Wines of Tuscany

Welcome to Tuscany and to our first offerings from this region.  We are lucky to have this particular one and to have access to others from the very prestigious Ciacci Piccolomini vineyard. The estate is located in the comune of Montalcino, a town was named for the Holm Oaks which dot the landscape.  Here Sangiovese, also used to make the famed Brunello di Montalcino, is king.  Rosso di Montalcino, like Brunello, is made from 100% Sangiovese.  But the time it spends maturing in wood and hence the production costs are much lower.  In less perfect vintages grapes can be used for Rosso di Montalcino instead of Brunello. Likewise, during vinification, wine not destined to be top quality Brunello can be released as Rosso di Montalcino. But Rosso di Montalcino has its own style: pale, light, with flavours of red berries as well as floral and spicy notes it is also less tannic. Easy to drink upon release it will accompany a wide variety of foods, cheeses, and red meats.  If you have never visited this beautiful little hill town set in the rolling Tuscan countryside with its picturesque farmhouses, olive groves and vineyards, think about doing it soon.  It is a mere hop to Siena, Florence and Pisa. And don’t forget to drink the Rosso while you are there.

The heart of Italy is Tuscany and the heart of Tuscany is Chianti. With its medieval hill towns, its beautiful cities and magnificent architecture, it can also boast some of the world’s greatest wine. Chianti has undergone profound changes even in the last several decades. For one, the grape blend used has evolved radically. In the last quarter of the 19th century, the Italian statesman and wine lover Bettino Ricasoli formulated a blend for Chianti. It ensured the dominance of Sangiovese with minority roles for Canaiolo and two white grapes Malvasia and Trebbiano. This was the situation for almost a hundred years receiving the imprimatur of Denominazione di Origine Controllata.  But Chianti, like Italy, is a work in progress. In the 1990’s, other international red grape varieties were permitted including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. In Chianti Classico, the use of white grapes has now disappeared altogether. The Classico zone is the central part of the Chianti wine region and the Monsanto estate has become one of the best known and most highly regarded. The first of their wines is the Annata made with 90% Sangiovese. The remaining 10% is of Canaiolo and another primarily Tuscan grape Colorino. As its name suggests, the latter has dark properties which are exploited in red blends such as this. The must is vinified in steel tanks at controlled temperatures with délestage and pumping over for about 20 days. The wine is then aged in Slavonian oak barrels for a year. Ruby red in the glass, red fruit and hints of herbs and smoke appear on the nose. Full-bodied and well-structured with a fine, long finish. Ideal with red meats, poultry and pasta.  Or, when in Tuscany, try with a Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

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