Varietal of the Month: Super Tuscan

Red wines from the region of Tuscany made from blends of grapes that include Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah make up the category of Super Tuscan. Originally, the term was used to distinguish wines that did not meet the stringent requirements of Chianti wines and wanted to set themselves apart from the “table wine” classification they were required to put on their label.

They are now recognized with an IGT legal appellation (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) that the Italian government issues to distinguish quality control in the country. They usually contain a high percentage of Sangiovese and possess big, rich flavor. Typically, the well-known Super Tuscan wines also have high price tags and are made in limited quantities.

Wine of the Month: Monte Antico Toscana
Known as the affordable Super Tuscan, Monte Antico is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. Meaning “ancient mountain,” Monte Antico grapes are chosen from various altitudes from the Tuscan hillsides to represent the different climates and soils that are specific to each terrain. Harvested at their peak ripeness, this balanced combination of geological diversity makes for the wine’s consistent excellence.

Sangiovese is a Tuscan grape with a rich and long history. It offers bright freshness, red fruit, violet color and spice.  Merlot brings intense fruity aromas and plush, velvety tannins. It has a wonderful color, luxurious texture and hint of mixed berries. The Cabernet Sauvignon gives Monte Antico a pleasing backbone that lends structure, tannins, color and fruity aroma.

The wine has a deep ruby color with garnet reflections and an elegant bouquet of leather, black cherries, licorice and plums; a medium to a full-bodied palate, rich in ripe red fruit, subtle notes of vanilla and violet that are well-integrated with the soft tannins and silky texture. Firm backbone, perfect integration of acidity and fruit and a well-rounded, gentle finish.

Food Pairings:
Pasta Dishes, Meat & Cheese Platters, Red Meat, Risotto, Dark Chocolate

Recipe:Southern Italian Chocolate Cake
1 1/4 cups of chopped dark chocolate (60% cacao)
2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat a double boiler over simmering water. Add chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Turn off heat. You can also do this with a large bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave in 15 second intervals.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Place whites in one mixing bowl and the yolks in another. Add the sugar to the egg yolks. Beat on high with an electric mixer until mixture is pale and frothy, around 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture, then salt and almond flour. 

Beat the egg whites on high speed for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk-chocolate mixture and use a spatula to fold it into the batter. Add the remaining egg whites and fold into the batter until fully incorporated. Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease with butter or cooking spray. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350° F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Run an offset spatula around the edge of the cake. Let cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out on a plate and remove the paper. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla gelato and halved strawberries.

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