Tag Archives: Chianti

Chianti: The Best Known Wine and the Least Known Wine

There are many great grape varieties in Italy but it if I was forced to choose a favorite, it would be Sangiovese. Wines made from the Sangiovese grape are the perfect wines to go with food. They have bright fruit flavors,  hints of violets, and good acidity.  The best wine made from the Sangiovese grape is Chianti from Tuscany.IMG_7713

For the last four  years I have been attending the annual seminar and tasting presented by the Consorzio Vino Chianti. I enjoy these seminars, the guided tasting, listening to the speakers and catching up on the latest news from one of my favorite wine regions. This year was was no exception.

Ray Isle of Food & Wine Magazine introduced the three panelists for the guided tasting: Sarah Bray of Town and Country Magazine, Luize Alberto of WineHub, and Giovanni Busi, president of the Consorzio Vino Chianti and owner of Villa Travignoli.IMG_7716

Mr. Busi seemed to set the tone of the seminar when he said that “Chianti is one of the best know wines and one of the least known wines.” This led  to the panelists discussing Chianti in the market place, the beauty of the Tuscan landscape, the confusion with Chianti Classico and what could the Consortium do  to help consumers better understand Chianti and improve its market share.

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The Chianti Lands

The panelists agreed that by having these seminars and tastings the Consortium was doing it best to promote Chianti. The confusion with Chianti Classico may be hard to overcome. Near the end of the seminar the woman next to me whispered, “I have been drinking Chianti all my life and I thought that all Chianti had a  black rooster on the neck of the bottle.”

Mr. Busi discussed the grapes that are used to make Chianti and how the wine is aged. 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% as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are white grapes. Mr. Busi wanted to change the law so that Chianti to allow that the wine can be made from 100% Sangiovese and this was recently approved.

Chianti may be released on March 1st of the year following the harvest. The sub-regions of Montalbano, Arentini, Pisane and Senesi may also be released on March 1st after the harvest. The sub-regions 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 lest 6 months in wood. For the Chianti Senesi Riserva the wine must spend at least 8 months in wood and 4 months in bottle.

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The panel also discussed the Chianti Consortium and the production zones for Chianti. 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.

The Wines

The tasting was blind in that we were not given the names of the producers. All other information about the wine was given to us.IMG_7717

Chianti DOCG 2013 San Vito 100 % Sangiovese. The soil is sandy clay and the exposure is southwest/northwest. The training system is spurred cordon, the vines are 20 years old and are at 150 meters.  Organic farming is practiced. Fermentation with 8 to 10 days of maceration on the skins with regular pumping over. The wine matures in steel and g;ass-lined vats and is aged for another 3 months in bottle.  This is an easy drinking wine with hints of cherry, blackberries and a touch of violet. It is a perfect food wine.IMG_7718

Chianti DOCG 2012 Priore 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is rich in organic material. The vineyards are at 300 meters and face south. The vines are 15 years old and are spurred cordon trained. Aging takes place in stainless steel vats for at least 12 months and in second passage  oak barrels for at least 5 months. The wine remains in the bottle for another 6 months before it is released. It has hints of violets, cherries and a touch of prune.IMG_7719

Chianti Colli Fiorentini DOCG 2001 Il Castelvecchio 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. The soil is made up of clay, sandstone, gravel and stone. The vineyard is at 250-300 meters, with the Sangiovese  facing west and the Merlot northwest. The vines are 18 years old and the training is guyot. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 14 days with a slow maceration. There is a pressing of the grapes and a daily pumping over. The wine spends 12 months in different size oak barrels and second passage barriques. The wines remains in bottle for 3 months before release. It has hints of red berries, with a nice finish and aftertaste.IMG_7720

Chianti Colli Fiorentini Riserva  “San Camillo”2010 Il  Corno 100% Sangiovese. The vines are 15 to 20 years old, south facing at 350 meters and the training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation in stainless steel vats and the malolactic fermentation is in concrete tanks. The wine is aged for 6 months in large barrels and 3 months in bottle before release. It has hints of spice, pepper and nice mineralityIMG_7721

Chianti DOCG Riserva 2009 Casalbosco 100% Sangiovese. The soil is made up of rocks and clay, the exposure is south/southwest, the age of the vines is 15 years and the training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in second passage medium toasted barriques for 12 months and spens 6 months in bottle before release. The wine had hints of cherry and plum.IMG_7722

Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva 2008 DOCG 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino Coppiole. The hillside vineyards have mixed soils with a prevalence of sand. The vines are 25 to 30 years old and are at 300 meters. The exposure is south/southwest and the training system guyot. The wine spends 12 to 15 months in tonneaux (500 liters) and 12 months in cement vats. It remains in the bottle for another 4 to 8 months before it is released. It is a fruity wine with hints of cherry and spice and a nice finish and aftertaste.

I was very pleased with the wines chosen for the seminar because they were a true expression of the Sangiovese grape and of the Tuscan terroir which makes Chianti so unique and a wonderful  food wine.

 

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Chianti Cool

There are many great grape varieties in Italy but it if I was forced to choose a favorite, it would be Sangiovese. Wines made from the Sangiovese grape are the perfect wines to go with food. The have bright fruit flavors, a hint of violets, and good acidity.  The best wine made from the Sangiovese grape is Chianti from Tuscany.IMG_5253

“It’s time for wine—Chianti wine,” was the theme of the Consorzio Vino Chianti tasting held on April 28 in New York City for the trade and media. It has become an annual tradition and this year 46 different wineries were present. I could not wait to go.

The daylong event began with a guided tasting and presentation of the Chianti Riserva 2010, which I attended. Six wines were tasted blind.

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Giovanni Busi, President of the Consorzio Vino Chianti

Giovanni Busi, president of the Consorzio Vino Chianti and owner of Villa Travignoli, introduced the three panelists for the guided tasting: Joe Campanale, Beverage Director and owner of  dell’Anima, L’Artusi, Anfora and L’Apicio restaurants; moderator Anthony Giglio, wine authority, journalist and author of the Wine Guides for Food & Wine Magazine, and Costas Mouzouras, wine director of Gotham Wines & Liquor, a retail store. The discussion during the seminar covered various topics such as: Chianti: Tradition and Innovation, Chianti: Identity of Terroir, and  Chianti “Cool.” This was explained by Mr. Gilgio as an innovative process the Consortium has undertaken in the last few years. The idea is that Chianti is a very versatile wine and can appeal to younger and newer generations of wine drinkers, not only the traditional ones.

The panel also discussed the grapes that are used to make Chianti and how the wine is aged. 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% as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are white grapes.

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Sangiovese

Chianti may be released on March 1st of the year following the harvest. The sub-regions of Montalbano, Arentini, Pisane and Senesi may also be released on March 1st after the harvest. The sub-regions of Montespertoli may be released on June 1st. The sub-region 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 lest 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_5412

The panel also discussed the Chianti Consortium and the production zones for Chianti. 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.IMG_5411

The Wines

The tasting was blind in that we were not given the names of the producers. All other information about the wine was given to us. I believe the purpose of the tasting was to show the versatility of styles that Chianti can produce, from traditional to international.

Vino Sorelli made from 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo and 10% Trebbiano. Fermentation with maceration on the skins for about ten days in temperature controlled tanks. The wine spends at least 6 months in large barrels and two months is barriques. This is a nice fruity wine with hints of red berries and violets. It is very traditional Chianti.

Chianti Montespertoli “Il Quarto” Tenuta di Morzano made from 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 5% Syrah. The grapes come from a 2-hectare vineyard, the soil is clay and schist and the vines are at 300 meters. Harvest takes place in September. Traditional 20 days maceration on the skins and subsequent fermentation in glass lined cement tanks. The wine is aged in third passage French barriques. This was the most international in style.

Chianti Rufina “Bellini” Cantine Fratelli Bellini made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo and 5% Colorino. The vines are cordon spur trained and the harvest is in September. There is a classic vinification with 15 days maceration of the skins at controlled temperatures. The wine spends 24 months in oak barrels of 20 to 40 hl and 6 months in bottle before release. This was my favorite wine of the tasting, typical classic Chianti from one of my favorite zones.

Castello di Oliveto made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot. The winery is in the heart of the Florentine hills. Maceration is in steel vats for about 15 days with frequent pumping over and aeration to foster ceding of the color at a controlled temperature. This wine is leaning toward the more international style.

Chianti Montalbano Tenuta Cantagallo made from 100% Sangiovese. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in 60% French barriques and 40% new tonneaux for 12 months in bottle before release. This was very international in style with more then a hint of vanilla 

Colli Florentini “Vigna La Quercia” Castelvecchio made from 90% Sangiovese,and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes come from a single vineyard with a southeast exposure. The wine spends 12 months in barriques and 12 months in bottle before release. This wine was somewhere in between the traditional and the international.

From this blind tasting it seems that there is a style of Chianti for everyone.

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