Tuscan wines have been increasing in popularity among American wine
ever since the region became the darling of American travel writers in
1990's. That is to say, as travelers have discovered the beauty of the
Tuscan countryside, they've discovered the wines that everyday Tuscans
both ordinary and extraordinary. In general, quality Tuscan wines are
greater in number than the wines of many other Italian regions, but the
vintage offered wine lovers a momentous occasion: choose any bottle,
price range, and you can't go wrong.
The much-touted Brunellos and Super Tuscans of the vintage haven't even
released yet, but the Chiantis and Rosso di Montalcinos I've tried are
stellar. And I've discovered a few table wines that taste like reserve
bottlings, some of which are even ageworthy.
First on my list is the Fattoria de Bocce Chianti Classico Riserva, a
at $18. It's drinkable now, but will cellar for 4-5 years. Like all
Chiantis, it's fabulous with pizza and pastas with tomato sauces. It's
perfect alongside the great American hamburger.
The Selvapiana Chianti Riserva is the best I've ever seen from this
widely distributed bottlings. It's $19, and a couple of cases will get
through the upcoming crisp fall nights. It's a fruity wine with the
structure to match. The tannins are rounded at the edges, making it a
wine to drink now. It doesn't have much aging potential, so don't
Serve it with grilled meats or even salmon. Selvapiana also offers an
more widely available regular bottling for $13. It's not as showy as
reserve wine, but I'd give it a solid grade of B.
Fattoria dei Barbi is a heavy hitter with its Brunellos, but the 1997
di Montalcino is a delightful bargain. It's an earthy, medium-bodied
that will pair nicely with stews or a red sauce with a spicy kick. At
it's hard to pass up, and also hard not to fantasize about what their
Brunellos will taste like upon release. Decadent splurges come to
Last but not least is a wine from the Maremma, a little-known coastal
Tuscany that produces delicious wines. The Rossetti Morellino di
a beauty: lush, spicy, and smooth. At $10 a bottle, it's even more
impressive, and you can bet that next year's release will be more
regardless of the growing season. I like this wine with duck liver
When the Brunellos and Super Tuscans are released later this year, I'm
to relish my stash of affordable, ordinary Tuscan wines from 1997, all
which happen to be quite extraordinary.