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Did you know that Creedence Clearwater Revival headlined at Woodstock? I didn’t until a few months ago. I was listening to NPR’s Bob Boilen interview Andy Zax, who recently released the entirety of the 1969 festival in audio form to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Like Boilen, I pretty much knew Woodstock only through the 1970 movie, and CCR—from El Cerrito—wasn’t featured in the three-hour film or accompanying soundtrack. Who else was excluded? The Band, Ravi Shankar, the Grateful Dead, and others who make you think “How?!” As much incredible material as the film’s director Michael Wadleigh had, he couldn’t ask moviegoers to sit through dozens of hours of footage. He had to pare it down, selecting what he thought was the best, most representative audio and video for his final piece. With a project like this, leaving out golden material was inevitable. NPR’s Boilen couldn’t believe Creedence Clearwater Revival’s exclusion, though, saying to his guest: “They were on fire in 1969...how did it happen? How did they not get heard? How did they get cut?” Believe it or not, I recently felt the same way while tasting Marino Colleoni’s Rosso di Montalcino. For the last two decades, Marino has tended Sangiovese grapes on his small, hillside Tuscan plots, making a few different bottlings, with his Brunello di Montalcino representing the pinnacle of his production. The Rosso and Brunello come from the same vineyards in Sant’Antimo in southern Montalcino and Santa Maria in northern Montalcino. The wines become distinct in the cellar, when Marino determines which barrels hold the juice most destined to become epic Brunello di Montalcino. What doesn’t make it into the Brunello goes into the Rosso—still epic and age-worthy, just not quite on the same level as the Brunello nectar. This decision in the cellar is nuanced and subjective and, like Michael Wadleigh, Marino has to leave some outstanding material out of the Brunello. The juice in this bottle might seem well worthy of a Brunello, but because it doesn’t bear the Brunello name, we can offer Marino’s Rosso di Montalcino for less than half the price even though it is nearly as good. This Rosso is staggeringly deep, soulful, and complex, with a wide range of flavors and aromas coming in and out of focus, from pomegranate and cherries to tobacco and leather. Pouring it into a large glass is not necessary, but if you have one, this wine and its many nuances are worthy of the space. Beautiful now, the 2016 Rosso di Montalcino will get even better over the next ten years in a cool cellar. Don’t miss out on what is essentially an incredibly delicious Brunello at a Rosso di Montalcino price.
Podere Sante Marie
Podere Sante Marie
The juice in this bottle might seem well worthy of a Brunello, but because it doesn’t bear the Brunello name, we can offer Marino’s Rosso di Montalcino for less than half the price even though it is nearly as good.
Luisa and Marino Colleoni’s native Bergamo is famous for its medieval palaces, but to them it just couldn’t compare to Tuscany. The couple purchased a property outside Montalcino known as Le Sante Marie and moved in 1993. During a walk, they spotted grapes through the leaves of a tree. They got to work clearing away scrub and when they finished, a neatly planted vineyard lay before them. They summoned an inspector and had the vineyard certified for Brunello. They embraced organic viticulture, and constantly search for even more natural methods. The northern exposure, high altitude, and marl soil that of this property all combine to give elegant and fine Brunellos that sets itself apart from the majority of Brunellos in Montalcino.
Perhaps no region is tied to Italy’s reputation as a producer of fine wine as much as Tuscany. Since Etruscan times, viticulture has played a prominent role in this idyllic land of rolling hills, and the Tuscan winemaking tradition remains as strong as ever today. With a favorable Mediterranean climate, an undulating topography offering countless altitudes and expositions, and a wealth of poor, well-draining soils, conditions are ideal for crafting high-quality wines. Add to that the rich gastronomical tradition—Tuscany is home to some of the country’s finest game, pastas, salumi, and cheeses—and you have the blueprint for a world-class wine region.
This is Sangiovese territory; in fact, it is arguably the only place in the world where Sangiovese reaches a truly regal expression. In spite of a rocky history with fluctuations in quality, traditionally produced Chianti has reclaimed its status as one of the country’s most reliable, food-friendly reds, while the rapid rise of Brunello di Montalcino shows the grape’s potential for grandiose, opulent reds allying power and finesse. Traditionally-minded growers have stuck to using only indigenous grape varieties and employing techniques like aging in massive wooden casks known as botti, creating wines of terroir that shine at the Tuscan table.
Tuscan wines have had a place in our portfolio since Kermit’s first visit in 1977. While the names of the estates have changed, the spirit of those first unfiltered Chiantis he imported live on through our current selections.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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