The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Livio Sassetti and Michele et Patrice Rion

Posted on | May 7, 2015 | Written by Justin Kowalsky | No Comments

Justin_8.6.14_72dpiPeople often think that Bourgogne or Rosso are simply “little brothers” to their bigger and more expensive “siblings,” Cru Burgundy and Brunello. Although this may have been true at one point it certainly couldn’t be any further from the truth today. Wines like Bourgogne and Rosso have taken on a life of their own as they serve as an introduction to the estate’s style. Instead of trying to replicate the more expensive wines, these wines have become distinct entities on their own terms.

Most domaines now put some of their finest fruit into their Bourgogne, and many choose to craft theirs from their own 40-60 year old vineyards that lie just outside the village of the proprietor’s domaine. They can be superb, delicious wines that can even rival Village Bourgogne, but these wines can be enjoyed earlier, their tannins are more supple, their fruit is more forward, and they give immediate or near-term pleasure. One thing is for certain, the finest domaines make them with the same care as they do their Cru wines.

Like Bourgogne, Rosso di Montalcino is meant for early drinking; that is why it often contains super-ripe, lush fruit, sees little time in oak or bottle, and it released years before Brunello. The profile is of a juicy, fruit-driven wine that shows off wonderful aspects of the vintage, but in general is made to enjoy over the first 5-6 years of its life—Brunello isn’t even released for five years after the vintage!

Today, I’ve chosen a Rosso di Montalcino from Livio Sassetti and a Bourgogne from Michelle et Patrice Rion to help concretize my points about these wines. Both this Bourgogne and this Rosso are wonderful examples of what an estate can produce, and both show how the overall quality of these “little brothers” has soared over the past twenty years. Best of all, both of these high quality and affordable wines are enjoyable right now.

Livio Sassetti 2013 Pertimali Rosso di Montalcino $27.99
Made from Sangiovese Grosso grown in the Montosoli area, this beauty is loaded with rich, sweet red cherry fruit laced with hints of anise and spice. The tannins are pure and ripe, while the fruit coats the palate with vibrant red cherries and berries. Livio Sassetti truly makes one of the finest Rossos year in and out, and this ’13 can be enjoyed now and for another 6-8 years.

Michele et Patrice Rion 2012 Bourgogne Rouge $29.00

Produced from fruit in the village of Flagley-Echezeaux, this beauty simply sings as it emanates its lovely red and blue fruits that hit with delight. The delicious red-fruited palate is ultra-refined for Bourgogne—not unusual given its source in Flagley—and this wine shows a mélange of spices and hints of pekoe tea that make it wonderfully fragrant and complex. This is serious Bourgogne and can be enjoyed over now and over the next 5-7 years


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