In the wake of an aborted vote to change the Rosso di Montalcino appellation, Brunello producers association president Ezio Rivella (above) has broken the silence and explained the reason for wanting to add international grape varieties (Merlotization) to the currently monovarietal (100% Sangiovese) wine.
Speaking to his new public relations mouthpiece (ItaliaTV, which calls itself the “channel for internationlization”! HA!), he recently recounted how the producers association is “preparing a marketing plan [UGH] that will help us to relaunch Rosso di Montalcino as an independent wine — a wine that has its own personality.”
I’ve been drinking Rosso di Montalcino since 1989 and I am here to tell you that honest producers never made it as a “leftover from Brunello.” They made it from younger vines grown in good (as opposed to top) growing sites; they made it as a more approachable expression of Sangiovese and their land, not intended for long-term aging; they made it to drink everyday (as opposed to special occasions); and they made it so folks like you and me could enjoy fresh, food-friendly, utterly delicious Sangiovese for around $20.
If that’s not personality, grits ain’t groceries and the Mona Lisa was Ezio Rivella…
Above: I’ve tasted Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino going back to the 1970s. One of the greatest expressions of Sangiovese I’ve ever tasted was the 1979 Rosso (bottled before the existence of the Rosso di Montalcino DOC and labeled as “Rosso” from “Brunello vines”), which Alessandro Bindocci’s father Fabrizio shared with me last year over steak dinner at Keens in Manhattan.
My friend Alessandro Bindocci, son of Il Poggione winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci, posted today on the proposed creation of a Montalcino DOC: evidently, the vote was put to the floor but no vote was held. Read more here…
I’ll be tasting with Alessandro and his father later this week at Vinitaly.
Friday brought the spring equinox and so Sunday night, Tracie B decided to lift her yearly moratorium on fresh tomatoes and made us bruschette topped with chopped yellow and red tomatoes, cannellini beans, olive-oil-packed tuna, kosher salt, and extra-virgin olive oil (the oil courtesy of our friend Ginevra Pesciolini of the Ghizzano winery in the Colline Pisane).
A bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEHT-tah, plural bruschette, broo-SKEHT-teh) is literally “burnt” or grilled bread, always dressed with olive oil and often topped with a combination of the above ingredients. Most believe the word and the preparation originated along the central Adriatic coast of Italy.
We paired with one of my favorite expressions of Sangiovese, 2006 Rosso di Montalcino by Canalicchio di Sopra. Canalicchio’s wine is traditional in style. It showed some of the stinky volatile acidity that you get on old-school Sangiovese like this but it quickly blew off, giving way to delicious, bright, food-friendly acidity and red, plummy fruit.
In other news…
Also on Friday, we managed to get into my friend Inara’s packed showcase with her band The Bird and the Bee at the SXSW festival. Inara rocked it! (picture taken with my phone.)