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Sep 22, 2009 08:57 PM

Need to remember the name of wine that was delicious...and need info to find it

It was a "something" montalcino? Maybe Russo? I googled that and there is such a thing. What's the difference between that and brunello?

I'm sorry I have no idea about wine. What I am trying to do is recreate a wonderful time I had with the bf for his bday...would like to find a delicious bottle of the above and have it with bread and cheese. But a) I'm not sure if it was Russo or brunello and whichever one it is, how in the world do I find a "good" one? The one we had was about $60.00 I think which is fine...but I don't know anything about maker, year, etc. etc.



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  1. You're probably looking for a Rosso di Montalcino, the usually less expensive and more accessible sibling of Brunello di Montalcino, both made from the brunello clone of sangiovese. Search these boards and you should find good recs. You can get away with less than $60.

    1. building on bob96's suggestion, the Rosso di Montalcino from Il Poggione is lovely, and you can find it for around $20 (a fraction of the cost of their excellent Brunello).

      1. Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino come from the same region. Both are made from the Brunello grape (one or more clones of Sangiovese). Regular BdM has to aged about 2.5 years, the Riserva about twice as long. The requirements for RdM are less strict (higher yields, less aging, etc.), usually resulting in a less imposing wine that's lighter, fruitier and ready to drink sooner but also less worthy of extended cellaring.

        If you paid $60 in a store (as opposed to a restaurant), the wine was almost certainly a BdM; most RdM's retail for around $15 to $25 (extrapolating from Quebec prices).

        How do you find a good one? Well, you could start by looking at some labels (Google image search "brunello" or specific producer names) and see if you recognize the bottle you enjoyed. Then you can see what vintages you have access to (95, 97, 99, 00, 01 and 04 were all excellent, though only wines from the earlier vintages are fully evolved; a lot of people -- but not me -- like the wines from the infernally hot 03 vintage too). Failing that, find a trustworthy wine store and tell them what you're looking for. Failing that, take an inventory of what's available to you and post the list here; people will chime in with reccos.

        There are an astounding number of producers, so it's hard to name names without leaving some deserving ones out. Still, some good ones in your price range are Argiano, Altesino, Poggio Antico, Palazzo, Casanova di Neri, Caparzo and Corte Pavone.

        5 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          I am not sure now was $60 in a store...actually I found the cork (I save corks) and it says Montalcino on one side and on the other LB Macioche. I like the idea of googling labels...

          Thank you to all of you...I will investigate and respond back...

          1. re: lovessushi

            Here's a link to a NY-based importer of wines from Le Macioche winery in Montalcino. At the bottom of the page, you'll find links to its pages for the Brunello and Rosso, both with pics of labels.

            Or look here:

            To give you an idea of pricing, K&L in the San Francisco Bay area is selling the 2004 Brunello for $58.99.

            1. re: carswell

              Thank you so much!!! This is great!! This was it!! I am on the East Coast (funny because bf use to live in SF Bay) assume pricing will be similar?

              One more thing - carswell have you had the wines from the Le Macioche winery? Do you prefer something else? Just wondering as I have such limited experience with wine...

              1. re: lovessushi

                Yep, pricing will be similar. If you go to, you can enter Macioche as the wine, select the state of your choice and plug in a vintage, you'll get a partial listing of stores in the state that carry the wine and the price they're asking. The site's down right now but yesterday I found stores in New Jersey and New York selling the 2004 Brunello for prices ranging from, if I recall correctly, $50 to $75. Other vintages (e.g. 1997, 2001) were also available but more expensive and in more limited supply.

                No, I've never tried any of Le Macioche's wines, though they sound like they'd be right up my alley. Will keep an eye peeled!

                1. re: carswell

                  Again, wonderful info! Thanks again - I will check out the site...

        2. lovesushi, as others have pointed out, you probably had a Rosso di Montalcino. But wait ... there's more.

          A few centuries back, Firenze (Florence) and Siena, not all that far apart geographically, had some epic military battles. (Back then, Siena was a more prominent city than Paris.) In the last battle, Firenze basically leveled Siena, and the refugees from Siena moved a few miles to the south and founded a new "Siena in exile" community in Montalcino. Only about 300 years later , the Biondi and Santi families found a spontaneous mutant of sangiovese in their vineyards and cultivated it, and brunello was born. Brunello di Montalcino is one of the great wines of Italy. Its more affordable little brother is Rosso di Montalcino; "rosso" means, simply, "red." A reliable and affordable brand is Caprili.

          But. There are two other similar-sounding (to non-Italian ears) wines that you may easily confuse with Rosso di Montalcino. A few miles to the east of Montalcino, in the town of Montepulciano, where some scenes in the movie English Patient were filmed, a different spontaneous mutant of sangiovese, called locally prugnolo, is cultivated and made into a fine wine. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a noble wine indeed, sometimes called Rosso di Montepulciano, suffers from constant confusion with another, lesser, wine that is vinted in Abruzzo in the extreme south of Italy, a wine made from an entirely different grape called montepulciano. Quite quaffable, and a very fine everyday wine, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a good, not a great, wine.

          But wait ... there's more. In Umbria, within sighting distance southwest of Assisi, a unique grape is cultivated, sagrantino. Wines made entirely from sagrantino have a very high -- exceptionally high -- polyphenol concentration. Those wines, called Sagrantino di Montefalco, once tamed, lay claim to being the greatest red wine in the world. (Some disagree; they are wrong, says us; and, as we are infallible, says us, anybody who disagrees is wrong, says us.) And just as Rosso di Montalcino is a more affordable little brother to Brunello di Montalcino, in the same manner Rosso di Montefalco (or Montefalco Rosso) is a more affordable little brother to Sagrantino di Montefalco.

          There is significant variation among Rosso di Montefalcos, but there is a simple guideline: the higher percentage of Sagrantino in the blend, the better the Rosso di Montefalco. Typical Rosso di Montefalcos are 85% sangiovese, 15% sagrantino; but Rosso di Montefalco that is 75% sangiovese and 25% sagrantino is palpably better. Some "international style" Montefalco Rossos have other grapes in the cuvée; the less cabernet sauvignon and/or merlot in the cuvée, the better; this is an Italian wine, not a smorgasbörd.

          So, whether the wine that you tried and want to return to is Rosso di Montalcino or Rosso di Montepulciano or Rosso di Montefalco, they are, all three, good wines.

          But if you want a special treat, seek out an Antonelli Rosso di Montefalco Riserva (probably about $25 for a 750ml bottle). Make very sure that you give it enough time to breathe: decant and swish, if need be, and give it at least an hour before pouring into the glass. It needs some oxygen to bloom, but once it opens up, you will be rewarded as few other $25 wines can reward you.

          17 Replies
          1. re: Politeness

            Politeness this was such a thorough response! Wow - thank you. I did not know any of this. And it gives me the opportunity to try others (now that I know they exist)! That Antonelli sounds interesting...could I find that in a local liquor store or would I have to go to a speciality store?

            Thank you!

            Oh sorry, lastly...please no-one laugh but how do I "serve" this? I can't remember how we had I open it for a while and let it "breathe" before we drink it? Is there anything else special that I'd need to're talking to a real novice here :-)

            1. re: lovessushi

              lovesushi: " do I 'serve' this? I can't remember how we had I open it for a while and let it 'breathe' before we drink it?"

              Generally the "bigger" the wine, the more need there is to allow it to breathe. A rosé breathes enough simply by being poured from the bottle to the glass, while a Cahors or a Sagrantino needs some real breathing time. If you are planning to drink the bottle all at one sitting, then it might make sense to enhance a $60 bottle of wine by buying a $30 wide-base decanter like this one: (presuming that you will use it for many more such bottles in the future, so the cost will amortize). We have seen similar decanters at Crate & Barrel. With such a decanter, you can bring a Brunello di Montalcino to its peak taste in about 20 minutes to half an hour after opening the bottle. If you do not decant, a Brunello di Montefalco should stand open for about an hour after you pull the cork before you pour it; or, if you recork it immediately after opening, let it stand for two hours or more before pouring.

              The Antonelli Montefalco Rosso Riserva is very much a "big" wine, and needs the same kind of breathing time as Brunello or a Cahors. We were able to purchase it (from the 2003 vintage) locally here in Portland for $23+change per bottle at Vinopolis.

              1. re: Politeness


                As you have indicated, all the M names can get confusing:
                "If you do not decant, a Brunello di Montefalco should stand open..." <g>

                I adore Brunello (perhaps my favorite wine) and think your decanting rec is spot on for a Brunello that is *already* ready to drink. Some take
                many years to become drinkable.

                Greatest Brunello moment, among my greatest wine moments:
                1997 Biondi-Santi Riserva.

                Roso di MONTALCINO is wonderful for the money. My fave is Siro Pacenti.

                I'd urge lovesushi to simply use any pitcher as a decanter before
                purchasing a regular one. And BTW, I find that expensive decanters
                are often given away (because of non-use) to second-hand stores.
                I got my Riedel for $3! Have found many good ones through the years --
                presents for friends.

                Sagrantino usually requires many years of aging and decanting to become drinkable. My favorite right now is Scacciadiavoli, and the tannins in their wines seem to resolve more quickly than some of the other Sagrantino producers (e.g.: the tannins in Arnoldo-Caprai's seem to take forever to resolve and become silky).

                If you want to appreciate the unique aromas and flavors of Sagrantino, stick with the regular and not with the Rosso, since so little of the region's famous grape is in the blend. I've found many have a delicious forest mushroom/truffle aroma and flavor, along with plum, raspberry and cherry.

                I can't convey the enormous joy I've experienced in these little towns:
                Montepulciano, Montalcino, Montefalco.

                There are many wonderful Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino recommendations on this board. Search for posts by Whiner, Bill Hunt, RicRios, Carswell, ibstatguy, and others, using the "All Years" function.


                1. re: maria lorraine

                  maria lorraine, if you read the posts from us higher up in this thread, you would know that we have declared ourselves infallible. Therefore, in quoting us as having written "Brunello di Montefalco," we logically infer that one of two events must have occurred.

                  Either: (1) Suddenly and without notice, somebody in Montefalco has begun to produce a Brunello; or

                  (2) Somebody has hacked into the Chowhound site and modified our messages in an attempt to make us appear fallible.

                  As the latter is unlikely, then we must assume that a momentous occasion has slipped by under the radar, and we missed the time when winemakers of Montefalco started producing brunellos. ;-)

                  As to Montefalco, a town so loved by Frederick the Great that he wintered there repeatedly and repeatedly leveled it to the ground when he left in the spring, we have tried the Scacciadiavoli wines from time to time and have yet to be whelmed, but we are anxious to be convinced. The highly individual Paolo Bea wines are sumthin' else -- one loves them or hates them, with little middle ground, but no one can accuse Bea of bending to fashion. Arnaldo Caprai, in contrast, employs the services of Atilio Pagli, one of the great winemakers of central Italy, who could, we are sure, make a silk purse from a sow's ear; but Pagli's instructions as to what to do with the sublime Arnaldo Caprai sagrantino grapes seem to be to produce a wine as close to the international style mainline as possible, which puts Caprai at the opposite end of the spectrum from Paolo Bea. In between are Antonelli and Adanti and Colpetrone (and perhaps Scacciadiavoli?), the wines of which we find seductive and addicting.

                  1. re: Politeness

                    How lovely to hear your discourse and to know that you know
                    I responded in loveliness and in jest rather than challengingly.

                    As far as your statement than you can "appear fallible,' I would chuckle and then say "Welcome to Humanity." But in the very next breath, I'd offer a toast to your passion for the M-town wines, and to the umbrella category of flavors that Sangiovese and all its mutant variations encompasses. There can be many favorites.


                  2. re: maria lorraine

                    " If you want to appreciate the unique aromas and flavors of Sagrantino, stick with the regular and not with the Rosso, since so little of the region's famous grape is in the blend. I've found many have a delicious forest mushroom/truffle aroma and flavor ... "

                    My first question to Paolo Di Marco, owner/waiter/runner of historic Ristorante Il Tartufo in Spoleto, Umbria ( ) was which wine would he recommend to go with a meat dish with Norcia black truffles on his menu. I assumed a Sagrantino di Montefalco would be his guaranteed response. To my surprise he popped up a Rosso di Montefalco ( Scacciadiavoli, IIRC ), very affordable for sure at around 10 Euro. He said the subtlety of the tartufi norciani required a wine that would play second fiddle without overpowering the actual ( if not very muscular ) star on the table.

                    1. re: RicRios

                      Didn't you go to some truffle conference there?
                      Do you find the Norcia truffle different in flavor from the other truffles?

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        I certainly did, both counts.
                        Truffle tastes, not unlike wine, depends as much on species as on terroir, weather patterns, and the arts of the chef.
                        I thought I knew my truffles, but that changed drastically a year ago.
                        In fact, I'm returning this November to dig a little deeper (pun intended).

                    1. re: Politeness

                      Politeness this is great - I'm learning so much!

                      edit - sorry - board is not posting my responses in the order I wanted!

                    2. re: lovessushi

                      lovesushi: "...the opportunity to try others (now that I know they exist)..."

                      Postscript: while you are calibrating your taste buds, you may wish to seek out the widely distributed and affordable Monte Antico, which is grown in the Montalcino area, but not within the designated zone that permits the use of the Montalcino appellation. Monte Antico is a Rosso di Montalcino in all but name, that is, and is a reasonably priced means to bring yourself up to speed.

                      1. re: Politeness

                        Very interesting..I'll definitely try!!!

                        1. re: lovessushi

                          Ok so will get the wine on payday in a few weeks (bday not until late Oct.) - when we had it it was with sourdough and cheese. Not sure if this is "appropriate"? But it was delicious. Types of cheeses you might recommend to go with this wine? I think one of the ones we had was mimollete (sp?) but that's become very hard to find in my area for some reason...

                          1. re: lovessushi

                            lovessushi: "Types of cheeses you might recommend to go with this wine?"

                            As much as our prejudices run to red wines of central to southern Toscano and central to eastern Umbria, our prejudices also run to the cheeses of Asturias; undoubtedly, Asturias is the cheese capital of the world. With that foreknowledge of our strong bias, then, please accept our recommendation of Los Beyos. (You are not going to find it at a local shop, however.)

                            1. re: Politeness

                              Thanks - I've never heard of Asturias...Did I mention how much I'm learning here?! The cheese looks quite interesting...and expensive. I could order it though as a treat...

                              Is there anything I might find at a local cheese shop (like a specialty store, not a supermarket)?

                              1. re: lovessushi

                                lovessushi, Asturias is the sliver in the north of Spain between the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Moountains. The mountains are full of caves and the breezes off the ocean create the ideal condition for aging cheeses made from the milk of the local cows, sheep, and goats. See
                                A quotation from that article: "We were in Asturias, a sliver of northern Spain that rests on the Bay of Biscay, and I had been drawn there by the region's tagline: 'The Land of Cheese.' I am, by any measure, a cheese person. While other people go to Tuscany for brunello or the Pacific Northwest for salmon, I follow cheese."

                                If you are in California, you are near a Trader Joe's. TJ's (usually) stocks a cheese called Basque Shepherd's Cheese; you might try that. If you have a specialty cheese store handy, then the chances are fairly high that the people who staff the store are pretty knowledgeable about pairings; you probably can get a pretty good recommendation there. Most cheese experts would recognize what a Brunello di Montalcino is; only a few would recognize a Sagrantino di Montefalco. You just need to let them know what you want by telling them that you will be drinking a concentrated red that is fairly high in tannins and not sweet the way Syrahs or Merlots are sweet.

                                1. re: Politeness

                                  I will read the article - cool! -

                                  I'm not sure if TJ's here carries that cheese. I'm on the east coast - near NY - so I can go to a number of specialty cheese stores. Will tell them exactly what you said! :-) Thanks :-)