Aromas of ripe cherry fruit have a spicy cedar-tinged edge. Fresh, taut acidity lightens up the ripe and full-bodied flavors of cherries and sweet smoky spice that define this Italian red. It's big and juicy, with notes of leather and smoke that give it a decidedly Italian accent. The wine is lush and lingering on the finish, with a lasting impression of plum and spice flavors.
Black cherry, plum, blood orange, violets and leather.
Italian entrepreneur Pierluigi Tolaini spent most of his career building businesses in Canadan and America. After returning to his native Tuscany in 1998, he purchased 200 acres of the best land available in Castelnuovo Berardenga, a part of Chianti Classico just outside Siena, and founded his own vineyards. He constructed a state-of-the-art winery and hired famed enologist Michel Rolland to advise his winemaking team. The results of Tolaini's investment and his talented team's expertise are impressive. This cuvée fleshes out the tart fruit and high tannins of Sangiovese, the traditional grape of Chianti, with the soft, fruity flavors of Merlot. Since it's not a traditional combination, the wine bears the appellation, or DOC as it's called in Italy (for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, or controlled place of origin), of IGT Toscana. We were captivated by the Al Passo's bold, impeccably balanced flavors, which are a winning blend of old- and new world characteristics. This wine offers everything we love about great Chiantis--spice, earth and serious structure--with just a touch of sweet plummy fruit. Less than 1,000 cases were made.
The Tolaini cries out for my recipe for Grilled Prime Rib Eye. A favorite at any time of the year, prime rib is rich and luscious and an ideal partner for the wine. Serve with a side of my Definitive Mashed Potatoes and my Spinaci alla Padella (sautéed spinach). For a simpler option, break out a chunk of Parmesan Reggiano or even your favorite blue cheese and a crusty loaf of bread.
Constantly in transit, Michel Rolland, the sometimes controversial 64-year-old wine consultant has been dubbed the "flying winemaker." From his consulting work and media presence, Michel Rolland has influenced many aspects of both the French and global wine industry. He has also been criticized as an agent of wine globalization.