Casinova di Neri Irrosso ($21.99)
From the producer:
"We believe that wines are the fruit of the vineyard and of man's labour.
The care and passion in working the land has to take into account the characteristics of the land, the microclimate and the variety so as to produce a unique distinct wine able to express its territory. For over forty years our evolution has been marked by careful targeted choices that have distinguished our estate and the wines we produce creating their own style.
A constant search for particular soils that exalt the quality and uniqueness of our wines and farming practices that respect the land and the vines are followed by attentive care in the making of the wine. Our wines are the fruit of exceptional combinations of soils and microclimates together with passionate and meticulous work enabling us to obtain constant results and to enhance the distinct features of the grapes throughout the different vintages.
This wine is born from the grapes of the 'Cetine' vineyards to the south of Montalcino where our Brunello Tenuta Nuova and our Rosso di Montalcino come from. It is obtained from Sangiovese Grosso and Colorino grapes (the plants are reproductions of old varieties that we found in our oldest vineyards). We tried to produce a wine typical of our land and closely linked to it but with the style and characteristics of Casanova di Neri wines. It can be drunk at once or kept for some years giving even greater satisfaction.
Vinification: selection table for bunches, de-stemming, selection table for individual grapes. Vats filled by gravity. Fermentation without use of yeast additives and maceration in open conical vats at controlled temperatures for ¾ weeks Aged in oak barrels for around 15 months and 6 months in bottle.
Tasting notes: Intense ruby red, hints of wild cherry, violets and red fruits ample and easy to drink with excellent persistence. Serve at a temperature of 16° - 17° opening the bottle a few hours previously or decant delicately.
Accompaniments: Tuscan cold cuts, pasta with tomato sauce, roast white meats."
Brunello di Montalcino is considered one of the top Italian wines, but even a "bargain" bottle will cost you upwards of $30. This is in part because the production area allowed is small, and because Brunellos must comply with a longer aging requirement. The other two Montalicino wines produced from Sangiovese demand less aging (Rosso di Montalcino) or can be both younger and blended with other grapes (Sant'Antimo). Irrosso is a fine example of the latter, though it has quite a bit of barrel age on it. This one is a very good alternative to higher priced wine from the area, and it still gives you an idea of the style and terroir of Montalcino.
San Marzano Primitivo di Manduria ($15.99)
From the producer:
San Marzano, Salento, Puglia. The area is about 100 meters above sea level, with high average temperatures and medium-low rainfall. The soft soil layer is clayey and quite thin, with a good presence of rocks.
In French and American wood barrels for 6 months.
A wine that preserves its organoleptic characteristics for 5 years.
Ruby red colour enriched with violet reflections; generous bouquet, which recalls ripe cherries and plums, with pleasant notes of cocoa and vanilla. This wine has a velvety texture, softened by the warmth of the Primitivo grapes; the finish offers notes of persistent sweetness.
Best served with:
Savoury first courses, lamb and game with rich sauces, hard cheeses."
Primitivo is genetically very similar to Zinfandel (they are both clones of the same Croatian grape), and it produces a round, fruit-forward, and smooth wine. While many Italian reds are noted for their strong tannins, Primitivos are a bit more mellow and approachable. This is a great example of wines from the "heel" of Italy, where the climate and soil lend bold ripeness and light earthiness.