Two things came together for Frescobaldi's Luce in 2018, a model vintage without any of the extremes of the previous year and the opening in June of a purpose-built Tenuta Luce winery. The previous 25 vintages of Luce, a Sangiovese-Merlot blend from the south of Montalcino, originally conceived and created in partnership with the Mondavi family, had all been made in Frescobaldi's Castelgiocondo winery. I've written more about it and a retrospective tasting I did in November 2018 here (note that Alessandro Marini is now the oenologist; Stefano Ruini returned to Bordeaux).
Lamberto Frescobaldi describes the year as one with all four seasons: winter snow; a proper spring – warm but with a good amount of rain; a proper summer too, with sun and warmth but also some rain; and then a long fall, which allowed steady ripening and quite a late harvest –late September for the Sangiovese – without any surmaturité and with low pH and good sugar levels.
They used to do a lot of green harvesting on the estate, pushing for very low yields and getting early ripening and rich tannins. Now, he says, they look to protect acidity and don't fear talking about it. In some places, you used not to be able to mention acidity. In fact, Tim Mondavi told him not to mention it and to talk only about ripeness.
Red concrete fermenters in the dedicated Tenuta Luce winery
Handling in the cellar is also "much more discreet now. We're not doing lots of pump-overs." The new cellar is equipped with concrete fermentation vats, which allows the lots to be kept separate, making more sense of managing each vineyard parcel individually and making "a huge difference to the preciseness of the wine".
Fermented in concrete for 12 days at 28ºC and macerated on the skins for 22 days. Matured in French oak barriques (80% new, 20% second use) for 24 months. 15% alcohol; total acidity 6.06g/l; pH 3.39; 92,000 bottles.
Tasted 22 April 2021: Very pure, expressive, black fruit aromas – blackcurrant, black cherry and some red cherry – and additional notes of spice, tobacco leaf and chocolate on the palate. There's weight and intensity, but it's a long wine, not a broad or loose one, with lovely tension and freshness and calm, cool tannins. It can be drunk already with absolute pleasure but has such balance and harmony it can be drunk any time over the next 20 years. 15%
It has been released at the same price as the previous vintage, with an rrp of €110. The UK importer is Waddesdon Wine; so far it is available in the UK at £520 for 6 bottles from Millesima. For stockists in all countries, go to wine-searcher
Photographs by Joanna Simon