Icario Rosso Toscana – Value Vino

With this $15 Tuscan red blend, I’ve initiated the research program for our upcoming 7th WineKnow event on the “World’s Greatest Wine Values.”

The UK’s premier wine magazine, Decanter, awarded this wine a stunning 93 point score. (In fact, they gave it a 18.5 score – out of 20 – but most wine retailers just multiply that score by five to make it comparable to everyone else’s 100-point scale.)

With a 93-point Score, Icario is Flying Pretty Close to the Tuscan Sun!

That means that this wine cost $0.16 per point – one of the lowest prices-per-point I’ve seen. In other words, this wine offers incredible value compared to other high-scoring wines.

Decanter wrote that the Icario boasts a “classic Sangiovese nose of red cherries and earthy notes. Rich and juicy mouth-feel, with velvety tannins and fresh acidity.”

I agree. It’s easy, true to its appellation, balanced and delicious! This one is definitely going into the next WineKnow lineup!

Tonight I happened to make spaghetti with marinara sauce and crumbled Italian-style sausage, which just cried out for a local wine like this.

BTW: I much prefer Decanter’s easy-to-understand reviews compared to the often ridiculous comparisons (Meyer Lemon? Damson Plum?) and fanciful allusions (a sighing odalisque?) in US wine mags.

WineKnow Facts:

  • This is an IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) wine from Toscana that is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Teroldego and 10% Merlot.
  • In Italy, the quality pyramid goes DOCG –> DOC –> IGT.
  • With so much Sangiovese, why isn’t it labeled Chianti? They could charge a lot more money, right?
  • One reason is the Merlot. By regulation, this ‘foreign’ grape is not allowed in Chianti wines.
  • Another reason is likely the location or locations where the grapes were sourced. If they were all sourced from Chianti Classico or any of the famous sub-regions, they would shout this out on the label.
  • Instead, this is likely a blend that includes grapes grown in non-Chianti areas of Tuscany. (I later learned that the winery is based in Montepulciano, and also produces Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano! The modern winery looks like a great place to visit!)
  • In any cases, the inclusions of the Merlot means that they couldn’t label the wine as Chianti Classico even if ALL the grapes were grown in the Chianti Classico region!

Extraordinary Flaccianello

At its peak, my wine collection exceeded 4,000 bottles. For a decade, I’d been reading and researching, hunting down and buying wines from all over the world. These bottles all got sent to Portland Wine Storage, where they sat…and sat…and sat. It wasn’t affordable (import duties) or logistically feasible (dodgy transport/storage) to get these wines out to where we were living in Asia, so I just kept making ‘deposits’ without any ‘withdrawals.’

Now that we’re back in the USA, I’ve been a lot more active: selling cases of wine via Hart Davis Hart and drinking a fair amount too. I always make sure that I take a couple of bottles of the best stuff for me to try. That’s why most the ‘cases’ I sell through HDH are 9 or 10-bottle lots!

My Reward After a Hard Day’s Work

Having finished two days of moving boxes around at Portland Wine Storage, I thought it would be nice to share a famous bottle with Joe and the guys. I chose the Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pieve 2010. This wine regularly features in Wine Spectator’s Top 100, and one of the years was #1. The 2010 bottling earned 97 WE / 97 WA / 94 WS.

Here’s what WE had to say: “The 2010 Flaccianello della Pieve will take your breath away. This is a seriously beautiful Sangiovese-based wine with the kind of intensity and aromatic purity you only experience every 1,000 wines or so…The temptation to drink it now is huge, but those still young tannins definitely need a few more years to unwind. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035.”

I poured it through an aerator into a decanter and did my best to accelerate what shouldn’t be accelerated. As I taste more and more of my 8 to 10-year old wines, I’m learning that 1-2 hours decanting is often the difference between disappointment and elation.

The wine tasted extraordinary: great dribbling handfuls of fruit that ranged from red to black, lush tannins, lively acidity and a long finish that tasted of licorice and tobacco. 100% Sangiovese. I don’t typically think of myself as a Sangiovese super-fan. Maybe I was just drinking the wrong stuff! Joe told me that he would only have one glass (still on the clock) but it took little coercion for him to have a second.

I’ve got two bottles left (selling the other nine.) One is going to be enjoyed this week with my wife. I love sharing the most extraordinary bottles with her. The next will disappear during my writing retreat next month (I’m 90% done with my first book!)