Do You Know Your Classic Wine Regions? Talking Brunello, Bordeaux, and Rioja

Posted May 11, 2015

WineLibrary Staff


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If you're just getting into wine, it's important that, for all of the trendy new world wines with their cute labels, and fun tasting notes, you familiarize yourself with the old-school stuff. A familiarity with the classic wine-producing regions of Italy, France, and Spain will not only help you when it comes time to order from a wine list, it actually puts important world history in context. When you drink these wines, you're drinking the product of centuries of wisdom passed from winemaker to winemaker.

Oh also they're delicious. It's not a coincidence that these places have been on top of the wine world for this long, people.


Brunello di Montalcino - 2009 Agriano

Atop a hill in the iconic Tuscan countryside sits a town by the name of Montalcino. Around the middle of the 19th century, folks there started making wines with a local grape known as Brunello (which was basically Italian for “Lil’ Bruno”), and it turned out that wine was pretty good. So good, in fact, that it came to be prized as the finest wine in Tuscany (and, some said, in all of Italy). The Biondi-Santi family were the earliest recorded commercial producers of Brunello de Montalcino, but before long, dozens of wineries had gotten into the game, making ever more impressive - and expensive - wines. Eventually some smartypants would do genetic testing on the Brunello grape which revealed it to be… Sangiovese. Surprise!

Normally these wines aren’t cheap. It’s just a fact of life when you’re a popular wine made in small quantities. But the Argiano, at only $35.33 is beyond just being a “good deal”. With a 92 from Wine Enthusiast, it’s one of the best Italian wine deals we’ll have on the site all year. This is the perfect opportunity for you to get to know Brunello. We’ll warn you, though, if you fall in love and start collecting Brunello, we’re not going to apologize to your spouse. That’s on you.


Bordeaux - 2012 Chateau du Vallier

Simply saying the word Bordeaux evokes images of distinguished Chateaux, pristine vineyards, and totally insane price tags. But what people don’t often realize is that there is way more to Bordeaux than the classified growths. In fact, we pride ourselves on being able to get our hands on value Bordeaux so that you can experience the planet’s most venerated wine region without having to blow a week’s paycheck. With that in mind, meet Chateau de Vallier. Coming from the Cotes to Bordeaux region (on the east or Right Bank of the Gironde river), this blend is made in the classic style with Merlot dominating, and Cabernet Sauvignon in a supporting role while a small quantity of Cabernet Franc rounds out the mix. The result is a fleshy, supple wine with immense body and brooding dark fruit. Welcome to Bordeaux.


Rioja - 2005 Marques Del Puerto Bentus

Straddling the Rio river for which it’s named, Rioja is home to a wine tradition that Spans back as far as the Roman Empire. While there are technically four red grapes permitted in Rioja, the game is pretty dominated by Tempranillo, and Garnacha which will have an obligatory stay in oak (they tend to like the American stuff) before another obligatory stint of time to age in the bottle before finally being released. In terms of less-to-more time those classifications go: Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva. Does more time automatically mean better? Not necessarily, but it is pretty universally accepted that Gran Reservas are made with the best grapes from the harvest, so that’s always good to know. This Bentus exists slightly outside of normal classification (since it’s actually a private reserve), but it’s 16 months in oak imbue it with classic Rioja character. This wine will show you what the best Tempranillo of one of the best Rioja vintages can do.

Product Label.

Argiano Brunello Di Montalcino

92 Monica Larner - Robert Par...

Item: 85517

750 mL

Retail: $66.00

$39.89 per btl

Product Label.

Chateau Du Vallier 1er Cru...

91 Wine Enthusiast

Item: 85895

750 mL

Retail: $40.00

$13.01 per btl

Product Label.

Marques Del Puerto Bentus Rioja

92 Wine Enthusiast

Item: 86739

750 mL

Retail: $60.00

$17.50 per btl