Today’s destination lies in the Central Italian region of Tuscany, located in between the Dolomites in the North and Sicily in the South. Chianti is a wine that enjoys a certain level of notoriety, being recognised by the region in which it is produced. One may order a Chianti, just as they would a Bordeaux or Burgundy, without needing to refer to varietals or styles in further detail.
I find this practice on par with referring to people by their mononym or single name – for instance, Michaelangelo, Picasso and Socrates; Madonna, Sting or Prince would be more contemporary examples. To be sure, Chianti does have a long history and tradition steeped in wine, but just as people who are not well versed in art or philosophy may not immediately recognise famous names, to the wine neophyte this practice of referring to wines merely by their place of origin may seem unusual.
Think of this as just another form of branding, allowing producers to simplify the level of information needed in order to communicate to the consumer what is being offered. However for the more interested wine enthusiast, a little extra information will go a long way.
Flavor Intensity: Medium+
Quality: Very Good
Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
Identity: Italy / Tuscany / Sangiovese
Price: High-priced (RRP $25)
Long, thick tears
Aromas of sour cherries, oak, cloves and preserved orange peel
Flavours of old honey, sour cherries, liquorice, red/black tea and dark chocolate
Juicy acidity pairs well with fine-grained tannins
Would go well with meat- or tomato-based dish
E.g. Spaghetti Bolognese, Pizza
If you look closely at the above picture, you can see a special seal underneath the red capsule or foil on the bottleneck. Of particular interest are the letters “DOCG”, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (controlled designation of origin guaranteed) and is usually also printed on the label. Basically this means the producers follow certain rules and guidelines designed to ensure the quality of the wines, but also that they submit their product to official government–licensed personnel before being bottled.
“Vino Biologico” on the label can be roughly translated to “biological/organic wine”, and indicates that organic agricultural techniques were practised within the vineyards. One condition of organic farming is the minimisation or outright elimination of pesticide usage, reducing the likelihood of affecting the taste of the wine.
The dominant varietal of Chianti is Sangiovese, which produces wines with pronounced characters of cherries and violets. This particular example was barely Medium in colour intensity, but scored Medium+ in all of the palate categories, which was a pleasant surprise and a good reminder that the wine’s depth of colour is not always a reliable indicator for it’s depth of character.
PS – I am now offering Personal Wine Consultations, perfect for saving time and money from lengthy wine classes and dinners.