I don’t usually drink Rosso di Montalcino, but when I do I prefer….. Wait, no no…..
While it’s true that I don’t normally drink Rosso di Montalcino, I can’t say that there’s one I definitely prefer.  In fact, it’s almost hard to put my finger on one that I consistently enjoy.  This is not to say that they’re bad wines, far from it.  However, my experience has borne out that they are not typically good values.  Over the last several years, the prices have risen on average to about $20-$25 per bottle.  Some are insanely higher than that.  Since excellent Chianti Classico can still be had in the $15-$20 range,  I cannot justify the additional cost attributable to Rosso di Montalcino.  Both are Sangiovese. Both have similar taste and aromatic profiles.  Since longevity in the cellar is not really an issue, all that the comparison boils down to is enjoyment vis a vis cost.  There is one key difference however.  Rosso di Montalcino can be used as a harbinger of the quality to come for subsequent Brunello vintages.  This can be done with minimal expense and you’re still enjoying quality wines along the way.
Two recent versions of 2009 Rosso di Montalcino do just that.  One, is the 2009 Mastrojanni.  The other, is the 2009 Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino.  Both get me very excited for the 2009 Brunello to be released. 
We opened the Banfi last night with an amazingly delicious, yet fast and simple dinner.  I rubbed two pork tenderloins with oil, and then seasoned them with garden fresh rosemary, garlic, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and grilled them to a perfect medium.  As a garnish,  I sauteed some crimini and shittake mushrooms in olive oil and garlic. Then at the last minute, I finished them with fresh parsley and a touch of truffle butter. Combined in a serving platter, it was a match made in heaven. 

Perhaps the friendliest red wine meal:  Grilled pork tenderloins and sauteed mushrooms

The Castello Banfi was the perfect foil to this dish.  It’s a medium violet in color with ample floral, spice, and crushed berry aromas.  Flavors follow the nose – the palate is juicy, balanced, fresh and ripe with good concentration and intensity.  Delicious.  91 points, about $17. 

2009 Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino

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