~ Pierluigi Tolaini ~
Pristine property in Castelnuovo Berardenga.   A brilliant winemaking team led by Diego Bonato.  Michel Rolland is consulting winemaker and Luigi Tolaini the Ferrari-like engine behind it all.  Yet you probably are not aware of this lovely winery nestled in the Tuscan hills.  
It’s coming up on two years since I interviewed Lia Tolaini and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy bottle after bottle of their wine.  They’ve consistently impressed; and at all price points.  Since then, I’ve met Lia on several occasions as well as the family Patriarch “Louie” Tolaini.   I asked him about his now famous quote: 
“I will never be poor again. I will never eat polenta again. I will never drink bad wine again…and someday I will make my own wine.”
I insisted that I liked polenta and he should give it another chance….He would have none of it! Fortunately for us all, he has realized his dream of making his own wine. 

~ The Tolaini winery through the forest ~

The subject of today’s post is one of Tolaini’s newest releases;  the 2010 Al Passo.   You could easily describe Al Passo as Tolaini’s “entry level” rosso,  but that would be doing the wine a great disservice.  There is nothing entry level about this wine.  A wonderful blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot, Al Passo toes the line between Tuscan tipicity and a new world accent.
In the glass, the wine is a medium violet, with only a slight lightening toward the rim of the bowl.  Despite not being decanted, the wine is very aromatic with freshly crushed berries, plums, flowers and an herbal-underbrush note that is very attractive.  In the past,  I’ve noticed a degree of “funky earthiness” in this wine and that is notably absent in this vintage.
On the palate the wine is juicy and ripe, with a pretty medium bodied core of ripe cherry and spicy red plum fruit.  Framed delicately by oak, the wine is balanced well and displays tertiary aromas of new leather and foresty pine. This is fresh and very well done – a delicious Al Passo that seems poised to drink well over the next 7 years.  I’m inclined to give it a year in the cellar before trying it again, but in a vintage when many 2010’s seem tightly knit and unforgiving, Tolaini seems to have balanced things well with this wine. 90 points, and although the SRP is ~$29, price can vary widely, so shop carefully.   

~ 2010 Al Passo – 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot ~ 


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