Chianti DOCG-From Tuscany, the World’s Italian Wine
There are many great grape varieties in Italy but it if I was forced to choose one, it would be Sangiovese. Wines made from the Sangiovese grape, I have said many times, are the perfect wines to go with food. These wines have bright fruit, a hint of violets, and good acidity. The best wine made from the Sangiovese grape is Chianti.
When I received the invitation from the Consorzio Vino Chianti inviting me to a seminar, lunch, and tasting of Chianti, I accepted. What made the seminar of particular interest to me was the speaker, Daniele Cernilli of Gambero Rosso, the very influential Italian wine publication. Decanter magazine picked him as one of the top 50 most influential men in the wine business. I have known Daniele for a number of years and have great respect for his knowledge of Italian wine.
When I arrived I was told that the Chianti Castelgreve 2008 did not make it because of the volcano in Iceland, but the other 11 wines had arrived safely.
Daniele began by saying that expensive, over-oaked wines were falling out of favor in Italy. Italian winemakers were going back to simpler, drinkable wines that reflect the terroir and go with food. Chianti is leading the way.
I could not have been more pleased!
Daniele said that a part of the law for the making of Chianti had been changed this year.
Chianti must be at least 70% Sangiovese but the law has limited the amount of international grapes such as Merlot to 10 %. Traditional Tuscan grapes like Canaiolo can also be used up to 30 %.The winemaker still have a lot of leeway. It was a good change in my opinion.
Daniele kept making the point that the wines we tasted were simple wines. I enjoy simple wines and all the wines were under $20, some of them as low as $10. They were all great values for the money.
The wines were from the Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colli Rufina, Colli Pisane, Montalbano and Montespertoli. Chianti can be produced throughout the Chianti area, including areas not listed above. Chianti superiore can be produced in the whole Chianti area and represents the highest expression of the wine. Chianti is the largest DOCG in Italy. The Consortium, which was established in 1927, also oversees the Colli Etrucia Central DOC and the Vino Santo del Chianti DOC wines.
Chianti 2008 San Fabiano – The wine is 85% Sangiovese and 15% of other grapes. It is from the area around Arezzo and Daniele said that Sangiovese ripens very well there. It has aromas and flavors of cherries, some tannin and good acidity. I really liked this wine. Daniele also said that 2007 was good overall in Tuscany, however 2008 was better in Chianti.
Chianti San Lorenzo 2008 Melini – It is 85% Sangiovese and 15% Canaiolo.
Chianti 2008 Piccini — it is 95% Sangiovese and 5% Ciliegiolo and Daniele believed there might by some Merlot. The color was deeper, less acidity, fresh fruit with a hint of cherry.
Chianti 2008 Ruffino – At least 75% Sangiovese and the rest from traditional grapes such as Canaiolo and Colorino. Daniele described it as a workman-like Chianti. I liked the fresh fruit aromas and flavors, good acidity and the touch of tannin. Adolfo Folonari from the winery was at the tasting and said the wine sells for $9.99.
Chianti Villa Chigi 2008 Poggio Bonelli – 95% Sangiovese and %5 of grapes allowed by law. Cherry aromas and flavors with an earthly quality, cherry in the finish and aftertaste.
Chianti 2008 Guicciardini – 90% Sangiovese and 10% of grapes allowed by law. Good fruit and acidity and more tannic — a very well balanced wine.
Chianti Rufina 2008 I Veroni – Rufina is the smallest of the Chianti zones and the wines from here can age very well. There were aromas and flavors of red fruit, a hint of cherry. Well balanced and a very nice drinking wine.
Chianti Forteguerra 2007 Guerrini - 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo. Daniele referred to this wine as a country, rustic wine. It had aromas and flavors of cherry and good acidity.
Chianti Colli Fiorentini 2007- Fattorie Giannozzi- 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. It is a very easy drinking fruity wine.
Chianti Colli Senesi 2006 – La Cignozza-85% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo and 5% Mammolo. Daniele said that this wine had some wood aging. He felt this was a big, wine, more body than most of the others. It had cherry aromas and flavors and hints of tobacco. There was tannin and it was a little more complex than some of the others.
Chianti Rufina Nipozzano Riserva 2007- Frescobaldi -This was Daniele’s favorite wine, and the most expensive at $20. Daniele said that it did not have the body of the La Cignozzi but it was a more complex and elegant wine. It had good fruit and tannin and it was a wine that could age. It had aromas of wild cherry and a hint of hazelnut. There was a touch of sweetness that may have been caused by the oak.
I was very glad to see the use of native grapes in most of the wine and less use of international grapes. These were simple wines as Daniele pointed but they are the type of wines which I enjoy the most. One does not have to spend a lot of money to drink well.
I also hope that he is right and that the Italians are moving away from the big over oaked wines and from using international grapes. Chianti is leading the way and I hope the rest follow.