Uccelliera, which means bird cage in Italian, is an estate that has been on the rise for quite some time now in Montalcino and is headed by Andrea Cortonesi.
This wine is made of grapes from different parcels of vineyards with mainly south-east exposition in Castelnuovo dell’Abate in the very south of the Montalcino area. The soil in these steep hills varies among sandy clay, lime stone, gravel and schist as well as Galestro and Alberese, the special marls from this site, so by vinifying the parcels separately, Andrea can make the perfect combination for the vintage. A legendary estate, Poggio di Sotto, whose wine we adore, is his neighbour in this area and take advantage of the same blending of parcels. The grape juice undergoes cold soak (the Burgundish-style pre-maceration at low temperatures to extract colour and more aromas) for a few days followed by 3-4 weeks of maceration. The wine for the riserva ages for 3-4 years in a combination of Slavonian big, neutral oak and French barriques depending on the vintage. It stays in bottle for another 18 months before released to the market.
The 2004 vintage is ideal with a cooler late summer period until harvest without issues and yields were higher than usual. It was relatively easy to harvest evenly ripe grapes and rendered wines with exceptional balance/
harmony, detail and complexity for those producers who employed scrupulous selection in the vineyard.
Colour is very dark red, almost black with scarlet-orange edges. Immediately after opening this wine and giving it a swirl, distinct worn leather, savoury notes and asphalt leaves the glass. Then it changes again and very pure and fresh dark fruit as well as inner, very deep perfume emerges as top notes and then the base is filled up with tar, oil paint, warm herbs, clove, very complex, slightly burned lime minerals, saline mushrooms, eucalyptus and cigar box. An extremely fresh, broad-spanning and lovely nose indeed with a lot complexity, elegance and deep inner perfume.
Then after two hour of decanting, the energetic, very grape-peel-balsamic acidity settles down and then impressively deep, pure layers of rich, opulent and very ripe black fruit gets through. In addition, the rich mid palate offers distinct anise, fresh herbs and loads of complex, burned lime minerals. It is dense, offers fantastic concentration and powerful building structure, but it is not heavy. This is a full-bodied and very persistent wine that grows into a beautiful crescendo of intense flavours and freshness in great harmony. Texture is velvety, almost silky, but with bite and tannins are chewy, ripe but gives the tongue some spur right now, so it needs to integrate just a little more.
Key words are purity, intensity, depth and balance. This is a great wine with fantastic nose that is worthy of exploring sacredly without even drinking. Ahh, what I love the delicacy of the brunello grape when it reveals its origins with this transparency and purity. Moreover, the wine is strangely seductively elegant too and Andrea obviously went easy on the oak in this vintage that only seems to lift and enhance the territorial aromas. The Uccelliera riserva of 2004 may not be in the same honest traditional division, but it is clearly not far behind the quality league where you find producers like Cerbaiona, Salvioni and Soldera. However, Andrea is pushing the modern school to the very edge here, so let’s hope he doesn’t fall over to dark side. Open 2015.