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Tremendous Value, La Rasina’s 2014 Rosso di Montalcino Speciale “Ines”
October 8, 2019
A Note from Sergio

Not that long ago, Montalcino was just a desperately poor town perching on a hill above the route from Siena to Grosseto. But in the 1970s, something happened that changed Montalcino's place in the world, and that something was Brunello. Until the 1950s, much of Montalcino was farmed by sharecroppers, local farmers who eked out a subsistence living on land they didn't own and handed the majority of their goods to the wealthy landowners. Even the few small farmers who were fortunate enough to own their lands didn't have much--they barely got by. The sharecropping system was abolished in the 1950s, but poverty persisted. Thank the wine gods (and Clemente Santi) for Sangiovese Grosso, the "little brown one," and the grape that makes Brunello di Montalcino.

While there are hundreds of Brunello producers making wine in Montalcino today, very few of them were born and raised in Montalcino. Santi Mantengoli was. In the 1970s, Santi began growing Sangiovese Grosso for other winemakers on his lands, located in the southwest Brunello zone. By the 1980s, the La Rasina estate, now in the hands of Santi's son, Vasco, was estate-bottling its own wines. Today, La Rasina is a thriving, though under-the-radar Brunello producer, and Marco Mantengoli, Vasco's son, carefully tends the vineyards with organic methods, planting fava beans between the rows of vines to maintain proper nitrogen levels and generally ensuring he has the best possible grapes to make the best possible wines.

I'm very proud to present La Rasina's 2014 Rosso di Montalcino Speciale "Ines," a true "baby Brunello." What do I mean by that? I mean that this wine is a fully declassified Brunello, and it aged a full two years in botti before being bottled on the day that Ines Mantengoli, Marco's grandmother, passed away. There's no question that 2014 threw all kinds of challenges at Marco and his team--cold, wet weather with hail and the threat of mold was a lot to deal with. But being a born-and-bred Montalcese, Marco and his family knew how to deal with adversity, so they made the best wine they could, from the best grapes they grew, and they bottled an exceptional Rosso di Montalcino Speciale and named it after their matriarch. I think you'll love this wine--it's "umano," or human, and it thrums with life!

Finally, don't miss Xavier Weisskopf's sparkling Chenin Blanc--it's shocklingly good!

Today's Featured Sections Include:

1. Spotlight on Excellence: La Rasina's Under $40 "Baby Brunello"
2. Time Sensitive Offer: Xavier Weisskopf's Surprising, Sparkling Chenin Blanc
3. Wine Events: Upcoming October Wine Tasting Events

My Best,

Sergio Esposito
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Xavier Weisskopf Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis Petillant Originel 2015 750ml
Xavier Weisskopf Le Rocher des Violettes Montlouis Petillant Originel 2015 750ml
Price: $26.99

Bracing, elegant and food-friendly, the ’15 Petillant Originel holds its white-flesh fruits in an acidic grip that’s sprinkled with citrus zest and topped with flower petals and smoke. Fine perlage tickles the tongue as this wine dances to a lingering, mineral-laden finish that cleanses, refreshes and hugs the palate. Deriving from 40-year-old Chenin vines that are organically grown in limestone-rich soil, grapes ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel; the wine is then bottled and rests on the lees for two years before the first disgorgement, after which the wine is disgorged every two months for a total of six disgorgements. Petillant Originel is a tiny sparkling wine appellation that stipulates extremely low yields, excludes the addition of yeast or dosage, and requires the grapes have a potential alcohol level of 11.5%; the resulting wines are pure, unadulterated joy! more info
La Rasina Rosso Di Montalcino Speciale "Ines" 2014 750ml
La Rasina Rosso Di Montalcino Speciale "Ines" 2014 750ml
Price: $39.99

While La Rasina usually crafts its Rosso di Montalcino from its younger vines, in the challenging 2014 vintage, the estate opted against bottling any Brunello at all and put all of its best grapes into its Rosso instead, creating a “Speciale” wine named after maker Marco Mantengoli’s grandmother, Ines, who passed away on the day the wine was bottled. This ’14 “baby Brunello” is a rustic beauty, crackling with vibrant acidity and filling the mouth with juicy red and black fruits that layer with dusty earth, new leather, herbs, violet petals, cigar wrapper, and telltale Montalcino cypress needles. Beautifully balanced, this wine seamlessly melds its fine-grained tannins, elegant acidity, sweet fruits, and subtle minerality in a captivating whole. Deriving from organically tended vines, Sangiovese Grosso grapes ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel, and this wine, a declassified Brunello, ages for 24 months in botti, followed by six months in bottle before release. more info