As I sit here writing this, I can’t help thinking if I’m going to help shatter the long ingrained perceptions of how and when to enjoy sparkling wine.  I readily admit to enjoying Champagne, and even as I’m aware that each and every year I resolve to enjoy it more with food, those resolutions seemingly fail to materialize.  One wine, part of today’s DoubleShot®, just may help change that. 
I introduced many of you to the Scacciadiavoli Estate last week.  As I mentioned then, over the next few weeks, they will be the subject of many reviews here on TuscanVines.  Recently, while I was preparing dinner and the Guests® were milling about the kitchen island, I thought it a great opportunity to introduce a different wine with a great story.  The Scacciadiavoli Brut Sparkling Wine  presented the perfect opportunity.
It begs the question:  Can white wine be produced from red grapes?  Some of you may be thinking, huh? what?  The answer as you may have suspected, is yes!  You see, all grape juice is clear. Clear as water the instant any grape is crushed.  Red wine achieves it’s color when the winemaker allows the juice to remain in contact with the grape skins and that color is then leeched into the juice over time.  But if you crush a red grape and immediately run the juice off the skins, you can make a white wine from a red grape.  That’s what Scacciadiavoli has done here. 
This Sparkler is made from 85% Sagrantino – the thick skinned red grape from Montefalco that produces the substantial and age worthy Sagrantino di Montefalco.  The balance of the wine is Chardonnay.  The grapes are crushed, the juice is run off, and the wine is produced using the traditional Champagne method.  The difference here is that while the juice is clear, the Sagrantino is different than traditional white grapes used for Sparkling wine, so the finished product here picks up some heavier attributes from the Sagrantino.
Further to dismantle the preconceived notions, after a tasting of Franciacorta sparklers earlier this year, where a winemaker encouraged me to taste his wines from a traditional wine glass rather than a Champagne flute, I decided to do the same here in order to better appreciate the wine’s aromas.  Put away those flutes people!
On the nose, this sparkler has soft floral aromas, with hints of melon and strawberry.  The aromas completely belie the medium golden/amber color of the wine and aromas typical of many Champagne are simply not there.  On the palate, the wine has soft berry tones, notes of red apple and crisp, mineral driven flavors.  There’s a slight fresh baked bread note that lingers nicely and the wine displays a soft and pleasing tannic structure clearly imparted from the Sagrantino.  This is very nice and paired perfectly with bread, cheese, and prosciutto di parma while we chatted about the week’s events.  88 points. About $24 retail.  Disclosure:  This bottle was an importer provided sample.

~ Sparkling Wine:  85% Sagrantino and 15% Chardonnay ~
Earlier this year, I spotlighted the 2010 Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino and while I found the wine enjoyable, it didn’t seem to hit the high notes that it’s 2009 sibling achieved last year.   Well, 9 months later, this 2010 is really benefiting from the additional time in bottle. 
It’s a very dark crimson color with notable aromas of crushed wild berry, espresso, smoke, and leather on the nose. Lovely orchestra of aromas.  On the palate, the wine is fresh and lively, with richly accented berry flavors complete with underlying notes of smoke, coffee, cured meats and tobacco. It’s simply wonderful, vibrant, balanced and fresh. It’s among the best Rosso di Montalcino I’ve had in a long time and quite frankly, perhaps more of a complete package than many of the 2008 Brunello I’ve recently tasted.  91 points, about $22 retail.  I’ve also seen it for $42 on area wine lists. Good values in both instances.

~ With wood fired, brick oven pizzas, this could not have been better ~

A presto!

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