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Baracchi, Toscana IGT “O’Lillo!”Tuscany, Italy 2018 (750mL)  |  FREE Shipping on any 6 bottles!

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Baracchi, Toscana IGT “O’Lillo!” Tuscany, Italy 2018 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol
A long time ago, in a land far away, someone coined the term “super-Tuscan” to describe a new generation of game-changing red blends coming out of Tuscany, Italy. There’s no official definition of what super-Tuscans are, but one thing most of them are is expensive. A lot of them are worth it, but what we have today is something completely different—a sleek, sophisticated, fully realized super-Tuscan stunner for just $25.

It’s fitting that Baracchi put an exclamation point on “O’Lillo!” because this is a value worth shouting about (I’m not going to resort to ALL CAPS, because that would be untoward, but I’m tempted). This red blend from the rolling hills of Cortona takes a few pages from the traditional super-Tuscan playbook (“international” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah; an acclaimed winemaking consultant in Stefano Chioccioli) but leaves others behind (long aging in expensive oak). The result is a wine that strips away some of the “luxury” trappings of the category in favor of purity, energy, and unmistakable Tuscan identity. There’s lots of depth but also a kind of buoyant freshness that is such a welcome change of pace—it’s not a “show wine” for the critics, it’s a delicious daily drinker with more sophistication than anyone has a right to expect at this price. Now that I’ve uncovered my grill in earnest, I want O’Lillo! readily available for burgers, steaks, and whatever else I cook up. You’d be wise to stock up as well!

“O’Lillo!” means “Hello, my beautiful friend!” and applies equally to the wine and to its place of origin: Cortona, just south of Arezzo, right near Tuscany’s border with Umbria. Like Arezzo, Cortona is movie-set beautiful, and the Baracchi winery is one part of a larger country resort that includes a restaurant and an impeccably restored villa called Il Falconière. Overall, the estate extends over roughly 150 acres of land, of which 80 are planted to vineyards, in soils comprised mainly of clay and silt. The area is part of the broader Valdichiana (Chiana River Valley) region, famous for all manner of agriculture, including the raising of Chianina cattle, the breed responsible for Tuscany’s best bistecca.

As a wine zone, Cortona is a little outside Tuscany’s Sangiovese-dominated Chianti-Montepulciano-Montalcino triad, so producers have enjoyed more latitude to experiment with other varieties. Deep, dark, textured Syrah has become a specialty of many Cortona-based producers, but other ‘international’ varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have a big foothold here as well. As so many of the historic super-Tuscans have shown—wines like “Sassicaia,” “Tignanello,” and so forth—this region is extremely well-suited to the varieties. It’s not simply that Tuscany is capable of “ripening” Cabernet Sauvignon; the variety not only performs well here but takes on an unmistakable “Tuscan” character in the process—a character I always identify as slightly smoky and “woodsy.”

The 2018 O’Lillo! Combines 25% each of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with 25% Sangiovese. Under the supervision of Stefano Chioccioli, one of Italy’s most famous enological consultants, it is fermented in large, conical oak vats, then aged six months in stainless steel and three months in bottle. Freshness and balance are the keywords here: This is not a big, sappy blockbuster, but rather a lithe and energetic red driven by dark fruit and dusty earth. In the glass, it’s a deep ruby-purple moving to magenta at the rim, with the full color spectrum of fruits on display—black, red, blue, you name it. Scents of Morello cherry, red and black currant, cassis, and black raspberry share air time with violets, tobacco, black pepper, and grilled herbs. It has plenty of body and depth but a fresh and lively presence on the palate—substantial and refreshing in equal measure. I’m talking all-occasion, can’t-go-wrong, crowd-pleaser of a red wine here, and boy how I long to return to its achingly gorgeous place of origin. Oh well, someday. In the meantime, get yourself a stash of O’Lillo! to re-visit frequently over the next few years. Give it a quick splash-decant and serve at 60 degrees in Bordeaux stems with a nice juicy burger and you’re all set. When the tomatoes come in, you might want to go in a lighter direction with a sugo finto (“fake sauce”), a vegetarian answer to a meat-based ragù. Enjoy!


Baracchi, Toscana IGT “O’Lillo!” Tuscany, Italy 2018 - SommSelect

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  • CountryItaly
  • RegionTuscany
  • Sub-RegionCortona
  • SoilClay, Silt, Sand
  • FarmingOrganic Practices
  • BlendSangiovese 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25%, Syrah 25%, Merlot 25%
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakPartial Oak Vats

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionTuscany
  • Sub-RegionCortona
  • SoilClay, Silt, Sand
  • FarmingOrganic Practices
  • BlendSangiovese 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25%, Syrah 25%, Merlot 25%
  • Alcohol14.5%
  • OakPartial Oak Vats
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2024
  • Decanting15 Minutes
  • PairingPolenta w/ 'Sugo Finto'

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