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This Week’s Pairing – 2010 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese

by  Greg B. C. Shaw on November 27, 2012

Join Cuisine Noir’s wine editor, Greg B.C. Shaw, each Wednesday for a pairing of the week that is recommended to complement and enhance the ultimate culinary experience. From wines, to cognacs, great cocktails and liqueurs, we’re discussing it all in The Pairing Weekly. 

Have a question or need a recommendation?  Be sure to post it below. You can also follow Greg on Twitter at @GBCShaw.

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This Week’s Pairing – 2010 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese, $11

Inspired by the 1997 Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino Altero ( $125) that President Obama gave to Speaker John Boehner for his birthday.

President Barak Obama and Speaker of the House, John Boehner, haven’t always agreed on political issues surrounding the economy. They rarely, in fact, agree on political issues at all. Yet on November 17th, Speaker Boehner’s 63rd birthday, the news surrounding the two was a little different as the President gave the Speaker what is perhaps the greatest gift of all – the gift of (good) wine.

Wine is a common enough gift between friends and apparently even in contentions situations, wine can be a soothing, welcoming exchange. The President hasn’t been shy about his enjoyment of quality wine and he spared no expense in the $125 bottle he gave to Speaker Boehner.  While many of us may not be inclined to give $125 bottles of wine to our friends (or enemies), a little research behind the bottle of Brunello di Montalcino can help you find a good substitute at a cheaper price.

So what is this Brunello di Montalcino wine? First, let’s check the location. Montalcino is a small town in Italy’s Tuscany region, located about 75 miles south of the majestic city of Florence. Tuscany, of course, is the country’s most picturesque and famous wine region and surrounding the hilltop town of Montalcino are vineyards growing the brunello grape. Thus, our replacement wine should come from Italy, if not Montalcino itself. Second, let’s look at the grape. Brunello is a red grape and after recent DNA testing, it has been discovered to be the same as sangiovese. This opens us up quite a bit to find a reasonably similar wine to the Brunello di Montalcino.

Sangiovese is the primary grape in Chianti wine, which comes from Tuscany. Chianti is known for its lively acidity and food-friendliness and it stands to reason that Brunello di Montalcino also has these characteristics. So the President gave the Speaker of the House a friendly, social wine that is perfect for a wide variety of hearty dishes.  

Now to find an Italian sangiovese that will be food friendly and inspired by the President’s generous offer. We won’t limit it to Chianti or even Tuscany, just so long as it’s Italian. A good wine to look at is Di Majo Norante’s 2010 Sangiovese from southern Italy. This wine will cost you only about $11, while still giving you plenty of red fruit flavor, bright acidity (that will remind you of orange peel), a subtle hint of chocolate and a surprisingly smooth finish. Like many Italian dinner wines, this one is low in tannins and very dry. If you have the time, let it air awhile before dinner – even up to 45 minutes and pair it with anything from grilled meat to pastas with red sauces.

Heavily imported and easy to find, this one is stocked in most large grocery stores including BevMo!, Total Wine and many smaller wine shops. Salute!

Starting next week, be sure to check the column weekly for great wine suggestions to enjoy throughout the holiday season.

Greg B. C. Shaw

Greg B. C. Shaw

Dr. Greg Shaw is an assistant professor with the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration at California State University, Sacramento, and the co-author of a book chapter, Tourism in A Bottle: The California Winescape. full bio

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