Above: The Sangiovese grape is the quintessential red variety of Italy. It’s grown all over the country, from the farthest points north to the island of Sicily. But the best Sangiovese wines come from Tuscany, where Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana is made.
The literal translation of “Rosso di Toscana” is “red [wine] from Tuscany.”
“IGT” on the other hand is an acronym for indicazione geografica tipica, which rendered in English, means “typical geographic indication.”
“Rosso di Toscana IGT” is the name of an appellation.
What’s an appellation?
An appellation is a designation or name given to specific wine producing area. Not only does it denote a geographic area, but it also lays out the grapes and winemaking methods that can be used in that area.
In this case, the Rosso di Toscana IGT covers the entire region of Tuscany, where some of Italy’s most famous wines are made.
The Rosso di Toscana IGT was created many years ago for wines that were made in Tuscany but that didn’t belong to a given appellation.
For example, Brunello di Montalcino must be made with 100 percent Sangiovese grapes.
If you live in Montalcino (the village where both Brunello di Montalcino and Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana IGT are made) and you want to make a wine that has grapes other than Sangiovese in it, you can’t call it Brunello di Montalcino but you can call it Rosso di Toscana IGT.
And that’s exactly what the winemaker at Mazzoni, Alessandro Bindocci, did.
Because he wanted to make a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, he called it a Rosso di Toscana IGT.
The Sangiovese — Italy’s most important red grape — gives the wine its zing and its brilliant fruit notes. The Merlot gives it a smooth texture, rich color, and depth of flavor.
It’s a perfect balance of what the two grapes have to offer.
And it’s a Rosso di Toscana IGT!
True to the Roots
By Thomas Caestecker
Tasting Panel, December 2013
A deft balance of innovation and tradition allows Il Poggione to stand out in Montalcino.
The aspect of tradition is so axiomatic in Italian winemaking that, for some in the industry, it might produce a bit of obstinacy. This can be true for both government authorities loath to tweaking regulations, or insistent and stubborn vintners who cling to a hard line.
Alessandro Bindocci, winemaker for the famed Montalcino-based Il Poggione (along with his winemaking father, Fabrizio), is not bound by intractability. To be sure, he’s reverent toward the example of his father and Tenuta Il Poggione’s historic mastery of Brunello. But Bindocci is always on the cutting edge of both enology and technology — and not merely because his trusty smartphone monitors the minutiae of the winemaking process. His blog, Montalcino Report (www.montalcinoreport.com), is unique to the region. He has also introduced cirtical winemaking techniques that have dovetailed nicely with the bevy of traditional practices.
Please click here for veteran wine writer Anthony Giglio’s excellent article on the history of wine in Montalcino for the debut issue of the Grape Collective, the hottest new wine-focused publication today.
And please see below an interview with Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci, whose wines were featured in Giglio’s piece.
Above: The glorious Sangiovese grape, the variety behind some of Italy’s greatest wines.
A few weeks ago, the great American wine writer Eric Asimov, who writes a weekly column for the New York Times, outed himself on social media.
“I’m having a love affair with the Sangiovese grape,” he wrote on his Twitter, “and I don’t care who knows about it.”
What’s all the excitement about?
The answer: Sangiovese, Italy’s quintessential red grape, grown in every one of Italy’s 20 regions, and vilified most famously in Tuscany, where it is used to make some of the most coveted wines in the world.
One of the things that makes Sangiovese so unique is the fact that it is a thin-skinned but tannic red grape (wine gets its tannin from the skin of the grape). As a result, it can produce a wine that is light in body but that also has great nuance and structure, as they say in the wine trade.
The other thing about Sangiovese is its unmistakable plum and red fruit flavors that make it a favorite pairing — in Italy and beyond — for roast and grilled meats.
The best known “expression” of Sangiovese is Brunello di Montalcino, an appellation where it is vilified as a monovarietal wine, in other words, a single-grape wine.
Alessandro Bindocci, the winemaker behind Mazzoni Toscana Rosso, produces one of the most prestigious Brunellos at the estate where his family has worked for four generations, Tenuta Il Poggione (Eric is a big fan of their wine).
But knowing that wine lovers can’t drink Brunello every night (it’s really a “special occasion” wine), Alessandro created the Mazzoni Toscana Rosso — a blend of Sangiovese, grown on the same estate where the Brunello is produced, and Merlot — to give Sangiovese fans a more approachable, ready-to-drink version of his family’s wines.
The young Sangiovese vines used to make it give the wine the zinging vibrancy and freshness that you need in a food-friendly wine. And the Merlot gives it some extra depth and nuance.
That’s Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci (right) last night in Austin with legendary Texas wine writer Wes Marshall, who named the Mazzoni Pinot Grigio his “wine of the week” in July 2013.
“A food wine extraordinaire,” wrote Wes. “This is the kind of wine you want to buy by the case.”
We’ll be posting more notes from Alessandro’s trip in coming days.
Just feast your eyes on those beautiful Merlot grapes!
Last week, the winemakers at the Tenuta Il Poggione in Montalcino began harvesting the Merlot grapes for Mazzoni Toscana Rosso, the Mazzoni “Super Tuscan.”
The growing season was a little touch-and-go this year: the flowering and budding came late and then late spring rains pushed harvest back even further.
But a great summer made up for any previous concerns and winemaker Alessandro Bindocci is expecting one of his best vintages ever for the wines.
Stay tuned… We’ll be posting more on the harvest as it progresses.
How does it feel to have the wine writer Wall Street Journal tell the world that she read your blog regularly?
That’s exactly what happened to Memphis-based wine blogger Ben Carter when the journal’s wine editor Lettie Teague — one of the top wine writers in the world — wrote that Ben’s Benito’s Wine Reviews was one of five blogs that she “really clicked with.”
Ben recently tasted Mazzoni Bianco di Toscana and Mazzoni Pinot Grigio.
Here are his tasting notes:
2011 Mazzoni Pinot Grigio
100% Pinot Grigio
Ripe apricot aromas and flavors dominate with a big, round body. This is not one of your watery, weak Pinot Grigio bottles, but rather a fairly substantial white wine with good acidity. I found it to work well with the clam chowder, and it held up well with the black pepper and hot sauce.
2011 Mazzoni Bianco di Toscana
90% 75% Vermentino, 10% 25% Chardonnay
This was a more gentle wine with a light peach profile, slightly musky undertones, and a bright acidic finish. Just a little touch of minerals underneath provided some well-enjoyed depth, and overall it had the right balance of characteristics to go well with the lobster tail.