Rosso di Montalcino is the younger, less tannic, brighter and less concentrated relative of Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello must be aged for at least four years after the vintage before it can be released while Rosso di Montalcino requires only one year of aging before it can be released, which gives producers something to sell as they await the Brunello.
Rosso’s will be easier to drink and more pleasurable on release than Brunellos, which generally requires some aging. They are less expensive. They will not have the depth of Brunello, but they can be delicious everyday reds.
Like Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino is required to be 100 percent Sangiovese, specifically the local ‘Grosso’. This sets the Montalcino wines apart from other Tuscan sangiovese-based wines like Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, in which blending with other grapes is permitted.
Generally, on the palate you will notice a depth of black cherry and wild-berry fruit, and the careful use of oak reveals a hint of spice and vanilla. The wine is versatile with food. It will go with many Italian dishes, especially with cooked tomato sauce, as well as cooked meats like sausages, beef and roast chicken. Serve just a bit cool, though not chilled.
Two Rosso di Montalcino’s we have here in the store are the 2015 Castello Banfi ($24.99) and the 2014 La Togata($29.99).
With the Banfi you will notice supple tannins and lower acidity. On the nose you have fresh and fruity characteristics of violet and cherry. This modern style offers a medium plus body with fruity notes, especially raspberry. A year in Slavonian and French oak adds additional softness. You will notice a rich long lasting finish.
The grapes for the La Togata, from the mostly southern facing slopes of Montalcino, are selected from more than 20 year old vines at the end of September. They age for a year entirely in Slavonian oak. This wine is more old world style than Banfi, with an earthy and slightly dusty notes. A hint of spice and cherry notes are present on the palate. A great food wine.