Villa Sant’Anna

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This beautiful estate in the village of Abbadia di Montepulciano in the hills of southern Tuscany is owned and operated by Simona Ruggeri and her two daughters, Anna and Margharita. The activities of this azienda are predominantly devoted to the production of fruits and vegetables. Approximately 10 hectares of prime hillside land is set aside for the cultivation of the finest Tuscan grape varietals. Prior to 1989 the wine was sold off in bulk. As an experiment, the Ruggeri clan assembled their first wine for bottling and we were called in by a mutual friend to assess the result. Impressed by this initial effort, we tasted through the other wines in the cantina and we were particularly delighted by the quality of the fruit of the Chianti from the Colli Senesi. So, we counseled the Ruggeri family to purchase a set of the finest botti from Gamba in which to age the Chianti Colli Senesi and, beginning with the 1990 vintage, this wine was bottled and we commenced a long and joyous relationship with this estate.

The next logical step was to purchase a prime parcel in the Vino Nobile appellation to marry with several special plots they owned that were already entitled to that appellation. 1993 was witness to the first Vino Nobile di Montepulciano bottling at Villa Sant’Anna and, shortly thereafter (as of 1999), a Rosso di Montepulciano was added to the lineup of wines issuing from this estate in the tiny village of Abbadia di Montepulciano.

The greatest and most rare wine of the estate is the Vin Santo which has always been produced by the family and bottled for their use and for the pleasure of their friends on special occasions.

All grapes are harvested manually. The vineyards are worked with the utmost care and respect for the environment by a small, loyal team who has worked for the Ruggeri-Fabroni family for many years.

Ruggieri-Colli-Senesi-2001 The Chianti Colli Senesi: from vineyards with a southwestern exposure situated at about 1,000 feet above sea level. Composed of 80% Sangiovese with 10% Canaiolo and 10% other indigenous varietals, the average age of these vines is now (as of 2012) approximately 30 years. The grapes for the Chianti Colli Senesi are macerated for 15 days in cement cuves at temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius. After the malolactic fermentation, the wine is then aged in mid-sized barrels for 8 months to a year prior to bottling. The wine is then released after an additional 3 to 6 months of bottle age. Production levels are approximately 1,800 cases per year.
RU-rosso-di-montepulciano-label-2001 The Rosso di Montepulciano: This wine is sourced from the southeastern-facing vineyard positioned at about 1000 feet above sea level. The vineyard is planted almost exclusively to Sangiovese (90%) with various other red grapes making up the balance. Fermentation takes place in large cement vats with a 15 day maceration period, followed by an elevage of about six months in small and medium-sized barrels. As is typical at Villa Sant’Anna, the wine is then left to age in bottle for an additional period (three months or more) before release. Nearly 2,000 cases are produced annually.
RU-Vino-Nobile-1999 The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: As mentioned above, the Vino Nobile was first vinified in 1993. Based on Prugnolo Gentile (85%) and Mammolo & Canaiolo (15%), he vineyards for the Vino Nobile are approximately 25 years average age with a southwestern exposure but at a higher elevation than those for the neighboring Chianti Colli Senesi. The yields are severely restricted, averaging 20% less than for the Chianti. The fermentation period lasts 20 to 25 days at temperatures that reach 30 degrees Celsius. The wine is then racked into a mix of small and medium sized French oak barrels for two years, at which point it is then bottled unfiltered and allowed to rest in the cool cellars of Sant’Anna for an additional 6 months before being released. About 2,000 cases of Vino Nobile are produced annually.

The Vin Santo: The Vin Santo is produced in the classic manner: late harvest; grapes left exposed to the air to raisin on racks for six months in a special section of the cellars; then, the grapes are crushed and pressed with the juice to slowly ferment and mature in miniature barrels of eternal age. The Vin Santo of Villa Sant’Anna is composed of 40% Trebbiano, 40% Malvasia and 20% other indigenous grapes referred to in local parlance as “pulce in culo.” The grapes are harvested from vines that are at least 30 years old and the yields here are extremely low. The Vin Santo is bottled by hand (see the accompanying photo) and only in half bottles and from specific vintages. This Vin Santo is a marvel that must be experienced.

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20 Wines Under $20: For When the Weather Is Sultry

The needs are different when it’s hot and sticky: Lighter-bodied wines, more whites and rosés than reds, refreshment rather than solidity.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

By Eric Asimov
Aug. 19, 2021

Few things influence the choice of wine as much as the weather.

Food is one, of course, if you think of wine primarily as an accompaniment to meals, as I do. But what you choose to eat often depends on what’s happening atmospherically, barometrically and meteorologically — that is, the weather partly determines what sort of thing you want to eat, and therefore indirectly what you drink.

It’s not as simple as whites in the summer and reds in the winter, although the balance ultimately tilts in that direction. Many people are still eating foods that call for reds in the summer, but fewer, and eating a greater variety of fresh vegetables and other lighter dishes that will go better with whites and rosés.

More important than the color of the wine is its weight. Regardless of red or white, I’m looking for lighter-bodied wines, just as the heavier stews and casseroles have been set aside for now in favor of lighter preparations. Wine is food, too.

That is why, when I went wine shopping in New York for a late-summer edition of 20 under $20, I ended up with 14 whites and rosés, and just six reds. That felt seasonally proportional, at least for me.

The bottles I found came from nine countries. I could have added more, as I also tried delicious wines from Armenia, Cyprus, Croatia, Austria, Argentina and Australia. I didn’t include those bottles because they seemed to be available only in New York City, but I mention them as an indication of how the wealth of wonderful wine options continues to expand.

Not that all the wines I am recommending will be available everywhere. Most of these wines are produced in small quantities, and because of the fragmented nature of America’s distribution system for alcoholic beverages, some will be available in some parts of the country, and others elsewhere.

Regardless of whether you can find these particular bottles, you will give yourself the best chance of finding equally satisfying wines if you do two things:

First, you need to find the best wine shop in your area. It may be less convenient than a trip to the supermarket. But you will be rewarded by a far better selection of bottles, chosen by people who care about wine, rather than shelves stocked largely with processed wines and other mass-market products.

Second, as I have argued for many years, the best values in wine are in the range of $15 to $25. You can certainly find good wines for under $15, but they are far fewer, and often less inspirational, though certainly enjoyable.

Many people have taken issue with me, asserting that they are perfectly happy with the wines they buy for less than $10, even less than $5. To which I say, that’s great. If you are happy, that’s all that matters. But we have the same kind of choice we do when shopping for food: spending less for industrially raised meats and chemically farmed produce, or paying a little more for ingredients that were grown or raised conscientiously, and with more flavor and texture.

These are individual choices, often a matter of priorities and budgets. I choose to spend a little more if it gives me a better chance of drinking wine that expresses a place and a culture, made from grapes farmed in a sustainable manner by people who are treated well. Spending $20 won’t guarantee a bottle that meets those goals. But spending $5 pretty well assures bottles that will not.

Many of these 20 bottles are new to me. A few are old friends that I’ve written about before but that still fit into that $15-to-$20 range. Here they are in no particular order, along with the price I paid for them.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Celler Credo Penedès Miranius 2019 $18.99

Speaking of xarello, Recaredo, in addition to being one of the top cava producers in Catalonia, dedicated to conscientious, biodynamic farming and meticulous production, is also an ardent proponent of xarello, perhaps the key component of the best cavas. Under the Celler Credo label, Recaredo makes a series of still wines that show off the subtle qualities of the xarello grape. Miranius is the entry-level bottle. It’s brisk and fresh, yet richly textured, with dry, stony, lightly honeyed flavors, and it’s just 11.5 percent alcohol. “Even we don’t know the limits of this grape,” Ton Mata, whose family owns Recaredo, told me in 2014. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Villa Sant’Anna Chianti Colli Senesi 2017 $18.96

I’ve been focused on Chianti Classico the last few years, and it’s easy sometimes to forget that the Classico zone is just part of the greater Chianti region. The wines from outside Classico vary widely, but sometimes you find a gem, like this bottle from Chianti Colli Senesi, south of Classico between the towns of Siena and Montepulciano. It has typical cherry flavors, with bright acidity. Wines like this need food, whether red meat or pasta with tomato sauce. Villa Sant’Anna is part of a larger farming operation run by Simona Ruggeri Fabroni and two daughters. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant)

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