Shelf Stars: The Magic Of Montalcino

Welcome to “Shelf Stars,” The Growler’s low-cost wine column by which we discover one of the best underneath-$15 bottles in town. This edition of Shelf Stars is delivered to you with underwriting help from The Wine Thief and Ale Jail.

Montalcino is what you think of whenever you image a storybook Italian city. It’s a tight cluster of brown and white buildings, with a medieval fortress, church, and ramparts scattered here and there, excessive on a hill overlooking fields and olive groves for miles.

Any winemaker with an address in Montalcino is sitting on one thing doubly particular. It’s the birthplace of Brunello, the finest expression of Italy’s most interesting grape. Sangiovese can taste lively, like in Chianti, or extra sanguine, as in coastal variations like Morellino di Scansano. However in Montalcino, sangiovese lives its finest life-rich and supple, a powerful flavor with an elegant edge. If it have been a garment, it would be a velvet blazer worn with a Dean Martin-degree of confidence.

Winemakers in Montalcino choose solely their best fruit to be made into Brunello di Montalcino, which ages for a minimal of five years earlier than being released. What’s left over is spread amongst some secondary labels. The “junior” Brunello is called Rosso di Montalcino and it’s also made from 100% sangiovese (and is normally a strong value at round $20. My favourite is made by Il Poggione.)

After that, a winemaker can stretch any leftover sangiovese with some totally different mixing grapes into a regional catch-all time period: Toscana Rosso, which is a gamble of a category.

On the top shelf, Toscana Rosso (that means merely “red wine from Tuscany”) is the designation utilized by some stunning wines-the so-called “Super Tuscans” that are made by high-profile wineries that need to use international grape varieties like merlot, syrah, and the cabernets together with sangiovese.

On the lower shelves, they can be stuffed with common quality grapes pressed into very average blends. But they may also be incredible values if you choose the best one. It helps your odds to scan the label for indicators of high quality.

Tenuta di Sesta “Camponovo” ($13)

When i look on the Tenuta di Sesta “Camponovo”, the first thing I discover is an tackle in Montalcino. A quick internet search confirms that the winery makes a vary of Brunellos, so I’m guessing some respectable fruit went into this bottle. A second signal of quality: it’s imported by Libation Mission, a local agency whose book I belief with 100% confidence.

And my confidence is rewarded with black peppery aromas, those luscious dark plum and earthy dried cherry flavors which might be textbook sangiovese, and mushy tannins that don’t permit the sip come off too fruit-forward. It’s a perfect wine for frozen pizza night but it may also stand as much as steak with no hassle at all. The wine is made from 90% sangiovese and 10% colorino, a blending grape that, like its name suggests, is mostly added for its dark coloration.

Monte Antico ($13)

If you wish to know what sangiovese tastes like with these worldwide grapes, but don’t want to shell out $a hundred and fifty for Tignanello, there’s a blend that’s widely distributed within the Twin Cities referred to as Monte Antico. I’ve been drinking it for years. It’s been tremendous-dependable throughout vintages. It includes 10% merlot and 5% cabernet sauvignon, and though I discover the Bordeaux grapes actually shout down the character of sangiovese, it’s a scrumptious and versatile mix nonetheless.

Toscana Rosso:

For people who like: Blueberry jam over raspberry jam, Dr. Pepper over Coke, barbecue sauce over ketchup.

Grapes: Sangiovese, merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc

ABV: Tends to be 13-15%.

Price Range: $12-sixteen

Find it: Within the Italy aisle, beneath the Brunellos, near the Chiantis.

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