Imported Wine: San Felice Toscana Contrada di San Felice
Agricola San Felice: San Felice takes its name from a church on the property that is found in records dating back as far as 714 and was named for a local saint. The Grisaldi Del Taja Family began producing wine here and owned the land for several centuries; they were among the founding members of the Chianti Classico Consortium. The now late Enzo Morganti acquired the estate in the late 1960’s and expanded its reach in 1984 by purchasing the critically acclaimed Campogiovanni Vineyard in Montalcino, where they still produce excellent Brunello.
About: Enzo Morganti, like the great Sergio Manetti of Montevertine, was a pure Sangiovesist and was responsible for much of the Sangiovese we drink today. After spending two decades experimenting with clones of Sangiovese at Tenuta di Lilliano, this Tuscan wine pioneer took control of the famous Agricola San Felice Chianti Classico estate in 1967 and helped turn it into a national treasure that now includes a 750-hectare resort village, 180 hectares of vineyards, and a site dedicated to experimental viticulture and genetic improvement of Sangiovese. The perfection of Sangiovese continues here today in the capable hands of Leonardo Bellaccini, who keeps the Morganti spirit burning. The San Felice vineyards lie in the gently rolling hills of the Castelnuovo Berardenga area of Chianti Classico, where the vines benefit from two distinct soils: calcareous clay, which produces long-aging reds with excellent structure, and a combination of sand and lime that gives younger wines, both red and white. The Contrada di San Felice Toscana Rosso is a delicious blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Its vinification and ageing process includes nine days fermentation on the skins followed by malolactic fermentation and a brief maturation in stainless steel vats.
Varietal: 50% Merlot, 40% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Food Pairings: Veal Osso Bucco, Veal Parmigiana, Lamb Shank, Stone Baked Pizza, Roasted Mushrooms, or an after dinner Crème Brule.
Tasting Notes: This is a gorgeous, modern take on a Tuscan wine with a ruby red color, aromas of ripe cherries and violets, structured with plush tannins and balanced acidity.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Rich, loaded with flavor, and a great mouthfeel; producing a long lingering finish. Serve with tomato sauced dishes, pork, or lamb.
Domestic Wine: 2013 Cartlidge & Browne, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California
Cartlidge & Browne: Sometime in the late 1970’s Tony Cartlidge sat in the cab of a cement mixer on a nuclear plant construction site reading about great California winemakers; shortly thereafter, he got into his 1960 Nash Rambler and headed to Napa. He checked into a Motel 6 and used the Yellow Pages hanging from a payphone in the lobby to cold call wineries looking for employment. After meeting Glen Browne, a man of great business sense with some money to invest, the pair set out to build a wine company from scratch. They decided that there was no need to buy an estate, and there was not enough money, so in 1980 they settled into an undistinguished garage in Napa Valley. While Glen Browne handled the business end, Tony Cartlidge scoured the appellations of the North Coast in his ’60 Rambler. From Napa to Sonoma to Mendocino and to Lake he searched for grapes farmed with care and concern for the land. He brought the harvest of his labors back to the garage and began to make wine that quickly garnered rave reviews from critics and wine lovers alike.
About: The garage may be gone, but Cartlidge & Browne have continued the spirit and vision that began their original garage winery; wine made to express the character of the grapes and a North Coast sense of place. The northernmost counties in California’s wine country are Mendocino and Lake; Mendocino has many micro-climates and a high amount of organic vintners & vines, where Lake is smaller and less climatically diverse, but they both produce complex and sumptuous red grape varietals. This 2013 offering is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Arvine (an indigenous Swiss varietal typically used in white wines). This wine is ready to drink now, but should open up after a few years of cellaring.
Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Arvine
Food Pairings: Enjoy this wine with a beef roast or steak fajitas, aged cheddar, or a nice juicy home cooked steak or bacon cheeseburger. Try with dark chocolate covered berries…yum!
Tasting Notes: Cardinal red in color, it starts out with delicious red fruits on the nose that open into ripe blackberry, watermelon, candied plums, & crème brulee. Soft yet fine tannins have notes of coffee, rose petals, and wet slate.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: A great cabernet with great depth on the palate; yet, very harmonious. Great pairing with virtually all meals…especially from the grill!