A Sumptuous Italian Red

A Sumptuous Italian Red

This 'super Tuscan' built upon the Merlot grape

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Today’s wine is “Lucente,” the second label of the “Luce Delle Vite” estate. “Luce” is an expensive, no-holds-barred “super Tuscan,” with grapes grown high atop the famous Montalcino viticultural area. Lucente sources grapes from throughout the region, but is similarly styled and a very Italian expression of the Merlot grape possibilities. (Some of you may be familiar with “Masseto,” the $500 Merlot that turns heads worldwide.) Today’s wine gives you a more frugal hint about why Merlot is a new Italian star.

I had the pleasure of tasting the 2009 vintage of Lucente only weeks before trying today’s new release. For my palate, the extra time in the bottle only helps in achieving the standard that this wine aspires to – yet it already impresses.

2014 Lucente, Toscana IGT $30 srp

Almost black in color. A refined yet dense nose of crushed blackcurrant, blackberry, olive and saddle leather. There is a dark, brooding quality – almost forbidding in its dense forest, smoke and graphite/charcoal elements. (Yet there is also that wistful, “weedy” quality on the nose, so very characteristic of the Merlot grape.) Flavors are medium-bodied, but display a saturated and peppery fruit compote with mocha overlay. Sumptuous stuff, this really makes a statement. Balanced and long on the palate, let this breathe for at least one hour. (75% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese) Drink now-2021.

91/100 points (perhaps higher with bottle age)

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.