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Tornesi, Rosso da Tavola “Il Canto del Cucolo”Tuscany, Italy 2019 (750mL)

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Tornesi, Rosso da Tavola “Il Canto del Cucolo” Tuscany, Italy 2019 (750mL)

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The Tornesi winery in Montalcino, Tuscany does one thing—Sangiovese—and does it very well. And they’ve done it for a very long time. So, when you encounter a modestly priced table wine from a heritage producer like this (many in Montalcino release gently priced “table wines” like “Il Canto del Cucolo”), you take it seriously. Farming just five hectares of organically farmed vineyards, Tornesi doesn’t just produce stellar Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino; this wine, from younger plantings in those same vineyards, is their secret weapon.


Bright, brambly, and unoaked, this is not the kind of wine that gets 100 points from critics, but when it comes to authentic varietal character and terroir expression, you will not find better. In fact, if wines were rated based solely on the enjoyment they provided (versus the intricacies of their construction), Tornesi’s “Il Canto del Cucolo” would undoubtedly be a 100-pointer. If Rosso di Montalcino is the “baby” Brunello, then this 2019 is the “baby” Rosso, although it feels perfectly grown up to me. As we say often on SommSelect: If you want to take the measure of a great producer, see what their least expensive wine is like. Well, Tornesi is a great producer. Prepare to be impressed!




And, despite being priced like a mass-market supermarket label, Il Canto del Cucolo also happens to be a true “farm-to-table” wine. The Tornesi family has been rooted in the same spot—a località just outside Montalcino’s fortress-like walls called “Le Benducce”—since 1750. Their 1.2-hectare estate vineyard at Le Benducce is the foundation, and at 500 meters, is one of the highest-elevation vineyard sites in the entire Montalcino DOCG. The Tornesis were founding members of the Brunello di Montalcino consorzio (producers’ association) when the appellation was created in 1967, although the family didn’t begin bottling wines under their own label until 1993, when Maurizio Tornesi took the reins from his father, Gino. They hand-farm a total of just five hectares in four locations throughout Montalcino, with what they call “passion and obstinacy.” 


The program is straightforward and resolutely traditional at Tornesi: They only grow Sangiovese grapes (and olives for oil) in the marl and sandstone soils typical of the zone, producing Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, and today’s young-vine Sangiovese aged only in steel. Although not certified, their farming is organic in practice: they use only natural fertilizers and eschew chemical pesticides. In the cellar, they fall squarely in the “traditionalist” camp, with consultation provided by enologist Paolo Vagaggini.


The 2019 “Il Canto del Cucolo” (“song of the cuckoo”—even the name is great) is the ultimate in vibrant, fresh Montalcino Sangiovese. There’s no oak, no gimmicks, and no need for either: The wine is varietally spot-on, sneakily substantial, and impeccably balances fruit and earth on a wave of freshness. In the glass, it’s a bright ruby-garnet moving to pink at the rim, with a sappy core of black cherry fruit supplemented by black and red currant, cranberry, orange peel, violets, wild herbs, underbrush, and a whiff of smoke. Medium-bodied and thrumming with energy, it’s a lip-smacking refresher that also takes you someplace—the kind of effortlessly delicious red you’d be snapping photos of if you had it in a trattoria somewhere in Tuscany. To re-create that experience, get the bottle(s) down to about 60 degrees (cellar temperature), pull the cork(s) about 15 minutes before serving with a grigliata mista (mixed grill) of burgers, steaks, sausages, etc. And some vegetables, too! Cheers!





Tornesi, Rosso da Tavola “Il Canto del Cucolo” Tuscany, Italy 2019 - SommSelect

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionTuscany
  • SoilMarl & Sandstone
  • FarmingOrganic Practices
  • BlendSangiovese
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Service Temp.60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkNow
  • Decanting15 Minutes
  • PairingGrilled Meats

  • CountryItaly
  • RegionTuscany
  • SoilMarl & Sandstone
  • FarmingOrganic Practices
  • BlendSangiovese
  • Alcohol13.5%
  • Temp.Serve at 60° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkingNow
  • Decanting15 Minutes
  • PairingGrilled Meats