Alberto Conti Toscana Rosso 2019
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I've often opined in this newsletter about my love-hate relationship with vintage changes in the wine world. I do look forward to the new vintage every year -- after all, it's that ever-changing cycle of the new harvest that largely contributes to our favorite beverage's inherent charm. The downside is waiting to preview that new vintage is often more stressful than exciting for the wine merchant, especially for customer favorites.
The last two vintages of the Alberto Conti Toscana were immediately rock-solid customer and staff favorites, so I was keeping my fingers crossed the new vintage would follow suit. Good news: the 2019 Alberto Contin Toscana is a winner!
One of Italy's best-loved grapes is Sangiovese. This is especially true when it comes from Tuscany -- a region long considered the epicenter of Sangiovese production. Local viticulture records here trace back to the eighth century B.C., and since that time, at least 14 clones of this noble grape have developed and remain in current production.
Sangiovese is indeed synonymous with some of Italy's most famous wines, notably Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and of course, the widely popular wines of Chianti. In addition to its starring role in those famous names, Sangiovese plays an equally essential part in Tuscany as a blending grape.
In the 1970s, a group of adventurous winemakers started to blend Sangiovese with a number of grapes that were not authorized for use in the region. Their choice to blend Sangiovese with locally cultivated French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot marked the birth of the "Super Tuscan."
We all love Super Tuscans; however, most of us don't love their price, so I'm always on the lookout for "Baby Super Tuscans." Once again, if you look at the wines produced by a well-regarded quality-oriented producer, nine times out of ten, their entry-level wines are not only a screaming deal, they're also crazy good for such a reasonable price. I like to refer to these wines as "Baby Super Tuscans" to note their lineage with a Super Tuscan producer, in addition to their impressive bang for the buck.
The 2019 Alberto Conti Toscana Rosso is a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Merlot. The Sangiovese provides the earthy, rustic backbone, and the Merlot contributes the plush, velvety fruit.
You're greeted with dark berry and savory aromas in the glass leading to a palate brimming with red raspberry, dried cherry, plum, and herbs. There's plenty of rich, velvety, ripe fruit in this medium-bodied red; however, it also offers just the right amount of rustic savory notes to balance the fruit and remind you that you're sipping on a bit of Tuscany.
The 2019 release is even more plush and round than the 2016 and 2017 vintages. This touch of extra extraction takes the gorgeous gloss on the fruit to the next level, and the mouthfeel is sheer velvet. The right amount of lift and brightness on the finish makes this a great summer Red you can enjoy with BBQ and grilled meats.
Hammond and I enjoyed a glass on Saturday to celebrate the arrival of this new vintage, paired with another one of Hammond's excellent Lamb and Mushroom, Pizzas. Once again, it was a stunning pairing!