An Old Favorite Returns
Originally published in The Heart of Hillsborough, April 2018
While digging through a box recently, I came across notes I took at the first wine tasting I participated in 22 years ago. It was a fond memory to stumble upon, for the tasting was not only my introduction to wine, but hosted by the Danish family I was living with while studying abroad. What made it special was they had just returned from a trip to Italy where they had visited several Tuscan wineries and were eager to have friends sample their favorites. Indeed, while tasting, they shared stories behind each wine, making the experience more than just about what was in the glass.
Of the wines they selected, the one that I was most taken with was from the Santa Cristina winery. Reading my notes from that evening took me to the vineyard just outside of Siena where Sangiovese and other grape varieties grew on a sun-kissed hill, and how the desire of the winemakers was to invoke the land’s history. My notes concluded with, “For someone who does not drink wine often, this is really good! I like the cherries I taste. It is pleasantly spicy.” I did not however record the vintage year and grape, although I suspect it was Sangiovese.
Unfortunately, Santa Cristina closed not long after and perhaps that is why those notes were forgotten. Yet, the experience of discovering them invoked a need to reconnect given the influence the winery had upon my love of wine. As it turns out, I did not have to look far. Days later, I was shopping at Harris Teeter just outside Hillsborough and taking a moment to look at their wines, I noticed a familiar name. Unsure if it was the same Santa Cristina, I looked it up learning that the winery had reopened in 2006 with, “the goal of acknowledging and renewing the tradition of the wine known by the same name, 60 years after the release of its first vintage in 1946.” 
Elated, I purchased the Santa Cristina 2014 Toscana (priced at $13.99), a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Syrah. As I poured it, I was surprised by the intensity of the ruby color as I had expected something more rich and dark given the grape varieties included in the blend, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon. My nose was greeted with dried cherries and spice, followed by subtle oak and earth. Tasting, the cherry and spice flavors continued, pleasantly reminding me of my first experience with Santa Cristina, while subdued tannins lightly gripped my palate as well-balanced red fruits emerged. The finish was more subdued than anticipated, and my impression was it would best be paired with a heavy tomato sauce-based dish, or pizza, that would better highlight its full array of flavors.
Wine is about tasting and pleasure, but it is also about sharing an experience with friends and family that really brings out its character!
Citations and Credits:
 Santa Cristina Winery, https://www.santacristina.wine/en/company/, accessed February 27, 2018.