Posted by: tomciocco | October 29, 2013

INTRO TO BRUNELLO (SORT OF)

The argument could be made that Brunello is Italy’s finest red wine, and it wouldn’t be real hard for me to get behind that assertion. Always made from 100% Brunello grapes (Brunello is a peculiar, small-berried clone of Sangiovese that is more or less exclusively grown in the Brunello growing region in southern Tuscany). Brunello is earthy but still exceptionally elegant and refined…if it’s actually the real deal.

Unfortunately, as is the case with so many highly-touted, and highly sought after wines, there’s a fair amount of cheating that goes on, perhaps in the wee hours of the morning by masked rapscallions, to produce wines that conform to the greater, “International” flavor fashions: deeply-colored, impossibly intense, thick and chewy wines that are achieved by surreptitiously blending in Syrah or Nero d’Avola from Sicily or some other hot and very sunny place, and/or by using centrifuges to spin out a certain amount of water from the Brunello fruit to achieve the same effect. Not cool, and in the end, a dumb move. The real Brunello is far more expressive, place-driven and elegant than any of these doctored monstrosities.

Which brings us to this wine. It’s not a Brunello di Montalcino (which carries Italy’s highest classificiation, D.O.C.G.), and it’s not the more basic “kid brother” of Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino either, a wine which carries the classification just below D.O.C.G., namely D.O.C. No, this wine bears Italy’s most basic I.G.T. designation, specifically Toscana I.G.T., which could include a kitchen sink range of grape varieties, but in this case is still 100% Brunello, and which in my opinion drinks nearly as well as many bona fide Brunellos.  This is a wine of real breeding, sophistication, complexity and clarity, and it’s available at a price that’s a small fraction of the $50-$100 price tags that actual Brunellos carry, but it nevertheless delivers 80%-85% of what a really great Brunello does, and bests any Rosso di Montalcino I’ve ever had. Ever. Bravo. Complimenti Sesti.

This really super bottle of wine was accompanied at the table with a first course of penne rigate with a mushroom cream sauce, followed by a main course of Tuscan style pollo alla cacciatora with a thick tomato paste, olive oil, and red wine sauce, flavored with garlic, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Fresh and local New Jersey farmers’ market green beans braised with a little butter on the side.

10-29-13

10-29-13.2

10-29-13.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sesti “Monteleccio” Toscana I.G.T. 2009

Just transparent, brownish garnet color. Very charming and sophisticated nose of strawberry preserves, stewed apple, pine, white truffle, briny minerality, fennel, and dried violets, all wrapped with a elegant and earthy spiciness. The palate shows a clear and very noble berry, cherry, grilled plum and burnt orange peel fruit profile, within a fine, medium-full-weight palate with a big but still every elegant and discreet tannin/acid structure that beautifully frames refined flavors of secondary flavors of fine coffee, dried herbs, and tobacco. Warm and very long roasted chestnut finish. Really beautiful stuff.

 

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