Banfi Vintners is a spectacularly successful company that both produces and imports table wine from Italy. The Mariani family started the company in Manhattan’s Little Italy early in the last century and began importing classic Italian wines after Prohibition ended. In the early 1980s, Banfi purchased land in Tuscany, and today has 2400 acres of vines on the estate. It also purchased and renovated an old, 11th century castle called Castello Banfi, which became the name of its highest quality Tuscan wines.
We recently had the opportunity to taste three of Banfi’s new Tuscan releases. The Banfi 2008 Centine Rosso Toscana ($11) is an easy drinking international red blend that requires food to show its best. The Castello Banfi 2008 Chianti Superiore and the Castello Banfi 2007 Bulnero show greater depth and finesse. Banfi has been one of the pioneers of clonal research of the Sangiovese grape, and Belnero is made with the best clones from that research. Our notes on these wines follow:
Castello Banfi 2008 Centine Rosso IGT Toscana (87) $11
Centine is an international blend of Sangiovese (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), and Merlot (20%) produced in Tuscan vineyards. If offers red plum and berry on the nose, a soft attack, and a light mid-palate of red fruit. The 2008 Centine doesn’t have the weight we found in an earlier vintage.
Castello Banfi 2008 Chianti Superiore DOCG (88) $11
The Banfi Chianti Superiore is nicely balanced with black cherry, plum and earth showing on the nose and palate. It’s aged for about 5 months in French oak. A blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo Nero, this Chianti is clean, flavorful and easy to drink. Superb value!
Castello Banfi 2007 Belnero IGT Toscana (90) $39
Smoke, cedar, plum and tobacco show on the nose of this mostly Sangiovese wine. It’s full and delicious on a fruit forward, fleshy palate with nicely integrated flavors of dark red fruit, forest floor, and light smoky toasted oak. The finish is very long and flavorful with black raspberry notes. This is a wine that evolves in the glass, providing food for thought as well as drink to accompany beef and lamb dishes. Fermented in French oak and aged in barriques for about two years. Made from grapes grown on selected vineyard parcels at the Castello Banfi property in Tuscany.