Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wine Review: Monte Antico 2006 Toscana

Several weeks ago I did a post about corkscrews - which I would highly recommend you read... for another wine. But don't bother for this wine. Monte Antico's 2006 Toscana has a screw cap.

*Disclaimer: I'm about to go off on a tangent. If you only care about the way the wine tastes, skip to the picture below.

My only real problem with a screw-cap is that I can't help but feel like I'm about to crack into a brown bag of malt liquor - but What does a screw cap really mean? There really is a fair amount of debate on the subject and I'm not going to get too into it now. Suffice it to say that some argue the screw cap prevents breathing which stops the aging process. Others argue that the screw cap preserves a tastier wine and avoids cork taint and other flavor faults. This, along with economic factors seems also to have driven many winemakers to plastic corks. Italy, however, has largely leaned toward the screw-cap.

While we're learning, I want to point out that this particular blend is a Super Tuscan. So just what is a Super Tuscan? Look it isn't going to leap tall buildings in a single bound or anything like that. This naming just has to do with politics and control.

Italy has a tremendous winemaking history going back to ancient times. I recall my trip to Pompeii. The tour guide pointed out the wine bar, still preserved after being encased in Vesuvius' deadly ash cloud nearly 2000 years ago. Still, that is young in terms of this wine region. The Greeks established viticulture 800 years before Christ and the local population produced wine from wild grapes for millenia before that.

Given such a tradition, it is only fitting that there be some kind of standardization - thus the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) was established in 1963. The DOC essentially requires that the grapes are grown in certain regions, harvested according to defined methods, and meet certain standards.

To make a long story short, the Super Tuscan fails to meet the DOC standard. Why? Well, most Tuscans, like Chianti, are comprised primarily of Sangiovese grapes along with other non-DOC varietals. The Super Tuscan breaks that mold by incorporating other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

That is the case here. Monte Antico's 2006 Toscana is a blend of Sangiovese (85%), Merlot (5%), and Cabernet (10%), and can be yours for the low price of $10.99.

This wine is a nice, very clear cranberry red - far more translucent than I am accustomed to drinking. The nose is ample and gives up bits of pine, clove, pepper and pungent herbs.

In the mouth, though scant in body, this wine's bright acidity is a little overpowering. It really just sucks the moisture right out of your cheeks. Perhaps resultantly, the taste is hardly as complex as the nose. Regardless, a fair amount of red fruit flavor manages to fight its way through the tannic fray. The finish wraps up with some herb. But it doesn't go off without a hitch... there is a somewhat tinny aftertaste that was just a little off-putting to my palate. Then again, we all have different tastes!

If I had to pair this wine I'd put it with a pizza pie.


Wine Spectator put this value play at 90 points, but I'm just not feeling it. I'll give it a 3 of 5 on my scale, which equates roughly to a low-to-mid 80's score on the 100 point scale. A solid B minus. It might have earned a 3.5 (87 or 88 points) if it wasn't for the tin.

3 of 5 glasses

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