The Wine: Terrabianca Campaccio 2004 “Super Tuscan”
The Grapes: Sangiovese (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%)
The Region: Tuscany – Chianti Classico and Maremma
Pairs Well With: Red meat, especially braised and/or herb-accented. Red sauce and other tomato-driven fare.
Stay Away From: Acute acidity, especially tart fruits
You Will Like It If: You value balance and complexity over power, cellaring is an option
Cellar Potential: Best from 2010-2020
We popped the cork on the 2004 Terrabianca Campaccio on one of those classic spring evenings. Steak sizzled away on the grill while the neighborhood kids hooted and hollered at the park across the street. Cyclists and joggers would occasionally flow by, yet unencumbered by offensively muggy temps or the clouds of mosquitoes that will be the norm here in a month or so.
The budding sights and sounds just enraptured our little Yorkshire terrier. Nearby pedestrians were treated to his bounding around the yard, barking at the world, and aggressively smelling those scents that only spring in the Midwest seems to bring. Evenings are supposed to be like this: a beautiful night for wine, food, and friends.
Certainly a night like this deserves a special beverage, and I was jonesing for a bold red wine to match our steak on the grill. But what to choose? Spring and summer months can be a challenge for red wine lovers – the robust fare of outdoor cooking like grilling and barbeque really scream for a robust red wine, but warm weather often leaves us looking for something crisp and refreshing.
Enter Terrabianca’s Campaccio. Made primarily from Tuscany’s staple Sangiovese grape with a significant amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a powerful wine that remains fresh and balanced. On the nose, the wine shows classic floral, almost rose petal nuances with a backbone of road tar (it’s a good thing) and black currant. On the palate, the wine has a medium body, a moderately tannic profile and notes of black cherries and damp earth. The finish is pleasant and longish, although the tannins still flex their muscles and let you know that this is still a young wine that maybe needs a few years to settle in.
But through all this, the wine’s acidity is the key. A hallmark of the classic Tuscan style and quality Sangiovese in particular, acidity pervades this wine’s flavor and texture on the palate and finish. It makes for an extremely refreshing wine and will also help it age well for several years.
If refreshing it is, gigantic it is not. While some might notice a modern approach in the Campaccio’s abundant dark cherry and slight oak-driven vanilla notes, the bracing acidity and tight structure show Terrabianca still keeps the Campaccio true to its Tuscan roots. To those who love today’s “New World” style of blowsy fruit, high alcohol, and full body, this one might seem a little coarse and maybe even thin.
Keep in mind Sangiovese-driven wines can tend toward a brownish/tawny color, and this is no exception. Those that assume inky purple to black is the only acceptable color for the big reds, take note. The color is not a sign of spoilage, seepage, or the dreaded cork taint (I am and will likely always remain a fan of traditional, natural cork). A slight brownish color is typical.
What kind of Tuscan?
Campaccio is a wine that your local wine shop might call a “Super Tuscan,” a term that has become so marketable it is now used for any number of Tuscan wines made outside of the more rigorous Tuscan wine laws (we’ll have to leave those for another day). What you need to know about the “Super Tuscans” is this: Following World War II, many Tuscan reds, (especially Chianti, Tuscany’s famous son) lost much in the way of quality and character as the region expanded and increasingly used less ideal grapes in order to ship the product in bulk to an international market.
Finally, some renegade producers began using French winemaking practices, and often even French grapes, to push the quality envelope. And new parts of Tuscany such as Bolgheri, Maremma, and others were explored for premium winemaking. Shortly thereafter, famous (and ultra expensive) wines such as Tignanello (ironically almost entirely Sangiovese), Sassicaia, and Masseto were born. The wines did not play by the rules, so they had no official classification. The enthralled wine drinking public began calling them the “Super Tuscans.”
The concept has become so successful that many of the serious, especially larger scale Tuscan producers now produce Super Tuscan blends, and Campaccio is one. But buyer beware, there is no official Super Tuscan classification, so bulk Tuscan wines can be and often are marketed under the name in order to sell more bottles. How positively international.
All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house