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Banfi Col di Sasso 2002
Typically harvested in early October, each grape variety is vinified separately. The Sangiovese imparts body, while stainless steel aged Cabernet Sauvignon adds fruit and structure.
Col-di-Sasso is a youthful red to be enjoyed with grilled or roasted meats, poultry, or as an ideal accompaniment to pasta with meat sauce and mildly piquant cheeses.
One of the most iconic regions of Italy for wine, scenery, and history, Tuscany is the world’s most important outpost for the Sangiovese grape. Ranging in style from fruity and simple to complex and age-worthy, as well as in price from budget-friendly to ultra-premium, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano trailing far behind. Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines are produced in their respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Bolgheri, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, with the hillside locations hosting the best vines, as Sangiovese ripens most efficiently with maximum exposure to sunlight.
Sangiovese at its simplest, often carrying a regional designation of Chianti or just Italy, produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright red fruit and not much more, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity. In top-quality Sangiovese-based wines, expressive notes of sour cherry, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise, tobacco smoke, and cured meat fill the glass. Brunello in particular is sensitive to vintage variation, performing best in years that are not too hot and not too cold. Chianti is associated with tangy and food-friendly dry wines at various price points. A more recent phenomenon as of the 1970s is the “Super Tuscan”—a wine made from international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or Syrah, often grown in Tuscany’s Bolgheri region, with or without Sangiovese.
Tuscan blends tend to be big, bold, and modern in style, sometimes with noticeable new oak, whose high quality can often command super-premium prices.
Their composition of international grape varieties or mix of international and indigenous varieties makes Tuscan blends unique. Where did the idea come from? Well, a few Tuscan winemakers who had become disenchanted with Italian winemaking law in the 1970s retaliated and decided to get creative. They started making wine solely from international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or Syrah or adding these grapes to Sangiovese, in differing proportions, and the phenomenon was born.
The most famous Tuscan blends from Italy are called “Super Tuscans.” One of the most well-known, ‘Tignanello,’ created by Antinori in 1971, is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Marchesi Lodovico Antinori in 1981, with the help of renowned agronomist Andre Tchelistcheff, established Ornellaia. The property has changed hands but since 2002 Marchesi de' Frescobaldi has been the sole owner and its quality remains stellar. It is typically a blend of about half Cabernet Sauvignon, a third Merlot and the rest filled in with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Sassicaia, another, has earned itself an extraordinary reputation and global esteem, so much so that the Sassicaia property was actually awarded its very own appellation with the 1994 vintage. It is typically 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.