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Big wine: Brunello di Montalcino strikes again

Posted on: October 18th, 2012 by Tom Peiffer 1 Comment

Imagine washing down a big plate of lasagna with an Italian red wine that really stands up to all that cheese and sauce.  You may just have dreamed up a Brunello di Montalcino.

And these wines don’t mess around.  What makes them so perfect, is that they are quite suited to our North American tastes, especially when it comes to pairing them with hearty pastas.

Of course that “bigness” is the root of a controversy that, at one time, found regional Italian producers accused (and later vindicated) of mixing in Cabernet and Merlot with the traditional Sangiovese grape.  At any rate, whatever they’re doing, we sure don’t mind here in the States where big-bodied red wines are very welcome, thank you.

One of these big wines, a 2005 (they must age at the winery for at least 4 years) Pinzale Brunello di Montalcino Vinea Familiae creation, has been in and out of our Phoenix area Costco stores at $19.95.  It has also been available at AJs from time to time.

With a darker ruby color than a typical Sangiovese wine, it is easy to see why the Italian “wine police” suspected vintners in the area of mixing in Cab and Merlot.  But its bouquet of red cherries, hint of cedar and earthy fruit really point to the genuine article.

This wine also lets loose with a mouthful of soft tannins, well balanced acidity, and spice.  This is a pasta partner if there ever was one!  .  Hey, if Pinzale mixed another grape in with the Sangiovese, more power to ‘em, because it turned out just fine.

Try it with Italian dishes that have thick red sauces and cheese.  It is perfect with your favorite lasagna recipe and be sure to pile on the garlic.  The wine’s body tends to amplify the flavors of the garlic and cheese and flow right along with the red sauce, yum.

Be advised that Brunello di Montalcino vinos can get quite pricy on wine lists.  Even at outlets like Total Wine, they are on the high side.  And because of their appeal to connoisseurs, the best bottles go well into the $100’s.  This makes anything under $20 a downright steal, especially one tasting like this.

Serve after 20 minutes in the fridge (about 65 degrees).  These wines are capable of aging for 10 years on the rack with no problem.

Article by Tom Peiffer, Phoenix Wine Shopping Examiner at

View more of Tom’s articles on by visiting his writer’s page.

About the Author - Tom Peiffer

Tom has been an avid wine consumer and collector for over 20 years. This pastime has taken he and his family on many visits to wine growing regions, including Arizona. During these excursions, with the accompanying tastings and lectures, it became clear that there is no "magic bullet" wine. For each wine contains its own character, strong points, and weaknesses. Sharing these experiences to help anyone purchase locally available wines is his goal.

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One Response

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