The Val d’Arno di Sopra DOC is one of the most recent, created in 2011 although the area has been recognized since the 1700s as one where wines are of tremendous quality. It was in 1716, that Cosimo III de’ Medici declared, in an edict, that there were four areas of Tuscany producing the highest quality wine. Valdarno was one of these areas along with three other sites in Tuscany: Chianti, Pomino and Carmignano.
Many of the wineries in the area also can make wines using the Chianti Colli Aretini denomination. Some choose to while others do not. I wrote about the Colli Aretini in a book for the University of Oklahoma that has a program in the city some years ago. I visited the area at the time and was impressed by many of the wines.
The DOC includes the east and west of the Arno Valley from the plains around Arezzo to the hills around Florence. The DOC includes whites, reds, rosé, sparkling wines both red and white and a passito of sorts with white grapes. The grape varieties allowed include Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Syrah. The municipalities in the production area include Cariglia, Montevarchi, Bucine, Pergine Valdarno, Civitella in Val di Chiana, Castelfranco-Piano di Scò, Castiglion Fibocchi, Terranuova Bracciolini, Loro Ciuffenna, and San Giovanni.
At the Anteprime in February I was able to taste some of these wines, mainly those of Petrolo and Campo del Monte. I really liked their Malvasia Bianco Lunga DOC 2016. It had great freshness and acidity. It would work well with a variety of foods from appetizers to pastas. I also enjoyed the Rodos Cabernet Sauvignon which would have been perfect with a Bistecca alla fiorentina.
I loved the Galatrona 2015 from Petrolo. Made from 100% Merlot, it’s a beauty and worth the swanky price tag. Made on soils rich in loam and clay with shale, marl and sandstones, this wine is a complex, elegant, layered and structured example of Merlot from Italy.
The winery has been practicing dry farming and sustainable agriculture and since the 2016 harvest they are organically certified. The wine is made using native yeasts in cement vats. It ages in wood, about 1/3 new for 18 months.
I really liked the balance and concentration in this wine. It had enough of everything to make it very complete – acidity, fruit, tannins, and alcohol. The family has spent time in Bordeaux in Pomerol and it shows in these beautifully structured wines.
Tenuta di Petrolo, is run by the fourth generation of the Bazzocchi-Sanjust family. Today Luca Sanjust heads it up. They have 272 hectares at between 250-400 meters above sea level. Sanjust is the head of the Valdarno DOC and in March 2016 was nominated to be the vice president of another organization of DOP and IGP wines in Tuscany called è A.VI.TO.(Associazione vini toscani dop e igp), this group is a consortium of consorzio and speaks for 21 out of the 28 Tuscan organizations.
I also tried two more of their wines which were very elegant, Boggina Anfora 2016 Bio Anteprima and Boggina Classico 2015.
I also tried a couple of wines from Il Borro. Their Petruna Anfora 2016 Biio and the Borrigiano 2016 Bio were exquisite. Il Borrigiano is made with 40% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 25% Sangiovese. Layered and nuanced with waves of flavor, this beautiful wine is a perfect matched for many dishes again from Antipasti on through main entrees. My favorite was the Petruna Anfora, produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes using only clay amphorae for making and storing the wine. I loved its mouthfeel, aromas and flavors and Tuscan signature.
I’ve also had the pleasure of tasting wines from Tenuta Setteponti, specifically Oren, a magical wine made with 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. At the Anteprime they were showing Vigna dell’Impero 2015 made with 100% Sangiovese. The wine macerates for one month and ages for a couple of years in big oak barrels. The vines have an average age of 80 years.
There were some other wineries as well but time did not allow me to taste everything. Val d’Arno di Sopra is a very interesting classification which shows both old traditions and grapes such as Sangiovese and what some wineries can do with international grapes. It really has wines for all styles and is one that should garner more attention.