“… The wine that put Brancaia on the map of the most famous wineries in Tuscany”, wrote Monica Larner a few years ago about IL BLU in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
This September, the 2018 vintage of IL BLU arrives on the shelves and this vintage celebrates the 30th harvest: a commemorative edition to celebrate the wine that made Brancaia known to wine lovers from all over the world.
Produced for the first time in 1988, IL BLU fell into the category of wines that English-speaking were critics had nicknamed Super Tuscans, wines that were seeking their own identity beyond the production regulations of their respective areas and that had been raging on the wine scene since late 1960s. Like other ambitious producers, Bruno and Brigitte Widmer were also convinced that it was possible to produce very high quality even outside of the appellations. Thus, they came out whit a blend that at the time was known as Brancaia and which, according to the legislation of the time, was only a table wine on the label. The results in the years to come will prove them right.
In 1994 the Italian gastronomic guide “Gambero Rosso” gave IL BLU its highest award, the Tre Bicchieri, for the first time. With this milestone, Brancaia’s popularity in Italy increased in no time. “We were one of the first foreign-owned wineries to receive this recognition,” recalls Bruno Widmer.
Many other awards followed, including, among the most prestigious, the ninth ranking in 2006 Wine Spectator TOP100 with the 2004 vintage. ” The aromas leave me speechless, with freshly cut roses and lilacs that follow through to crushed blackberry and cherry undertones. Full-bodied, but extremely balanced, with velvety yet caressing tannins and a finish that goes on for minutes. “
To finish with the newly released vintage that earns 97/100 and a fascinating tasting note from James Suckling: ” Beautiful aromas of currants and mushrooms with bark and flowers. Violets and chocolate, too. It’s full-bodied with firm, creamy tannins that are long and poised. It has such attractive tension and focus. Lovely, sweet currants and berries at the finish. So succulent and intense.”
WHY THIS NAME?
As mentioned before, in the first years of production, the name of the wine was only Brancaia. The only other wine produced on the farm was the Chianti Classico and therefore there was no problem of confusing the wines or creating misunderstandings in the customers.
With the 2000 vintage, the range of wines expanded with the addition of another red grape blend: TRE was added. Although it is a ready-to-drink wine with a beautiful and lively orange label, to avoid the risk of any error, it was decided to also find a name for Brancaia, which in the meantime the legislation had classified as IGT, as a Typical Geographical Indication.
The choice, also quite natural, was to simply call it IL BLU: it was easy to be inspired by the color of the label, but also by the marked notes of blue fruits recognizable in a glass of this wine.
When, in 1988, Bruno and Brigitte Widmer decided to create and include a SuperTuscan-style wine in the Brancaia portfolio, they considered the opportunity to review the entire image of the brand. The first Brancaia wine, in fact, was a Chianti Classico with a rather ordinary and anonymous label.
With the release of IL BLU, the image of the company completely changed. In fact, a simple but elegant label was chosen and over the years it has proved to become a classic, timeless. In fact, after so many years the Brancaia style, adopted afterwards for all company wines, shows no signs of aging. It always fully reflects the company’s philosophy:
“classic modernists with the utmost respect for the terroir and an uncompromising commitment to quality” says Barbara Widmer, daughter of the owners and winemaker.
For this celebratory vintage, the essential elegance of the label has been embellished with a gold foil in the center of the logo, while a corten steel logo has been added to the wooden packaging, which over time will show an evolution just like the wine inside.
Since its debut in 1988, IL BLU is the result of a constant search for perfection and is made only with the best grapes, harvested and selected by hand, from the two Brancaia estates in Chianti Cassico. At its first appearance, 30 years ago, IL BLU was a blend made up of a lot of Sangiovese with a small complement of Merlot. Later, Merlot and Sangiovese reached similar proportions, with the addition of a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, thanks to the growing complexity of the Merlot grapes, coming in particular from the vineyards in Radda in Chianti where they reach an average age of about 30 years, the percentage of this variety has been progressively increased up to 80%. Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon complete the blend with 10% each.
The individual vines and vineyards are aged separately in barriques, two thirds new, for 18 months. Subsequently, all the barriques are tasted to select the final cut which will then be refined in transpiring concrete tanks for another 3 months. In this way, the wine finds its balance more quickly, the aromas are better integrated, as well as the tannins, even before aging in the bottle for at least a year.
Brancaia’s commitment is aimed at continuing the work of perfecting this wine, preserving its identity, character and style, a commitment to be preserved and continued for the next 30 years.
THE 2018 VINTAGE YEAR
2018 was a beautiful harvest, worthy of a special, celebratory edition.
The previous vintage, 2017, had presented many challenges, due to a very hot and dry summer. The following winter began with intense rain showers that immediately replenished the water reserves. Spring was therefore characterized by the full vigor of the vines at bud break. Thanks to the natural grassing with native essences, the total absence of herbicides and insecticides, the reduction of treatments to the minimum and the average age of the vines of about 30 years, the extreme conditions of 2017 had left no traces: flowering and growth in general was optimal.
From mid-August, then, the considerable day / night temperature range favored perfect ripeness, allowing the harvest to begin on Sept. 8 with the Merlot grapes and be concluded on Oct. 4 with the Cabernet Sauvignon. Above all, the quality of Merlot has exceeded all expectations, convincing Barbara, and her team to further increase the percentage of blends up to the current 80%.
QUALITY FIRST, ALWAYS.
From day one, Brancaia produces high quality wines, which tell the story of the territory in which they are born: the satisfaction in the company is great for the achieved results, but the team is always aware of how vital it is to continue investing in development and research.
IL BLU 2018 is the result of this continuous research, but it does not end here … In the meantime, let’s take the opportunity to toast its 30th anniversary. Cheers!
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