By Rick Riozza

Everyone knows that Santo Valentino is a lover.  He loves love; and he loves vino, among other things, for certain.  (He is Italian, so we’re going to be running with the vino term until we tire of it.)  He’s not only a man-about-town—he’s a man about the world.  We want to know his comings and we want to know his goings.  It’s tough to imagine a more beloved celebrity; and the vino he’s currently quaffing, well, inquisitive minds do want to know.

St. Valentine’s Day is right now or has just passed; but as we’ve argued for—along with restaurants and bars, only one day to celebrate perhaps the most cherished and demanding of emotions, is never enough.  As we wrote in our Valentine’s article last year, “Tell her you care each time you speak/ Make her your Valentine each day of the week/ Bring her nice things, sugar and wine things/ Rosés and Lollipops and Lollipops and Rosés.”

Santo Valentino approved that message—and now, he approves, shares, and recommends these wines below for your week of love consideration:


No surprise here—his favorite rosé is an Italian. And is he over the moon on this one or what!  2022 Il Poggione Brancato Rosato ($22).  Perhaps the most beautiful rosé on the market right now—that pink/raspberry red, copper, salmon-colored hue puts one in the mood for love stat!  This rosé wine on the table speaks love for itself.  It’s a hit even before the wine is poured. And there’s a screw cap for those who can’t wait!

Let’s first begin with the Winemaker Notes: “Salmon color with amber highlights. Floral nose with notes of raspberry, strawberry, and spices. Fresh on the palate, but with a pleasant roundness, this rosé flows onto the palate with an expressive core of perfumed cherries, spices, and flowers.

Excellent as an aperitif, Brancato pairs well with seafood, vegetables, and soft cheeses.”

An American wine critic, James Suckling writes: “Deep raspberry colored rosé with aromas of cherries, dried strawberries, and watermelon, with some lemon peel. It’s rich and fruity with a medium body and creamy finish. Drink now.

And our wine gal Danielle Callegari comments: “The nose starts soft and floral, with aromas of bubblegum and budding roses, then turns savory and salty, but maintains its delicacy, like a finely chopped steak tartare. The palate sees a rounder, fuller texture emerge, but that balance between sanguinity and candy continues.”

I didn’t get the bubblegum notes—but I haven’t chewed bubblegum in a while, so I may be out of the loop when it comes to modern bubblegum aromas.  I do like her reference to steak tartare—I mean, I’m hungry already!

Santo reports the vino as having salmon and amber highlights. He finds notes of raspberry, strawberry and citrus on the nose. “It’s fresh on the palate, but with a pleasant roundness; this rosé flows onto the palate with an expressive core of perfumed cherries, spices and flowers—allora! Adoro questo vino!!”

You loyal readers will recall that we’ve already recommended a baby Brunello in a prior article: the 2021 Tenuta Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino ($25). It’s obvious that we’re talking world-class wine production from an established family winery in Tuscany.

And speaking of Tuscany—the land of Sangiovese! Classico Chianti! Brunello di Montalcino—well you get the message.  So of course this Brancato Rosato is a unique 100% Sangiovese rosé.

When it comes to an Italian red wine, Santo Valentino has no reservations on recommending his favorite Veronese red: the 2020 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre ($25).  Santo often stays in Verona and regularly visits the balcony of Giulietta—playing a very lively Romeo in his recitation of love poetry.  Would we expect anything less?

Anyway—this Allegrini Rosso Veronese is elegant and well balanced, with a good structure and aroma. Ruby red in color with purple hues, it offers light hints of raisins, sophisticated notes of vanilla, black pepper, cloves and cinnamon. It has a long, velvety finish and soft tannins.

And talk about romantic dinners! This wine easily pairs with various Italian dishes, above all risottos, especially those flavored with saffron, porcini mushrooms and pork; classic dishes such as pasta with Amatriciana and Carbonara sauces, baked lasagna, gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts; grilled meats and roasts. It also excels when matched with Parma ham and fine-cured Zibello pork loin, as well as medium-matured cheeses, especially Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan), pecorino and Monte Veronese.

For those so interested, the vino is a blend of the local Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Sangiovese.  This combination amazingly goes on “to provide dark saturated cherry notes, kirsch, licorice strap, black olive tapenade and alpine herb, with an edgy twine of tannins, and an underlying raft of freshness conferring a sappy, crunchy feel and fine length.” What’s not to love here!

Back to Tuscany—where Santo claims Sangiovese (which means “the blood of Jove”) also refers to the “blood of Valentino”—it’s sketchy, but of course we love it!  Anyway—Santo would love to close with another vino di toscano.

2021 Brancaia Il Tre ($25) The TRE stands for the three grape varieties, Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and for Brancaia’s three Tuscan estates—the basis for this wine.

Suckling writes: “Aromas of ripe blackberries and mulberries with blue flowers and dried rosemary undertones. Some dry earth, too. Medium- to full-bodied with creamy tannins and chalky texture. Succulent and racy. From organically grown grapes.”

Santo wrote his review in Italian—but I’ll translate: “Pure, boasting cherry, raspberry, rose, mineral and light wild herb aromas and flavors. Smooth and elegant”—although it’s best to speak the last words in Italian: liscio ed elegante [LEE-show-ay-dell-ay-GAUNT-tay! (say it slow & emotional—with an Italian accent, if you’ve got one.)

 Crediamo nell’amore! In love we trust!  Saluti!