2007 Basile Comandante Maremma IGT, Tuscany ($28)
I recently told the story of the Basile Estate in Montecucco, an up-and-coming, just-being-discovered region to the immediate southwest of Montalcino. The wines from Montecucco have been described as “baby Brunellos;” they are unmistakably Sangiovese wines, a little more lightly structured than Brunello di Montalcino, but with a similar ability to age beautifully.
On my visit last year, Montecucco wineries impressed me in general, but none more so than Basile, run by two soulful brothers from Naples, now giving it their all in Tuscany.
This being great weather for hearty red wines, I wanted to follow up this week with one more Basile wine that I’m importing: the awesome 2007 Comandante, usually the fave of sommeliers for whom we pour our dry Italian reds.
Why? It’s different. For one thing, it comes from Maremma, on the Tuscan coast, a region that has grown famous over 30 years for plantings of Bordeaux-style grape varieties. (Like Bordeaux, Maremma is near the sea!) The wines, if made well, combine a Bordeaux elegance with an Italian exuberance. Famous winemakers came to the region in the 1980s…particularly the Antinori family, which has an ongoing hit with Ornellaia Bolgheri DOC Superiore, made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot.
And that, I guess, is why I’m crazy about Basile’s Comandante: it is made with Merlot grown in Maremma…mixed with Sangiovese to make it even more Italan-tasting! Plummy Merlot look, purply-garnet. Great combo of serious ripe fruit, with French oak (a little toasty), and a blast of minerals, encouraged by seven years of age. Very rich palate with sweet fruit—yet refreshing and graceful at the same time. Moderately tannic finish.
And…immensely less expensive than Ornellaia!
This is a great wine for down-home winter meat stews and roasts!