Italy has always provided a good range of red wines for holiday drinking, having a diversity of flavors, textures, and complexities. The 17 reviewed below feature several from the Piedmont and Verona region in the north to Sicily in the south with Tuscany in between.
Among them are those from the rising Morellino di Scansano, a region of hillside wines produced Tuscany’s Maremma region.
2012 Massi di Mandorlaia “I Massi” Morellino di Scansano ($19)
Quite enjoyable and complex — very spicy dark blackberry tastes with a long savory finish of forest floor and baker’s chocolate, well-balanced and somewhat lean.
2012 Spiaggiole Morellino di Scansano ($11)
Juicy, tangy blackberry and cherry fruits with dusty tannins and a lean finish.
2013 Fattoria dei Barbi Morellino do Scansano ($20)
Tart cherries with a savory, earthy underlay and a hint of cream cheese — a well-balanced food wine.
2013 Torre del Moro Morellino di Scansano ($13)
A lean yet vibrant wine with cherry flavors, plus dried peach and apricot notes.
2011 Capezzana “Barco Reale” Carmignano ($14)
Located just west of Florence, Carmignano is recognized as one of Tuscany’s prime red wine regions, having once been lumped together with Chianti. This blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and canaiolo has a combination of bright fruit mixed with ripe plums with a savory, dried-wood component. Long on the palate with pleasant tannins.
2013 Bolla Chianti ($8)
Mulberry aromas with fresh cherry flavors and a hint of brown butter. A simple wine, but a good everyday drink.
2011 Castello di Monsanto “Monrosso” Chianti Colli Senesi ($13)
Enjoyable tangy, gamey, dark fruit with good acidity and dusty tannins.
2013 Folonari Chianti ($10 — magnum)
Not a wine for Tuscan aficionados, but nevertheless a pleasant, affordable, entry-level wine with a tangy, gamey finish.
2012 Banfi Chianti Classico ($14)
Rounded cherry flavors with typical raspy finish of sangiovese — an appetizer wine, pleasant but with little complexity
2010 Banfi Chianti Classico riserva ($17)
Fruitier and more fruit-forward than most CCR’s with a lot of ripe red cherry flavors.
2011 Frescobaldi Nipozzano “Vecchie Viti” Chianti Rufina riserva ($27)
I’ll admit I’ve never been a big fan of this winery’s output, and this bottle offers only light cherry flavors and not much gravitas.
2010 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina ($20)
Nice savory components and gripping tannins, but a rather simple wine.
2012 Guidobono Langhe nebbiolo ($14)
From Barolo’s neighboring region, the wine has tart cherry fruit with a long, lean finish — the formula for many a good food wine. Not a lot of complexity.
2012 Rapitalia “Nadir” Sicily syrah ($14)
Ripe raspberry flavors with a touch of chalkiness — nice balance, light tannins.
2011 Castello Monaci “Artas” Salento primitivo ($27)
Ripe, somewhat-sweet fruit with textured raspberry and blackberry flavors with dusty tannins. Related to zinfandel, it reminds of a late-harvest one from the Russian River Valley.
2010 Castello Monaci “Artas” Salento primitivo (about $49 — magnum)
Again, flavors of old-vine zin with extra-ripe cherries and cigar-box notes. A lot like a ripasso from Italy’s north, it’s a wine made to drink with red meats and yellow cheeses.
2011 Santi “Solane” Valpolicella ripasso classic superior ($14)
Very interesting flavors for those of us who enjoy gamey pungency in their wines, yet it lacks typical ripasso intensity.