The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Il Palazzone and Fontodi

Posted on | January 5, 2016 | Written by Michael Adler | No Comments

Michael Adler 5.29.15One of my favorite things about the Sangiovese grape is its versatility. From the humblest $8 bottle of table wine up through the timeless Brunello Riservas of Soldera and Biondi-Santi, Sangiovese offers pure pleasure to wine lovers across the globe and it’s always a perfect companion to food. Today I’m featuring two Sangiovese wines on nearly opposite ends of the spectrum; one is the entry-level non-vintage Vino da Tavola Rosso from Il Palazzone in Montalcino, while the other is one of Tuscany’s most emblematic wines, the always impressive 2004 Flaccianello from Fontodi, presented in magnum.

Il Palazzone sits west of the town of Montalcino and produces phenomenal, classic Brunellos that are traditional in style. Owned by American businessman Dick Parsons since 2000, this three-hectare estate is committed to crafting its Brunellos with the time-honored traditions of Montalcino. Rather than bottling a Rosso di Montalcino, the estate makes a Rosso del Palazzone instead, and it’s a unique, wonderful treat that’s quite affordable. The current interation of the non-vintage Rosso del Palazzone was bottled in January 2015 using juice from the 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2014 harvests to create a round, balanced expression.

Located in Panzano, the most prestigious subzone of Chianti Classico, the Fontodi estate crafts some of Italy’s very best and most sought-after wines. From its $35 Chianti Classico up through its flagship wine Flaccianello, Fontodi makes dazzling, expressive Sangiovese wines. To share a bit of personal history, when I first tasted Fontodi’s 2001 Chianti Classico back in 2008, I got my first epiphany of how insanely delicious Italian wines could be. This experience set me on the path that led me to IWM (thanks, Fontodi!).

Il Palazzone NV Rosso del Palazzone $27.99

Mid-weight and supremely delightful, the non-vintage Rosso del Palazzone bursts from the glass with expressive aromas of succulent red fruits, dried flowers, tobacco, spice, minerals and earth, and its jaunty acidity keeps the palate lively and energetic through its bright, juicy finish. An ideal wine for a Tuesday night, this Rosso del Palazzone always over-delivers its humble price, and it pairs well with just about any meal. Drink through 2018.

Fontodi 2004 Flaccianello (1.5L) $580.00

There isn’t much I can say about Fontodi’s iconic flagship Flaccianello that hasn’t already been said, but I can say this: it is incredibly delicious and will make those lucky enough to own a bottle very happy. A mono-varietal Sangiovese that’s been aged in new French oak, Flaccianello marries the very best of Toscana viticulture with French viniculture to dazzling results. A massive wine upon release, this 2004 has softened considerably, and it has settled into an ideal drinking window. Presented in 1.5L magnum, the ‘04 Flaccianello has many years left ahead of it, as the lower ratio of air to wine in the magnum bottle slows the maturation process. Those who are seriously passionate about Sangiovese should not miss out on this gem from Fontodi!

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