Intense ruby red color. On the nose this wine is complex with hints of liquorice and plum jam, as well as a delicate final of vanilla. The structure is full, soft and powerful; excellent aftertaste, particularly persistent.
Ideal with wild game and aged cheeses.
Castello Banfi Winery
In 1978 John and Harry Mariani, owners of the U.S. wine importer Banfi Vintners, established the award winning vineyard estate and winery Castello Banfi in the Brunello region of Tuscany. A constellation of single vineyards located on ideal sites cover about one third of the 7,100 acre (2,830 hectares) estate. The remaining land consists of bucolic meadows, olive and plum groves, and woodland. Central to the property is a medieval castle that functions as a hospitality center, hosting visitors at a full service restaurant, enoteca and museum dedicated to the history of glass and its relation to wine.
View all Castello Banfi Wines
One of the most important wine regions in Italy, Tuscany is home to the cities of Florence and Siena, the districts of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, and the wineries of Sassicaia, Tignanello and Ornellaia. Tuscany is also home to the indigenous Italian grape variety, Sangiovese. Most of the wine coming from Tuscany is made from some clone of this varietal, but a growing trend, started by the renegade winemakers of those Super Tuscans, is to incorporate more international varietals.
The most well known sub-districts of Tuscany are Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (note that Montepulciano here refers to the local village, not the grape variety found in the Italian region of Abruzzi). Wine labeled from these regions is DOC-regulated and Sangiovese-based blends. Quality wine from these DOC areas has been on the rise for decades, with top-notch winemakers and wineries shedding the low-quality image once held for Tuscan wine by producing consistently outstanding bottlings that range from deliciously drinkable to highly ageable. Newer to the scene are regions like Bohlgeri and the Maremma, home to of what are now termed "Super-Tuscans," named for the wine coming from the Tuscany area, but not following all of the DOC or DOCG laws required in Italy. In the
1970's, some pioneer winemakers began buying land outside of Chianti and Montalcino, and planting not only Sangiovese, but also international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine they produced only fit into the lowest Italian category of "vina da tavola," but the winemakers sold the wine for high prices, creating an almost cult following, and spurning a new wine category called IGT.
This country has about as many wines as its had governments. With 20 different regions, hundreds of DOCs and even more indigenous varieties, the amount of wine made in Italy is mind-boggling. Most of the juice, however, remains in the country for thirsty Italians. Wine is food in Italy and its rare that a meal is consumed without a glass
of vino. That said, it's not common to find many folks drinking wine without food either. In turn, it's a match, and a mighty good one at that. In fact, it's safe to say that Italian wine is a foodie wine – one that goes on the table for a myraid of meals.
In honor of the Montalcino producer’s vote last week to maintain the integrity of the region’s Rosso wines (Baby Brunellos), we will review a wonderful bottle of Rosso from Banfi. The proposal put forward was to allow grapes other than Sangiovese into wines classified as Rosso di Montalcino which many, including myself, believe would defeat the entire purpose of having a Rosso wine at all. This Banfi Rosso is a firecracker with bright fresh cherries jumping out of the glass followed closely by plums and liquorish. It’s a bright, young wine that serves its purpose – to quench one’s thirst while its big brother is aging in the cellar. It’s a medium bodied wine with a medium finish, mild tannins and medium to high acid to compliment those tomatoes Kori talks about below. I would not hesitate to plop down $25 for this little guy any day of the week. It’s not particularly complex, but it’s well balanced and would be a great crowd pleaser at any gathering. Food Pairing Suggestions: I love Rosso di Montalcinos because many of them are affordable, high quality options to pour with one of my favorite ingredients – tomatoes. Sangiovese is really one of the only grapes that seem to have been created with tomatoes in mind. This Banfi is no exception and it cries out for a Classic Margherita Pizza. It’s not a fancy wine, so keep it simple. In fact, a slice from Sal and Carmine’s on the Upper West Side of Manhattan would fit the bill just fine. I love that place. In lieu of a visit to New York, any dish where tomatoes or tomato sauce is the key ingredient would work fine like lasagna or spaghetti marinara. Just be sure not to be too heavy handed with the spice. Keep it mild to medium and it will enhance the wine and the food.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.