Wines of the Week: Roger Belland & Capezzana

Roger Belland 2019 Santenay Gravières Premier Cru 94
Capezzana 2019 Carmignano Villa di Capezzana 95
by Robert Millman & Ian D’Agata

Roger Belland 2019 Santenay Gravières Premier Cru       94

by Robert Millman

This important red Burgundy is a substantial, richly endowed wine, with plenty of fruit and a most appealing earthy texture – in my opinion, a fundamental quality in better Santenay wines. Roger Belland’s Gravières Premier Cru bottling is one of the great values in the often overpriced market for Burgundies. The roughly twelve hectares estate has holdings in fourteen vineyards (!) and has been run by Roger Belland since 1982. Recently, his daughter Julie has added her touch to the domaine’s outstanding wines. Nowadays, the vineyards are farmed in organic manner. The Bellands now also use whole clusters in warm years and practice a long, slow fermentation to allow the grapes to reveal all their material. Their mastery of southern Burgundy climats is very apparent in the Belland Pommard, Chassagne and Santenay wines. The 2019 vintage was a splendid one with the rains in winter supplying the roots nourishment during the hot summer months, and this is apparent when tasting this Santenay Gravières. One of the best aspects of this specific wine is how much it emerged with an hour of aeration in large glasses. In fact, though gorgeous now, the wine will age at least a decade more in a good cellar. But who is going to wait that long when the wine is already so sumptuous now? Open it a few hours before drinking and serve in large-bowled glasses. The wine is a treat for the senses and a delight for your wallet. Drinking window: 2023-2030.

Capezzana 2019 Carmignano Villa di Capezzana               95

Owned by the noble Contini Bonacossi family, documents dating back to 804 (that’s not a typo) show that there were vines and olive trees cultivated at Capezzana already then. The family have been making Carmignano wines there since the 1920s, and in fact have bottles of Carmignano wine dating back to 1925 still alive in their cellars. And so, you realize that at Capezzana, they know a thing or two about making wine. And very good wines at that: though it is without doubt the benchmark estate for the Carmignano denomination’s red wines, it behooves you to know that Capezzana also makes what is not so arguably one of Italy’s three best Vin Santos (a gem of exceptional balance and depth I urge you to seek out). The Capezzana 2029 Carmignano Villa di Capezzana is a drop-dead gorgeous red that I first tasted in Shanghai during the first edition of the GREAT100 Terroir Wineries of Italy wine salon held in July. I was able to taste it again more recently, just a few weeks ago. Already back in July it was one of the reds that really stole the show; and my most recent tasting only confirmed all the positive impressions garnered the first time out.

Bright red-ruby. Captivating, deep, aromas of red cherry, blood orange, tobacco, graphite and cedar, are lifted by a pretty, perfumed violet top-note. In the mouth, this is at once layered and complex but also fresh and juicy, with very focused, vibrant flavours of red berries, citrus fruit and herbs. The flavours are nicely extended on the long back end by harmonious acidity. The finish is classically austere, leaving you with an impression of refined steeliness. This is a 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon blend as is in the tradition of Carmignano (one of the few areas of Italy where Cabernet Sauvignon has historically been grown for centuries in systemic fashion -meaning by more than one estate- and has always been an integral part of the red wine blends). Made from organically farmed vineyards planted at about 200 meters above sea level facing East/South/Southeast, the wine was fermented in stainless steel and aged for more than one year in a mix of French oak tonneaux (70%) plus large oak barrels (30%), and then a year in bottle (the oaking regimen and type/size of containers has changed over the years). The 2019 strikes me as one of the better young Carmignano Villa di Capezzana bottlings I have memory of. The estate also makes a Carmignano Riserva wine called Trefiano (from two small vineyards planted around the Trefiano villa) that is a good deal more concentrated than the Villa di Capezzana bottling I just described, but personally, I have always loved the unique combination of refinement, balance and power of the Villa di Capezzana bottling. In the end, it really boils down to a matter of different strokes for different folks, as both are excellent red wines and each wine will have its fans. Drinking window: 2024-2039.


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