Cantine Rialto La Contessa Rosso 2011

la-contessa-rossoThe vagaries of wine sales often have us finding new wines at times that don’t really mesh with when one might actually want to drink said wine. It’s July, and though it seems to rain every darn day, it’s also pretty hot. Still, a few times I’ve¬† managed to talk myself into a red wine that’s too big/complex for the season, only to dream of drinking a Rose over dinner.

Cantine Rialto’s La Contessa, a Merlot blend featuring 10% each of Sangiovese and Sagrantino, falls into this category. Though it can certainly be enjoyed now in some primo air conditioning, it’s full-bodied nature and prominent tannins are better saved for the temperatures and foods of fall and winter. Of course, never knowing how a particular wine will sell in the system, I’d suggest picking up a few bottles now and stowing them away in a cool basement corner or wine fridge for later enjoyment. (It should drink well for at least 5 years.)

As for the wine itself, in true Umbrian fashion, it is rustic, a little funky, and delicious. The nose is an interplay of earth, spice and dark fruits, which continues for the most part into the palate. Though this saw some new oak, it is understated and adds a nice complexity. The blend only features 10% Sagrantino – Umbria’s great grape – but the spice, tannin and truly unique character of one of my favorite varieties is hard to miss on the finish. Overall, this is a great wine for $13.99 (in PA), and one that would probably sell for at least double the price were the label to say Tuscany instead of Umbria.