Among $20-or-under Italian red wines, Villa Antinori’s 2016 Toscana Rosso is near the top of the list in terms of reliability, consistency, and availability. You’ll find it just about everywhere, which is fortunate, because this wine is one of the most versatile and delicious budget-friendly Italian reds out there.
Villa Antinori’s Toscana has been a mainstay of the vast Marchese Antinori wine empire, with “Toscana” being an important designation for Tuscan blends that fall outside the parameters of DOC wines such as Chianti Classico. Antinori’s wine is a blend of Sangiovese — Tuscany’s signature variety — as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petit Verdot.
With that profile, the wine will pair as well with roasted meats as it will with tomato-based pasta sauces. Key to its many pairing possibilities is the bright acidity that brings refreshing balance to the dark- and red-fruit aromas and tastes, along with notes of leather, forest floor, vanilla, and wet-stone minerality.
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There is something quite special about this wine: With its eclectic blend, it could pass for a good bottle of Bordeaux as easily as the Tuscan standout that it is. With the wine’s just-right amount of tannic grip, the oak treatment (a year in a combination of French, Hungarian, and American barrels) is integrated seamlessly.
This wine is drinking beautifully right now, and will also develop for several years in the cellar. The suggested price is $20, but Villa Antinori’s 2016 Toscana is listed for as little as $15 at many retailers, making it a real value for its quality compared with many other Tuscans in this price range. As is often the case, Antinori scores again with a distinctive wine that will stand out on just about any occasion.