The region of Tuscany, located in central Italy, is considered the cultural epicenter of the country. Tuscany is also regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and Florence, its capital, was once home to masters Dante, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; their respective masterpieces need no introduction. Tuscany is also one of the greatest wine producing regions of the world. From its subtle, rolling hills come “Super Tuscans” and Chiantis. Some of the most lauded Super Tuscans include Sassicaia, Solaia, Ornellaia and Tignanello. These wines are in the same ranks as the big boys produced in Bordeaux and Napa.
While not the tour de force that are the aforementioned wines—but much more affordable—the 2009 I BALZINI White Label Toscana, evenly comprised of the native Sangiovese varietal and Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibits typical qualities of a Super Tuscan. The nose of this wine expresses a bouquet of violets. On the palate, the Sangiovese (which is the same grape used to make Chianti) and Cabernet Sauvignon complement each other, with neither dominating the flavor profile of this wine. The dominant, savory flavors include black currant, cocoa and leather. Oak is present but it is tucked away in the background and most evident mid-palate. Mild tannins are most evident on the finish. There is a noticeable acidity that suggests some further aging potential, but give this wine around 15 minutes to breathe and this baby is ready. Not entirely surprising, pasta with red sauce is an ideal food pairing. This wine is a great entryway for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the riches that Tuscany has to offer, one glass at a time. –R.K.
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