Our Wine of the Month 2 for October is La Querciolina's 2015 Montecucco Rosso (100% Sangiovese Grosso), a wine for crisp autumn nights and hearty foods. It is evocative of a nighttime stroll in the mediterranean scrubland ("le macchie") of the Southern Tuscan region, reflecting the darker side of the Sangiovese grape from which it is made. At $18.95, this high-quality wine from a great producer is a wonderful value for lovers of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino!
La Querciolina ("the little oak") comes from the Sassetti family, multi-generational vineyard owners and winemakers who began with the historically important Pertimali estate and its famous Brunello di Montalcino. As soon as the Southern Tuscan region of Montecucco became an official wine appellation in the late 1990s, the Sassettis saw the potential for making great quality wine at fair prices and purchased the Querciolina farm, rehabilitating the vineyards according to their experienced methods. The resulting style of the wine owes a lot to the climate and terrain of the Montecucco region, which is distinct from the Montalcino wines to its north (which are in turn distinct from the wines of the classic Chianti region to its north). The estate farms organically, uses native yeast fermentation, and ages the wine for 12 months in traditional, large 3000 liter oak barrels made from subtle Slavonian oak.
The wine leads with a classic Tuscan incense-like perfume of dried herbal leaves (like bay/laurel), moderately dark fruits like black cherry & Damson plum, spice notes like black peppercorn, and subtle oak & vanillin. In the mouth, the wine is medium-full bodied, robed in plentiful crushed velvet tannins with an earthy & licorice-like sweetness in the finish. This texture begs for the cuisine of the region: rich, meat-sauced pastas (like wild boar ragu'), braised short ribs, and herbed spelt/farro or lentil soups.