As we gathered to taste the 2004 Montellori Salamartano, those of us who remember with great affection the outstanding 2001 Salamartano were prepared for a bit of a let down. Instead, we were completely blown away by the 2004. Like its predecessor, the 2004 Salamartano is a titan of a wine that captures every bit of the glory of lovingly tended Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as the ethereal beauty of the scintillating Tuscan landscape. Named for the ancient room (Salamartano) in which Etruscan warriors from rival villages were locked to fight to the death for their respective clans, Montellori’s 2004 Salamartano possesses all the strength, vigor, and polish of the outstanding 2004 vintage. For starters, the 2004 Salamartano sports a regal purple robe and offers up a haunting array of aromatic scents in its complex, nuanced bouquet. On the palate this remarkable Super Tuscan is even more impressive: it slowly unfolds a stylish, staggeringly rich portfolio of flavors to complement its beguiling aromatic profile. Blueberry and cassis flavors fold deftly into muted earth tones, and a long, textured mid palate reveals layers upon layers of flavor for hours to reveal the hidden secrets of this wine’s Etruscan soul. Although alluring from the minute the cork exits the bottle, we strongly suggest you allow the 2004 Salamartano ample time to collect itself by airing in a decanter for at least an hour before serving. Moreover, this Salamartano possesses all of the style and tremendous aging potential imbued by the 2004 vintage. Therefore, one need not be in a hurry to drink it. In an ideal world, one has a case of the 2004 Salamartano in the cellar and several bottles open on the table at any given time. If you think this wine is tasty now, just wait another year or two. The patient will inherit every bit of the rich center, silky texture, and explosive finish of Salamartano. We recommend consuming this splendid Super Tuscan at no more than 60º F-66º F.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the 2004 Fattoria Montellori Salamartano all by itself. However, we heartily recommend serving this most noble of Tuscan wines with food, especially game, grilled meats, and vegetable ragouts. When locked in mortal combat with foods of equal stature, Salamartano will positively shine. Moreover, the 2004 Salamartano offers the perfect excuse to run to the kitchen and re-create the delights of the Tuscan table. Some irresistible Tuscan classics to consider with this wine include a variety of thinly sliced smoked meats; white bean dishes, served with flat Tuscan onion bread and a few slices of hard cheese; and herb roasted chicken or pheasant, stuffed with braised vegetables, porcini mushrooms and a hint of truffle. Duck, game hens, and most especially Florentine Steak offer other memorable choices that will showcase the complexity and strength of this remarkable wine. Venison tenderloin, sliced thin and served in a rich brown sauce, provides another outstanding match. Our only caveat would be to avoid heavy tomatoes sauces with Salamartano as they can sometimes dim the complexity and dull the luster of the finest Tuscan reds. Buon Appetito!
It has been nearly five years since we discovered Fattoria Montellori and the estate’s enthusiastic, serious-minded proprietor Alessandro Nieri. Shortly after meeting the dignified Nieri, we met Dr. Marco Razzauti, Montellori’s exuberant 30 year old viticulturist and oenologist, and it quickly became clear to us just how committed this estate is to making world class Chianti and Super Tuscan reds. A solemn revitalization of the estate’s vineyards and a complete dedication to natural, sustainable agronomy has pushed the quality quotient at Montellori to very high levels. This estate’s total makeover is due to the vast improvements in viticultural practices that Dr. Razzauti instituted a number of years ago and Montellori’s decision to limit production. These improvements continue to speak volumes, even after the affable Razzauti’s departure for a new venture, as Montellori’s recent releases rank among the finest this estate has produced, and that says a lot. Fattoria Montellori is located off the beaten track, away from the glitz and glamour of the well-worn wine road that winds its way from Florence to Siena. Instead, Montellori is tucked away in the Montalbano zone of Chianti to the west of Florence, near the stately Tuscan town of San Miniato. San Miniato is renowned for its wealth of beautifully preserved Romanesque and Renaissance churches, which thrust their many spires skyward. This pretty town is equally celebrated for its savory truffles and heavenly wines. The latter treasures constitute some of Tuscany’s most hedonistic pleasures. Thanks to the foresight of Alessandro Nieri’s father Giuseppe, Fattoria Montellori owns six distinct vineyards, all of which possess a unique soil, microclimate, exposure, and altitude. Red wine is king at Montellori, as it is throughout Tuscany. Not surprisingly, Chianti is the estate’s most important wine, at least in terms of production. And what a Chianti it is! However, in recent years, Montellori has fashioned three outstanding Super Tuscan offerings: Moro, Dicatum, and Salamartano. Moro is a single vineyard offering that comes closest to Chianti in style. It is a blend of primarily Sangiovese to which small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malvasia Nera are added. Meanwhile, Dicatum is the most traditional of this estate’s offerings. It is 100% Sangiovese from the hillside vineyard Cerreto Guidi, the last vineyard that Giuseppe Nieri personally planted. Salamartano on the other hand is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that has been aged in small barriques. It is Montellori’s most expensive and age worthy wine. In addition to the estate’s exemplary reds, Montellori turns out several excellent white wines, including Mandorlo, an artful non-traditional blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Clairette.
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