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A Star Is Born
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Jun 26, 2012
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Tenuta di Biserno, Toscana (Italy) “Biserno” 2008 (Wade & Clark Imports, $180):  A little more than ten years ago, Marchese Lodovico Antinori sold Ornellaia, his elite wine estate in the coastal Bolgheri zone of western Tuscany.  Shortly later, he bought into a property bordering the Bolgheri DOC area, a 110-acre wine estate that he would develop together with his brother, Piero Antinori, marking the first time that the brothers have collaborated in a wine venture.

Called Tenuta di Biserno, the estate marks a new branch on the family tree of renowned Tuscan wines that began with Sassicaia, the red wine from Bordeaux varieties created in Bolgheri by the Antinoris’ uncle, Marchese Piero Incisa della Rochetta in the late 1960s and continued with Tignanello and Solaia, Piero Antinori’s elite blends of Sangiovese and Cabernet (and vice versa) from the Chianti Classico area, and then the Ornellaia estate in Bolgheri, including the extraordinary Masseto Merlot as well as Ornellaia itself, a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend.  Could there be room on such a family tree for another exceptional property?  Apparently, yes.

Lodovico became aware of the land that’s now Tenuta di Biserno in 1994.  It was all olive trees at the time, on silty, sandy alluvial soil with some areas of clay, and it reminded him of his very special Masseto vineyard.  He considered incorporating the property into Ornellaia, but decided that move would make Ornellaia too large an operation.  When he planted the land, he focused on Cabernet Franc because he thought that Cabernet Sauvignon from coastal Tuscany was becoming too herbaceous.  The property also grows Merlot, Petit Verdot and some Cabernet Sauvignon.

Although a few wines made partially from the grapes of this property had been available here since the 2005 vintage, the official launch of Tenuta di Biserno has occurred just this Spring, with the release of three red wines.  These include Il Pinot di Biserno, the estate’s second wine ($80); Biserno itself; and the single vineyard wine, Lodovico ($280), a wondrous wine.

Il Pino di Biserno 2008 is a very fine wine, a fairly full-bodied, soft and velvety-textured red with ripe tannins and aromas and flavors that are suggestive of mineral as much as dark fruit.  It is thoroughly enjoyable now and yet will probably age well over ten-plus years.

Biserno 2008 ups the ante with more refinement, depth and precision.  It’s full-bodied with a terrific alcohol-acid-tannin balance that for me confounds the fact that the wine is 15 percent alcohol.  Aromas and flavors suggest ripe plum, cassis, delicate herbal notes such as rosemary, notes of dark chocolate, and lead-pencil minerality.  This wine is surprisingly light on its feet and nuanced within a big whole, and it has a remarkably long finish, of the sort that only truly great wines have.  It probably is a twenty-year wine.  Time, and subsequent vintages, will tell.

94 Points