I'm not gonna lie, what's the point? You read this so you know. I am absolutely infatuated with Italian wines. This week I met & tasted with one of my idols, Lionello Marchesi. His love of the sangiovese grape is evident in his sublimely beautiful wines. I truly admire not only the exquisite quality of his wines but also his focus on showcasing this beautiful grape at all price points. As much as I hate to admit, we are in an economic crisis. Its nice to have options in the wine world across all price points. Lionello started me with his basic sangiovese 2006 (approximately $15 retail). The color was typical of the grape, dark ruby with an orange-red tint at the rim. It had the traditional nose & palate of Italian spice & cranberry. Next up was the Chianti Superiore 2006 (approximately $18.99) a classic example of the great Chianti district. It was on the darker side for a Chianti, but expressed the spicy clove, fennel, red berry nose I've come to expect from that region. The palate had significant weight & grip with a lusciously dark flavor & a bright beautiful acid. The next to be poured was a 2005 Chianti Classico Riserva (approximately $30.99). It was a dark, velvety beauty with supple tannins, licorice & black fruit flavors. Next was the 2005 Rosso di Montalcino ($?). As you fellow cork dorks know this is the baby Brunello. The Sangiovese Grosso grape used for Brunello is aged for less time & then released as Rosso di Montalcino. Its a perfect wine for an introduction into the beauty that is the Brunello. The Rosso has excellent concentration, a dark viscous texture with a smoky clove, fennel & dark licorice aroma & flavor. The tannins were pronounced due to its youth but they were integrated enough to be balanced.
I could hardly wait to get to my baby, the Brunello di Montalcino. I was a bit apprehensive about it given that it was a 2003 & that vintage was excessively hot all over Europe. That heat led to a lot of wines expressing roasted or cooked fruit nuances which to me overpower a typically elegant & balanced wine. This was not the case with this wine. Marchesi explained that his Brunello vineyards were very high up & their altitude saved them from being subjected to the monstrous heat of '03. Its color was dark purple with a red/rust tint to the rim. On the nose were aromas of fennel, clove, smoke, blackberry & a violet note. The palate was rich, supple bodied, ripe with layers & layers of sensually textured tannins & dark fruit. This Brunello didn't disappoint at all, it had a finish that just wouldn't let go. It kept going & going & going & left a lasting impression of dark spice & black fruit & a hint of soil as well.