An idea was born, in the early 1990s, giving life to a project, the fruit of a dream of two major personalities in the history of wine, Vittorio Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi.
What they wanted to do together, was to unite their individual wine passions, skills and personal traditions, and offer to the world as a result, a truly exceptional and different wine, grown in the heart of Montalcino.
Their sons Lamberto and Tim (at that time both young winemakers) were the ones who brought to fruition their fathers’ vision, uniting together Sangiovese and Merlot.
The first tasting of the first vintage of Luce in 1993, revealed that this vintage would gain some maturity already in the tanks, and that it was already a strinking, complex wine, one with excellent ageing potential. Today the 1993 Luce is impressive from its deep purple color. The seductive, perfumed bouquet and flavors unfold with nuances of blueberries, blackberries, violets and minerals. The flavors are concentrated and powerful, with a silky texture.
Here are the vintages that I prefer among those last 20 years :
In 1995 the summer was not as warm as usual in Montalcino, bringing instead rain and humidity, so it was a challenging vintage. Luce 1995 is a deep purple colour, with a complex, multi-layered nose composed of full-fruited aromas, such as blackberries, blackcurrant and dried plum, backgrounded by nuances of dark chocolate, aniseed and vanilla. It exhibits a remarkable balance of components, in particular noble, fine-grained tannins, excellent structure and a long-tasting, elegant finale.
The Merlot grapes are usually harvasted during the last week of September, while the Sangiovese on the second or third week of October. In 1997 the harvest revealed an outstanding degree of concentration in the grapes, as well as optimal sugar and phenol level giving birth to a firm and distinctive wine, yet refined and elegant. The tannins are exceptionally fine-grained and velvety, which adds immeasurably to the complexity of this wine.
2000, a good surprise. Coming after a monumental vintage like 1999 is never easy and I was very sceptic regarding his ageing potential. I was wrong. Luce 2000 has an extremely intense bouquet offering an array of fruit fragrances. Currants and wild strawberries weave into spicier aromas of liquorice and cloves enhanced by notes of tobacco. On the palate, the entry is soft and enticing, with an acidity that blends into the wine’s great structure and tannins. The finish is complex and persistent.
The 2004 vintage was excellent both in terms of quality and quantity. In May and June the notable difference in temperature between day and night allowed the grapes to develop outstanding aromas elegant and very concentrated wines. The climatic conditions during the harvest of the Sangiovese were ideal and so Luce 2004 is a very tuscan wine, with crisp acidity, great freshness of floral and mint nuances, firm tannins and a lot of fruit, very typical of the Sangiovese grape.
The overall picture for the 2006 harvest is very positive, in particular for the high quality of the fruit. Luce 2006 is dense, dark purple. The nose is rich in aromatics followed by pungent balsam and sweet notes. The palate is alcoholically warm, velvety smooth and intense thanks to the Merlot. The tannins are elegant and well supported by an amphatic vein of acidity.
The 2007 was immediately distinguished as excellent, the natural culmination of an exceptional season. The initial fragrances on the nose are clean-edged notes of dark fruit, which slowly make way for more pungent impressions of balsam and wild herbs. More evolved nuances of tanned leather and spice make for an impressive finale. The palate is notable for its magisterial structure. For me, Luce 2007 is among the 20th best !
2010, a monumental vintage (Everyone should get a few bottles of Montalcino 2010… no matter from which producer J ). Wild berry is proeminent on the nose, accompanied by spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg ad well as traces of mint. Complex nuances of roasted mocha, fresh almonds and vanilla linger in the back ground. On the palate, the entry is soft and enticing, with an acidity that blends into the wine’s great structure and silky tannins. The flavour is persistent, offering a crescendo finish with a hint of minerals.
2012, the last bottled vintage, weel-balanced, modern, clear and pricise. A bit too young… even if the palate opens generous and full-volumed with a near-endless aromatic progression.
Luce della vite (Light amont the vines) is an IGT Toscana located southwest of Montalcino, Tenuta Luce della Vite comprises 192 hectares, with 77 dedicated to vines. Merlot and Sangiovese come to complete ripeness three or four weeks apart, so they are harvested separately, parcel by parcel, then manually inspected as they arrive at the cellar and are vinified individually. Only after the fermentations conclude, towards the end of November, are the lots blended together.
This milestone tasting was presented at Vinexpo on June, Sunday 14th, 2015 by : Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi, Tim Mondavi and James Suckling.