I have been around wine my entire life, or at least since I was nine years old. My family owned a wine store in upstate NY and I spent my after school afternoons and weekends around the shop with my family. Wine is a part of me. That said, I have many friends who have little to no experience or knowledge of wine. Their plan is usually to point at me when it comes time to choose what the group will be drinking that evening. While some might consider it daunting to appeal to a group’s tastes, I see it as a blessing. I get to share what I love and I always get to drink what I want to drink.
This past Saturday, with a giant pan of my favorite lasagna being prepared at a friend’s, I was once again tasked with this decision. Having to pick a wine to stand up to the rich flavor of lamb and the power of a homemade tomato sauce, I chose the Canalicchio di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino 2010.
A little over a year ago that I had the pleasure of meeting Francesco Rippacioli from the Canalicchio estate. He introduced me to his feelings on Rosso di Montalcino, saying, “The Rosso di Montalcino is like our business card, we offer this to you as an introduction to our style, an introduction to us, before you enjoy our Brunello.”
Most of my friends have never had a Brunello, so I thought this would be an ideal wine to pour for them. Introduce them to one of the world’s most famous wine regions with an incredibly approachable style and price point ($27). The bottle delivered on every level. The nose offered up perfumes of flowers and sweet red cherries. The palate was incredibly bright and laced with a vibrant acidity. The vineyards for this estate are located in a higher elevation within Montalcino. From the tip of my tongue to the very back of my mouth, I felt this wine was alive. It played the perfect partner to the food, holding its own against the assertive pasta dish.
I also love the story of this winery. Unlike other estates across Europe whose lineage can be traced to kings and nobility, this estate has humble beginnings. Started in the 1960s by former sharecropper Primo Pacenti, it has remained a family owned piece of property ever since and one that delivers just three wines; a Brunello di Montalcino, a Riserva Brunello and a Rosso di Montalcino. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: you need to try this wine. Invite some friends, or pop the cork after work some night. It’s a value in every sense of the word.
An interesting side note; Francesco Rippacioli will be returning to IWM for a wine-tasting event in June. We are very lucky to also be hosting Francesco for a Saturday afternoon lunch! We are still hammering out the details, but stay tuned. It promises to be a beautiful event with a rare vintage vertical going back to 1994.
Be well and drink merrily.