A narrow pass through a dark forest, the ruins of an Etruscan tomb excavated and restored, and a dominant view over the vineyards gives Al Passo (“The Pass”) its legendary folklore.
We wine lovers need what I like to call, “Cellar Sentinels”. These are wines that stand guard at the entrance of your cantina and prevent you from plundering your resting gems. They need to be affordable, delicious and reliable. Tolaini’s Al Passo fits this bill as well as any wine I can think of.
Over 3,000 years ago, the heart of Tuscany was home to the ancient Etruscans, a civilization that was recognized for their culture and wine. Tolaini embraces this history and today mixes ancient elements with modern winemaking. The symbol “Y”, carved into the stone that stands at the gates of the estate, is the Etruscan symbol for the modern letter “T”.
Originally conceived as a blend of Sangiovese (85%) and Merlot (15%) Al Passo has undergone some changes recently. As of 2016 the current blend is 34% Sangiovese, 33% Merlot and 33% Cabernet. About 100,000 bottles are produced each year depending upon the vintage.
The 2016 Tolaini Al Passo is a true Cellar Sentinel. In the glass the wine is a pretty violet color throughout. The aromas lift easily from the bowl and feature blue and purple flowers, freshly crushed cherry, black licorice, tobacco leaf and fresh herbs. It’s a level of complexity not typically seen in wines at this price point.
On the palate, the wine is round, fruity and polished. Flavors of cherries and black plums dominate the profile with accents from new leather and sweet fennel. Attractive, with fresh acidity and a medium length finish. Drink now, or hold or 2-4 years. 92 points. Price varies, but should be under $20. Find this wine.