The Meursault of Umbria, the Sassicaia of Patagonia, and the Sassicaia of Italy's North. As much as I'm averse to this kind of "orange is the new black" simile, it can be helpful to talk about the unknown in terms of the known. Likening Antinori's Cervaro della Sala to white Burgundy or showing affinity between Sassicaia and both Trentino's Tenuta San Leonardo and Patagonia's Bodega Chacra gives a foundation for these wines that you might not have drunk. These comparisons may set up expectations that aren't fair--there is no Sassicaia but Sassicaia--and they may not be entirely accurate, but they do express one very simple concept: wines from distant places inspired the winemakers who made these wines.
The genealogy of wine is as confusing and tangled as any family tree that stretches across thousands of miles and through thousands of years. With a long enough view, almost every wine and every grape came from somewhere else, and if they didn't, they show close kinship with a wine or a grape that did. As in literature or music, poetry or architecture, the art of winemaking is influenced by its history. When you learn that Tenuta San Leonardo's maker asked Piero Antinori for his help, and Giacomo Tachis, the hand behind the great Super-Tuscan wines, lent his, you could be persuaded to try a wine you've never experienced. In this way, knowing a wine's lineage and inspiration can be very helpful.
Today, I'm very pleased to offer three wines that wear their inspiration proudly. Antinori's Cervaro della Sala might be Italy's premier answer to the opulent Chardonnays of Meursault, and the 2011 vintage is arguably the very best yet. IWM favorite and friend Piero Incisa della Rochetta found inspiration in finessed, elegant, and lean red Burgundies; like his grandfather who looked to Bordeaux when he created Sassicaia in Bolgheri, Piero looked to realize his Pinot Noir dream in an unexpected place. He found it in Argentina's Patagonia, and there's no denying that the 2010 Bodega Chacra Trienta y Dos is extraordinary. And, finally, Tenuta San Leonardo's flagship bottling may be unknown to you, but don't let this northern Bordeaux blend go without experiencing it. It's delicious.
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