Two Great Value-priced Italian Red Wines for February
Wine for february - Under $20
Il Molino di Grace, “Il Volano” Toscano Rosso IGT 2008 (about $14)
The Il Molino di Grace winery is located a short distance from the town of Panzano in the heart of Tuscany’s famed Chianti Classico zone. The winery is named after an historic 19th century watermill (mulino or molino) located on the property and the Grace family, the current owners of the winery.
While grapes have been cultivated on this property for hundreds of years it wasn’t until Frank Grace, an American businessman, purchased the historic property in 1995 that winery began to produce its own wines using estate-grown grapes. Today, the estate has approximately 100 acres under vine and the management team consists of Frank, his son Tim Grace and the winery’s manager, Gerhard Hirmer. Franco Barnabei, a respected consulting winemaker, also adds value to the winemaking process.
The estate produces a small line of Chianti Classico and Super-Tuscan wines. Its two top-of-the-line wines, the Super-Tuscan “Gratius” and the Chianti Classico Riserva, are both made entirely of Sangiovese and year-after-year garner rave reviews.
The “Il Volano” is the estate’s entry-level wine and is a blend of 75 percent Sangiovese and 25 percent Merlot. The grapes are manually harvested in late September to early October, undergo a 20 day fermentation and then the wine is aged in steel and bottle prior to release for sale.
It’s a youthful but immensely appealing wine with fruity and floral aromas, smooth tannins and zesty red cherry and currant flavors. While it lacks the intensity of the estate’s more famous and more expensive red wines it is, nonetheless, an impressive Sangiovese and Merlot blend that is sure to please and a great value at this price. Serve with soups, vegetable entrees and pasta with meat-based sauces.
Giovanni Rocca, “Bricco Ravera” Barolo 2007 (about $35)
This wine is produced by the small family-run winery of Tenuta Giovanni Rocca. The winery was originally managed by brothers Bruno and Gianni who in 1986 began to modernize the vineyards and cellar. The day-to-day operations of the winery have since 2011 been managed by Gianni and his son Andrea with the assistance of wine consultant Piero Ballario.
The Giovanni Rocca estate consists of several vineyards comprising 37 acres of vineyards around the town of Montforte d’Alba in the heart of the Langhe district in the Piedmont region. Here they grow a number of red and white varieties for their Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Barbera and Barolo wines.
The 2007 “Bricco Ravera” Barolo is made from single-vineyard Nebbiolo grapes that undergo fermentation in temperature-controlled tanks. The wine spends 2 years ageing in oak barrels with an additional year in the bottle prior to release for distribution.
It’s a beautiful rendition of a Barolo that will go head-to-head with some of the best. It has good body and structure, intense flavors and firm tannins that will please the most discriminating Barolo enthusiast. And saving the best for last, this wine is an exceptional value and sells for about half of what an otherwise equivalent Barolo sells for.
I don’t believe in the practice of rating wines by numerical scores but for what it’s worth, the Wine Spectator gave the 2007 Bricco Ravera a rating of 93 on their 100 point scale. This wine has also been the recipient of numerous wine awards in various tastings and competitions.
The wine will age well for another 10 to 15 years but it’s very tempting to simply drink it now, especially when a roast rack of lamb with rosemary is on the menu.
My recommendation is to stock up on as much of this wine as your wallet can afford. You’ll thank me later for it.
January 9, 2014
To view other wine of the month selections, see Monthly Wine Reviews