2009 Col d’Orcia “Banditella” Rosso di Montalcino

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Piedmont Italy

The Col d’Orcia Banditella Rosso di Montalcino is a deep ruby color, but this four-year-old is showing some signs of age through a slight pixelation at the rim. A waft of alcohol delivers a basket of cherries, plums, stewed fruits, earth and savory dry herbs to the nose. Shapely legs dripping down the glass confirm its high alcohol content. Dry, tannic, yet fruit-forward on the palate. Sour cherries and blackberries express the Sangiovese grape. The “youth” or ripeness of expression may be owing to this particular designation’s status as a little brother to Brunello. There is a cinnamon / baking spice note that indicates new toasted oak and helps tame the tannins. As opposed to a traditional Brunello with dense chewy tannins, this wine doesn’t require extended aging. In fact, you can enjoy it now (or keep it for another 20+ years if you have a good amount of willpower).

Col d’Orcia means hill overlooking the Orcia river, both great features from a winemaking perspective (hills for exposure or aspect, and the river for temperature control). The vineyard has a southern exposure, and is 300m above sea level (both good for fully ripening grapes). The clayey soil may help impart that Right Bank Bordeaux feeling to this wine. The winemaker, Count Francesco Marone Cinzano has some pretty impressive credentials himself. Besides the noble blood, Count Cinzano is a leading proponent of biodynamic viticulture.

Sangiovese, also called Sangiovese Grosso, Brunello, Prugnolo Gentile and  Sangioveto (in Chianti) is the most widely planted grape in Italy. By any name, it is a lovely complement to Greg’s eggplant sandwich. Young, simple Sangioveses with their gentle spice easily match the full salty flavors of eggplant and feta cheese.

A very good value for a Brunello.

Ken Eskenazi

Pairs With Fried Eggplant Sandwiches

Price $30

Also pairs well with spicy Italian food, grilled steak, grilled portabello mushrooms over polenta, and stewed rabbit ragù over pappardelle

  • Category Red Wine
  • Varietal Sangiovese
  • Region Piedmont Italy