Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Fabius 2006
Montalcino is familiar to wine lovers as the birthplace of Brunello, the iconic Tuscan wine vinified from a specific clone of Sangiovese that rivals Barolo in popularity and prestige. The hilltop on which the town sits represents a climatic and topographic dividing line. To the north, temperate continental winds aerate oak and coniferous forests that resemble Chianti. The southern areas are warmer, more Mediterranean in aspect, influenced by maritime currents flowing from the west.
It is in this latter region, close to the Orcia River and Castelnuovo dell’Abate, that vineyards of Piccolomini d’Aragona’s three hundred year-old estate face south to southwest on gently sloping terrain that averages 720-1100 feet above sea level. They are also in proximity to the Romanesque Abbey of Sant’Antimo, where visitors can hear Cistercian monks pray in the reverent cadences of Gregorian chants. And where, if you close your eyes, the ancient rhythms and harmonics will transport you to the 12th century.
The estate is primarily and justifiably known for its elegant, aromatic expression of Brunello, produced and aged in accordance with the exacting standards of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Piccolomini’s Fabius, however – which is 100% Syrah – comes from the neighboring and less strict Sant’Antimo DOC, a region that offers producers more flexibility to blend and experiment with other grape varieties. Syrah is, of course, not typically associated with Tuscany, but having previously enjoyed Piccolomini’s Brunello, it was hard to pass up this lonely bottle – which I found tucked away on a PLCB shelf for $25.99.
This is a big wine from start to finish; It opens to a nose packed with wild, dark berries, green herbs, and a vaguely vegetal background, followed by cherries, dark plums, and a touch of blueberry. Those fruits take center stage on the entrance of this densely textured, full bore wine that exhibits power tempered by an elegant structure. The earthy, gamey elements you’d find in the Northern Rhone (Syrah’s home) are there too, but less obvious. The medium-long finish maintains the purity and integrity of the fruit. Simply put, it’s a mouthful of why we drink wine.
Fabius practically begs for a beefsteak Florentine style, or any pasta with meat ragu (think wild boar!). I could also be persuaded to pour this after dinner as an accompaniment to chocolate based desserts. 90-92