather than the savoury or mineral. A long discussion if we decide to go on!
Although high levels of ripeness may prove to be seductive for the entry-level consumers, it is the finesse and the very fine balance between ripeness and minerality that does make a real statement. And this is why I love Cervaro della Sala, a 90% Chardonnay with a splash of Grechetto produced by the Antinori family.
Just few days ago I had the pleasure of attending in 67 Pall Mall a Solaia-Tignanello vertical going back to 1978 presented by Renzo Cotarella together with Francesco Visani, Antinori's CEO and Marketing Manager respectively. I will obviously come back for the brilliant reds but my first reaction is to write for Cervaro. Cotarella explained how the Grechetto works in the blend commenting that it gives freshness and acidity and is very much needed to produce an elegant, Mediterranean wine.
Cervaro in a nutshell is a noble wine, stylish and polished that combines the buttery character of Chardonnay (fermented and matured in oak for 6 months) with the more restrained feeling of Grechetto (fermented in stainless steel). Cotarella adds that it ages gracefully having tasted vintages back to the 80’s.
From a difficult and hot in August vintage the 2011 Cervaro is now showing very nice. Lemon-gold with an expressive nose of roasted hazelnuts, flowers and herbs, it is evolved but still vibrant with impeccable oak integration. Very refined on the palate in a Mediterranean style that goes a touch riper than Burgundy but not to the tropical side. Reasonably rich but retaining finesse this is a beauty. 92/100
Stay tuned for my impressions on the Solaia-Tignanello Masterclass going back to 1978 (first vintage of Solaia)
The Castello della Sala vineyard