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Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona: A divine history of a palazzo dating back to the 17th century, named after the marriage of the descendent of Pope Pius II, and erected by the Montalcino Bishop, Fabivs de’ Vecchis.  With its Pianrosso vineyards located in the southwest region of Montalcino, ideal climate gives birth to some of the finest Brunello wines of Tuscany.  A combination of authentic old-world traditions, and modern technology including a “double-pruning” practice helps to concentrate more juice in the grapes, creating rich, healthy fruit.

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The Pianrosso is the most representative wine of their land, and is made from 100% single-vineyard Sangiovese Grosso, which ages 3 years in Slavonian oak barrels, and spends another 8 months in bottle.  It’s a step below their crowned Riserva wine (“Santa Caterina D’Oro”) which is only bottled in stellar vintages, and a bit more complex than their highly-accolated multi-vineyard Brunello, “Annata” (recipient of the #9 spot on last year’s Wine Spectator Top 100).  Nonetheless, the Pianrosso is a world-class wine of exceptional caliber.  It’s perfumed with plum and berries, cedar, and hints of pepper with a balance of acidity and polished tannins, and looks like an illustrious ruby gem in the glass.  Young and full-bodied, yet approchable, while also ageworthy.  I would recommend decanting for about an hour prior to drinking.  If enjoying with food, decanting isn’t necassary.  The tannins will provide nice acidity to balance a rich dinner of roasted meats, game, and aged cheeses.

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Also offered in the Ciacci line-up are a few other gems I had the chance to try, at a nearby Los Angeles pizzeria, “Il Fico“.  The Rosso di Montalcino, made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso, is a great food partner, as is their IGT Toscana Rosso, a younger entry-level Sangiovese wine usually found in restaurants “by the glass”.  They also produce a French-in-style 100% Syrah, named Fabvis – an homage to their historic architect.

These are all worth a try, but start with the Pianrosso Brunello.  The 2007 vintage was a phenomenal one, and it is drinking very beautifully, just years after release.  I had the good fortune of meeting a representative of the estate, Angela, at the recent Wine Spectator Grand Tour in Las Vegas.  She poured the 2008 Pianrosso new release and educated me about the vintage and traditions of their estate.  It’s almost as good as the ’07, but just slightly more firm.  These wines, like the Italians, always become more lively with age. –JT

CIACCI PICCOLOMINI d’ARAGONA Brunello di Montalcino Pianrosso 2007

SCORE: 93

Related scores: JS-96, RP-93, WS-92

Market price: $76 (purchased on wine.com)

Recommended glassware: Riedel Vinum Brunello di Montalcino

Recommended food pairing: Pappardelle al Cinghiale

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http://www.ciaccipiccolomini.com

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