Brian Demay’s Wine Wednesday: Villa Antinori Toscana

2015 was a great vintage in Tuscany: hot, dry days, cool nights, and a light August rain which refreshed the vines just in time for harvesting. The saying “rising tides raise all ships” certainly applies, as even less expensive labels are putting out spectacular wines!

On my bucket list of places to visit, Tuscany is definitely in my top three. Considering the rolling landscapes with hillside vineyards, charming hilltop towns, and the gorgeous capital city of Florence – the epicenter of Italian Renaissance art – why wouldn’t you want to go? This week’s wine is from the heart of Tuscany, from Marchesi Antinori, a winemaking family which you can trace back to 1385. When you hear the term “Super Tuscan,” you can thank Piero Antinori, who started experimenting with non-traditional varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the 1920s, when there were strict rules against such experimentation. Back then, you didn’t blend anything with Sangiovese that wasn’t approved by the Italian governing wine council, and definitely not a French Cabernet! But the Antinori family flouted the rules, and today some of the most sought after and expensive Italian wines are so-called “Super Tuscan” blends.

The 2015 Villa Antinori Toscana is a blend of mostly Sangiovese, with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 5% Syrah. This blend has always been a favorite of mine, found on many restaurant wine lists, and available just about everywhere for less than $20. It’s a delicious mix of juicy black cherries, dark plums and spicy vanilla notes, with smooth tannins, and a very dry finish. There’s plenty of fruit to enjoy, but the wine has grip and balance that helps it stand up to just about any Italian dish, from grilled lamb to a spicy red pasta sauce.

On my five-cork scale based on taste and value I give the 2015 Villa Antinori Toscana Red 4 corks! If you haven’t had it yet, this is the vintage to try. Stock up and share a bottle by the fire.

If you’d like to try interesting wines like this, please join me at our next private wine party at Matt the Miller’s Tavern! I host a wine dinner there every month, and we feature several interesting wines, each paired with a delicious course. There are always cool prizes to win, too, so listen Wednesday at 4:15 to win your spot on the guest list, or click here for a chance to win!

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