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Flat front label of wine
Flat front label of wine

Querciabella Palafreno 2010

Merlot from Tuscany, Italy
  • WS97
  • W&S93
14% ABV
All Vintages
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14% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Palafreno, whose first vintage was the glorious 2000, is a monovarietal Merlot, carefully crafted from the fruit of some among the best vineyards of the estate in Greve in Chianti. Rich, deep, and elegant, needs to be decanted, and left breathing for about half an hour to be enjoyed at its best. Its name is an ancient Italian word designating a noble riding horse used by medieval knights for travel, parades or tournaments.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
WS 97
Wine Spectator
Tightly wound and linear in profile, this rich red is focused on cherry, leather, menthol and mineral flavors with precision and intensity. The dusty tannins flex their muscles on the finish, which is long and fresh, echoing fruit, spice and mineral notes. Merlot. Best from 2016 through 2035. 15 cases imported.
W&S 93
Wine & Spirits
Made from merlot and aged in French barriques, about 30 percent new, the 2010 Palafreno unfolds in layers, with cool fruit splashing across the palate followed by fresh tobacco leaf, candied orange and baking spices. It turns more savory on the finish, with notes of soy and black tea, the wine plush and saturated yet elegant in structure.
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Querciabella

Querciabella

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Querciabella, Tuscany, Italy
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Querciabella was founded in 1974 by Giuseppe Castiglioni, an avid collector of French wines and the owner of the largest collection of Louis Roederer Cristal throughout Italy. The property is now managed and owned by Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni who carries with him the fundamental philosophy of Querciabella. Cossia Castiglioni remarks “Querciabella is dedicated to producing among the finest Italian wines - as a winemaker and an avid collector, I believe that quality begins in the vineyard and with minimal intervention one can produce a wine that is truly a reflection of its terroir”. Querciabella wines are all estate bottled and made from selected grapes from the Southeast and Southwest facing vineyards located high on the hilltop of Ruffoli in Greve in Chianti.

One of the most iconic Italian regions 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, Sangiovese makes up a significant percentage of plantings here, with the white Trebbiano Toscano coming in second.

Within Tuscany, many esteemed wines have their own respective sub-zones, including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The climate is Mediterranean and the topography consists mostly of picturesque rolling hills, scattered with vineyards.

Sangiovese at its simplest produces straightforward pizza-friendly wines with bright and juicy red fruit, but at its best it shows remarkable complexity and ageability. Top-quality Sangiovese-based wines can be expressive of a range of characteristics such as sour cherry, balsamic, dried herbs, leather, fresh earth, dried flowers, anise and tobacco. Brunello expresses well the particularities of vintage variations and is thus popular among collectors. 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 and Syrah, with or without Sangiovese. These are common in Tuscany’s coastal regions like Bolgheri, Val di Cornia, Carmignano and the island of Elba.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

CGM27395_2010 Item# 142457