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A Taste of Tuscany: 2007 Brancaia "Ilatraia" IGT Rosso di Toscano

“Condiments are like old friends -- highly thought of, but often taken for granted.” ~ Marilyn Kaytor

Another gorgeous sunny in San Diego day is underway, it's great living here and even better when we have back to back days of warm sunshine beaming down on as we work, play and at the end of a long day, grab that next bottle of wine from the cellar for a fun-filled evening with friends. It's even better when you uncover a bottle you’ve been sitting on, forgetting about, finding and then waiting to open at the right moment; that moment the weekend, Italian fare on the menu, great friends and a Tuscan treasure to share. 

The bottle in today’s review spotlight is the 2007 Brancaia "Ilatraia" IGT Rosso di Toscano, which I ordered after coming home from my first amazing trip to Tuscany back in 2008. Mrs. Cuvee and I had many adventures while jaunting about in the Italian country side; visiting many of the villages of the Chianti region, at times freelancing and the other appointments which blew our hair back. One night, after a very long day out-and-about, we discovered a wonderful little place to dine just outside of Castellini in Chianti. It was there, dining alfresco, ordering from the amazing wine menu of Locanda di Pietracupa [San Donato in Poggio (FI) Via Madonna di Pietracupa] where I first discovered Ilatraia Rosso from the brilliant Tuscan producer Brancaia.

Once I pulled the cork on this bad-boy I knew we were all in for a real treat, I decanted the wine an hour or so before dinner, enjoyed some bubbly during the appetizer portion of the evening and then hovering over the top of the decanter, peering into inky opaque darkness, whoa a bouquet of ripe blackberries, dark rich plums, and a burnt tobacco leaf, leap to my nose like a frog in hot-water.

Once we all got a splash in our glasses, whoa heads snapped back and the expression on everyone’s face said; “wow”.  I don’t thing I was prepared for how good this wine was going to be; Mrs. Cuvee took charge of the bottle preventing me from doing any unintended bogarting on my part. On the first slurp; a boat load of dark rich fruit, a blackberry compote tart, rich earth, tar, a dusting of mocha and ripe plums dancing around the firm, well integrated tannins, which play nicely into the long palate coating finish.

I scored this wonderful blend [a blend that changes year to year] of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot, the fruit drawn from vineyards in Maremma, which spent 18 months in French oak an amazing 95 points. This folks is rock-star juice and the sad part is that was my last bottle, this wine could have easily gone many more years in the bottle, as it’s just now beginning to peek. Honestly, I would dare you to find a better value than this; I scored this wine for $50 back in 2008 from JJ Buckley.

I highly recommend you seeking out Ilatraia for yourself, whether it’s this vintage or even their current offering. The last time I received samples [this was not one] from the great folks at the Hess Collection [Update: Brancaia is now imported by Gallo] who are currently the importer of Brancaia Wines here in the states, I had an opportunity to sample their Chianti, and it was pretty fab as well. Until next time folks sip long and prosper cheers!


Jim Caudill said…
Hi Bill. As of April 1, Brancaia is now imported by Gallo, after we decided to focus only on estates owned by the Hess family. But you're right, that's a hell of a wine (my fave of the group is actually Il Blu, a different blend)and I'm going to miss my employee benefit of easy access to the wine.

If you're up my way, be sure to stop by.

all the best
Bill Eyer said…
Hey Jim,

Ahh that is too bad, but I'm glad to hear someone is still importing their wines. I've never sampled the ILBlu, something to look forward to in the future though.

I'll definitely have to stop-by and see you, it will be this coming May in fact. The Mrs. and I are taking my Son to the region for his very first wine tasting trip. So when the date gets a bit closer, I'll message you. Thanks for the invite and thanks for the updated info.


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