Sangiovese is the primary red grape of Chianti and Chianti Classico in Tuscany, while Sangiovese Grosso, a clone of Sangiovese, is the grape used in making Brunello di Montalcino, also in Tuscany. Contrary to what “grosso” implies (large) the variety is medium to small in size, and produces wines of exceptional quality and depth.
We began the meal as we always do with chef’s version of Bruschetta and a plate of salumi followed by…
|Roasted Shrimp atop Cabbage & Corn Compote|
|Pumpkin Ravioli w/Sage & Butter|
|Pork Osso Buco|
Approximately 35 miles south of the Chianti region lies Montalcino, where one of Italy's greatest wines is made, Brunello di Montalcino. Traditional as well as more modern style Brunellos are made here. Tonight we tasted both.
1997 Sesti Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. The vineyards here are in the enviable position of being on the southern slopes of Montalcino, where some of the most prestigious Brunello comes from. After the fermentation the wine is transferred to medium size oak barrels, where it remains for four years before being refined in the bottle for another year.
On the nose the wine was compelling, but seemed to feel tired on the palate, reminiscent of a wine that is approaching the last few years of its life. While a pleasant wine, there was not a lot to get excited about. $100. Wine-Searcher.
2001 Salicutti Brunello di Montalcino Piaggione DOCG. Made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso harvested from the Piaggione and Teatro vineyards. After traditional fermentation, the wine is aged in a combination of large French and Slavonian oak casks for 3 years, followed by a year in the bottle before release.
Tonight’s wine possessed an enticing bouquet of red berries with a soft and mildly complex palate. I believe this would have benefitted from an hour or two of decanting to enable the fruit and finesse of the wine fully emerge. $110. Wine-Searcher.
1999 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso DOCG. The "Pianrosso" Brunello di Montalcino is named after the vineyard of the same name. This single-vineyard bottling is what Ciacci's outstanding reputation was built upon and is only produced in the very best vintages. The wine is aged for 36 months in 20-62 hl Slavonian oak barrels, followed by a minimum of eight months' bottle ageing. Production is limited to 3,500 cases are produced annually! The most modern of the Brunellos tonight, the estate has managed to bridge the gap between classic and contemporary styles gracefully.
The wine exhibited a ruby red hue in the glass with a complex and intense bouquet, while the palate displayed a full-bodied wine comprised of wonderful purity, complexity and focus. It finished with length and elegance. Along with the Rancia, it was my favorite of the evening. $70. Wine-Searcher.
It was another wonderful evening with our group, Terrific wines, thank you Jim, and great food, thank you chef Allan and Marc.
Saluté and Merry Christmas