When spring arrives, it’s time to change to a lighter red wine like the 2007 Nardi Rosso di Montalcino.
In 1893, Francesco Nardi arrived in America from Umbria, Italy. Two years later, he returned home with a design for a new plow that would plant the family’s future in agriculture. The agricultural machine business remained the family’s focus until 1950, when Francesco Nardi’s son, Silvio, purchased the Tuscan estate Casale del Bosco in Montalcino. In 1958, Nardi produced his first Brunello di Montalcino, and in the ensuing years, he acquired two other vineyard sites there.
Brunello, which means “big brown one” is a special clone of the sangiovese grape planted in Montalcino vineyards. Italian wine regulations require that Brunello di Montalcino be made only from sangiovese grapes and be aged at least two years in oak and four months in bottle before sale. Wines labeled riserva must have at least an additional year of aging in barrel. Rosso di Montalcino requires only one year of barrel aging, but its biggest difference is that it is generally made from grapes of younger vines or wine the producer decides does not have the quality to be labeled brunello.
Recently, Emila Nardi, the daughter of Silvio Nardi, visited New Jersey and presented her 2003 and 2004 Brunello di Montalcino and single-vineyard Brunello di Montalcino Manachiara, plus the 2007 Rosso di Montalcino. Both vintages of the brunellos are well-made wines, but at substantial prices and require years of cellaring to reach their peak. But the 2007 Rosso di Montalcino is currently drinkable, and affordable at one-third the brunello and one-fifth that of the Manachiara.
Made from grapes of younger vines from Nardi’s Manachiara vineyard, the 2007 Rosso di Montalcino is a bright-cherry shade with cherry and rose aromas. Its medium-body carries a pleasant cranberry-like flavor and sangiovese’s striking acidity. Whether it’s the sangiovese clone of brunello or the other sangiovese clones of Tuscany, this is a grape that cries to be with food. As the urge for barbecuing grows stronger, keep a few bottles of the 2007 Nardi Rosso di Montalcino nearby. It will welcome a grilled steak, spare ribs and tuna and blue fish fresh from the waters off the New Jersey coast.
The Nardi 2007 Rosso di Montalcino retails for approximately $27.