On the Road with the Grape Guy

Le Potazzine Visit : An Eye-Opening Surprise

03 Dec 2021

Life's Too Short(September 2021) … Another of those “last minute” editions to my travels, but what a find. Not only a wonderful story to tell but they may have poured me my favorite wine of the trip. Let's dive in and learn a little more about this young winery that's doing things the right way when it comes to Brunello.

The winery is owned by Gigliola, and her two daughters Viola and Sofia work by her side. The winery’s name comes from a word Gigliola's mother used to call her granddaughters “potazzine” meaning chickadee in a Montalcino dialect.

The winery vineyards make up a total of 5.5 hectares of land: three on the property, two in Sant'Angelo in Colle, and the final half hectare is located 100m away from the winery; and the home vineyard site rests at 510m above sea level - one of the highest in Montalcino. They produce a miniscule 30,000 bottles of quality wines.

First WineThere is always a gentle wind blowing through the vineyard at this higher elevation, or so I am told, and that helps dry out the bunches and create better harvesting conditions, plus fresher wines. The winery was established in 1993 with their first vintage being in 1997... And the entire whole was planted with Sangiovese, is picked all by hand, and the entire harvest process is finished in about a week.

Gigliola proved to be quite the entrepreneur. At age 19 she started in the offices of Biondi-Santi (this will prove to be important as we shall find out later) ... In 1987 she opened the first wine shop in Montalcino and in 2000 (after she started the winery) she opened a restaurant (I guess she wasn't busy enough).

Barrel CellarIn the winery the grapes are all hand sorted and fermentation happens using wild yeast, and both barrels AND tanks as vessels to ferment in. As with any quality producer, this winery claims 90% of the work is done in the vineyard, so that when harvest is complete there is limited interference during winemaking process. The winery also prides itself on its use of no barrique (barrels) or French wood ... It's all Slavonian oak, large cask barrels, and all by the same Cooper: Garbellotto.

Now ... A quick note about “Riserva” wines. As mentioned Gigliola worked for Biondi-Santi , and their philosophy of “riserva" wines must have made an impression: Riserva is not for every year, and should only be made in special vintages, not just great vintages – Le Potazzine is looking for a “different expression” and then only 3,000 bottles will be made (and 500 magnums). Using this philosophy of reserve wines, Le Potazzine have made “Riserva” wines in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2015.

They export to 26 countries with top markets being the United States, the United Kingdom, and Asia ... And finally, half of the production of this winery is in Brunello wines.

The Wines ...

Potazzine 2 wines2019 Potazzine Sangiovese
This no oak Sangiovese is a very fresh and fruit-forward with the red fruit showing on its sleeve in the form of cherry with a little floral backing - the acidity is totally on point making this a delightful everyday drinker ... Which will have the added benefit of making everyday seem a little more special ... It's just that good.  (****)

2019 Rosso di Montalcino
With 10 to 11 months of aging this wine retains its lively freshness and fruity nature. There's a slightly smoky note with good acidity plus cherry, strawberry and raspberry fruit at its core all wrapped up with a medium length finish.  (****)

2016 Brunello di Montalcino
This wine just shows both a feminine and masculine side ... Which is a feat unto itself. It's well-rounded and full-bodied while still puffing out its chest and being bold and brazen. Lots of red fruit: currants and cherries with a slightly smoky elegance and floral charisma ... There's also some subtle rhubarb, brash tannins and yet also shows an earthy side - yet nothing overpowers, nothing overwhelms, everything has its place and is in its place. It has time on its side yet can easily find its way into a glass now. Absolutely lovely.  (**** ½)

2015 Brunello di Montalcino
A very fruit forward wine with both red and black fruit on the nose - there's a powerful edge with mocha, black cherry, earthy, smoky and even some ballsy tannins. It's a deep, rich wine that seems almost out of place amongst the more elegant styles I tasted from this winery - sure there is a potential for elegance here in a few years, but at this time...  (*** ½+)

2014 Brunello di Montalcino
At less than stellar vintage, yet the wine has an elegance to it, though it is beginning to show its age. Earthy notes dominate with fruit leathers taking a backseat plus notes of graphite, cedar and even some floral dominating. Also look for hints of balsamic on the mid-palate to the finish.  (*** ½)

Riserva Potazzine 20112011 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
First things first, this is a thinking man's (woman's) Brunello. It's fresh and elegant with a style all its own. Floral and red fruit lead things off with subtle notes of earthy, black and sour cherry, raspberry, strawberry, cocoa / mocha with good acid backbone and seemingly chalky tannins that turn silky on the finish. It's not powerful, but it's no shrinking violet either - it's a wine in its own class: very well made, very well balanced, pretty yet with so much more to offer - it's layered, it's lovely and it's a bottle I'd want on my table every night (if I could).  (**** ½+)


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