Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure an exclusive Rosso di MontalcinoDOC for our operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Le Benducce de Tornesi
Wine Subject: 2008 Rosso di Montalcino DOC
Winemaker: Maurizio Tornesi
Rosso di Montalcino, made from the same grapes and in the same region as its big brother, and perhaps the finest of all the wines in Italy, Brunello di Montalcino, is younger and fresher. It is aged for less time in oak and is widely considered an excellent lower cost version showing many of the flavor characteristics of Brunello. Most notable, Rossos will be more youthful and crisp due a shorter oak regimen. Recently, Rossos have been deeper and more concentrated that in years past producing a wine that appeals greatly to the American palate.
Look – Deep and dense ruby red with a brilliantly clear core that has bright ruby streaks when held to the light. Along the edges, the color remains dense and shows subtle orangish tints. When swirled, slow fat legs are slow to develop before descending to the wine below.
Smell – Bright and tangy red fruit including raspberry and red cherry lead the way and are followed by complex toasted oak and woody notes. Herbal and earthy undertones linger along with a touch of hot spice and bittersweet chocolate and vanilla caramel.
Feel – Bright and youth but without sacrificing smoothness, this full-bodied wine has finely textured tannins, racy acidity and a finely textured mineral character that lasts long into the finish.
Taste – Tangy and ripe red raspberry and red cherry as found on the nose warmly glide over the palate as the complex notes of wood, spice, bittersweet chocolate and even hints of orgeat mingle as the fruit lasts and lasts.
Finish – extremely long and clean with lingering red fruit hints along with a touch of bittersweet chocolate and wood that lasts as the textured minerality and mouth drying tannins beg for another sip.
Conclusion – As with all of the wines from Tornesi that we’ve featured, the 2008 Le Benducce de Tornesi Rosso di Montalcino DOC fully represents the character of the region. A classic baby Brunello with great aromas, flavors and texture just in a more youthful package. Cellar for several years to watch this wine develop, but if you can’t wait, a little time in the decanter or glass will provide you with a classic Italian experience. Pair this wine with anything big, rich and tangy or with grilled meats..
Below is a recap of our original mission when we visited Tornesi
My spy communicator again. Does it ever stop ringing?
The voice on the other end, obviously electronically disguised, said, “Dead drop. La Loggia. 3rd Arch. Mark plus 18 hours…. Mark.”
The line went dead.
Who was that, how would I possibly make it to Italy in 18 hours, and how do I know it wasn’t a trap?
Requesting detailed analysis, I sent the automatic recording of the call to Central Command, where Agent Red was the acting Ops Chief. A few minutes later, Red reported back, suggesting that the source could not be verified – but that the 3rd arch of La Loggia might have some significance.
Approving the mission, Red arranged transport and I was underway. 14 hours later, well rested and ready for action, I hopped into my rental car and sped through the Italian countryside.
On arrival at La Loggia, a 14th and 15th century construction which consists of 6 beautiful archways, I noted that the area was filled with tourist throngs. On a beautiful day like today, I am not surprised.
Making my way to the 3rd arch, a young man catches my eye. He smiles at me as he passes me and looks down into his hand, which is clutching a small package. I follow him with my eyes and watch as he sets the package down next to a waste can before walking on.
Making my way to the can I casually scoop up the box and carry it to a nearby bench. I set my spy communicator on top of it and key it to analyze the contents. Almost instantly, the screen displays: “Findings inconclusive, handle with caution.”
Alarm bells ring out in my head. Looking around at all of the people, I decide that it would be best to deal with this right here, rather than risk upsetting whatever might be inside.
I remove a hairpin from my hair and use it to open the box (only spy hairpins have a finely sharpened edge). The box now open, I hear a distinct ticking sound. My heart races. I delicately remove layers of paper packing material to reveal two boxes, one large and one small, the ticking sound coming from the latter.
I take out the bigger box. There is liquid inside. Wine Spies don’t do bombs, for goodness sake, we sleuth out wines. The most danger I have ever experienced was when a corkscrew malfunctioned and I cut my thumb.
Gently, I open the larger box. Whew! It is just a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino inside. Relieved only for the briefest moment, I suddenly remember the smallerticking box!
As I begin to remove the box, a soft voice above me says, “Maybe these will help”.
Looking up, I see a grinning Agent White. He has two wine glasses in his hand and a huge smile on his face.
The Montalcino region can be viewed in this satellite photo.