Sangiovese, Principal Grape of Both Le Marche & Toscana


Located in the Marche region on the Pesaro hills facing the Adriatic Coast, brothers Alberto and Alessandro Taddei have developed the estate that their grandfather first purchased after returning from Switzerland at the end of WWII. Their father had cultivated olive trees like his father. But Alberto and Alessandro have added vines to their organically farmed property, including four hectares of Sangiovese, the principal grape of the region, along with Cabernet Franc and Merlot and the indigenous whites Biancame and Albanella. Alberto is an eminent sommelier and for eight years worked at Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence after which he was employed at Gala in New York on the lower east side. In both places, he had access to the world’s most important wines and brought that sensibility to his own vineyards and winery. According to wine guide Gambero Rosso, Pesaro winemaking seems to have found new impetus as a gaggle of small-scale wineries bring it back to the limelight. The leader of the pack is Selvagrossa…, which has attracted attention for its intensely flavorful list featuring distinctively crafted, superbly detailed reds.” Inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel “Baron of the Trees,” the Taddei brothers have named their wines after characters in the book, among them Muschen, Trimpilin, and Poveriano. The labels may be delicate and fanciful, but the wines are bold with vigorous aromas and flavors. “Selvagrossa is a name to remember,” Gambero Rosso writes.

Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro

For this month’s Collector Series, we’ve crossed the border into Toscana. The 100 hectare Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro estate is located at Manzano near the historic town of Cortona overlooking the Val di Chiana. Massimo d’Alessandro, architect and Professor of Design at the University of Rome, is the visionary behind the family business. In 1988, he and Attillio Scienza of the University of Milan, well know researcher and Professor of Viticulture, identified Cortona as a unique appellation suitable to the planting of Syrah, indigenous to the Rhone region of France. Today winemaking is overseen by Luca Currado, the proprietor of Vietti in Castiglione Falleto in Piemonte and Cristine Vernay from the Rhone Valley in France. Il Bosco has become the winery’s flagship quality wine and is obtained from 100% Syrah grapes from over 40 hectares of top hillside vineyards. Since 1999, especially Il Bosco has received numerous Tre Bicchieri awards from foremost Italian wine guide “Gambero Rosso.”

Pertimali Sassetti Livio

For over three generations, the Sasetti family has been producing wine in Montalcino. The family’s collection of estate wines consists of 1000 bottles, some of which go back as far as 1915. The Podere Pertimali, with its 16 hectares of organically farmed vineyards, occupies a slope in the Montosoli hill north of Montalcino, one of the most favorable terroirs for Sangiovese Grosso in the area. Current head of the business Livio Sassetti has renovated and extended the vineyards, retaining the genetic material of the original vines. In 1967, Livio was among the founders of Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino, the professional organization that protects and promotes producers of Brunello. Livio’s son Lorenzo Sassetti manages the estate. Robert Parker comments in the Wine Advocate, “If I had only one Brunello to drink, it would be Pertimali. This producer has been making spectacular wines since 1982.”

Italian Wines of the Month

Artisan Series

Selvagrossa – 2010 Muschen

A blend of 60% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, Muschen is fermented and aged for a short period in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and immediately bottled to maintain its typical freshness. Young and bright, the Muschen shows lots of lively berry fruit and a zippy finish. The wine has big flavors and would pair well with anything from the barbecue, especially red meats like lamb. Serve at cool room temperature.

Selvagrossa – 2010 Selva Bianco

A blend of 80% Biancame and 20% Albanella, the Selva Bianco shows aromas of citrus fruit mixed with white flowers and aromatic sage. The wine has a deep golden color that corresponds to its intense flavors. The Selva Bianco may be a white wine, but it shows vigorous aromas and flavors. Serve chilled preferably with first courses like prosciutto and melon or entrées like grilled chicken, in other words, entrées that you might pair with a light red.

Winemaker Series

Selvagrossa – 2007 Trimpilin

The Trimpilin is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Ciliegiolo and is aged for 16 months in large oak casks. The Trimpilin has classic hints of cherry with light underwood fragrances and various spices and liquorish. This is not a Sangiovese that you’d expect. It’s a mouthful of intense and layered flavors that call attention to themselves. Robert Parker’s “Wine Advocate” gave the 2007 Trimpilin 90 points and described it as “a round, generous wine laced with perfumed dark fruit, spices, minerals and flowers. This is a fairly rich style of Sangiovese, and while a little more varietal character might be nice, the wine’s elegance and finesse are commendable.” Serve at cool room temperature.

Selvagrossa – 2009 Poveriano

Vines are crossing borders into Italy at a vigorous pace. The Poveriano is 100% Cabernet Franc, indigenous to Bordeaux, and is ruby red in color, complex and fruity with ripe cassis aromas along with spice and green pepper, typical of the grape variety. The wine has solid structure and is well balanced with fruit flavors, very smooth tannins and bright acid. Italian wine guide “Gambero Rosso” describes the wine as follows: “Great interest was sparked by the Poveriano 2007, from only Cabernet Franc, aged 16 months in Barrique, with a dark liquorice and wet earth profile on the nose and a palate of character.”

Collector Series

Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro – 2007 Il Bosco

This wine is 100% Syrah. Robert Parker’s “Wine Advocate” gave the 2007 Il Bosco 94 points and describes it thus: “There’s lovely structure to this subtle, rich Syrah that gives so much in texture and beauty. Full, yet polished and refined. Chewy and powerful on the finish. Says Cote-Rotie in Italian.” The Il Bosco is a big, ripe wine and pairs well with grilled red meat. Serve at cool room temperature.

Pertimali Livio Sassetti – 2006 Brunello di Montalcino

Sangiovese Grosso is the Sangiovese clone from which Brunello di Montalcino is made. The wine was aged for three years in Slovenian oak barrels, according to DOCG regulations. The wine has a gorgeous nose of ripe berries and is a full-bodied, succulent wine with well integrated tannins to complement a long finish. Wine Spectator gave the wine 94 points and describes it as follows: “Licorice, tar, black cherry and plum aromas and flavors highlight this robust, chewy, red. This is concentrated and intense with all its components in the right proportions for a long evolution. Stiff tannins are matched by sweet fruit on the finish.