Last night’s wine club meet was a smash–staring Sangiovese and a couple of Super Tuscans. It was Brian’s first night, and so we were six, but only one of us was tan. While Kelleigh prepped and cooked a fabulous meal–fuilli with pesto and spring vegetables, and sauteéd swiss chard–we sampled the first bottle, that had been decanted for nearly an hour, Colli di Faenza Sangiovese Col Rontana 2001 ($24).
Ruby with a garnet rim revealing its age, this bottle of Colli di Faenza, we all agreed, possessed a higher abv than its supposed 13%. Before even taking a sip, I could feel heat, rising vapors that ticked the back of my throat. So powerful, it left little room for other aromas, apart from cherry. Cherry, cherry, and bright-star fruit acidity. Cherry so fresh, it lingered. Slightly herbaceous and not incredibly complex, this Sangiovese was savored for its balanced structure.
Saving the Super Tuscans for last, we uncorked a bottle of Rosso di Montalcino Castello Banfi 2006 ($21). “Made from 100% select Brunello clones” (Winemaker’s Notes) the Rosso di Montalcino is considered Brunello’s younger sibling. Bright ruby in color, this Sangiovese shows aromas of red fruit and violet. Notes of cherry, raspberry, and blueberry give way to earthy tannins and a slightly spicy finish. Like the last, this wine is balanced in structure, and quite nice.
Next we sipped an IGT Sangiovese–Il Labirinto, 2007 ($20) From the Tuscan zone Chianti Classico, Il Labirinto is made from young vines and “declassified” Chianti. A shade of purple ruby, and jammy in a New-World-way, this wine was oakier than the others, medium bodied, and showing blackberry. At 14%, this baby packed heat.
Before sitting to dinner, we poured Morellino di Scansano Col Di Bacche 2006, ($19) a wine with a label that reads “red wine”, from a DOC region that none of us recognized. (I was terribly confused.) Well, Morellino di Scansano is actually a zone in Maremma, a strip of Tuscan coastline, that in 2007 was given DOCG status. It’s the same region that produces Super Tuscans and Morellino is the locals’ term for Tuscan Sangiovese. Amazing that without knowing, we’d nailed the order in which to serve these wines. Medium ruby and super earthy on the nose with barnyard aromas, anise, and cherry, this selection is fuller bodied than the others and silky in texture, with some vanilla oak.
Now for my favorite selection of the night: Ruffino Modus 2005 IGT ($25), our first Super Tuscan (50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot; and pictured alongside tanned hip). An intense bouquet of floral spice (Indian incense) rises from the glass, and again in the mouth, alongside cherry and plum. Leather follows fruit, for an earthy, round tannic finish that lingers. Incredibly bohemiam (as Suzanne termed it) and just my kind of wine!
Our final wine was just as beautiful, winning everyone else’s vote for the best of the night. Serrata di Belguardo 2004 ($22) (65% Sangiovese 35% Cabernet Sauvignon) is deep ruby and super smooth. Velvety. Voluptuous, even. With blackberry and cherry, barnyard and earth, vegetal aromas (asparagus/green bell pepper), bright acidity, and brilliant structure, this is an excellent Super Tuscan for the price.
Stay tuned for next month’s selection: Red Wines from Burgundy, the perfect segue into spring!