Two Great Red Wines from Celebrated Italian Wineries

Wine for october - less than $20

Tenuta San Leonardo, “Terre di San Leonardo” Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso IGT 2008 (about $19)

This medium-bodied Bordeaux-style red blend is from the historic Tenuta San Leonardo estate in the province of Trentino in northeastern Italy. Although owned by the Guerrieri Gonzaga family since 1770, it wasn’t until the early 1980’s that the estate’s wines started to gain the world’s attention.

That’s when the current owner, the Marchese Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga, returned to San Leonardo after spending some time at the storied Tenuta San Guido winery in Tuscany where the highly-acclaimed Bordeaux-style, Super-Tuscan “Sassicaia” is produced. He became an impassioned believer in Bordeaux varieties and their potential for producing world-class wines at San Leonardo. When he returned to his ancestral estate he began replacing the native varieties in his vineyards with mostly traditional Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Then with the assistance of the renowned consulting winemaker Carlo Ferrini, he set to work producing world-class Bordeaux-style wines.

Today, the flagship wine of Tenuta San Leonardo is “San Leonardo”, a great red Bordeaux-style wine of considerable elegance. Produced only in the best vintages, it is much prized by wine cognoscenti. It has won numerous wine awards and is a serial recipient of Gambero Rosso’s coveted Tre Bicchieri (“Three Glasses”) award.

San Leona2008 Tenuta San Leonardo, Terre di San Leonardordo’s “Terre di San Leonardo” is the baby brother, so to speak, of the award-winning “San Leonardo.”  It also is a Bordeaux-style wine that is a half-and-half blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from San Leonardo’s vineyards. After fermentation is complete, 80 percent of the wine is aged in large oak barrels for 18 months and 20 percent in barriques for approximately 6 months. The wine then spends an additional 6 months ageing in the bottle prior to release.  

Unlike many over-the-top Cabernet blends from New World wineries, the 2008 Terre di San Leonardo is an elegant, medium-bodied red wine respectful of its patrimony. It has subtle aromas of currants and dried flowers and soft tannins nicely balance its dark cherry and plum flavors.

With this wine everything is in place and nothing is in excess. It is in sum a delicious, elegant and inexpensive red wine just waiting for your next dinner party.

Wine for October – over $20

Agricola Punica, “Montessu” Isola dei Nuraghi 2010 (about $28)

This interesting winery came into being in 2002 as a collaborative venture between some of the most prominent names in the Italian wine world such as the cooperative producer Cantina di Santadi in Sardinia, Tenuta San Guido of Sassicaia fame and legendary Italian winemaking consultant, Giacomo Tachis, among others.

Agricola Punica consists of a 370 acre estate located in the southwestern corner of the Italian island of Sardegna (Sardinia). It produces only two wines - Barrua and Montessu - both of which are Carignano-based blends.

Of Spanish origin, Carignano is perfectly suited to the dry, sun-drenched terrain of southwestern Sardegna. This late-ripening grape produces deeply colored, warm and spicy wines with naturally high acidity and assertive tannins. It is often blended with other varieties to soften the tannins and add complexity.

The 2010 Montessu consists of 60 percent Carignano with 10 percent each of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. 2010 Agricola Punica, “Montessu” Isola dei Nuraghi Following the Super-Tuscan model, it may be thought of as a Carignano-based “Super-Sardinian” wine.

The grapes are harvested in late September through mid-October. The different varieties are separately fermented and aged in French oak barrels. After 15 months the wines are blended and then aged for an additional 6 months in the bottle prior to release for sale.

The 2010 Montessu is full-bodied, remarkably rich and complex. The aromas are a little hesitant but a gentle swishing of the wine in a glass releases intense aromas and mouth-coating black fruit flavors that have touches of cedar and kitchen spices. It is a delicious wine at a very agreeable price.

This wine is natural companion for rich, flavorful dishes such as pasta with red, meaty sauces, most any grilled red meat or pork and robust stews or dishes such as osso buco.


©Richard Marcis
October 8, 2013

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