On the Road with the Grape Guy

Capezzana: Testing the History of Furba

15 May 2023

(February 2023) ... For those of you who missed it last year, you can look up my Capezzana tasting and write up here ... There, you will learn that the winery was bought in 1924 by the current owner's great grandfather (amongst other pieces of winery history).

WinemakerToday, we're tasting the Ghiaie della Furba wine that has been a calling card of the winery, since it's inception in 1979. It was designed as a Bordeaux blend made of equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. With more Cabernet Sauvignon being planted, the blend changed in 1992, when Sauvignon took the lion's share, at 60% with Merlot being 30% and Cabernet Franc reduced to a mere 10%. In 1998, the blend changed once again, this time it was due to the change of winemaker, which usually means a change of vision of what a wine should be. Benedetta Contini Bonacossi, took over the wine making in 1988; but it wasn't till 10 years later that Furba was transformed from a straight Bordeaux blend to a red blend that saw Syrah taking the place of the Cabernet Franc.

The wine, Ghiaie della Furba, takes its name from the pebbles (Ghiaie) along the bank and within the stream of the area (Furba). The first vineyards that were dedicated for the wine were planted in 1969; the Syrah was planted in 1985. The wine is produced in the Carmignano appellation of Tuscany, within which there are only 13 producers - they make up the smallest DOCG in Italy.

We tasted five vintages of Ghiaie della Furba, starting with the second ever vintage of the wine (1981) and ending with the current vintage (2019).

2019 Ghiaie della Furba
40% Cabernet Sauvignon/ 25% Merlot/ 35% Syrah - 14.99% alcohol.
Alcohol levels have come down from 2016; this is tough, tannic and woody, but has some nice smoky blackberry, cassis and coffee bean notes intertwined between those aggressive opening notes. This stands a chance to be another beauty in 10 plus years, like the 2006.

The Wines in Glass



Ranking order (based on taste and drinkability) ...
2006 - 1981 - 1999 - 2016 - 2019


Table2006 Ghiaie della Furba
20% Merlot and 20% Syrah join the Cabernet Sauvignon in this vintage. This is really ripe, and the body shows very little in the way of age, nice acidity, black pepper, blackberry and cassis. The acidity just keeps on making this wine one to keep going back to. It's long and lush, pretty yet powerful. I could sip on this one all night long.

1981 Ghiaie della Furba
The original idea of one third of all three main Bordeaux varieties goes into this blend. It was also barrique aged (small barrels). It was very bottle dependent, as to what you got with this wine. There were two bottles opened - both tasted very different from one another. Nose of old shoe leather, dusty but the acidity is good and the dried currants, earthy and dried flowers seems to give it a little lift ... The second bottle, showed much younger, fresher, and livelier character with notes of figs, dates and a touch of red fruit; nicely balanced. Really showed the concept of bottle variation.

1999 Ghiaie della Furba
The hallmark of this vintage was the well-timed rains, this was also the second time Syrah showed up in the blend. 30% Merlot / 10% Syrah. Very black nose with touches of VA. Plus some balsamic, blueberry and licorice. Round in the mouth with subtle tannin bite and a licorice finish.

2016 Ghiaie della Furba
Syrah takes an even bigger bite out of this wine making up 35%, with the Merlot at 25%. This one has big black fruit and spice, lush and plush with a sweet and spicy finish. But it was still very aggressive in the tannin department.


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