Exciting Case of Italian Reds

Selections come from Sting, Scansano, and Sicily

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Banfi Brunello provides a bang-up finish.

This is a very exciting collection of 12 red wines from Italy, mostly from Tuscany and the sangiovese grape, but also with a few from the Italian islands.

We’ll start there with wines from Stemmari, a major producer from Sicily that is carving out a reputation for affordable quality. I think of Sicily as Italy’s “New World,” just as the Languedoc serves that purpose in France. This is followed by a complex red from another Italian island: Sardinia.

If you haven’t heard of Morellini di Scansano, don’t be surprised. Like unheard-of relatives that come popping up after a lottery prize, the lesser-known regions of Tuscany have been making their appearances as the region’s wines come into more and more demand. The “morellini” refers to the local iteration of sangiovese.

This is followed by wines from the “Police estate” outside of Florence owned by the singer Sting and his wife Trudie Styler. They are mostly IGTs. Finally, we finish with Banfi and its delicious Brunello di Montalcino.

Stemmari Sicily pinot noir 2012 ($11)

Muted cherry fruit with light tannins and dried herbs in the finish. Not as fragrant as most pinots, but very easy-drinking.

Stemmari Sicily nero d’avola 2012 ($9)

Nice mixture of ripe cherries and gaminess with lots of dusty tannins. Satisfying and well balanced.

Stemmari “Cantadoro” Sicily red wine 2011 ($14)

Mainly nero d’avola with some cabernet sauvignon, the resulting blend is quite nice — think blackberry and raspberry jam with some grated orange peel tossed in. Good fruit, good balance, mild tannins.

Barrua Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2011 ($36)

A murky wine with red cherry and mulberry flavors and a dried-herbs finish. Not a vibrant wine, but one that would go well with charcuterie and aged cheeses.

Poggio Argentiera “Capatosta” Morellini di Scansano 2011 ($23)

This wine would be great for someone who loves Manhattans — muddled cherry flavors with some cooked rhubarb and red Vermouth notes.

Acquaviva “Nero” Morellini di Scansano 2012 ($9)

A little gamy and funky, but still enjoyable in a rustic style.

Il Palagio “Sister Moon” Tuscan IGT 2011 ($46)

The first of four from Sting and Trudie, it is somewhat perfumed with fragrant fruit flavors — tart cherry and creamy blueberries — with some green herbal and chocolate notes in the finish.

Il Palagio “Casino delle Vie” Toscana IGT 2011 ($27)

Good mix of fresh red and purple fruits, yet with good depth of flavors. Ripe, dark cherries with savory tannins in finish.

Il Palagio “Message in a Bottle’ Toscana IGT 2011 ($18)

My least favorite of the four — sweetish and quite fruit-forward with only fair balance in the finish.

Il Palagio “When We Dance” Chianti 2013 ($17)

Very pleasant if not complex chianti with mild fruit and a typical sangiovese raspy finish.

Castello Banfi “Belnero” Toscana IGT 2011 ($23)

Ripe cherry forward fruit with hints of anise and chocolate. Well-balanced with moderate tannins. Quite nice.

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2009 ($56)

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One of those wines of substance that also has finesse and leaves you with a feeling of pure pleasure with each sip. The flavors are of lightly tangy cherries with touches of dark chocolate in the finish.