Malcolm Jolley (re)discovers a Vintages Essential.

I met Sergio Zingarelli this week for dinner with his Ontario agents, Profile Wine Group, at Café Boulud. The setting, Yorkville in the middle of TIFF, was perfect since Zingarelli’s father, Italo was a renown film producer. Forty-five years ago Zingarelli Senior took the profits he made from the cinema and bought the property north of Sienna that became Rocca delle Macìe.

Sergio Zingarelli is a bit like his wines: certainly elegant, but also quite fun. We tasted a few of them over dinner. By way of aperitif and oyster companion we had the Moonlite Bianco 2016, a crisp and fruit forward Vermentino blend, that wholesales form consignment for well under $20 – I will look for it on wine lists. We also had some fancy wines, including the Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico Riserva 2014, which is sometimes described as their flagship wine, and will get to Vintages in November – more on it then, but it was elegant deep in dark cherry to blueberry fruit. And we tried the Roccato 2011, a 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Sangiovese Super Tuscan from the Zingarelli’s holdings in the Maremma. It was very good and I enjoyed it particularly as it reinforced my theory that now is the best time to be tasting wines made in Italy from ‘International’ (read French) grape varieties because the vines are now reaching peak age age of 25 to 30 or more years. Absolutely nothing green about this complex and perfectly balanced wine, just clean black and blue fruit. It can be ordered directly from Profile for about $40 a bottle, in cases of six.

As much as I enjoy tasting premium fine wine, let’s say anything over $30, I do not get taken out to Café Boulud every night, and in my house we try and keep our wine budget under $20 a bottle. This is why, in many ways, the real star of the table, aside from Signor Zingarelli, was the Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico 2016 (LCBO# 741769 – $18.95). This is a 95% Sangiovese with just a seasoning of Merlot to fill it out and add a note of mulberry to dark, rich, earthy cherry notes. This wine is tremendous value and it proves another theory of mine, which is the best value wines come from houses that also make premiums. And the really good news about this wine is that it is a ‘Vintages Essential’, which means it is “always available” at any LCBO store with a Vintages section. I am embarrassed to admit that I haven’t paid attention to this wine before Signor Zingarelli poured it for me for that very reason: it’s ubiquity made me suspicious. Serves me right for being a wine snob. Since the dinner, I have adjusted my attitude accordingly and will be enjoying it regularly. This wine wants a medium rare steak drizzled with good olive oil and a big glass.