In January 2013, I had a wonderful opportunity in Siena, Italy. Knowing that I was on the hunt for Tuscan wines from off-beat denominaziones, local organizers put together a tasting for me—in a Renaissance castle!—of hundreds of Tuscan reds. It was a long day, but a great one. And the greatest part was that I discovered the wines of Basile.
Basile, owned by Giovan Basile, a Neapolitan who moved to Tuscany, situated himself in a region practically unknown to Americans: Montecucco, not too far from the area that makes Brunello di Montalcino. And the Montecucco wines, indeed—usually made from Sangiovese, in a rocky, mountainous area—are firm and Brunello-like.
But at Basile, some of the wines include a dollop of Merlot; when Giovan planted Merlot vines in Montecucco, he gambled that a little Merlot would “round out” Montecucco. He was right! Happily, the local laws allow him to make this addition (to the tune of 10%), and still call the wine Montecucco Sangiovese DOC.
The 2010 just arrived in the U.S., and it is delicious. The nose offers up a ripe plummy-ness, with a touch of the leather and earth that Tuscan Sangiovese develops with age. Rich, fruity palate, a touch of sweetness on entry—but grows into an elegant, sophisticated wine, with just a touch of structure registering in the finish.
I love this as a winter-weight wine with balance! It’s hard to imagine a meat stew, or anything roasted in the oven, that would not reverberate with it. And, if you’re thinking before the meal—this is a lovely wine for salumi and Parmigiano-Reggiano!
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