Antonio Sanguineti, one of Tuscany's most respected winemakers, recently visited Boise. Known as the Maestro in Italy, a reference to his exceptional palate, Sanguineti is one of the driving forces behind Small Vineyards, an importing house specializing in finding wines of unique quality and value. As a child, his family fell upon hard times and was forced to sell their own vineyards. So now, Sanguineti serves as a consultant for others, taking a portion of each vineyard's best grapes as payment. From these, he crafts his own exceptional wines. Here are my notes on a few favorites:
2001 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Made from Prugnolo Gentile, a clone of the Sangiovese grape that is said to produce a more gentle wine than its cousins in Chianti and Brunello. Be that as it may, the aromas are big and bold with dark cherry and hints of black pepper and olives. It's a rich mouthful of wine that explodes with bright cherry flavors and ripe tannins. Excellent acid balance plays out especially on the long velvety finish. A quintessential food wine that would go great with everything from pizza to eggplant parmesan.
2003 Rosso di Montepulciano, $12.99
A blend of Prugnolo Gentile (80 percent) and Merlot, this baby brother of the Vino Nobile packs a lot of bang for the buck. Opens with aromas of ripe plum and berries, soft herbs (basil and oregano) backed by a bit of creamy chocolate. This is a softly succulent wine with ripe berry fruit and currant flavors, supple tannins and a velvety finish that lingers on and on.
2003 Nessun Dorma, $8.99
Named for Antonio's favorite aria, this is his take on a Super Tuscan but without the Super Tuscan price. It's an unusual blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah that offers dried cherry and spice aromas with touches of mocha, toast and coffee. Lively cherry fruit flavors are backed by anise and chocolate with smooth tannins coming through on the finish. An exceptional wine at an extraordinary price-don't miss out on this one!