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!

Podere La Villa – Giacomo Toscana IGT (2014)

I drank this wine on my 46th birthday (January 31, if you’d like to send a bottle next year!) Unfortunately, my enjoyment of this delicious Italian Merlot was spoiled by a trip to the emergency room. Unbeknownst to me, I had stumbled into a patch of poison oak while hiking. It took a month for me to be able to walk normally!

This is a 100% Merlot from Tuscany crafted by the daughter and son-in-law of the late, great Giacomo Taschis, Ilaria. He died in 2016, not long after this wine from his daughter was released. Only 1,900 bottles of this wine were produced (their Merlot acreage isn’t that big) and I got a CASE!

Giacomo was an oenologist who became known as “The Father of Super-Tuscans” and for having kick-started the quality renaissance in Italian wine in the 1960s and 1970s. Some say he brought French style and techniques to antiquated Italian winemaking.

He worked with Piero Antinori and helped develop Sassicaia, Tignanello, and Solaia.┬áHe later helped in both Sicily (Donnafugata) and in Sardinia. Basically, this guy “dragged Italian wine kicking and screaming into the 20th century,” as Jancis Robinson wrote.
Decanter’s “Man of the Year” in 2012

Giacomo Toscana IGT Podere La Villa 2015 (750ML) zoom

*** My tasting notes

Lovely. Dark purple, nose of blackberry and cedar. Medium-heavy in the mouth, the alcohol levels were in the middle of the range for Merlots at 14.5%. Plush black fruits. Going to love tasting the remaining bottles over the next few years!

WINEKNOW FACTS:

  • Most Europe labels its wines by region. Within that region, only certain grapes are allowed. So Tuscany is mostly about Sangiovese – BY LAW.
  • The “Super Tuscans” are massively popular Italian wines made from international grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah) and often blended with Sangiovese.
  • Since they’re not following the rules, these winemakers are forced to indicate their wine as IGT (Italian for ‘typical of this region’) which doesn’t sound very high-end at all.
  • But no matter. Wines like Tignanello and Sassicaia are global superstars.