The 2009 Castello Banfi Cum Laude is the wine you want with grilled steaks and lamb chops at your Memorial Day and summer parties.
Castello Banfi is the creation of Long Island brothers John and Harry Mariani. In 1977, they began purchasing land in Montalcino, Tuscany; nearly four decades later, their efforts have yielded a world-class winery, vineyards, grape clonal research center, a first-class hotel and a Michelin Guide star-rated restaurant. And from the vineyards and the research center comes the sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah that comprise the 2009 Castello Banfi Cum Laude.
Banfi has spent decades and a substantial amount of money researching the sangiovese grape that is the backbone of Tuscan wines.
From more than 600 clones of sangiovese, it culled 180, and after years of research, selected 15 sangiovese clones as the best match for the soil composition and drainage of its vineyards.
The 2009 Cum Laude is 25 percent sangiovese, 30 percent each cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and 15 percent syrah. This blending of sangiovese with international grapes began in the 1970s and was labeled Super-Tuscan by wine writers needing a descriptor for the new creations. It was an appropriate name.
Banfi ferments all four grapes separately in unique tanks they developed. The tanks are temperature-controlled stainless steel on the bottom and top, with wood staves in the middle.
This modification from all stainless steel tanks or its opposite, wood vats, lets Banfi controlled the fermentation temperature while exposing the wine to some wood influence of oxidation and flavor transference.
The result of Banfi’s meticulous decades-long work is a 2009 Cum Laude with a dark red hue and a very modern profile of black plum, black olive and vanilla aromas and flavors.
Sangiovese’s bright cherry flavor is submerged beneath the powerful fruit aromas and flavors of the three international grapes, but its cranberry-like acidity provides the balance to this well-made wine.
The appropriateness of the Super-Tuscan tag is attached to the pronounced aromas, bold flavors and tannic structure of cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Sangiovese’s cranberry tartness and lighter body brings to the wine a countertenor to cabernet sauvignon’s baritone and syrah’s bass tones. The overall affect is a wine that has a Tuscan origin with New World fullness.
Pour the 2009 Castello Banfi Cum Laude when your T-bone, porterhouse or prime rib steaks are sizzling on the grill and you want a red wine that sings its own song.
The 2009 Banfi Cum Laude retails for about $39.