I Love Upscale Wine – A Pricey Tignanello Super Tuscan Red
After several years and considerably more than one hundred fifty wine reviews this is our first review of a nearly $100 wine. Before you say that you’ll never spend so much money on a single bottle of wine, please note that $100 may get you four movie theatre tickets, popcorn, soft drinks, and maybe an order or two of nachos. A $100 bottle of wine may be quite a memorable experience. Or maybe it won’t.
We start this series with an Italian red introduced in 1971 by Piero Antinori, the head of a famous Tuscany winemaking family. At that time all across Italy winemakers had to follow very strict, detailed governmental winemaking regulations, or their wine would be denied an official classification. Many winemakers felt handcuffed by such regulations, and knew they could make better wines by following their own instincts. Tuscany was a major center of dissident winemakers and the reviewed wine was known as a Super Tuscan, one that carried no official government designation. In the ensuing winemaking revolution many Super Tuscans and other such wines have become very successful and carry quite a price tag to match. And the winemaking regulations were updated.
In the interest of historical accuracy, Tignanello was not the first Super Tuscan. This honor goes to Sassicaia first produced in 1948 by Antinori’s cousins who used Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon grapes said to have come from Chateau LaFite-Rothschild. Because Sassicaia starts at about $175 we will just have to be satisfied trying the Tignanello.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed Tignatello 2006 13% alcohol about $95
Let’s start with the marketing materials. Description : Consistently one of the most sought-after and collectible wines, this is a must for any cellar. ‘Tig’ is considered one of Tuscany‘s best wines, racking up numerous awards and accolades with each and every vintage. This rich and spicy blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is loaded with blackberry, coffee, tar and truffle aromas. It should be cellared for 2-10 years, or decant it for at least two hours and match it with Beef Wellington or a roasted lamb with a wild mushroom risotto. And now let me introduce the review committee.
Larissa B. is a childhood friend of my daughter. She is a wine and food professional who works for a local, upscale Italian restaurant. Larissa has taught numerous cooking classes and has catered food events attracting several hundred participants. She recently visited Tuscany, focusing on its wine and food. Larissa says that she prefers rustic wines that are full-bodied and not sweet. For the purposes of this review my daughter asks that I call her Harriet. Harriet wrote: “I like wine, but I will drink any reds, especially boxed-wines, so I’m the last person anyone should go to for wine advice.” She generally doesn’t spend more than $15 on a bottle of wine.
The meal started with lentil soup made from green, yellow, and dark lentils with puffed wheat pasta and middle-eastern spices. The main dish was a rib-steak which had been marinated for two days in a homemade mixture of ketchup, mustard with mustard grains, Worchester sauce, Japanese Mirin sauce, and steak spices. The broiled steak was accompanied by potatoes and a medley of vegetables. We finished this excellent meal with homemade apple cake. I decanted the wine approximately two and a half hours before serving it.
Larissa wrote: “Fruity, full, ruby color. Slightly tannic, very smooth. Much more like a Chianti, lighter than most Super Tuscans that I have had.” Harriet wrote: “Smooth, earthy, it’s good!, not sweet. Woody taste? Tastes like really good wine, not a heavy wine, kind of fruity, getting more tangy the more I drink.”
And now for my review. At the first sips the wine was very, very long. It had lots to it, and was chewy. With the soup, this Super Tuscan was mouth filling. When paired with the marinated steak and accompaniments the Tignatello showed fine acidity with low tannins and was very round. Now for the big question: was it worth $95? Absolutely not. Honestly, I was quite disappointed. To my mind this was a $40 wine. I agree with Larissa, it seemed like a Chianti. To be fair perhaps this wine should have aged for several more years. In any case it really did not meet my expectations. I still remember drinking an Italian Barolo a few years ago at half the price that really outclassed this Super Tuscan. Of course I can remember other Barolos that weren’t nearly as good. So I guess I’ll have to sacrifice and do some Barolo reviews. And maybe someday I’ll review a Sassicaia.
About the Author
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but really prefers fine Italian or other wine, with good food and company. He loves teaching computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website
features a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines. His Italian travel website is
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