Poggio di Sotto Rosso di Montalcino 2008
This wine is not typical Rosso di Montalcino. Aged for 2 years in Slavonian Botti (the length of time most producers age their Brunellos) and made with impeccable fruit from some of Montalcino’s top vineyard sites, this is a wine of what could be.
The sub-region of Castelnuovo dell’Abate went unrecognized for many years until the mid 1980’s when producer Mastrojanni started making wines from these southeast reaches of Montalcino. The region is characterized by calcareous marl and shale, altitudes between 200-450 meters above sea-level, and well regulated temperatures (due to protection from hot sea air by the Montalcino ridge).
Founded in 1989 by Piero Palmucci as the second winery in the region, Poggio di Sotto is one of Montalcino’s very best producers and proof that Castelnuovo dell’Abate produces superior Sangiovese. Palmucci is a true traditionalist producer who refuses to use barriques, plant anything other than Sangiovese, or even compromise on using anything less than ideal vineyard sites. This means he leaves certain areas of the estate unplanted, preferring to focus on ideal south and southeast exposures and improving quality with vine densities between 3,000 and 4,200 vines per hectare.
Poggio di Sotto has a connection with Biondi-Santi through its engagement with Giulio Gambelli who trained with Tancredi and has since become the foremost unofficially trained consultant in Montalcino. Gambelli is a purist, and extols extended macerations, idigenous yeasts, and fairly neutral ferments (old wood vats and stainless).
Palmucci’s meticulous decisions have culminated in one of the great wines of Montalcino, what I find to be as close to the Sangiovese ideal as I’ve ever tasted.
Hinting the Ideal
This Rosso has far more density and structure than most. It is also more ephemeral and elegant, somehow holding its power with near invisible subtlety. This is a wine of nuance, made for reflective types. It becomes the perfect form of itself effortlessly and can pair as easily with pizza as steak. In short, this wine is far better than most Brunellos out there, and exemplifies what Sangiovese should be, can be, but rarely is.
~$70 at Kermit Lynch, Berkeley (new vintages are now being imported by Marquis Wine Cellars)