A Stellar Italian Wine That Isn’t Made from the Grape You Might Expect

chalk by Andrew Chalk

Most of the top wines from the Tuscany region of Italy are made wholly or mainly from the Sangiovese grape. However there is another indigenous red Tuscan grape that I recommend you check out. 2011 Corte alla Flora Pugnitello is made from the Pugnitello grape, sometimes called Tuscany’s forgotten grape. Pugnitello means ‘little fist’ and refers to the grape’s tight bunches on the vines. It lost favor in the mid 20th century to Sangiovese partly because of its low yields. A research project by the University of Florence, in 1960, is believed to have pretty much saved it from oblivion.  

The vine produces small grapes with thick skins. They have intense dark color with ample tannins and good acid. The Corte alla Flora was served at a recent meeting of the Dallas Sommelier Society where it surprised attendees with its complexity and approachability to the American palate. At around $35 it is good value and could have you eschewing better known Chianti Classicos and Brunello di Montalcino wines in its favor. If other Pugnitellos become available in this price range the varietal might even undergo an American renaissance.

Serve with bistecca alla fiorentina, or any steak of your choice for that matter. It can be drunk now (assisted by some aeration through decanting) or kept, probably for up to a decade.

Available now at Pogo’s (Dallas) and Corner Wines (Plano). Exact prices not available at press time.


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