Uncorked: I’m dreaming of a Super Tuscan
by Pat Kettles
Special to The Star
Dec 12, 2012 | 2223 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As soon as the holidays approach, the portion of my brain that controls food cravings goes on vacation. Suddenly, I find myself prowling through inherited and accumulated recipes deciding whether to tackle pecan tassies, sand tarts, a multi-layer fresh coconut cake with seven-minute divinity frosting, or all of the above.

Most often it is all of the above, with a few extras added. Much of the results of my frenetic holiday baking is shared with loved ones, but as the chief baker, numerous quality control tests must be completed.

With 12 days remaining until Christmas, I have painfully found that man cannot live by cake alone. I yearn for simple fare like pasta topped with tomato sauce and hand-grated parmesan, accompanied by crusty bread and a glass of red wine.

A few days back I removed my last carton of homemade summer tomato sauce from the freezer and prepared a simple meal of pasta and salad. There was no problem selecting the proper wine. A bottle of Lucente 2010, received as a Christmas gift, had been beckoning for days.

Lucente is a Super Tuscan. Super Tuscan is the nickname for a category of quality Italian wines that do not fit into the rigid classification set by the Italian government. These classifications — such as the top classification, DOCG, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita — were initiated to give the consumer the guarantee that a wine comes from a particular specified area and is made from allowed specified grapes.

In the case of Lucente, because it contains 75 percent merlot, an unrecognized grape in Montalcino according to DOCG standards, it is marketed with the mundane classification Indicazione Geografica Tipica, a red wine typical of the region.

Some of the most prestigious red wines from Italy are Super Tuscans. They can be quite pricey, garnering more than $100 per bottle.

Among the most famous are Sassiacaia, Ornellaia and Luce. These wines are often blends of sangiovese, the predominant red grape of Tuscany, but not always. Some Super Tuscans contain no sangiovese and their composition looks more like a Bordeaux blend.

Lucente, retailing in the $30 range, it is the second label for Luce. In 1995, the Marchesi de Frescobaldi and the Robert Mondavi families collaborated to craft an Italian wine of “extraordinary elegance and quality, displaying an unmistakably individual style and character.” Luce was the result of this collaboration.

As a follower of Mondavi efforts at the time, I was able to secure two bottles of Luce’s first release, paying more for them than I could rightfully afford. These wines were put aside for a while, but I found them to be spectacular.

When the Mondavi empire was broken up, the Frescabaldis assumed full ownership of Luce and now continue to produce not only Luce, but a second label, Lucente.

Luce was the first wine produced in Montalcino that contained both sangiovese and merlot, a big departure for a family that had been producing wine for the past 700 years and has among its archives parchments containing wine orders from Henry VIII of England.

The labels for both Luce and Lucente carry a stylized image of a sun. “Luce” translates to “light” in English, “lucente” to “shining.” This sun design was taken from the altar of Santo Spirito church in Florence, designed in the 15th century and built on land donated by the Frescobaldi family.

Now I ask, what other beverage shares such history? Lucente combines this history with a modern addition of merlot for an interesting wine.

Lucente 2010 is not a wimpy merlot. I recommend opening Lucente 2010 at least an hour ahead of serving and pouring the wine 30 minutes before it is to be consumed. This is a big, peppery and viscous wine that opens up immensely after being exposed to air. This wine has longevity should you decide to cellar it.

Distributed in Alabama by United-Johnson Brothers, Lucente is available by special order from your favorite wine dealer.

Contact Pat Kettles at pkettles@annistonstar.com.
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Uncorked: I’m dreaming of a Super Tuscan by Pat Kettles
Special to The Star

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