Category Archives: Chianti Colli Senesi

In Praise of Chianti

No other region or wine in Italy have the magic of Tuscany and Chianti. Michele and I visited Tuscany in October for a little over two weeks and as always were captivated by the scenery, the food and the wine.

IMG_6643As a longtime Chianti lover, I was more than happy to attend the recent Chianti lovers U.S. Tour 2022. It included a seminar on Chianti followed by a walk around tasting with 24 Chianti producers presenting their wines.

vino2101-2-009BusiGiovanni Busi, president of the Consorzio Vino Chianti and owner of Villa Travignoli made I few introductory remarks about Chianti and the importance of the American market for Chianti. He also said on more than one occasion: “Chianti is one of the best know wines and one of the least known wines.” Everyone knows the name but just what is Chianti?


Robin Kelly O’Connor one of the presenters

Mr. Busi introduced the three presenters.  They were: Luca A. Alves, Chianti Wine Ambassador; Robin Kelly O’Connor, RKO Vine; and Adam Teeter, Vine Pair Founder.

Mr. Alves spoke about the history of Chianti, the Chianti Consorzio and the seven Chianti sub-zones. In answer to a question he explained the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico. He said that they were promoted together until 1996 when they separated. Chianti Classico is the center area  between Florence and Siena surrounded by the Chianti  sub zones. There are differences in the percentage of Sangiovese required, aging and grapes allowed.


The Consorzio Vino Chianti was established in 1927 by a group of wine producers in the provinces of Pistoia, Siena, Arezzo and Florence. Later the Consorzio expanded to cover the whole production area covered by the DOCG. Now the Chianti production area is located in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. Chianti wines are designated as: Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, MontalbanoRufina, and the last, added in 1997, Montespertoli.  In addition is the return of the Chianti “Superiore” which can come from anywhere in the Chianti wine area with the exception of the Chianti Classico zone between Florence and Siena. Superiore cannot have a name of an area on the label. There is also the Colli dell’Etruria Centrale. The DOC permits in the Chianti DOCG area the production of wines of a different quality from Chianti, which include reds, whites, roses, novello and Vin Santo.Chianti regions

The seven Chianti sub zones

Chianti can be made from 100% Sangiovese and it also have must be at least 70% Sangiovese but the law has limited the amount of international grapes such as Cabernet to 10%. Traditional Tuscan grapes like Canaiolo can also be used up to 30%, as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are white grapes, up to 10%. Chianti may be released on March 1st of the year following the harvest. The sub-regions of Montalbano, Aretini, Pisane and Senesi may also be released on March 1st after the harvest. The sub-region of Montespertoli may be released on June 1st. The sub-regions of Fiorentini and Rufina may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest. Chianti Superiore may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest.

For the Riserva the wine must be aged a minimum of two years from January 1st following the harvest. For Chianti Fiorentini and Rufina, the Riserva has to spend at least 6 months in wood. For the Chianti Senesi Riserva the wine must spend at least 8 months in wood and 4 months in bottle.

IMG_6641The Wines

The tasting was blind and we were not given the names of the producers. All other information about the wine was given to us.

All the wines were Reserve from the 2017 Vintage


Chianti Colli Pisane Pietro Beconcini made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cannaiolo and the vines are 65 years old. The soil is a base of sandstone  with considerable intrusion of marine fossil formations by the Pliocene period, well integrated with abundant white clay high in PH. Elevation is 100/150 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and the harvest takes place the first 10 days of October. Maturation is in Slavonian oak for 18 months and then the wine ages for eight months in bottle. The wine has hints of violet, leather and cherry. This is old style Chianti Reserve at its best and a great wine to go with food.

IMG_6617Chianti Montalbano “IL Fondatore”  Castagallo made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clayey, marly matrix. This single vineyard is at 400 meters and the vines are 30 years old. The training system is spurred cordon and the exposure is south. There are 5,200 plants per hectare. They practice organic farming. Fermentation takes place in steel vats and the wine is aged for 12 months in 10HL French oak casks and in bottle for 6 months before release.

IMG_6618Chianti Colli Senesi  Poggio Del Moro made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Syrah from 10 to 20 year old vines. The exposure is southeast/west. The soil is 79% sand, 15% clay and 6% light loam. The vineyards are at 335-365 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Holistic agricultural practices are used with manure and green manure techniques. The grapes are hand picked and there is another selection on the sorting table.  Maceration is for 12 days at a controlled temperature with frequent pumping over of the must. There is gentle pressing of the grapes. The wine ages is 5HL oak barrels for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle and is bottled during the waning moons of June and July.

IMG_6622Chianti Montespertoli “Ingannamatti” Podere Dell’Anselmo made from 100% Sangiovese from the Ingannamati vineyard planted in 1993 and from other older vineyards. The soil is clay and limestone and the training system is spur cordon. There are 3,500 to 4,500 vines per hectare.  Traditional maceration for 10 days at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for 16 months is stainless steel vats and then two months in glass. The wine has hints of plum and cherry with floral notes 

IMG_6619Chianti Colli Fiorentini “Torre a Cona” Badia Corte made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested from the Badia a Corte vineyard that has typical Alberese limestone soil. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature with a selection of native yeasts with 15 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged  in 25 HL Slavonian oak casks for 24 months and for 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6620Chianti Colli Aretini “Bucca Nera” Tenuta Di Cambriano   Made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet and Merlot. The soil is clay and gravel. The vineyards are at 500 meters with a south/west exposure and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 35 years. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine is aged in botti grandi for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6624Chianti Rufina Vigneto Bucerchiale  Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese.  This single vineyard is at 250 meters and the vines are 43 years old. The exposure is south and the training system is spurred cordon. There are about 3,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine ages in French barriques (only (10% new) for 15 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. This is a wine that can age and I have enjoyed older vintages of Selvapiana over the years.

All the wines were showing very well. I was happy to see the use of international grapes was limited and I enjoyed all the wines.

The presenters did an excellent job putting the wines in the correct order, of discussing each wine and describing the flavors and aromas, and if they could age. It was the most informative and professional tasting I have attended in a long time.

At the end we were given some tasty snacks to sample with the wines


 including truffle flavored potato chips,

IMG_6638and pop corn.  It was an interesting combination.



Filed under Chianti, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Rufina, Uncategorized

Celebrating La Befana in August

January 6th in Italy is the Feast of the Epiphany.  It is the day that La Befana, a kindly old woman, brings gifts to the good boys and girls or a lump of coal if they are bad. We have been celebrating the arrival of La Befana at the home of our friend Lars Leicht for a number of years. However we missed it in 2019 and again in 2020, so Lars decided to celebrate in August to make up for the ones we missed.  In all there were 12 of us and lots of very good food and wine.

IMG_5507Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “Cuvée Des Paladins” Brut Sparkling 2013. Tappero Merlo This sparkling wine is made from 100% Erbaluce with refermentation in the bottle (Classic Method). The wine is aged for 60 months on the lees. Soil is strongly acidic of morainic origin composed of 80% sand, 15% silt and 5% clay. The vineyards are at 970/100ft. Harvest is in early September. Fermentation of the must is partly in steel and partly in very old barrels. The base wine is ready to become a sparkling wine in the spring following the harvest. The pied-de-cuvee (process using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wines) is prepared which starts the second fermentation in the bottle in a temperature controlled environment. After a slow passage over the pupitres (wooden frames for traditional riddling), the sparkling wine is ready for disgorgment which usually takes place in the spring. The wine rests for a few months and then is ready for release. The wine has hints of brioche, dried fruit, honey, and hazelnuts with citrus notes and complex minerality. This is the first time I tasted a sparkling wine made from Erbaluce di Caluso and I really liked it.

Note:The name of the  wines comes from the 12 loyal knights of Charles the Great, who on Christmas Day in the year 800 was crowned by Pope Leo III “Emperor of the Romans” and the Holy Roman Empire was established. There is a legend that during this time Erbaluce might have come from the Rhone Valley into Canavese in Piedmont, or vice versa, thanks to the agrarian reforms of Charles the Great.

0-3Vernaccia Di San Gimignano 2018 “Kalós kai Agathós Campochiarenti” made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The vines are 25 to 30 years old. The grapes are hand picked the second week of September. The  vineyard is at 180 to 240 meters. Soil is yellow sand and sandy clay with layers of tuff, a light porous rock made from volcanic ash, over the “mattaione”(contains rock salt and gypsum) with variable percentage of clay. The destalked grapes are softly pressed and after 18-24 hours the must is clarified and stored in steel vats for fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wine is cold stabilized, filtered, and stored until the spring. The wine remains in bottle for at least 3 months before it is released. This is fresh wine with hints of citrus fruit, good acidity and nice minerality.

0-4Fiano di Avellino DOCG Reserve “Brancato” 2017 Cavalier Pepe  made from 100% Fiano from south facing vineyards in the municipality of Lapio. The grapes are hand harvested at full ripeness, undergo a strict selection, and are pressed whole. Cold settling is followed by alcoholic fermentation in barriques and later in stainless steel at a low temperature. The wine is aged in wood and steel followed by a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of mature tropical fruit, apple, and hazelnuts with a hint of spice and a touch of toast.

IMG_5582Fresh Tomatoes from the Garden

We started with fresh Mozzarella, roasted peppers dressed with olive oil and herbs and bread baked by Lars

IMG_5588Seafood Salad prepared by two of the guests

IMG_5589Tomatoes and rice

IMG_2693 2Litina Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 CascinaCastlet made from 100% Barbera grapes from hillside vineyards, which are more than 30 years old. There are about 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand picked the first weeks of October. At the winery the must is fermented in contact with the skins at a controlled temperature for about 10 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in medium sized oak casks for about 8 months and then in bottle for more than one year. The wine is released the second year after the harvest. The wine has hints of woodland fruits a hint of spice and a note of vanilla.

IMG_5593Lars’ “Timballi di Bonifacio VIII”.  — A unique and historic family recipe from Lars’ relatives in Anagni, a town outside of Rome.0Valpolicella Superiore 2015 l Saltari made from 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Croatina and 10% Corvinone. The grapes are grown in the Mezzane Valley in the region of the Veneto on terraced hillside vineyards in calcareous and alkaline soil. After a careful collection of the grapes, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After racking, the wine is transferred to different size barrels for malolactic fermentation. For 12 to 14 months, the wine goes through regular racking and topping up of the barrels until blending. The wine is unfiltered.  It has hints of small berries like currants and blackberry with tobacco, leather, and a touch of cherry.

IMG_5481 copyChianti Colli Senesi 2017 “San Nicola”  Az Agricola Campochiarenti, San Gimignano, Tuscany, made from 85% Savgiovese and 15% Canaiolo, Colorino, Foglia Tonda and Mammolo. The exposure is south, southwest along a hill at 180/230 meters. The soil is composed of silt and sand with a little clay. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins of 90hl at a controlled temperature with pumping over and delestage. Maceration lasts for 12/15 days in order to obtain the highest extraction of color from the skins. The wine is naturally clarified, without adding any chemical products. Aging is in 20hl oak barrels for at least 9 months. The wine is bottled and stored in the cellar until release. The wine has hints of red berries, spice, tobacco and a touch of jam with a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. This wine will age.

It reminds me of the old style Chianti, with all the local grapes and traditional fermentation and aging which I loved, but few producers make any more.

IMG_5597Pork Loin on the Grill — The pork was flavored with garlic, rosemary, fennel and other herbs

IMG_5596Roasted Broccoli Rabe with garlic.  Roasting brings out all of the bittersweet flavors of the broccoli rabe.

IMG_5599Ready to be served

IMG_5600The plate

IMG_5595Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva 2011 Az. Agricola Campochiarenti made from 85% Sangiovese, and 15% Canaiolo, Ciliegio, Mammolo and Foglia Tonda. The exposure is south, south-west at 180-230 meters. Soil is composed of silt and sand with a small percentage of clay. The grapes are manually chosen and selected at harvest. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins with a capacity of 90HL and are temperature controlled. There is pumping over and delestage. Maceration is for 20-30 days with frequent delestage and pumping over. The wine is naturally clarified without adding any chemical products. The wine is aged in oak barrels (20HL capacity) for 30 months, then at least 4 months in bottle before release. The wine is drinking now but can last for another 10 years.

Michael Apstein, a wine writer from Boston said it was the best Colli Senesi he had ever tasted and I have to agree with him.


Uceline Monferrato Rosso 2013 CascinaCastlet  Made from 100% Uvalino. Harvesting is carried out towards the end of October when the grapes reach a perfect ripeness. The bunches are hand picked and carefully selected and then go into a well ventilated, temperature controlled room called a “fruit house.”  Here they stay for over a month and become slightly overripe and begin to wither. The must from the pressing is partially destemmed and undergoes fermentation and lasts for 20 days. Frequent stirrings causes the total dissolution of the anthocyans and the various phenolic components that for this wine play a very important role. Malolactic fermentation and aging take place in 5HL oak barrels.

The bottles rest for about a year before they are released. This is a full-bodied complex aromatic wine with hints of black fruit, prunes, blueberries and sweet spices.  It is tannic with good acidity and has a certain rustic quality. It is a wine that can age.

IMG_5594Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vigneto Edoardo” 2012 100% Montepulciano d” Abruzzo. Zaccagnini. Bottled in honor of Ed Lauber, of Lauber Imports, a dear friend, who participated every year in the harvest at the Zaccagnini Winery.  His image appears on the label. This is a big wine with hints of cherries, leather, prune, and a touch of almond in the aftertaste.


IMG_5609Desserts included a fresh raspberry pie and a peach cream pie both made with locally grown fruits.


Some tempting chocolates followed.

IMG_5586Grappa Marolo “Dedicata Al Padre” made from a blend of several pomaces in the Roero area, This is a full-bodied, clear, pure grappa.  At 60% alc/vol (120 proof) it is the in alcohol clear grappa. It is non-vintage and un-aged. The grappa was brought by wine writer Tom Maresca, the only person I know that drinks grappa between courses to help his digestion.


Grappa Marolo “Barolo” an aged Grappa

IMG_5612Our host for the evening with his friend . Carmyn 





Filed under Barbera d'Asti, CAMPOCHIARENTE, Cascina Castlet, Cavalier Pepe, Chianti Colli Senesi, Fiano di Avellino, Grappa, I Saltari