Although Italy has 1,500,000 or more vineyard acres and at least 350 DOC varietals, the region Americans are most likely to associate with “Italian wine” is Tuscany. There are many grapes grown there and many types of wine produced, but the reigning monarch of the region is Sangiovese, the basis for Chianti, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, and Brunello. Some of Tuscany’s wineries are centuries old (Frescobaldi dates to the 1300s!). Many are small, family-driven businesses – some are huge (Avignonesi’s grounds span nearly 500 acres). Wine permeates Tuscan culture – not surprising, since the tradition of winemaking here is believed to have begun with the Etruscans. Suffice to say, these folks are experienced.
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Need a trip to Tuscany but can't spare the plane fare? Rx: some good olives, a plate of salumi, and a bottle of Avignonesi Grandi Annate 2011, a single vineyard 100% Sangiovese that will transport you.
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Ridiculously Picturesque alert! The Castle at the Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo estate in Montalcino. This estate is home to world-class Brunello.
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The estate of Pomino dates from 1500, the year the castle of the same name was built, and has been famous for centuries for its perfect micro-niche for Chardonnay. These are Chardonnay grapes for the Pomino Bianco, the smallest and most acclaimed Tuscan DOC for white wines.
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Lamberto Frescobaldi is the 30th generation President of this ancient winery.
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Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina is one of the historic wines produced as the Castello di Nipozzano. Chianti can be a real roughneck sometimes. Not when these guys make it. This is a delicate and beautiful expression of Tuscan terroir.
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The Avignonesi estate is a 500-acre sprawl of rolling hills, beautiful old buildings, cypress and olive trees, and lots of vines.
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Sangiovesi can also be made into sweet wines. These clusters are partially dried to concentrate their sugars.
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Family-owned since the 11th century! Castiglioni is the point of origin of wine production for the Frescobaldis. Wine has been made here continuously since the 1300s.
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The road-rules for making Vino Nobile allow blending up to 30% of other red varietals, but Avignonesi Vino Nobile is 100% Sangiovese. This gives them a unique style and a really high-quality wine at a more affordable price point than the sometimes wildly expensive Brunello wines.
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Good Guy Alert: Frescobaldi has invested over $100,000 annually into "Frescobaldi per Gorgona," a project that teaches winemaking skills to prisoners on the penal island of Gorgona.
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Virginie Saverys, owner of Avignonesi, believes in wines with a strong territorial imprint. Sangiovese is a very versatile grape with many expressions; Saverys strives to produce Vino Nobile that fully reveals the complexities of Tuscany's key grape.