Ambra Carmignano Santa Cristina In Pilli 2007
Serving suggestions: Pasta dishes with game sauces, medium aged cheeses
The 2007 Carmignano Santa Cristina in Pilli is similar to the Montefortini in its varietal blend and aging regime but it is a much darker and more masculine Carmignano. Dark wild cherries, iron, minerals, spices and flowers come together beautifully in a firm style that needs another year or two in bottle to show at its finest. Still, it is impossible to ignore the wine’s pedigree and sheer class. This is a fabulous effort, not to mention a steal for the money. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2022.
A blend of sangiovese, canaiolo nero and cabernet sauvignon; 12 months in barriques and larger oak barrels; 14% alcohol. Bright ruby-red. Delicate aromas of sour red cherry, redcurrant and flowers. Then bright and fruity, with brisk acidity lifting the sour red cherry and strawberry fruit and extending the flavors on the aftertaste. Finishes fresher than the Montefortini.
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An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture...
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.