From the Wine Cellar: Mainly Tuscan Reds

The best of the sangiovese grape

If Tuscany was a computer, it would bear the logo, "Powered by Sangiovese," the primary and traditional, though not exclusive, grape of the area noted for its cherry flavors and raspy, citrusy finishes.

Of the nine wines here, eight are Tuscan, with the outlier being a barbera from Piemonte. Of special note are the first four, all from Morellino di Scansano, a region within a region — that is, a part of the Maremma coastal area of Tuscany. Most vineyards in Maremma are fairly recent plantings but well-known for producing super-Tuscan blends using international grape varieties in addition to, or instead of, sangiovese.

Wines from Morellino di Scansano in the southern hills of Maremma have a little more history of production than do those from coastal Maremma, but, until recently, were not much available in the U.S. Let’s give them a popping-of-the-corks welcome.

Prices are approximate and will vary from wine shop to wine shop.

2010 Pietramora di Colle Fagiano Morellino di Scansano ($20). Full-bodied, dark cherry flavors with raisins and a touch of citrus. Long on the palate. Takeaway: Just a step down from classic Tuscan reds.

2007 Fattoria le Pupile Elisabetta Geppetti "Poggio Valente" Morellino di Scansano Riserva ($20). Lots of barrel notes, leathery aromas, dark cherry flavors with violets. Full at the front, rusty lean in the finish. Takeaway: A big traditional wine that is both complex and lumbering.

2010 Lohsa "Terre del Poliziano" Morellino di Scansano ($15). Gamey, fruity, raspy, pungent, a little light. Takeaway: Although the wine is still coming together, it should not stay long in the cellar.

2008 Bargagli Primo Morellini di Scansano Riserva. Full, dark cherry flavors with some wood notes of mature cooperage. Good texture, rounded, full. Takeaway: A nice, serviceable wine that can go well with most meats and red pastas.

2009 Piccini Chianti Classico ($16). Tart cherry flavors, lean and citrusy — a pleasant food wine but not complex. Takeaway: If you’re over 50, this is the chianti you remember from college.

2009 Beni di Batasiolo "Sovrana" barbera d’Alba ($25). Dark cherry fruit, tangy with citrusy texture, a touch of balsamic, good acidity. Takeaway: A barbera that is more on the savory side than the fruit-forward style.

2009 Rosso di Casanova di Neri ($20). Nice fresh cherry flavors overlaying a lean structure with a hint of bitter chocolate in the finish. Takeaway: The wine equivalent of a box of drugstore chocolates.

2010 Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano ($14). Straight-forward sangiovese with light cherry flavors and a lean, citrusy finish. Takeaway: A perfect apperitivo to get the gastric juices singing, "Bring on the food!"


2009 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($26). Not big in mouth volume, but it has a lot of substance — dark fruits, dusty tannins, well-integrated oak, and a big finish. Takeaway: The wine has contrasting characteristics that would match either a rare-meat rack of lamb or a falling-off–the-bone osso bucco.