Alessio Carli possesses a magic touch with Sangiovese as the 2010 Pietra Santa Estate Sangiovese will readily attest. Although Carli has accrued a long list of awards over the years for his Sangiovese, the 2010 Pietra Santa Estate Sangiovese ranks among Carli’s best, and has earned 91 points from Wine Enthusiast. Bing cherry, cranberry, spice and touches of wood smoke permeate the nose of this wine and flow harmoniously into the mouth where they expand with a burst of flavor. Medium-bodied, elegant and textured, this flavorful, expansive Sangiovese succeeds in marrying the beautiful pure fruit flavors of California to the complexity of the finest Sangiovese wines of Tuscany. Reminiscent of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Pietra Santa’s 2010 Sangiovese is a noble wine in all respects from Pietra Santa’s “sacred stones.” Grant this exceptional Sangiovese thirty minutes of aeration before serving at cool room temperature (64° F).
Although traditional Tuscan recipes and assorted Southern Italian specialties provide outstanding companionship to Alessio Carli’s exceptional 2010 Estate Sangiovese, Pietra Santa’s own recipes strike us as especially impressive. Alessio Carli’s Gnocchi with Marinara Sauce, the Blackburn family’s Beef Barley Soup, and Grilled Marinated Tri-Tip Steak with Roquefort Butter are just a few of the winery’s favorite pairings with their Sangiovese. Risotto Fratacchione, a traditional Sienese dish made with lean sausages, Arborio rice, and a healthy dollop of Parmigiano-Reggiano, also offers wonderful companionship to Pietra Santa’s Estate Sangiovese. Roasted game birds served with onion foccacia and sautéed vegetables provide good company, too. Traditional favorites such as lasagna, cheese or meat tortellini, and ravioli all complement this wine as well. Roast pork with polenta; grilled rack of lamb, served with garlic mashed potatoes; and lean cuts of beef provide other wonderful pairings with Pietra Santa’s rendition of Tuscany’s classic grape variety. Enjoy!
Pietra Santa is a family run estate producing outstanding artisanal wines and olive oils. It is located 25 miles from California’s Monterey Bay in the beautiful Cienega Valley. Founded in the early 1850s by Frenchman Theophile Vache, it is now owned by the Blackburn family. Pietra Santa fashions an array of delicious wines, thanks to the acumen of Italian winemaker Alessio Carli and the estate’s unique terroir. The estate’s proximity to the coast allows cooling maritime breezes to temper the summer sun, resulting in a long growing season and vibrant balanced wines. Moreover, the winery is located on the San Andreas Fault, which has created soils rich in granite and limestone that naturally lower vineyard yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines. The winery was named Pietra Santa, Italian for “Sacred Stone,” in honor of these exceptional soils.
Although Pietra Santa spans more than 400 acres spread across Cienega Valley, adjacent bench lands, and the nearby Gabilan Mountains, only 120 acres are devoted to wine grapes. Each of the winery’s nine grape varieties benefits from the estate’s varied terrain. Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio enjoy steep, terraced hillsides where they thrive under the bright morning sun and cool, afternoon shade. Meanwhile, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese are grown on the moderate bench land, while Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are planted in the deepest parts of the valley to receive maximum sun exposure. Pietra Santa’s oldest vineyards date to 1905.
What is perhaps most impressive about Pietra Santa is how winemaker Alessio Carli brings out the best in each of Pietra Santa’s varietals. Tuscan by birth, Alessio first learned to make Chianti with his father. He then went on to study agronomy at college and later earned a graduate degree in enology. In Tuscany, he spent two years at Fattoria Il Castagno where he supervised the fattoria’s production of both wine and olive oil. He also served as Assistant Winemaker at Badia a Coltibuono, one of Chianti’s most celebrated estates, before coming to California in 1990. He has worked exclusively with Pietra Santa since 1998. His expertise with Sangiovese, an indigenous Tuscan grape, is second to none. However, choosing one progeny over another at Pietra Santa would short change the estate’s other outstanding wines and exceptional estate grown olive oils. In short, Pietra Santa has become one of the Central Coast’s finest, most reliable wineries.
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