What we’re drinking: Monte Antico Toscana

Brynn writes:

At the end of last week the husband and I decided to head to Staircase to do a little hiking in the woods. It turned out to be a mediocre day weather-wise, but when you’re in the woods you don’t always know if the sun is shinning, so we didn’t mind the clouds.

We got back to civilization and made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s and Costco — yes I realize the phrase “quick stop” isn’t often used to describe visits to Costco, but really we made it quick. While at TJ’s we found a pre-made dish of stuffed chicken with mozzarella and ricotta cheese and marinara sauce.  I don’t normally buy these kinds of meals because I love to cook and could easily make the meal myself for a lot less, but with the late hour and grumbling tummies I succumbed to the pressure.

Once we got home and got the chicken in the oven I consulted our wine wheel to see what we should drink. It didn’t have a chicken/marinara option, so next I went to my food/wine pairing Bible (thanks Mary!) “What to Eat With What You Drink”. The suggestions presented didn’t match what we had in our wine rack, so we decided to ad lib it.

A 2006 Monte Antico Toscana caught my eye — a perfect match for a Tuscan-style chicken dish, I thought.

This wine is 85 percent Sangiovese, 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 5 percent Merlot. This blend, or style of wine, is known as a Super Tuscan.

The color was a clear ruby red and the nose had hints of spice. The Sangio is upfront, giving the wine a dry finish. The Cab and Merlot do a nice job of bringing forward the herbal, earthy spice notes.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and later aged for a year in barrels. This gives an upfront fruit presence to the wine, letting the grapes speak for themselves more than flavors imparted from oak.

Winery tasting notes: Deep ruby in color, its bouquet of leather, earth, herbs, black cherries, licorice and plums is confirmed on the medium to full-bodied palate – round, spicy, elegant, attractively fruity and extremely versatile with any fare from pasta or risotto, to meat, fowl and cheese.

It went great with the chicken and red sauce, but when I had it the next night with tomato, garlic, basil and angel hair pasta I felt the wine was a little hot (alcoholic). Adding more cheese helped.

The wine is available at any grocery store — I bought it at Fred Meyer and saw it at World Market in Silverdale. It retails around $10.