"What grows together, goes together" is a popular food and wine pairing maxim. So it's no surprise that the Italian wines of Brancaia were a beautiful match to the spectacular Italian cuisine of Del Posto.
At a recent lunch, representative Martin Kronenberg presented a range of reds from the winery, which has been owned and operated by a Swiss family since the 1980s.
We began with the entry-level offering: Tre, a blend of three grapes (Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) from three sub-regions of Tuscany. Martin explained the winemaking philosophy tends towards less intervention in the winery. He says these Italian wines emphasize the fruit in the wine, avoiding the rustic aromas present in some Italian wines. I found it easy and approachable with good structure and soft tannins. As Martin says, “a baby Super Tuscan.” He considers that an everyday wine perfect with pasta. We enjoyed this wine with a fantastical assortment of amuse bouche, including a gold-dusted saffron rice ball. Just goes to show – even “baby” Super Tuscans can stand next to glittery food.
Moving, on we tried the Chianti Classico, perhaps the measure of any Tuscan winery in the designated Classico area. This one was surprisingly distinct – a much fresher interpretation than I had tasted, with Sangiovese fruit at the fore. The wine is aged in new and used French oak, and the influence of wood is subtle. Martin shared that the winemaker feels, “Don’t kill it in the vinification process.” The wine was lovely with a vitello tonnato, the acid of the wine a nice foil to the creamy, tuna-flavored sauce.
Ilatria was our third glass – a full-on wine from the seaside region of Maremma. The very un-Italian grape blend consisted of 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Petit Verdot, and 20 percent Cabernet Franc. Martin commented that Petit Verdot ripens better in the hot, dry climate here than in Bordeaux, where it is known as one of the grapes in the classic Bordeaux blend. The wine is rich--dense with berry flavors--a delicious wine with food or on its own.
Our final pour was true to the Super Tuscan tradition of big wines crafted from international and traditional grapes. Brancaia Blu has 50 percent Sangiovese, 45 percent Merlot, and 5 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s aged in French oak 18-20 months, then undergoes additional aging in bottle. We tried the 2008 release, which, according to Martin, was a “classic vintage.” There was a nose of herbs and blackberry, dense layers of dark fruit flavors, and a very long finish. This full bodied wine was a lovely pairing with Del Posto’s rich duck and fig.
All the levels and styles of Brancaia wine presented shared the dominance of fruit, rather than barrel aging or winemaker tricks. They reflected the Swiss precision of the winemaker and the Italian soil of the fruit – a wonderful combination in a bottle.