Wines of Tuscany and Umbria – May 17

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Last night in wine school we took a tour of central Italy with Jordan Mackay, author and James Beard Award winner.

Crisp whites from Umbria and Tuscany prepped our palates for some rich, beautiful reds. Italy is not famous for its whites in general, but you can appreciate that they are perfectly refreshing on a hot day and fairly priced around $10-15. Red wines from Tuscany and Umbria have traditionally been focused on the Sangiovese grape, but more international varieties and blends can also be found. For pasta and traditional Italian fare, you can’t go wrong with a Chianti Classico. Sangiovese has bright fruit, nice spice, some earthiness, and a medium body with smooth tannin. The most notable factor is its acidity, which makes it a great accompaniment to red sauces. Sangiovese loves limestone soil, which is typical in Tuscany and contributes to the vibrant acidity of the wines. In Brunello di Montalcino, a specific clone of Sangiovese takes the form of a richer, deeper style with complex spice, more body, and more grippy tannin – perfect for a heavier Italian meal.

Some producers take a more international approach, making wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. These wines have a classic richness but an earthiness that is unmistakably Italian.

As always, Brian pulled out some really nice bottles from the cellar, including the amazing Cerbaiolo Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino from 1998 and the vibrant Argiano Solengo Super Tuscan from 1996.

Wine list:

1. Santa Cristina Campogrande Orvieto Classico 2009 (Procanico, Grechetto, Verdello, Drupeggio)

2. Villa Antinori Toscana White 2010 (Trebbiano, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio)

3. Lungarotti Torre Di Giano 2010 (Trebbiano, Grechetto)

4. Argiano Solengo Super Tuscan 1996 (Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot)

5. Cerbaiolo Salvioni Brunello di Montalcino 1998 (Sangiovese)

6. Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico 2008 (Sangiovese)

7. Lungarotti Vigna Monticchio Rubesco Riserva 2005 (Sangiovese, Canaiolo)

8. Le Macchiole Scrio 2007 (Syrah based)

I think everyone left the tasting with a craving for Italian food. Thanks to Jordan for a great class and to the students for attending! Let us know what you thought.

See you next time…

Melanie Friedman

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