Visiting Caiarossa, and Tasting & Reviewing the Wines
Caiarossa is a winery (cantina) on the coast of Tuscany, Italy, in the Val di Cecina, the southern part of the Province of Pisa, near the medieval town of Riparbella.
Grapes here are grown using biodynamic techniques, respecting as much as possible the environment, and it’s worth it: the winery surroundings are simply stunning.
— Julien Miquel #Wine (@JMiquelWine) April 13, 2017
Follow the journey of my quick visit to this beautiful estate and taste their wines.
A Brief History of Caiarossa
The story of Caiarossa began in 1998 when Belgian film and music producer Jan Theys planted vineyards on the property and used geo-dynamics and the oriental discipline of Feng Shui to design and build the winery.
The estate was acquired by Eric Albada Jelgersma in 2004, bringing his experience and his manager’s Alexander Van Beek’s from owning two Grands Crus Classés in Margaux, in the Bordeaux region at Château Giscours and Château du Tertre.
I happen to have worked a vintage as a winemaker in Caiarossa in 2006, the same year winemaker Dominique Génot joined the property.
Such an excitement and a thrill to go back more than ten years later, and rediscover this winery that has remained dear to my heart.
Since its foundation in 1998, Caiarossa has always followed the principles of biodynamic agriculture.
The Demeter biodynamic certification was officially obtained in 2005 while all wines have been certified organic since 2003.
Cairossa’s entire property covers 175 acres (70 hectares) of land, half of which occupied by oak woods.
The first 40 acres (16 hectares) of vineyards were planted between 1998 and 2000 with several grape varieties in order to try out how successfully they would grow in the area and the estate’s varied soils: calcareous, sandstone, and iron-rich sand.
An additional 50 acres (20 hectares) were planted by Dominique between 2008 and 2013 on the southern slopes of the Nocolino hill and at Podere Le Lame, on two sites just a few kilometers away from historic winery.
10 grapes varieties are grown on the property:
And 3 White:
Take a Virtual Visit of Caiarossa in Video
Let’s Taste: Wine Reviews
While visiting Caiarossa, I had the privilege of tasting Caiarossa’s variety of wines, over various vintages. Here are my tasting notes:
The White Wine
2015 Caiarossa Bianco, Toscana IGT
65% Viognier and 35% Chardonnay
Tasting notes: Bright and shiny lemon yellow color with rather intensity gold hues, it shines like honey. In its turn, the nose shines with bright and delicate ripe fruit aromas, apricot, peach and pear, touches of honey too with distinct floral character. A touch of Chardonnay-like greenness gives it some zing and savory feel in this blossoming orchard scent. Round and oily texture, dry but a touch of sweetness for such fruity flavors. Acidity is medium but not frankly lacking. Complex and exuberant fruity wine, also warm and long. Unusual but successful combination of Chardonnay with Sangiovese 😊
2006 Caiarossa Bianco
Check out the 2006 White Caiarossa’s Detailed Review & Matching with Grana Padano Cheese or click on image below.
The Sangiovese-Based Wine: Pergolaia
2013 Pergolaia di Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
Tasting Notes: Bright red color with orange hues, showing subtle signs of evolution. The nose is powerful and very spicy, with distinctive notes of licorice and black pepper. It smells savory and spicy, like black olive scented in clove and pepper. Behind only are hints of red berry fruit aromas. Mid-body and smooth yet granulous tannins of medium density. The fruit comes through more powerful on the palate that it does on the nose, with pomegranate and sour cherry. Character and some length make for an enjoyable Sangiovese-based wine if your love savoriness and spicy wines to pair with tasty and hearty foods.
2011 Pergolaia di Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
Tasting Notes: Bright red color of medium intensity, with hints of darkness, slightly brown to the rim. A deep toasted nose dominates the profile, with aromas of torrefaction, dark cocoa and coffee. Warming ripe cherry liqueur backs it up as you swirl the wine. Clove and vanilla. A rather unctuous sangiovese, with juicy acidity, all on upfront spices and well-integrated oaky notes. Quite complex with medium body, good length; granulous finish. Drink now and within 5 years.
2006 Pergolaia di Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
About 90% Sangiovese with small proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Tasting Notes: A rather unusual but appealing bright and shiny garnet color, like an aged tawny port although clearly some red left in there which lifts the appealing factor. Intriguing and makes you wonder what’s to come for the tasting. Nose is a little closed up. Decant an hour prior to tasting at least. Rich ripe plum, almost liqueur-like, although it doesn’t feel warm or heavy. Dark roast cocoa, coffee. It’s very deep to smell, closed but not shy. A lot going on in there, should you allow it some time to open. Rich unctuous palate with velvety tannins, mid body but a great fell of richness. Sweet spices and ripe cherry flavors, rounded-up oaky notes that have been well integrated with time.
Introduction to the Winery’s Style: Aria di Caiarossa
2012 Aria di Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
First vintage of Aria was made in 2011, the inception of this wine started when Caiarossa planted about 4 hectares of vines in 2008. When those vines started producing, being young the concentration wasn’t quite yet to the level of Caiarossa Grand Vin. Rather than blending this new volume of wine to the second label Pergolaia which would have changed its Sangiovese based-identity, Caiarossa decided to create this new wine, as an introduction to the style of Caiarossa (Aria being a musical term to a musical piece’s overture).
Blend of 35% Cabernet Franc, 25 Syrah, 20 Grenache, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, a blend of the many varieties that are typical of Caiarossa.
Aged in French oak wine barrels, about 15 to 20% new.
Tasting notes: A dense and gorgeous-looking red color, with both dark black and purple hues, pleasing to look at like witnessing a basket full of ripe cherries. Deep ripe fruity nose, of dark cherries again, it feels young but serious and concentrated. Some sweet spices and subtle oaky tones. Smooth and concentrated palate, with good body. Plenty of ripe and deep red berry flavors. Serious but fruity wine, with great juiciness that, allied with some savory bitterness and saltiness to the finish, makes you salivate and want to pair it with food. Still feeling young, it is enjoyable to drink now but will benefit from 3 to 8 years aging.
2013 Aria di Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
Tasting Notes: Dense and bright red color with hints of purple, looking vibrant and young. Black olive marries black pepper and red berry aromas in the nose. Strawberry jam and fresh raspberry make for and enjoyable fruity profile, yet with great depth. Feeling a little tight from being a young wine. As soon as you put the wine in your mouth though, you’re struck by the smooth texture of this wine’s relatively dense tannic structure. It’s a world of silky tannins on a round body. Yet, a nice acidity also features freshening up the feel, and more importantly, highlighting the red berry fruit flavors that here are vividly expressed and shine. The finish is a little edgy at this stage. A very fruity and quite dense a wine, enjoyable now from its smoothness but that will also certainly round up and complexify over the next 5 years.
The Grand Vin
2013 Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
Tasting Notes: This Super-Tuscan blend comes in a dense and dark red color, with both purple and hints of orange hues making it look dark and complete as a color profile. A powerful aromatic profile, spicy and complex, dark and deep. Plenty of roasted cocoa notes, with black pepper and clove make for a spicy and profound experience as a smell. Smooth and rich tannins, with solid density and good balanced from a well-present acidity. Finish a little edgy and drying at this stage. A very solid dense and powerful red that delivers plenty of sensations, spiciness, hints of fruit and good complexity. A pleasing, characterful wine.
2012 Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
Tasting Notes: Deep dark red color with purple hues making it look deep and intense; it’s not overly dense, you can still see through, but concentrated it looks like it is. Deep nose of peppery spices, sweet clove and nutmeg is the first sensation. It’s backed up by dark cherry fruit aromas, before oaky notes of vanilla and hazelnut kick in. Complex and intense it smells like however, feeling young with a long way to go, as it will open up gradually with the years. A rich and oily powerful palate, filled with explosive ripe fruit flavors, spices, and perfectly integrated oak. Tannins are very smooth and silky, though still a little dry to the finish. A very well rounded wine, featuring great concentration and juiciness from ripe fruit character and hot spices. The palate’s first impression is fruit-driven, evolving into a savory finish with a solid complexity that is well supported by solid mineral acidity.
2011 Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
Tasting Notes: Bright and deep red color with hints of orange hues. Shiny and concentrated. The nose is explosive and bursts with aromas instantly as you put your nose into the glass. An incredibly fresh pomegranate smell invades your senses, with bursting strawberry jam and raspberry. Add some vanilla and toasted hazelnut, and you have here a vibrant and juicy-smelling aromatic profile. Touches of pepper. Likewise, the palate is filled with flavors that explode on the palate. They’re sustained by a truly crisp acidity which is not obvious in this style of wine but a real feature here. Juicy jammy fruit is here without feeling overripe, a rather freshly-made and not too cooked red-berry jam, like coulis rather, are the dominant flavors. Add touches of vanilla and oaky spices, bursting pepper and chili, and you are in for a vibrant rich and powerful red with genuine character and personality. Great to drink now and within the next 10 years.
And the Single Vineyard
2012 Essenzia di Caiarossa, Toscana IGT
100% Cabernet Franc on this 2012 vintage. Aria is a single vineyard wine, made from the grape variety that the winemakers consider has performed best each vintage. Each year then, you will find a different expression of Caiarossa’s terroir, savoir-faire, and grapes.
Tasting Notes: Very dark and dense red color with purple hues, great dark density but looking fresh and vibrant with hints of purple hues. The nose is also vibrantly fruity, featuring dark and ripe fruit characters: blackberry, ripe plum if not prune, dark cherry. Add very subtle and perfectly integrated oaky tones of vanilla and clove, a distinct spiciness and herbal scents and you have a very deep and profound sensation that promises age-worthiness and a complex tasting experience. On the palate, the wine feels dense and complete, but more importantly very smooth. While you can clearly feel here you are tasting here a big wine, its excellent balance and the silkiness of its tannins make it feel easy and simple to enjoy. The mark of elegant wines. Flavors of ripe red berry fruits are powerful, as well as the fine oaky tones. Long and layered finish on savory spices and vanilla and toasted hazelnut notes. A big and powerful wine, that reveals itself with great finesse and suavity; complex and refined.