Our #1 selling Tuscan Red?

Santa Vincenza Morellino di Scansano Ventoso 2011, Toscana  

Sangiovese (plus a skoonch of Ciliegiolo and Alicante) in a robust, food friendly style with a big fat pig on the label, how can you go wrong?


Our latest find?

Campi Nuovi Sangiovese 2009,  Montecucco Toscana  ORGANIC

How Old School is this? 1) The producer trained at Soldera, THE most famous and traditional Brunello estate. 2) 100% Organic viticulture and very traditional vinification in large Slovenian oak with natural yeasts, ambient temperatures and no additions of any kind. 3) It is bottled without fining or filtering. VERY limited, worth it.


Great Chianti taste, no straw bottles!


Trambusti Chianti 2011, Toscana 

Take the money you saved by buying a case of this versatile, food friendly wine and buy a decanter as the back label insists that “it is essential to uncork the bottle at lest an hour before it is due to be drunk”. They must have been hanging out with some of our customers who think a Coke would probably benefit from a few hours of air “to open up”. But seriously, this is the best deal on an actual Chianti we’ve made in years thus making it your new school night red OR something you can serve with confidence for a Bat Mitzvah dinner for 400….. Cheers!


Fattoria di Faltognano, Vinci (as in Leonardo da)

The Da Vinci Wine Code: Leo rates one of our faves...“Much happiness comes to men who have the fortune to be born where wine is good!”  were local boy Leonardo da Vinci’s comment about the then merely 400 year old property we feature next. Roberto Comparini’s ancestors have owned this wine and olive growing estate since around 1,000 A.D.. As a result, there is a unique “patrimony” in their olives trees and vines due to generations of grafting solely within their property, creating singular clones perfectly adapted to their unique terroir.

Fattoria di Faltognano Chianti 2009, Toscana

Signore Comparini listened hard when we told him that between the shrinking dollar and the rising cost of EVERYTHING, the market for solid, hearty, ready to rumble, food friendly wines under $20 was getting bigger every day. This is his response. Mille Grazie, Bello!


Fattoria di Faltognano Chianti Montalbano 2008, Toscana

An instant WINE EXPO-ista Cult Classic back in its best vintage yet: Chianti that tastes like…Chianti for a change! Dredge some veggies in olive oil and throw them on the grill, roast a chicken (or a duck!), pick up anti-pasti at La Bodega, take it to No Corkage Monday at Josie or just call Dominos, this rocks!


Fattoria di Faltognano Chianti Montalbano 

Riserva I Comparini 2005, Toscana  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

This deep, dark and delicious (but ooooohhh so elegant) beauty came and went so fast last time that we never even got it in the newsletter. Outstanding value and gorgeous packaging make this a real no brainer.


The two top wines of the estate have VERY different personalities: the Merizzo is mysterious, elegant and sensuous like Veronica Webb or Salma Hayek while her sister wine, the Poggio del Furia, is more in the Pamela Anderson meets Pam Grier mode (the kind that make you say “Damn!!!”). You decide, it will probably be fun either way (and, yes, you can have both):

Fattoria di Faltognano Toscana Rosso Merizzo 2003  Sold Out. New Vintage Soon!

A soft and fragrant blend of 40% Cabernet  / 30% Merlot / 20% Malvasia Nera  / 10% Pinot Nero slowly fermented in large oak, finished in barriques and bottle aged 6 months before release with just 500 case production. Super Duper flavors and textures without that annoying Super Tuscan pricing…


Fattoria di Faltognano Toscana Rosso 

Poggio del Furia 2007  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

A big, bold and in your face blend of 45% Cabernet / 45% Syrah and 10% Sangiovese, fermented in large oak then aged in barriques for 18 months, Poggio del Furia takes no prisoners and likes to party, hard. Humor her and she will show you a really good time.


Tenuta di Bibbiano, Castellina in Chianti

Vineyards have existed here since before there WERE any romans so the current proprietors who bought the estate in 1865 can be seen as dedicated but recent caretakers of this fantastic site. Bibbiano’s holdings are primarily covered with over 3,000 ancient olive trees while only the two best hillside plots with optimum geology and exposure to the sun and winds are planted to Sangiovese Toscana and Sangiovese Grosso (the Brunello clone) for wine production. It’s working:

Bibbiano Chianti Classico Montornello 2008, Toscana

Real Chianti: no Cab or Merlot, no barriques, no vanilla with ooodles and oooooodles of ripe fruit. Just rustic goodness,Tuscan dust, whispers of dried cherries and an invitation to enjoy life one Bisteca Fiorentino at a time. Aged in large Slovenian oak like old school Barolo…we likey!


Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Capannino 2007, Toscana

Bigger and denser, this vineyard is completely planted to Sangiovese Grosso and leans toward some meaty, savory Brunello bottlings in style. The nose blasts dark, almost smoky fruit but also tobacco and balsamic notes. Serve now with a big steak covered in Gorgonzola or cellar for a few years and hit a nice game / sausage mixed grill with wild mushrooms with it. Either way, you win.


Bibbiano Toscana Rosso Domino 2007

80% Merlot blended with Sangiovese Grosso and vinified to bring out extra intensity, Domino has a rich aroma of sour cherry and spices with an extremely generous mouthfeel sure to please your Cab loving brother in law.


What’s the deal with Montepulciano?

Nothing causes more confusion amongst newcomers to Vini Italiani than the fact that the same name is given to a TOWN in Toscana and also to a GRAPE widely grown throughout East Central and Southern Italy. Up to this point, every time you have seen the word Montepulciano in this site (whether as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or as a component in Rosso Piceno, Rosso Cònero or other wines from le Marche) it was the GRAPE variety, known for robust, hearty, spicy wines somewhat reminiscent of Syrah or Grenache. NOW we will feature two outstanding cantine from the town of Montepulciano where a special clone of Sangiovese called Prugnolo Gentile is vinified with a skoonch of Mammolo and/ or Canaiolo Nero to make softer, more supple and aromatic wines labeled as being from Montepulciano, not made out of it. Got it? There will be a test later…


Azienda Agricola Tiberini, Montepulciano

Luca and Fabio Tiberini’s family have lived at il Podere le Caggione in Montepulciano (a wine zona famous in Etruscan times!) for six generations with each successive generation being taught about wine from the ground up starting in the vineyards. Their estate covers 22 hectares on hillsides at over 300 meters above sea level with sixteen under vine, two dedicated to olives and the rest in forests and gardens. All of the work in the vineyards is done manually by the family with the goal to deliver perfectly ripe, low yield fruit to the cantina. As personal aside, after the devastating loss of several of our dearest and oldest friends in Italy last year, meeting the unbelievably charming, intelligent and funny Luca Tiberini was a real blessing. He then hosted several parties of visiting WINE EXPO-isti this past summer as if they were long lost family and we had not even actually bought any wine from him yet! Bravo bello….

Tiberini Rosso di Montepulciano 2009, Toscana

The lighter, easier going little brother of the two below, pound this with any pasta, pizza or grilled meats.


Tiberini Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Podere le Caggiole 2007, Toscana

Tiberini Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Our notes from tasting with Luca: “Vino Nobile…to quote Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally, ‘Oh my God…Yes, YES, YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!’ (and to continue that thought we will agree with Rob Reiner’s mom in that scene and say, “We’ll have what SHE’s having”!)…The Real Deal, this could give many Brunellos a good whipping….Riserva 2001…all of the above and more so!”…you could say we liked the wines. Both are blends of carefully hand harvested Prugnolo Gentile (a prized clone of Sangiovese, 85%), Canaiolo Nero (10%) and Mammolo (which means “violet”, so named for its aromas, 5%) that are macerated on the skins for 28 days then fermented very slowly with periodic light pressings of the skin to extract more flavor and complexity. The wine is then aged in very large French and Slovenian barrels for up to 30 months and then 6 months in bottle. The Riserva is only made in truly superior vintages and is aged four years before release. The flavor profiles include deep red fruits with a hint of the Coscia di Monaca plum grown in the zona, spices, fresh tobacco, leather and earth. In short, these are WINE not grape juice!


Tiberini Chianti Colli Senesi Podere le Caggiole  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Our friend Luca has a small plot of vineyards in the Chianti Colle Senesi zona and gives them the same love and careful vinification as his incredible Vino Nobile. VERY limited.


The Shock of the REAL: Real Brunello that is!

A rep new to the wine trade was presenting us with a bunch of One Note Charlie Fruit Bombus Exaggerati one day (while telling us that “these are made for the American market so they are not dirty like those old fashioned wines”) and then we opened and poured the Pietroso Brunello listed below and a stunned look came over his face as he exclaimed that he had never smelled or tasted anything like it before. Thinking it might be corked or oxidized we stuck our noses in the glass and immediately diagnosed the problem: it was WINE, not fruit juice, a transcendent TRANSFORMATION of mere fruit into something more interesting, replete with meat and earth flavors that can only come from well tended old vines and completely unlike all of the stuff he was selling. It is a great deal for what it is and deserves your best mushroom or veal recipe and good company.


Azienda Agricola Pietroso, Montalcino

The late 15th century owners of this plot of land knew they had something special: a place where grapes ripened earlier and with richer flavors than the surrounding lands. But, at that time ALL grapes were harvested at the same time (and other activities like courts and other official business were suspended to leave labor for the harvest), on the day proclaimed by the Priors of the town. Until on the morning of the 30th of September 1469, when then proprietor Giacomo d’Agostino (whose vines were full of ripe fruit) was shocked to hear the town crier blow his horn and then announce that the harvest for black grapes would commence a full two weeks later on the Day of Saint Francis, Oct. the 14th. Knowing this would ruin him, he begged for and was granted “concesserunt licentiam vendemiandi quamdam eius vineam in loco silvestri dicto al Pietroso” – so he could harvest immediately the grapes that were ripe.

Fast forward five hundred vintages and we find Domenico Berni taking over the property and starting to estate bottle tiny quantities of the highest quality possible Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. A quick skip to the present finds family member Gianni Pignatti at the helm but still on the same steady course. And the wines just blew us away on both quality and value:

Pietroso Rosso di Montalcino 2009, Toscana

Pietroso Brunello di Montalcino 2006, Toscana

Caution: opening a bottle of one of these wines may result in your dinner party spontaneously breaking into a Gospel influenced a capella version of Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye’s anthem… “There ain’t nothing like the real thing baby….give me some of that meaty, rich, smokey real thing baby…”! Seriously, wines like this are the reason we go traipsing all over Italy looking to find authentic expressions of the local culture instead of sitting here and letting importers feed us their latest creation “for the American market”.


Tenuta di Sesta, Castelnuovo dell’Abate, Montalcino

One of the original 12 estates at the time of the declaration of the Brunello DOC in 1966, this historic estate was founded in the fifteenth century and has been owned by the Ciacci family since 1850. Giovanni and his children Guido and Elisa, the third and fourth generation of Ciaccis, run the estate today. The vineyards flow down a south facing hillside from 400 to 200 meters above sea level and were restructured through clonal selection to preserve the best historic vine types a decade ago. The wines are vinified in stainless steel and then matured in large Slovenian oak, preserving their classic Montalcino flavors and textures.

Tenuta di Sesta Rosso di Montalcino 2009, Toscana

This is a great preview of the fantastic Brunelli that will be coming our way from this vintage: deep ruby in color (but not black), full bodied on the palate (but never heavy) and sporting the classic flavor triad of dried cherry, aged meat and that precious Tuscan dust. This is a downright yummy glass of wine so get some GOOD steaks, a heap ‘o’ mushrooms and maybe some eggplant to grill on the side and you will be a truly happy camper. Feeling lazy, too hot to cook? Order a pizza and relax, it’s all good….

Di Sesta also makes these delicious everyday wines:

Tenuta di Sesta Toscano Rosso Camponovo 2009  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

Our notes from VinItaly 2008: “Sangiovese, Colorino, Canaiolo with nice sweet fruit and a lovely tobacco note on the nose. Take a slug of this!”

Tenuta di Sesta Toscano Rosso Poggio d’Arna 2009

A “Super Tuscan” that is not too “super” in the pricing department, this is 60% Sangiovese with 20% each of Cabernet & Merlot. It has a solid structure built for big food and a nice spicy twang on the finish, just the thing to deal with red sauce (Tuscan or Texan).


 Abadia Ardenga, Montalcino

Owner Mario Ciacci wrote the Brunello DOCG regs in 1972 and is still a major force in the consorzio that governs the zona. The cantina dates to the 10th century and is famous for a natural spring that gives water to travelers. The actual building is called Cantina Museo di Montalcino (the winery museum of Montalcino). Appropriately, these are wines from another time (and that’s a VERY good thing)….

Abadia Ardenga Rosso Toscano 2001  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

100% Sangiovese from Montalcino vinified in a lighter, brighter style perfect for Asian / Latin / Indian / Mediterranean Cuisine and SoCal weather. Drink it…we’ll get more!


Ardenga Rosso di Montalcino 2005, Toscana  Sold Out, New Vintage Soon!

This is the Tuscan dirt, the real dirt and nothing but the dirt: classically styled, beautifully balanced, deeply satisfying and one of the best values in the zona. Try it with a simple roast chicken or mushroom pasta and see how it not just compliments but AMPLIFIES the flavors…