This is the “entry” level of a very interesting winery, retailing for about twenty bucks (kinda pricey for an “entry level”, eh?). Tenuta di Arceno is an estate in Chianti, Tuscany (Italy) owned by California wine legend Jess Jackson (of Kendall-Jackson; not to be confused with the British DJ nor the minister/politician) and run by French vigneron / winemaster Pierre Seillan. So, you have a Bordeaux genius making wine in Chianti that is marketed by an American … pretty cool combination, and based on this wine, a pretty potent one as well.
When first opened, the nose didn’t show a whole lot, but after letting it sit in the glass for a few minutes — mild aromas of black raspberry, maybe a hint of roasted bell pepper, and earth started to creep out from underneath. In the mouth it appears mild and unassuming, almost light, until you realize you are still tasting the wine about a minute after it’s been swallowed. A touch of sour black cherry and mild acidity appears during the tail end of the finish, perhaps suggesting the bit of Tuscan Sangiovese that makes up 13% of the blend (not 10%, not 15%, but precisely 13 — so you know the winemaker is fairly precise in his efforts!). Paying more attention to subsequent sips allowed me to discover ripe black cherry, an earthy / leathery component, and a creamy vanilla hint.
The press sheet tells us that 57% of the blend is Merlot, which I do get from the raspberry flavor and notes of bell pepper. 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Syrah fill out the remainder.
With a silky smooth texture, understated complexity, and a long, balanced finish, this wine borders on contemplative, and was certainly enjoyable on its own. I think it will be best with a homemade pasta dish, perhaps with a fresh marinara and basil sauce, rosemary/sage, or veal ragout.
If you see this bottle, buy it. It drinks as well or better than many wines twice its price. Bring it to your next dinner party, as it will impress casual wine drinkers and connoisseurs alike, and the story behind it makes for good conversation.