Anyone who has traveled the road that leads from Sant’Angelo in Colle (Montalcino) to Bolgheri (at the top of the Maremma) has passed through the little-known yet increasingly popular appellation of Montecucco, where wines are raised in the townships of Cinigiano (where the village of Monte Cucco is located; n.b. the town is written as Monte Cucco while the appellation is Montecucco), Civitella Paganico, Campagnatico, Castel del Piano, Roccalbegna, Arcidosso, and Seggiano.
Because of its proximity to Montalcino, a lot of marketers and sales people have been touting its kinship to Brunello di Montalcino, where elevation is key in producing long-lived Sangiovese. In fact, Montecucco is mostly low-lying plains where often delicious however plump and sometimes flabby Sangiovese is grown. I’ve tasted a lot of Montecucco (including a pan-appellation tasting a few years ago in the offices of the Montecucco appellation) and frankly, not many of the wines have wowed me. But that changed when I tasted the Montecucco La Querciolina 2007 by the famous Brunello producer Livio Sassetti, whose flagship wines can be excellent despite their slightly slutty, tarted-up character.
The winery’s Montecucco is 100% Sangiovese (the appellation requires a minimum of 60%) and according to the back label the clone Sangiovese Grosso della Maremma. I’ve never heard of this clone and I imagine its one of the myriad clones of Sangiovese found in Tuscany (numbering in the thousands, some developed through massal selection, some developed in nurseries).
Although its called Sangiovese Grosso or large Sangiovese, the berries of Sangiovese Grosso are actually smaller than for most clones and the resulting ratio of pulp to skin makes for darker and more tannic wines. And that was the thing that struck me about this wine: while it had the awesome zinging acidity of Sangiovese, it also had some tannin and a richness of color and mouthfeel that I’d never found in Montecucco.
This wine is friggin’ delicious on the Do Bianchi scale of deliciousness and at less than $20 a bottle, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s one of those wines that reminded me of the Sangiovese that old man Augusto Marcucci used to grow and vinify at his house in nearby Bagno Vignoni where I used to spend summers in my university days. Just pure, honest, lip-smackingly delicious Sangiovese… Where’s the deep-fried wild boar liver, people???!!!
In other news…
From the department of “critical thinking” here at Do Bianchi…
As I continue to contribute to the Houston Press food and wine blog Eating Our Words, I have been expanding my tasting habits to include New World wines that cost less than $25 (for the record, I buy nearly all the wine that I review for the “Wine of the Week” and nearly all of the wine I review in general; I rarely accept samples but I do taste all of the unsolicited samples that somehow make it to our doorstep).
And as much as I respect the friend and top wine professional who sold me the above Peruvian Petit Verdot he sold me, a wine called Quantum by the Tacama winery, I continue to be nonplussed by wineries who make concentrated, oaky, highly alcohol wines especially for the American market.
According to the winery’s website, “Tacama uses both [sic] French technology and receives advice from French experts.” My question to them is: have the French tasted your wine?
This wine was so overwhelmed with spicy (American?) oak that it literally stung my tongue. And in the mouth, not only did it taste like jam that had been left out on the counter top exposed to air for a week, but it was so viscous that it felt like jamn in my mouth.
My recommended pairing? Well-done porterhouse drizzled with stale truffled-oil (my second-most-dreaded food product after jammy, oaky, spoofed wine).
Hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.
Thanks for reading and buon weekend yall!
Heck, when we visited Peru, even most of the Peruvian restaurants didn’t have Peruvian wines. If you drank wine, it was coming from Argentina or Chile. Pisco, however, is a completely different story. That’s where all their best grapes go.
Darrell Corti is such a huge fan of Pisco… is it now legal in our country?
I love that you are “Andy P” by the way! Another long-lost P cousin! :)
Thanks for the comment…
I basically agree on Montecucco. Good value wines that reconcile us with the simpler, fresher side of Sangiovese (something most Chiantis don’t do anymore). I feel the comparison with Brunello is vastly overenthusiastic (although is it really high praise, given the current state of affairs in Montalcino?), although serious Montecucco does exist: Colle Massari (owner of Grattamacco) make a very good Riserva.
Re: Peru, I’m glad to see some negativity on your blog :) Seriously, I once had a Peruvian wine that was actually quite OK, on the level of a gd medium-priced Chilean. Don’t remember the name though.
You can definitely find pisco of various qualities in the US of A now.
it was so viscous, you felt like jamn your mouth with a screwdriver! nobody needs that.. i agree with the welcomed negativity in the blog!
@Wojciech I’ve tasted the Colle Massari Montecucco and it’s good. But I really love their 100% Ciliegiolo. It’s awesome. Thanks for the shout out btw!
@Andy P when are we drinking some Pisco sours? Would love to…
@Nicolas gonna try the negativity thing for a while… I never imagined the posts last week would generate so much interest… and man, I’ve been tasting so much bad wine for my Houston Press gig… there’s plenty of material there… dude when you coming to visit us in Austin???!!! (that applies to all three btw!)
Dear Wojciech, I wish you had an easier name to spell, but a part of that I fully agree with you and with Jeremy as well.
The Montecucco red wines so far have shown more rusticity and earthiness than the “al di qua dall’Orcia” productions (Orcia is the small river that divides the boundary between Brunello and Montecucco appelations). I think that in the future some of the Montecucco Sangiovese will be able to reach a more precise identity which should be forcely different from the Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino.
Meanwhile I just adore a Ciliegiolo made properly, for me it is strongly linked with the Maremma region, even more than the Sangiovese..
Ha, ha! Love the negative food and wine pairing :)
More negativity please 2B, you do it so well :)