Tornesi, Rosso di Montalcino
Tornesi, Rosso di Montalcino

Tornesi, Rosso di Montalcino

Tuscany, Italy 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$27.00

Tornesi, Rosso di Montalcino

The name Tornesi should be very familiar to SommSelect subscribers: We are huge fans of these resolutely traditional, hand-farmed Tuscan treasures and offer them up every chance we get. And I’m going to once again pit Italian wine against French just for the sake of context: If this exceptional $27 (!) Rosso di Montalcino was a Bourgogne Rouge, there’d be pandemonium. Like Bourgogne Rouge, Rosso di Montalcino is an entry-level wine by design, and like our favorite Bourgogne reds, today’s 2021 proves that “entry-level” is not a synonym for “simple.” This is pitch-perfect Montalcino Sangiovese, beautifully perfumed and full of the variety’s signature woodland-berry piquancy. Sourced from high-elevation vineyards just down the road from the legendary Biondi-Santi estate, this vibrant red perfectly captures what Rosso di Montalcino is supposed to be—and at a way-under-market price, too. “Over-delivers” doesn’t begin to cover it!

Just outside Montalcino’s fortress-like walls, on steep slopes ranging from 400-500 meters’ elevation, is Tornesi. The Tornesis were foundational 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 of vineyards in four locations throughout Montalcino, including their original 1.2-hectare estate vineyard, “Benducce,” which sits at one of the highest elevations in the Montalcino DOCG.

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 an IGT-designated 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 into the “traditionalist” camp, fermenting the wines using ambient yeasts and aging them in Slavonian oak casks of various sizes (7-30 hectoliters). 

As with all Rosso di Montalcino wines, Tornesi’s ’21 is sourced from a selection of grapes from vineyards which also supply their more-expensive, longer-aged Brunello di Montalcino bottling. Whereas the Brunello spends 30 months in those Slavonian oak barrels, this wine spends just six, giving the drinker a more unadorned, brightly fruited expression. Compared to your typical Bourgogne Rouge, this is a marginally “bigger,” more forceful red, but compared to its Brunello di Montalcino sibling (which we’ve also offered, to great response), it’s downright sprightly. In the glass, it’s a medium garnet-red moving to pink and orange at the rim, bursting with scents of red and black cherry, currants, blackberry, plum, anise, rose petals, bay leaf, underbrush, aromatic herbs, and baking spice. One of my favorite aspects of this wine is its precise balance of fruit, earth, acid, and tannin—everything is in its proper place, making it an absolute joy to drink now and over the next few years. Decant it 15-30 minutes before serving at 60 degrees in Burgundy stems and pair it with whatever meats you’ve decided to grill. Cheers!

Tornesi, Rosso di Montalcino

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