Super Tuscan / Italy
Cabernet - Sangiovese Blend
Those of you that follow my column know I am a sucker for a good blend. In the United States we have a history of blending classic varietals, from jug wine to $200 Meritage blends. The French have Bordeaux and the Aussies have their classic GSM and Shiraz/Viognier blend. In all cases the combination of individual varietals often creates something greater then each component alone.
In Italy, this classic combination is generically called "Super Tuscan". A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, this Italian gem has found a permanent place in my cellar. Each grape is allowed to show off its individual strengths in this wine. The Sangiovese brings red fruit and aromatics and the Cabernet brings structure and richness to the blend. Each grape unselfishly shows off the strengths of the other. Isn't that the way any good partnership succeeds?
Tenute del Cabreo in a partnerhip of Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari. This father and son team was formerly active in the family firm of Ruffino. The family has been making notable wine since the 1700's, and Tunute del Cabreo is a venture launched in 2000. The focus of the Cabreo estate is Super Tuscan, but they have a portfolio of other Italian classics that have been well reviewed.
Everything about this wine is well done. Even the bottle is premium. It is heavy and feels expensive. You assume before even opening the wine that you are in for a treat. The wine is fragrant, with lots of red fruit, red and black current, oak spice and surprisingly a bit of bacon fat. The flavor of black cherry, raspberry, black pepper and even some coffee are layered nicely in this wine. Big and full bodied, the wine is rich and elegant. Although the oak is obvious it is well integrated and actually adds to the profile. The finish is long and satisfying. This will stand up nicely to a big roast or rich fatty steak. You can drink this now, but be sure to decant it a few hours for best showing. It has the structure to age 10 years or more in the cellar. I look forward to seeing how this beauty evolves.
This wine was around $50 when released. Although it is certainly worth the money, I seldom review wines in this price range and label it "value" wine. Value though, does not have to have a low price tag. It simply means you get more then you pay in satisfaction. This wine definitely qualifies. There are many $100 California Cabernet's and proprietary blends that would get a run for the money from this Italian classic.
What if I told you that you could find this wine at $24.99? At that price, it is a screaming value. It is currently available in Pennsylvania at many of their Premium wine stores. As with all great values, there is limited supply. If you live in Pennsylvania, or within driving distance to any of their state stores, you can order on line and pick up at any of their locations convenient to you. Although they will not ship out of state, make the drive. This wine is a steal and will knock your sock off. Better yet, buy a case and drink it over the next 10 years.