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Today we’ll be taking a look at San Felice’s Campogiovanni, a 2017 Brunello di Montalcino, which comes to us from Tuscany, Italy. Up first, we’ll be covering some of the region’s basics, then we’ll move on to sampling the wine itself, and I’ll be closing with some pairing and serving suggestions.
Now, let’s get to it.
The Where – Tuscany (Brunello di Montalcino DOCG), Italy
Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG, (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, or Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), is one of the best-known Italian wine regions in the world, and not without good reason. Brunello di Montalcino, produced exclusively from Sangiovese grapes, the wine is usually a dark garnet hue, with aromas of red and black fruit laced in potent vanilla essences, with just a touch of spice and an earthy depth. Flavors and aromas that heightened by a crisp acidity, balanced-to-substantial tannins, and a full bodied texture.
While Montalcino’s wines have been held in regard since around the mid-1700s, recognizably ‘modern’ Brunello di Montalcino dates to around the late-1800s, following the unification of Italy. The cultivation of Brunello di Montalcino, however, wouldn’t truly take off until the combined efforts of Clemente Santi and Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, whose names you’ll likely recognize from well-known Montalcino estates.
Outside of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany is divided across a whopping forty-one DOCs and 11 DOCGs, Italy’s regional classification system, which regulates how and where wines are made. Aside from production methods and geography, this classification system also sets rigid quality standards, including but not limited to standardized taste testing.
However, despite the literally dozens of specified production areas and methods into which Tuscany is divided, the bedrock of Tuscan winemaking is a single varietal – Sangiovese. Sangiovese so dominates the region that it is almost impossible to talk about Tuscan winemaking without giving mention to the grape that produces the dry red wines for which Tuscany is famous. Prized for its high acid, ‘pleasantly firm’ tannins and balance, a quality wine based on Sangiovese will evoke images of ripe dark cherries and black stonefruit, perforated with stark herbal notes. Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Chianti Classico, (all of which we’ve reviewed here on Living the Gourmet), are just a few of the world-renowned wines produced from Sangiovese.
However, Sangiovese is assuredly ‘not’ the beginning and end of the story of Tuscan winemaking. For example, the 1970s saw the rise of ‘Super Tuscans,’ an unofficial term used to describe several high-quality Tuscan wines that were – for one reason or another – excluded from receiving DOC or DOCG status by breaking traditional Italian winemaking norms. Regardless of local labeling, a number of these wines achieved critical acclaim, as well as commercial success, and ended up becoming ‘cult wines’ that commanded high prices. Over the ensuing decades some of these ‘Super Tuscans’ were granted DOC or DOCG status – although it can be argued that such status detracted from their ‘cult’ mystique as ‘rogue labels.’ Aside from the controversial ‘Super Tuscans,’ other wines have also seen success across Tuscany, such as Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tight regulations and quality standards aside, climate is perhaps the foremost factor in Tuscany’s success. The region’s warm and temperate coastline is flanked by inland hillsides and mountains, which help temper the region’s searing summers, which in turn contributes to increased temperature variation. This temperature variation between the hills, mountains, and warm coastline help balance the sugars and acidity of the region’s grapes. Sangiovese performs best when it receives maximum direct sunlight, and as such the hilly terrain of the region is almost tailormade for this grape, with the majority of area’s vineyards being planted at elevations of between some five-hundred and sixteen-hundred feet. This higher elevation further increases temperature variance, which further increases the balance in sugar and acidity.
The Bottle – A Showcase
Today we’re reviewing the 2017 Brunello di Montalcino, their Campogiovanni.
Tasting and Aromatics – The Review
The Campogiovanni is a medium-to-full bodied wine, that introduces itself with lush red fruit notes, punctuated by bright acidity, set over aromas of oak and fresh tobacco leaf. On second sampling, ripe blackberries and juicy plums manifest through the bouquet, with hints of cracked leather and vague earth essences. On the palate, the red fruit carries over quite nicely, carried on a pleasant acidity. The finish is lasting, and very pleasant.
What to Eat – The Pairings
For ideal pairings, think meats rich, heavy, and meaty entrees. A Prime Rib prepared with a curry and cayenne-based rub mixed with garlic, coriander and cumin, would pair excellently, such as the one I prepared here. Beef tacos are another great pairing, particularly with a medley of Mediterranean flavors, such my “Greek Style Tacos.” Conversely, you might also consider an Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb, prepared with a mix of honey, oregano, garlic, and basil. Seared beef steaks, shark steaks, spicy barbecue, and red sauces over pasta, are all potential pairings.
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