This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Monday, Jul. 14, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080714.php.
It's been a generation or so since "Super Tuscans" started grabbing the attention of wine lovers. Certain Chianti producers, seeking to break out of their region's ancient traditions and try new things, began mixing "forbidden" grapes like Cabernet and Merlot in with the local Sangiovese, and even experimented with keeping the wine in French oak.
But if the wine wasn't made by the Chianti method, it couldn't be called Chianti, even if it remained recognizably Tuscan in style. Nor could it bear the sought-after "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" designation on the label, indicating that the wine met the traditional standard for the source of its grapes and the purity of its technique.
Instead, turning necessity into a virtue, the innovative producers proudly claimed the simple "Vino da Tavola" ("Table Wine") designation that had previously been reserved for the cheapest, simplest wines, presenting them not as the bottom end of their portfolio but the top.
These new styles quickly captured the taste of that increasingly sophisticated wine-buying public, and the nickname "Super-Tuscan" was born.
Nowadays, the old wine laws are catching up with reality. The Chianti formula is more flexible, and "non-traditional" wines can qualify for the "IGT" ("Indication of Geographical Type") designation, which allows just about any reasonable experimentation.
Super Tuscans, of course, have generally become frightfully expensive through demand, with big-name labels like Ornellaia and the grandfather of them all, Tignanello, commanding three-digit prices for a bottle.
But the concept has spread through much of Italy, with just about every region producing new wines - "Super" wines, if you will - that add modern variations to the traditional style.
Today we feature a popular variation from Umbria, Falesco 2005 Vitiano, a blend of equal parts Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot. A fine, interesting table wine with at least moderate cellar potential, it still sells for $10 or less in many markets. That's a "super" deal. My tasting notes are below.
No Billing and No Shipping Until December with The California Wine Club
It's that time of year again when The California Wine Club offers deep discounts on holiday gifts reserved now.
Sure, we know that thinking about the holidays during the summer is tough to do. However, the money and time you save by planning now make it enormously rewarding in December!
During Santa's Summer Sale, you'll save up to $89 per gift - even more for Signature Series gifts. Your credit card won't be billed until December, and your gifts will be scheduled to arrive right before the holidays.
When you are ready to take advantage of the savings and reserve your holiday gifts, call 1-800-777-4443 or visit www.cawineclub.com. Pour yourself something cool, enjoy the summer sun and take a moment to make some holiday plans ... we know you will be glad you did.
Gift memberships of award-winning, limited production wine start at $44.50 and include all shipping and handling.
Falesco 2005 Umbria "Vitiano" Cabernet-Merlot-Sangiovese ($14.99)
Very dark ruby with crimson glints against the light. Ripe black cherry aromas add a back note of warm brown spice. Full and fruit-forward, black fruit and food-friendly acidity come together in balance. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC; Leonardo Locascio Selections. (July 9, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Pan-seared medium-rare rib eye steaks make a classic red-wine match.
VALUE: Up from $10.99 for the 2003 last year, still a good buy for a solid Italian table red. If you like it enough to buy in quantity, though, shop around, as it's widely available in many markets for well under $10.
WHEN TO DRINK: Not really a cellar candidate, but there's be no harm in keeping it in a cellar or cool wine rack for a year or two.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Talk About Wine Online
If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about today's article
Everyone is free to browse. If you'd like to post a comment, question or reply, you must register, but registration is free and easy. Do take care to register using your real name, or as a minimum, your real first name and last initial. Anonymous registrations are quietly discarded.
To contact me by E-mail, write email@example.com. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
PRINT OUT TODAY'S ARTICLE
This week on WineLoversPage.com
WineLovers Discussion Group: Getting ready for "MoCool"
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns. Please note that for a small summer break, we've put the FoodLetter on a short-term vacation and are skipping some (but not all) Friday editions.
Sauvignon Blanc and curry (July 9, 2008)
Smoky wine on the way? (July 7, 2008)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive: