January 30, 2013

Wine: In Tuscany grows a grape that is unfairly maligned


(Continued from page 1)

For more in this rotund, large-hearted vein, a more modern style and very classy, try the Rosso di Montalcino 2010 ($20, Pine State) from the esteemed Brunello producer Argiano. It's juicy and lingering, chewy, dense and long. Sweet earth balances the thirsty tannins. I taste fresh-ground black peppercorns, and if you coated a steak (of cow, tuna or even salmon) in those and flashed it in a hot pan, this would be your wine.

Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 2009 ($12, Pine State). Fattoria del Cerro makes fantastic Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Here they blend the Sangiovese with 20 percent Merlot, but lest you think that softens the wine, a la California pre-"Sideways," think again. Merlot on its own conveys bitter-chocolate or stout beer flavors. That's what the blend does in the Manero, lending muscularity and angularity to the wine. I've learned to let the Manero relax for an hour or more in the glass before I drink it, so as to reap the full benefits of its elegant, subtle demeanor.

Castello La Leccia Vivaio del Cavaliere Toscana Rosso 2009 ($14, Easterly) adds five percent teeth-purpling Petit Verdot to the Sangiovese, along with 25 percent Merlot, and boy oh boy does that take you for a ride. Really startling tannins -- virile but coherent with the wine -- commandeer your entire upper body, enveloping flavors of humidor, beef and the craziest shiitake/miso-broth umami thing I've ever found in an Italian wine. It's old Italy, open-hearted but with a self-confidence and semi-hidden inner life it takes time to comprehend.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog, soulofwine.com, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at:



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