Nov 02 , 2022
Looking back at my weekly picks, I noticed I have only featured one Italian red wine. If this was 15 years ago, I wouldn't have been as surprised. As I mentioned in my other Italian wine blog a few months ago, I did not fall in love with Italian reds for a while into my wine career. Over the past decade, however, I have come to truly love Italian reds. There is such a variety of styles that are great for every type of red wine drinker.
The obvious favorite for red wine in America is California Cabernet. Cab is king and so are the big red blends that use it. I enjoy these wines as well, but I also enjoy trying new things and expanding my palate. In France, Bordeaux is a wonderful wine to try if you enjoy Cabernet, but sometimes these wines can be too dry and rustic for the California Cabernet drinker. In Italy, they have a perfect area for these types of drinkers. Tuscany, most notably known for Chianti, offers something known as Super Tuscans. This was a term created for wines that did not follow the strict laws of the region for the types of grapes allowed in the region's wines. Super Tuscans typically use a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, grapes not originally allowed by law in the region of Tuscany. They blend these grapes, along with others, with the local favorite Sangiovese. The wines tend to be big bold and rich style reds. They are the perfect steppingstone for those who love California Cabernet but may want to venture out and try new things.
Many of the most famous and popular Super Tuscans are very expensive. Many going for well over $100 and more. However, with the Italian wine laws loosening up, many more producers are beginning to make these Super Tuscan style wines and at a much more affordable price. One that I find to always be an amazing value is the Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo. Typically, always coming in around or under $30, this is always a delicious wine year after year. The 2020 vintage is primarily Sangiovese with just a touch of Merlot. So actually, no Cabernet is used in this wine, however, most people would never know.
Crognolo is always a highly rated wine, getting 90+ scores from multiple wine critics every year. The 2020 vintage got 93-points from James Suckling and 91-points from Decanter. "A soft and caressing red with a full body and plush, finely woven tannins. Plenty of dark cherry, mulberry, chocolate and some bark. Citrus zest and dried flowers, too. Lightly chewy at the end." This coming from James Suckling.
With the price of Napa Valley Cabernet going up year after year, getting a good value is hard to come by. However, Tuscany has seemed to hold their prices steady for these wines over the past few years. Getting a wine of this quality and style would be much more costly in Napa. So, if you are a fan of those big Napa Cabernets and are sick of paying the high prices, or if you are just tired and want to venture into a new area that is similar, give these Tuscan reds a try!
- Patrick Mulrooney