The Wine Idiot Reviews: 1967 Cantina Del Grifone Toscana, 2011 ($4.99)
Today I am delighted to present to you another offering in the Grifone lineup. As you may remember, the Grifone Primitivo has been one of the highlights of this little project--a great, bold, zesty red at an unbelievable price point. The Grifone Rosè [sic] and the Grifone Pinot Grigio were letdowns. This sucker right here redeems the Grifone name, in my opinion, and makes me really excited to try the other reds they offer (I've seen a Chianti and a Sangiovese, I think).
The Grifone Toscana is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah. It reminds me a lot of the Primitivo in its big/zesty/complex red-ness. It smells almost coppery, and from the very first sip I promise you won't be bored. It's interesting right away--there is a ton of earthy peppery flavors all tightly wound around each other, then it sorta fades away to a great mellow finish without any sourness at all. It's dry, I would say. And there's some flavor in there that is completely eluding me. It's...organic...and vegetative? Like, have you ever chewed on a green branch? Kind of like that. But like, in a good way.
I tried it with a little food--it's good with three-cheese bread, not so great with garlicky dipping sauce. Then the weird thing happened. So I thought it might be interesting to pair with a gyros sandwich (you get the TJ's gyros, the Sonoma Carb-Cutting Tortillas, some TJ's Cilantro & Chive Yogurt Dip, and some slices of Persian cucumber and tomato--SO GOOD I CAN'T EVEN HANDLE IT). All of a sudden, the WINE was exploding with cucumber flavor. I absolutely cannot explain what happened, and I never in a million years would have thought I would want my wine to taste like cucumber. BUT IT WAS GREAT. A very exciting bonus surprise.
Bottom line--I wish I had another bottle of this to crack open tonight. Highly recommend it.
What the bottle says: "In 1967, blah blah lots of copy...my uncle Giorgio blended the first Toscana using a special ageing method that is still used today in our Grifone cellar to obtain a fruity, soft and smooth Sangiovese based 'Supertuscan' from grapes selected on the Tyrrhenian coast vineyards."
What the Wine Idiot says: Fruity? Soft? Wow, I feel like I had the opposite experience. That sounds like it's describing a solid cab, and I think I tasted the preponderance of sangiovese? I mean, don't get me wrong, that finish is smooth as hell. But one of the things I liked the most about this was that it was NOT super fruity--just a complex, thorny sort of red. Well, agree to disagree I guess!
Who's responsible for this? "Bottled by Roccadoro, Pontedera - Italy, Imported by Latitude Wines Inc., Danville, CA" Y'all I finally looked into this Latitude Wines, which kept popping up on different imported bottles. Knowing next to nothing about wine or the wine industry, a glance through their website didn't really tell me much. However, the Reverse Wine Snob did some digging I'm too lazy to do (well, I did comb through some Google results, that counts for something, right??):
"Basically Trader Joe’s is all about selling their own wine since they make the most money on their private label items. The general market wines are really just there to make their own prices look better. By pricing the general market wines high and their own labels low, it reinforces the perception of value on the Trader Joe’s exclusive wines (and really on all their private label items). At least one local distributor I talked to said that this means few of their general market producers really have any desire to be in Trader Joe’s, as they are just there to look bad. (This is very different than Costco where producers often bite the bullet and take the lower than usual margins because there is so much potential volume.)"
My GUESS is that you couldn't purchase Grifone wines anywhere BUT Trader Joe's. Does that make them a "private label," surreptitious though it may be? Who knows. What I do know is that it's probably these wines that are the best bang for your buck--and in fact, if you do a search of my reviews, you'll notice that almost EVERY SINGLE "imported by Latitude Wines" wine knocks it out of the freaking park. So that's a little secret for ya--at Trader Joe's, look for wines imported by Latitude Wines.
Do I need a corkscrew? Yep.
What do smarter people say about it? AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH BEST DAY EVER!!!!!! GIL LEMPERT-SCHWARZ REVIEWED THIS WINE TOO!!!!! Oh man. I seriously can't overemphasize my enthusiasm for this man, you guys. OK OK OK, full disclosure, he's reviewing the 2009 vintage, and this is the 2011 vintage. But this is MY blog, and I love his review SO FREAKING MUCH that that's what I'm gonna quote. First of all, he tasted way more fruitiness than I did:
"This wine is rich and vibrant with loads of crushed black fruits, cherries jubilee, phenolic compounds, black currant juice, huckleberry sauce, red raspberry sorbet, herbs and spices, minerals and hints of violets. The midpalate is just clean, bright cherry fruit all the way through to the well-balanced and supple finish that lingers with crushed raspberry character, hints of chalk and stone ground cherries."
I'm gonna need some mentoring from Gil, methinks. Maybe I'm getting sick? And so my tastebuds are off?? Hmmm... Anyway, we both agreed that this wine is ridiculously fantastic for only $5:
"This tremendous value champion stood out in a blind tasting of more than 20 wines.Performing easily like a wine many times its price, Cantina del Grifone 1967 is a delicious little wine that represents what Tuscan winemaking is all about but in such a way that there is no question we’re dealing with a modern Italian wine. Employing the same sort of sangiovese-based blend that many of the so-called Super Tuscan wines do, it succeeds in creating an impression that we’re dealing with something way more expensive, and that in its own right is the main mission of any winemaker."
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Absolutely. Unless your friend knows the secrets of the Grifone wines, they'll think you sprang for the good stuff.