From $200 to $90 to $10, there’s a Tuscan wine for every pocketbook

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Wine has been produced in various parts of Italy for thousands of years.

An interesting trend, known as the Super-Tuscan wine movement began after World War II when the marchase Mario della Rochetta developed what became the area’s first cult wine, known as Sassicaia.

This wine was developed to be a direct competitor of French Bordeaux, which was then considered to be the best wine in the world.

Sassicaia (Tenuta San Guido) is comprised of 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 percent Cabernet Franc — a blend much like those produced in Bordeaux. It is an intense long-lived wine, which benefits from several years of bottle aging.

Recently, the wine has been somewhat eclipsed by a wine produced next door by one of the Atinori brothers, who is producing a California style of wine comprised of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This wine is called Ornellaia and another variation is called Massato (Merlot).

Both of these wines are spectacular with incredible taste and a long finish. The drawback is the both of these wines sell for more than $200 per bottle. This leaves them out of my price range. As with other areas in Tuscany, where very expensive wine is produced, there is a second wine which — while not as intense — is around $90 per bottle. Known as Guado al Tasso, this wine is comprised of 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Franc. Still expensive but heading in the right direction!

I am aware that the above wines are out of reach for almost all of us but I am writing about them because they are an integral part of the Tuscan wine evolution, which bring us back to affordable.

Now is time to get back to reality and discuss Tuscan wines that are affordable, and while not on the level of the aforementioned wines, still provide value and great taste.

The following wines represent the low price points of Tuscan wines. All of the wines mentioned pair well with grilled meats, grilled veggies, and hard cheese such as Grana Padua and pizza.

  • Pietro Sangiovese- a red wine with red berry flavors and a light to medium body. Around $10 per bottle.

  • Andrea il Rosso Toscana 2011- a medium bodied, slightly acidic wine with red fruit and cherry flavor. Again around $10 per bottle.

  • Monte Antico Rosso 2009 (or whatever year is being offered). This wine is one of the best values to come out of the Tuscan region. It is fruit flavored with an emphasis on cheery and plum. There is enough tannin to give it a good finish and best of all it is around $11 per 750ml bottle. This is one of the wines that I serve with my Italian food and have been drinking for years.

There are hundreds more wines available from the Tuscan Region and half the fun is discovering them yourself. Send me an e-mail if you find something interesting.

If you are interested in these wines, a good place to start would be some of the specialty wine stores such as Cravin Wine in James City, or the Galley Store (Priscilla) located in front of Persimmons on the waterfront in New Bern.

I realize there are other wine stores and I will talk about them in the future. The reason I suggest independents is that they often have more expertise and flexibility than the “big box” stores. Plus, if they don’t carry a wine you want, they might special order it and will have additional suggestions of their own.

As usual, comments, suggestions or questions can be directed to me via e-mail-justin@compassnews360.com

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