Lucente 2010, Italy
What: Some wineries use their second labels to dump inferior grapes, feeding off the prestige of their primary wine. That is not the case with Lucente, which is the second label for Luce.
This Tuscan beauty is a gorgeous deep ruby red in the glass. Fresh raspberry and blackberry aromas provide an enticing invitation to try the wine. The flavor lives up to the promise of the aroma: more blackberry and plum with a hint of spice. The wine is warm and well rounded in the mouth, with smooth tannins perfectly integrated to give the wine proper structure.
This wine is rich and full and luscious, able to stand on its own and succeed with its own reputation. The blend is 75% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese, while the Luce is 55% Merlot and 45% Sangiovese. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and then spends 12 months in oak barriques.
I would open this wine at least 30 minutes before drinking. It should age for several years, but it is drinking wonderfully now.
We also tried Lucente’s big brother, the 2009 vintage of Luce. While Luce is undeniably a better wine and will age longer, its hefty price tag ($93), convinced me that the Lucente is a much better value
We shared the Luce with our friends Richard and Sharon in Lexington. We went up there to seem them and two other ski friends, Charlie and Nancy, and to check out the Impressionism exhibit at the Columbia Art Museum. We got a guided tour from Charlie’s niece who has a Ph.D. in art history. Wow! What a fun tour.
We also joined Richard and Sharon to see the movie “Quartet,” Dustin Hoffman’s first effort at directing a film. It was as spectacular in its own was as the Impressionist paintings. It felt like an elegant “arts” weekend, and the Luce made it even more elegant.
Winery: The Frescobaldi family has been producing wine in Tuscany since the 1300s, supplying wine to such notables as Michelangelo and the English king Henry VIII.
Vittorio Frescobaldi partnered with American wine pioneer Robert Mondavi in 1995 to produce Tuscan wine under several labels, including Luce della Vite, the winery for Luce and Lucente. After the Mondavi winery was acquired by a conglomerate, the Frescobaldis gained full control of some of the Tuscan wine operations in 2005.
The Luce della Vite estate is southwest of Montalcino. Some of the vineyards were planted in 1977, while most of the vineyards were planted or replanted from 1997 on. The estate is one of the highest in the Montalcino district at more than 1,000 feel
Luce means light and lucente means shining.
Goes with: My wife Teri and I had this wine with a rich vegetable beef soup that I have loved since I was a boy. The soup is similar to Minestrone so I thought it might be a good match for the Lucente. It was perfect.
All the rich flavors of the garden in the soup were balanced by the fruit and acidity of the wine.
We had the high-end Luce with corn chowder our friend Sharon made for us in Lexington, S.C. It was spectacular. Cherry and plum flavors were a good match for the slightly spicy chowder.