Rosso Piceno served with tortellini and marinara.

Rosso Piceno Superiore “Vigna Monteprandone” 2008

Cost: $18-20

What: We hadn’t had an Italian wine in a while so my wife Teri and I broke out this beautiful Montepulciano blend for dinner last week. It was a terrific choice.

The wine is deep ruby, almost purple, with powerful aromas of black cherry, spice, vanilla and licorice. There are layers of flavors, but blackberry and cherry stand out, with hints of minerality.

Rosso Piceno Vigna Monteprandone.

It’s an elegant wine, with a powerful feel, even though it has gentle tannins. It’s a blend of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese, two of Italy’s most widely planted grape varieties. The soft fruit flavors of the Montepulciano soften the power and structure that come from the Sangiovese. It’s a wonderful marriage.

The hillside vineyards in the west central part of Italy known as Marche (MAR-kay) on the Adriatic coast average more than 35 years old, so the grapes produce a strong expression of the varietals. Rosso Piceno is the largest wine region in the Marche. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel vats before going into French oak barriques, 50% of them new. The wine spent 18 months in the barrels.

You probably could store this wine for another 2-3 years, although it is wonderful to drink now.

Winery: The Saladini Pilastri company is a thriving modern winery that traces it’s history back to the year 1000 and the family of Count Saladini Pilastri. Grapes were planted 300 years ago as part of a larger farm, and new vines were planted in the 1970s.

The company has been practicing sustainable, low-impact organic farming since 1994. While keeping the quality of the wine high, these practices also protect natural resources and the environment. The winery has decided not to use chemical or genetically altered products in its wine.

Saladini Pilastri produces several red blends of Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Alianico and a rose of Sangiovese. It exports its wine to the United States, Europe and Asia. In the U.S. it is imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains, N.Y.

Goes with: Teri and I had this with marinara sauce over tortellini and spaghetti. We thought an Italian wine would be appropriate, and we were right. The delightful combination of fruit and backbone of the wine was a perfect match for the acidic marinara.

The wine would go well with grilled chicken, pork, beef and even duck. I might also try meatballs, veal marsala, pizza and hard cheese.

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