8 year old Arran that’s spent an unspecified time finishing in Fontalloro wine casks from Felsina in Italy. This particularly well-known wine is produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes – which makes for an interesting classification of ‘IGT Toscana’ (rather than DOCG Chianti Classico) as being a varietal Sangiovese it fell outside of the Chianti regulations of the time (early 1980s) which required a maximum of 70% Sangiovese and at least 10% from white grapes to be included in Chianti red wines. Whilst the appellation has modernised, Felsina has decided to stick with the IGT Toscana classification. This Arran finish was bottled in 2007 at 55% ABV.
Nose: Fresh and fruity with redcurrants, plums and hedgerow berries. There’s a real sense of biscuits and baking here – warm gingerbread, out of the oven digestives and butter-laden cookies. Deeper, and we find dried fruits – both raisins and figs – as well as some ‘green’ aromas – mosses and bracken. Straight-forward, but quite effective. The addition of water brings out the aromas of defined black fruit-led wine as well as touches of nuttiness and vanilla.
Taste: Surprisingly bold with a syrupy texture – much more forceful than the nose suggested. Plums again – this time stewed or reduced into jams and preserves. Alongside – blackcurrant and chocolate cake – a rich dessert. In the mid to back palate, some ginger and pepper (quite a lot of pepper) spicing and drying rubbed tobacco leaf. Water brightens things up a touch – more red fruit than dark and with vanilla cream added to lighten.
Finish: Medium to long, packed full of hazelnuts and chocolate – but quite aggressively drying.
Whilst this Fontalloro wine cask finished Arran is not the most complex of beasts, it is still a fairly amenable one. Spirit, wood and wine are all largely integrated and there are no aromas and flavours which jar. Water adds some interesting nuance, but is by no means a necessity. The only misstep for me is in the latter part of proceedings, where the cask feels slightly over exerted and as a result introduces a lot of pepper and too much dryness.
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