Sangiovese! Goodness we love you!
Talk about a noble grape... as with humans, nobility is bestowed by other humans, and humans have been hyping Sangiovese's inherent virtues for at least a few centuries now, so we're ok with bandying about the "noble" label here... why not? It fits. Most of the hubbub stems from the success of the three classic Sangiovese wines of Tuscany: Chianti, Vino Nobile and Brunello. May we present: four bottles of Sangiovese from outside the big name regions, everything from your next pizza wine to a cellar-worthy contender for fine (read: very fine) Brunello di Montalcino.
Trere 'Lona Bona' Sangiovese di Romagna DOC 2017
Formerly known as 'Vigna del Monte', this single-vineyard Sangiovese wine may have had a name change (and label makeover) but the juice is as good as ever, if not better. Trere's young Vigna del Monte vineyard is on a southeast facing slope and it regularly produces ripe and juicy fruit perfect for a fresh unoaked style of red wine. The 2017 Lona Bona is a bit darker and richer than usual, with notes of cherry and plum taking center stage, while hints of herbs and spice just whisper. It is light to medium in body and finishes focused on tart red and black fruits. It will be great for all sorts of dishes involving cooked tomatoes: pizza, pasta, lasagna... though one ought not relegate it to Italian cuisine, it'll go with many dishes.
Conestabile della Staffa Umbria Rosso IGT 2017
"Wow. Yum yum. Juice juice juice." That was the first thing I wrote when I tasted this wine. Organically grown, no added yeast, no sulfur, no chemical additions, no oak; this is Sangiovese as pure as Sangiovese can be. It is destemmed and macerated for four days, and the result is a wine with a vivacious and pristine quality that is absolutely irrestistible. Flavors of fresh red cherry juice, diverse aromatic herbs and an airy alpine breeze-like quality are entrancing but the spell doesn't last long because the wine is simply gulpable, disappearing quickly. Tannins are soft while the acidity is fresh and assertive but nicely integrated with the sweet core of berry fruit that dominates the character of this wine. It is a little gassy at first and benefits from a few hours of air - that's when you get the most out of the juiciness that makes this wine such an unbelievably easy quaff. Don't expect every foray into the arena of unsulfured wine to be such a fulsome endorsement of this controversial practice, but do give this unmanipulated bella a try very soon. Its intense fruit and low alcohol will make it a great choice for fiery spice, but it will work with so many cuisines.
Perticaia Montefalco Rosso DOC 2015
Established in 2000, Perticaia is a relatively young winery, but they are by now firmly established as one of Umbria's best. Organic since the beginning, they are quite focused on the relationship between humans and the land that we exploit to nourish ourselves. The name, Perticaia, refers to the plow, the ancient instrument that transformed the way we farmed so long ago. We have been fans of Perticaia since our first tastes, and we believe that they offer some of the most reasonably priced wines in the world (or unreasonable if you consider that they sometimes compete with much more expensive bottles). A blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Colorino, the 2015 Montefalco Rosso is a dense and silky beauty. Notes of raspberry, cherry, blueberry, violets, fresh herbs and diverse spices are exuberant and pure, while the palate is broad, deep and plush, with velvety tannins and a long spicy finish. It is gorgeous and easy to drink today, but it will be well worth saving for at least another few years.
Campi Nuovi Montecucco Riserva DOCG 2013
Daniele Rossellini is one of Italy's busiest vineyard consultants and together with his wife, Nadia Riguccini, they have established one of Tuscany's finest vineyards at Campi Nuovi. A high hill with a diverse mix of soils, including the famous galestro that informs so many of Chianti Classico's most powerful and ageworthy wines, Campi Nuovi is a gem in the Montecucco DOCG. Situated in an incessantly breezy corridor, with Brunello di Montalcino to the west and the Tuscan coast to the east, the vines and fruit of Campi Nuovi benefit greatly from the freshness imparted by elevation and wind. Organic agriculture and precise vineyard work have always been practiced here, while native yeast fermentation and minimal intervention through elevage ensure that their spectacular fruit is transformed into a most pure and natural expression of Campi Nuovi's privileged terroir. Daniele's talent and ardor for fine Sangiovese is on full display with this 2013 Riserva. Fresh ripe berries, mint, flowers, diverse spices, earth and tobacco combine, while the palate is rich, full, firm and layered, with fine tannins gripping the palate and carrying flavors long. It is very young, but still fun to drink today, especially with a nice cut of red meat. It will put many a pricey Brunello di Montalcino to shame and will improve for 5 to 10 years at least.