Monday, September 7, 2009
2008 Tiamo Sangiovese
We were having some friends over for dinner last night, with a plan to make pasta and sauce from scratch, so when I was at Whole Foods looking for a wine to match, I naturally gravitated toward the Italian section. I have also been on a huge Italian kick as of late, exploring the country's many indigenous grape varieties.
Sangiovese is one native grape that's used in a variety of wines, including Chianti, Super Tuscans and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This particular bottle, the 2008 Tiamo Sangiovese, was affordable, at $10.99, made with organic grapes(my friends are really into that) and came from the Marche region, an area that I've found to make really good wines.
This bottle, unfortunately, wasn't a good example. I found it to be extremely over oaked, and the signature Sangiovese cherry flavors watered down. If I had to guess, I'd assume the grape grower didn't reduce their yields enough to produce concentrated wines, and then to compound the problem, used barriques (small wooden barrels) which gave this wine ultimately too much woody flavor.
I've been telling anyone who will listen that cheap European wines outshine their American counterparts, though here's a case where that theory didn't hold up.
In general though, a $10 bottle of wine from Europe will likely express more pure fruit and varietal correct flavors than a wine made in the U.S., especially California, where the cheaper wines aim for the supposed mass market desire for vanilla and oak tasting wines.
I think things are changing here, as I've seen more examples of wines made with a light touch, but if I want to play it safe in the wine shop, I'll head toward the Euro section.
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