Classically Modern

In these days when there’s so much to count, there’s one thing you can truly count on and that’s a Classic!

For Nick’s Pick this week I decided to stick to the beautiful country of Italy and show a few more expressions of the labor of love that is their wine. Last week we took you to Northern Italy, Piedmont specifically, but this week we’re taking a short train ride South to get ourselves some of that famed Tuscan sun!

Chianti over the years has gotten such a bad rap. We can all pretty much picture those oddly shaped bottles with the basket attached to the base of it sitting on the table at your local Italian restaurant or your neighbors house that also had those powdery mint candies that seemed to never expire. Yeah, that stuff. Try to get past that image and lets instead get to the good stuff. The region, in Tuscany, of Chianti has done quite a bit to improve its image and make sure the hard work they put into their wine, is being showcased to the public, and especially here in America. When buying Chianti, look for the little black rooster (Gallo Nero) on top of the label, signifying it is Chianti Classico and must fall under the regulations placed upon the region. That’s the good stuff you want, and typically at wonderful prices.

This weeks pick, I decided to take us on a drive past the region of Chianti and up quite a bit higher in elevation to the mountain town of Montalcino. In Montalcino, as in Chianti, they are famed for their growing of the Sangiovese grape. There is something just completely magical about this place. Something special, that even monks in the 9th century knew they had to settle there and build a church on top of the mountain. We’re talking over 1,000 years ago people!

Il Poggione vineyards with the town of Montalcino atop the hill in the background

One of the wines this week comes from Tenuta Il Poggione, which started making their wines in 1900 and was one of the first to market the Brunello di Montalcino. Being one the most highly regarded winemakers in Montalcino, I knew when I tasted this that I had to snag it for the RoCo shelves and offer it to you. The 2018 Rosso di Montalcino from Il Poggione is 100% Sangiovese with an intense brick red color that is light enough on the palate but packs a punch of layers of flavors when taking a sip. Extremely well structured and long lasting flavor, you can see why this family has been at the top of their game for so long. The wine is aged for 1 year in French oak barriques and then followed by a minimum of 8 months aging in bottle before they can even think of offering it to the public. The quality and care that go into this wine make it a must have for any household. Known as the “Baby Brunello”, this wine is made with the intent to be accessible in price, but carry the quality of their Brunello bottling as well.

Barrels of Tenuta Frescobaldi Castiglioni

You can’t go to Italy and only bring back one souvenir right? I had to throw on a second wine because it was so hard to choose between the two. This wine isn’t as Classic as it is Modern. Most would refer to this wine as a “Super Tuscan”, not for it’s lightning speed or amazing strength, but for it’s superiority over what had been table wine in the same region. Most Super Tuscans come in forms of the style of Bordeaux and have some Sangiovese blended in, but not all of them. The grapes are typically grown closer to the coast allowing for the coastal breeze to cool down the vineyards, but still get to full maturity under the Tuscan sun.

This one by Tenuta Castiglioni of the famed Frescobaldi family is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. The 2018 vintage is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and then for 2 months in bottle before it is even thought to release the wine. The color is a bright red leading into a purple core in the glass. Because of the variety of grapes masterfully blended in, the aromas are all over the map. Dark fruits like blackberries and currants, Red fruits like cherries and raspberry all with a touch of holiday spice from the oak influence. It’s a phenomenal glass of wine that lingers on your tongue and finishes with a touch of tannins and spice.

You might not be able to make pasta and pizza from scratch, but you can come snag these wines at RoCo and impress your friends and family with some amazing wines to enjoy with your holiday meal. Whether it’s Piedmont or Tuscany, you’re making the right decision. Or pretend you’re at Olive Garden and take the “Tour of Italy” and bring home all 4 of these Italian wines (minus the breadsticks)! Ciao!!!

Nick Mallon / Certified Sommelier