Montesecondo IGT Toscano Rosso 2011 — $18
The story of Silvio & Catalina Messana is a tall tale of the sort to make you ponder: at what point did my life suddenly begin to stand all but still? Theirs is a tale with a buxom arc.
Silvio was a wine salesman in Manhattan. The couple's three boys were coming into school age and with rising rents and extortion-level school costs, they decided to pack in and move to Tuscany to help nurse Silvio's ailing mother. His father had bought 49 acres in the Chianti Classico region back in 1969 and she had been selling off the fruit to cooperatives since his death. In 1999 she passed away; with both parents now gone, the time had come for Silvio and Catalina to commit full time to the family business.
Silvio took on the vines himself. And in the years since his first vintage, 2000, he's built himself (by hand) a sizeable production facility. He does it all. And he's had strong opinions all the way about spraying and mutilating the traditional practices of the area, but was at first timid about cutting orthogonally against the governing DOCG body. The grand irony of course is that Silvio has since begun making tank-aged (instead of oak barrels) Sangiovese and Canaiolo, the grapes significant to Tuscan heritage, and in the traditional style. It's complicated. But what I mean is that for a decade now he's been making wines that speak directly to the historical Chianti name. Traditional wines. Meanwhile, the Chianti consortium has been slowly turning their collective back on tradition and manipulating their wines to taste more like the streamlined products that are so endlessly hyped in the press. It's a case of monoculture on the rise. Exhibit A is the introduction of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and the use of small, new oak barrels.
So as a biodynamic vignaiolo Silvio bumps up against some pretty hefty risks, not only in terms of the hard work it takes to farm without a chemo-industrial crutch, but with the differing opinions about what Chianti and Tuscan wines should be. Especially since his ideas don't match with the current trends. Needless to say, I'm with Silvio.
This Tuscan Rosso is 95% Sangiovese with 5% Canaiolo. It's rustic on the nose and juicily quaffable going down. With an edge of freshness, this is natural wine that needs no footnote—just pure delight. Enjoy young with salty cured meats and firm cheeses, or to wash down a spicy pizza.