In a nutshell: A ripe, bright and juicy Italian red from the southern end of Tuscany.
The lowdown: From Rocca di Frassinello, an estate co-owned by Castellare di Castellina and Bordeaux's Domaine Baron de Rothschild this blend of 50% Sangiovese, and 25% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is a top quality Tuscan red that won't burn a hole in you pocket. Half the wine is aged in oak barriques for 12 months with the remainder maturing in stainless steel and the result is a very approachable wine with generous dark fruit flavours complemented by a gently warm spiciness. The texture is soft and velvety and the firm tannins are very well integrated.
When to drink: It's drinking at its peak now and for the next three or fours years and makes a good partner to roasted and grilled meats.
Rocca di Frassinello is a collaboration between the people behind iconic Tuscan winery Castellare di Castellina and leading French wine brand Domaines Barons de Rothschild-Lafite. It was born out of a desire to bring together Castellare's experience in cultivating Sangiovese with Lafite's long standing knowledge of classical French varieties like Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah.
Situated between the town of Gavorrano in the Grosseto province in Maremma, the soils have similar characteristics to those of Chianti and Montalcino, but with slightly higher temperatures, so the late-ripening grapes are able to reach maturation earlier here compared to those vineyards further north. Moderating sea breezes pass through the area to keep the climate perfectly balanced for the grapes.
They have 90 hectares of vineyards equally divided to Italian and French varieties. While the inhouse expertise they can call on is extensive it's resident winemaker Massimo Casagrande who has a wealth of experience in Tuscany prior to moving here who oversees operations. The state-of-the-art winery, the vision of architect Renzo Piano, is designed to eliminate the use of pumps: the grapes are brought to a large square, which Renzo named the "sagrato" (churchyard), are sorted and then end up in the fermentation vats by force of gravity through small windows in the floor.