I’ve been drinking Santa Cristina Sangiovese for a number of years. It never fails to disappoint. And it is a mass-produced wine.

The wine is made by the Antinori family from Florence, Italy. The family has made wine for 26 generations. No, that’s not a typo. I knew they were one of Italy’s oldest wine producers but didn’t realize the family history dated back that far until I did some research. There are several interesting videos about the family on YouTube. Start with this short video and you’ll see more in the related video windows.

They make 300,000 to 400,000 cases of Santa Cristina every year which normally scares me away. But I’ve never had a bad bottle. They first produced this wine in the 1940s but have made a few changes through the years. Perhaps the biggest of those changes came in 1994 when they added 10 percent Merlot to the Sangiovese. It softened the wine. The glass I had Saturday night had hints of cherry and herb. It’s medium bodied with a moderately smooth finish. Still, there is enough heft to this wine and some acidity to hold up nicely to food.

The wine “experts” generally tend to praise this consistent Italian gem. And the best part is the price point. You will find it in wine shops and the big discount stores with wine selections in the $9-$12 range.

If you have not moved beyond the Lambrusco, this is a good introduction to better wine. If you’re a regular wine drinker, you’ll be surprised at the structure of this inexpensive bottle.

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