Pietra Santa Sangiovese

2009 Pietra Santa Sangiovese

SOLD OUT! What would you think if we told you that we’d found a red wine with all of the flair, style, and panache of a great Super Tuscan for less than $20?

Add to that the fact that the wine is from California, where Sangiovese doesn’t tend to do well, and you’d probably think we were losing it right? Think what you like, but the 2009 Pietra Santa Sangiovese is exactly “as-advertised."

2009 Pietra Santa Sangiovese

Tuscany meets California in this complex and delightful red!


So what’s a Super Tuscan? It’s a type and style of wine that came to be in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, and it was created by an ambitious group of young Tuscan producers who were rebelling against the rigid regulations governing the production of Chianti. Producers such as Antinori, Montevertine, and Felsina wanted to create wines beyond classic Chianti. Let’s just say they wanted to shake things up a bit; for more information on Super Tuscans, click here to read more. Today, many Tuscan producers make a Super Tuscan and most of them sell for $50 to $100 per bottle. The fact that the Pietra Santa Sangiovese mimics this style but cost a fraction of the price is why this such an incredible deal.

Pietra Santa Winery occupies 450 acres in California’s Cinega Valley, just 25 miles inland from Monterey Bay. Owners John and Phyllis Blackburn and their son Cort dedicate 150 acres to vineyards and olive trees, and though they make a number of different wines, they don’t make many cases of each.

The cooling influences of Monterey Bay allow their vineyards to enjoy a long growing season marked by hot days and cool nights. The position of their vineyards on the San Andreas Fault results in rocky, infertile soils with a high amount of granite and limestone present………thus the name Pietra Santa which means “Sacred Stone”. These rocky soils and the long hang time result in naturally lower yields and very distinctive and assertive flavors in their wines. I can attest to this fact because I’m sitting here smelling and sipping on a glass of this wine as I type.

Winemaking and olive oil production are handled by Siena native Alessio Carli, who spent several years making wine at famed Chianti estate Badia a Coltibuono. He adds 8% Cabernet Sauvignon to the Sangiovese and ages the wine for 24 months in new and used French oak before bottling.

The Blackburns and Carli don’t like to “rush” this wine; instead, they hold it and let it settle, rest and harmonize before they release it. The result is pretty amazing! When you pour this one, you’ll notice it has a deep ruby color followed by a rich and complex nose of ripe cherry, strawberry, plum, earthy spice and integrated oak. The palate is supple, sumptuous, and medium to full bodied with flavors of roasted red fruits, dark plum, brown spice, and sun baked earth, and the finish lingers for 20+ seconds.

This versatile red tastes great without food, but a rich red like this one would pair beautifully with a rich Bolognese or a big hunk of grilled, roasted, or braised meat. For collectors, I would project that this one could lay down and improve for another 3 to 5 years.

Josh Spurling
Owner, Operator, Wine Monger
Table Wine Asheville