WHAT: Some wineries use their second labels to dump inferior grapes, feeding off the prestige of their primary wine. That is not the case with Lucente 2010, which is the second label for Luce.
This Tuscan beauty is a gorgeous deep ruby red in the glass. Raspberry and blackberry aromas provide an enticing invitation to try the wine. The flavor lives up to the promise of the aroma: more blackberry and plum with a hint of spice. The wine is warm and well rounded in the mouth, with smooth tannins perfectly integrated to give the wine proper structure.
The blend is 75 percent Merlot, 25 percent Sangiovese. The Luce is 55 percent Merlot and 45 percent Sangiovese. The wine is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks and then spends 12 months in oak barriques.
I would open the Lucente at least 30 minutes before drinking. It should age for several years, but it is drinking wonderfully now.
We also tried Lucente’s big brother, the 2009 vintage of Luce. Though Luce is undeniably a better wine and will age longer, its hefty price tag ($93), convinced me that the Lucente is a much better value.
WINERY: The Frescobaldi family has been producing wine in Tuscany since the 1300s, supplying wine to such notables as Michelangelo and the English king Henry VIII.
Vittorio Frescobaldi partnered with American wine pioneer Robert Mondavi in 1995 to produce Tuscan wine under several labels, including Luce della Vite, the winery for Luce and Lucente.
Luce means light, and Lucente means shining.
After the Mondavi winery was acquired by a conglomerate, the Frescobaldis gained full control of some of the Tuscan wine operations in 2005. The Luce della Vite estate is southwest of Montalcino. Some of the vineyards were planted in 1977, while most were planted or replanted from 1997 on.
GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this wine with a rich vegetable beef soup that I have loved since I was a boy. The soup is similar to Minestrone and was a perfect match for the Lucente. All the rich flavors of the garden in the soup were balanced by the fruit and acidity of the wine.
We had the Luce with corn chowder our friend Sharon made for us in Lexington, S.C. It was spectacular. Cherry and plum flavors were a good match for the spicy chowder.