On April 27, I attended a lunch with new Luce technical director, Stefano Ruini and tasted through a number of past and current releases. My reviews of the latter are below. For my notes on the vertical tasting and more about the company’s history and vineyards, please see my article at JJBuckley.com.
Luce, primarily a producer of fine, Super Tuscan wines made from Merlot and Sangiovese, also announced their purchase of a 136 acre site in Montalcino. The new property, which Luce purchased from Logonovo includes 27-acres of producing vines—60% of which are Sangiovese.
The location couldn’t be better, as the new acreage is immediately adjacent to some blocks of the existing, 82-acre Luce estate. And the new property came with a winery as well. Luce has renovated that and, under the direction of Mr. Ruini, outfitted it with all new equipment. A visitor center, with a traditional Tuscan farmhouse design, is in the works and slated to open in November. This is the first time Luce has had its own, dedicated facility.
2014 Luce Luce, Toscana IGT, Italy 92+ 14.18% 750ml $115
Bottled in December, the deep ruby-colored wine almost clung to the inside of the bottle, begging for more time in the cellar. But, as we insisted, it offered us juicy, dark fruit, spice, caramel and savory notes which included dark chocolate and coffee. The palate is firm—fine, grainy chalk—but also juicy and body is a generous medium. The wine will open and develop considerably as it matures and be at its best from 2022 through 2040.
Luce is always a 50-50 blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. Despite being picked one month later, the first week of October as opposed to September, the Sangiovese contributes its characteristic freshness and lower potential alcohol while Merlot offers richness and mouth-filling fruit. The wine aged 24 months in French oak barrels, 85% new and the rest once-used. The 5,833 cases were bottled in December, 2016. Drink 2022 through 2030.
2014 Luce Lucente, Toscana IGT, Italy, 90 13.5% 750ml $29
Deep ruby with purple tones, Lucente exhales gently baked, dark fruit with a touch of briar along with oak and spice. It is a medium-bodied wine with moderate, fine-grained, chalky tannins and flavors of caramel and dark fruit. As I tucked into lunch after my review tasting, I found the Lucente paired very well with our roasted quail.
Lucente is intended to be an earlier drinker than its big brother. It sees 12 months in oak barrels with a mix of 55% new French, 5% new American and 40% once-used French. The Merlot is picked at the same time as that for Luce, but the Sangiovese came in during the 3rd week of September. Nonetheless, owing to a combination of location, soil and vine age, this Sangiovese features lower acidity, just slightly more than the Merlot. 28,300 cases were produced.
2012 Luce Brunello, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany, Italy 92 14.85% 750ml $115
The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino rates each vintage with one to five stars. 1991 was a four-star year and the 2012 Luce Brunello is a very attractive, young wine. It is deep ruby with medium-plus body and fine-grained, firm and chalky tannins providing structure. This wine is just a baby though and its flavors of dark fruit and spice still held close to the vest. The combination of tannin, noticeable acidity and fruit are very promising and the wine will bloom nicely over time. Best enjoyed between 2020 and 2030.
Six percent of the vines in the Luce estate vineyard have Brunello di Montalcino DOCG status. Luce produced 20,000 cases of this wine from those 12+ acres in 2012, a vintage which began with rain and ended very dry. Harvest for these Sangiovese grapes was entirely within the final week of September. After fermentation and maceration, the wine aged for 24 month in Slavonian oak barrels, 10% of which were new. 1,666 cases.
Copyright Fred Swan 2017. Photos courtesy of Luce. All rights reserved.