Friday, January 13, 2012

Castello di Monsanto: Nemo

A Great Tuscan Cabernet Sauvignon That You've Probably Never Heard Of

Castello di Monsanto may be best known for their Chianti Classico Riserva and Riserva Il Poggio, but what you seldom hear about is the 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, Nemo. Tuscan cabernet has been all the craze in the Maremma and Bolgieri, yet there are a number of producers from Chianti (Isole e Olena and Felsina come to mind) that excel with the varietal. For me, it all started five years ago, when a 1990 Castello di Monsanto Nemo was served to me and changed the way I looked at international varietals in Italy. To say that this wine tastes like Cabernet simply doesn't do it justice. This bottle is Tuscan through and through, and if you haven't experienced it first hand, you're doing yourself an injustice.

Nemo comes from a single vineyard, Il Mulino, on the Castello di Monsanto estate. It's then fermented with natural yeasts and spends 25 days in contact with the skins. The oak regiment could be called "International," with 18 months spent in new oak barrique. However, upon tasting this wine, the last thing you will think of is “International.” With only a few years in bottle, the new oak recedes to reveal an intense display of fruit, spice, herbs and earth, with the potential to mature into something even greater.

I'd say the only negative thing about Nemo is how hard it is to find. However, with Wine-Searcher on our side or by requesting the wine from your local retailer, maybe we can change that. At an average of $45 a bottle, this unique, pure Italian beauty, certianly deserves the attention.

2003 Castello di Monsanto Nemo Toscana - The nose was deep and engaging with rich black cherry sauce, balanced by floral notes, cedar, earth and floral undergrowth. On the palate, it was enveloping as a mix of raspberry and blueberry with baking spices, cedar and minerals engaged the sense and traversed a fine line between rich and juicy. The finish was long with cinnamon spice and bittersweet dark berries flowed by the slightest hint of tannin. In the end, the 2003 Nemo came across and perfectly balanced and a joy to drink. (94 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

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