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If Tuscany is the centre of the Italian Wine Universe (as declared by Vino Italiano) then Chianti Classico is its heart. Chianti itself is a vast area in Tuscany with Pisa and Siena among its best known cities. Chianti Classico DOCG, situated on the hills between Florence and Siena, is tiny by comparison.
Hugh Johnson, writing in The Finest Wines of Tuscany (2009), says the revolution of Tuscan wines began over 40 years ago and is still on-going. “It is the New World within the Old, questioning, experimenting all the time, with ever-rising standards.” Looks like there is a lot more to this story.
Sangiovese is central Italy’s most important red grape and the main grape in Chianti where Grapes and Wines note Terrabianca as one of the top producers. It is also the base of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano.
The estate is ancient (mentioned as far back as 1085) but Roberto and Maja Guldener started here only in 1988. Now, after much hard work, some of their wines, including this one, are well-known in “many countries all over the world”. Not bad going for a couple that left the city (Zurich) to live in the countryside.
The blend is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. It has spent 8 months in Slovenian oak and three months in bottle before release.
It is a vibrant cherry red, clear and bright. The inviting aromas are a mix of fruit (led by raspberry and cherry). It is fresh and supple, with moderate spice, fine tannins, a really pleasant experience on the palate, a well made Chianti, with typical fragrance and fruit, with a firm backbone and a long lasting finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Fattoria di Rodáno Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2011, 14.5%, €20.45 Le Caveau
This blend of 90% Sangiovese and five per cent each of Colorino (with its deep dark colouring) and Canaiolo (also used in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) is produced by the Pozzesi family on an organically run hill-top vineyard in Tuscany. It is oak-aged in large Slovenian botti di rovere but this is really “little more than a seasoning”.
Colour is a bright cherry red and ripe red and darker fruits are prominent in the aromas. Flavours of plum and cherry are found on the palate of this medium bodied wine, spice too. Tannins though rounded are still a factor and even more so is the typical mouth-watering acidity. The elegant finish persists. This impeccably balanced wine is Highly Recommended.
Sainte Croix Magneric, Corbieres (AC) 2012, 14.5%, Mary Pawle Wines
Fruit, spice, and power feature in this well-balanced blend of Carignan (42%), Grenache (29) and Syrah (29). The vineyard, run by an English couple, Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, has been organic since 2008 and they recommend pairing it with anything from Spiced lamb tagine to Roast venison.
This is a dark, medium to full bodied, wine with ripe dark fruit aromas to match. That fruit, spice too, on the palate, concentrated, with outstanding freshness, tannins soft and ripe and no slacking off in the long aromatic finalé. Power and elegance in the one package and Very Highly Recommended.
We had another beauty from the same vineyard a month or so back. Check out Le Fournas here.
Il Grigio da San Felice Gran Selezione Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2013, 13.5%, €34.95 (27.95 in recent sale) O’Brien’s Wines.
Made from “our finest Sangiovese (80%), enriched with other ancient indigenous varieties”, the result is a superbly complex wine of great elegance and concentration. Just 40,000 bottles are produced of this particular wine which has an ageing potential of 15 years. It has been aged for 24 months in mixed oak plus 8 months in bottle.
Sangiovese, also known as Brunello and Bonarda, is a top red grape in Italy. Tuscany is its home but it is grown all over Italy, also in the US, Australia and Argentina.
Colour is medium red and the aromas feature ripe red fruit (strawberries, cherries). There is terrific concentration in this medium-bodied gem, spice too and a superb acidity to balance and it boasts a long dry and spicy finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Matches suggested are red meat, pasta and pizza. You could also do as I did and try it with cheese. I had Carrigaline, both the original and the smoked, and all got on very well together!
The family Quiot began their wine story in the Vaucluse when they acquired a few hectares there in 1748, so the nod to tradition is to be expected. This wine is made from the traditional grapes of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and old vines of Carignan. Old style vinification too in tanks and oak barrels.
Colour is a lovely ruby and there are raspberry and cherry in the aromas. On the palate, it is fruity for sure, spice also, a very good depth of flavour, nicely balanced; the tannins are close to smooth in this medium bodied wine and there is an excellent finish as well. It packs quite a punch for such a smooth wine and is Very Highly Recommended.
That noticeable acidity helps make it a good food wine, lamb, roasted meat and cheeses are recommend by the producers. I found it a terrific match with Moussaka, especially the version made using this recent recipe from Dublin's Tang Restaurant in association with Glenisk - see the details here.
Château Martinolles Chardonnay Limoux (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €19.65 Karwig Wines
A superb wine from an intriguing historical Languedoc area. The Saint-Hilaire monastery actually used to adjoin the property, and it was there in 1531, that the method for making sparkling wines was discovered.
The fruit, one hundred per cent Chardonnay, is hand-harvested from old vines and is aged for 9 months in oak barrels (one-third new and two-thirds aged), a mixture of French and American oak. It is light gold in colour and you should find white fruits (quince and particularly lime) in the aromas. It is very impressive on the palate, intense in flavour and with a balancing acidity, elegant with a long finalé. A very pleasant surprise indeed and Very Highly Recommended.
This a bright ruby from the organic vineyards of Selvapiana. Ripe red fruits in the aromas. On the palate, it is vibrant, ripe and juicy, some spice too, tannins just about in play, a refreshing acidity. It is medium to full bodied, rather elegant, lively and long, rather moreish and Highly Recommended. Try it with pasta, steak and pork chops.
Rufina is one of the sub zones of Chianti. The usual advice is to buy your Chianti from Chianti Classico, the name given to wines from the original historic boundaries. But Wine Follywrites: Both Chianti Classico and Chianti Rufina are likely to be of higher quality, since they are made in smaller quantities from distinct historical areas. This Rufina certainly underlines that point.
Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino, Terre di Chieti (IGT) 2015, 13%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
Okay. I haven't lost my marbles! I am talking about a wine, not the famous sheep's cheese of Italy. The Pecorino grape is so called because a bunch resembles a sheep’s head. That’s the winery's story. Another is that the bunches are a favourite treat for the sheep. Wine-Searcher.com says: Pecorino cheese is, coincidentally, a surprisingly good food match for Pecorino wine.
Making wine from native vines is a “point of pride” for Caldora. This hilltop vineyard overlooks a beach (Lido Riccio); on the summer nights, the fresh sea breeze allows a thermal range “fundamental for the complex aromatic structure of the wine”.
Color is quite a light straw yellow. White fruit aromas, herbal hints too, even a slight whiff of liquorice; fresh and crisp, dry and minerally, with excellent acidity and a persistent finish. Recommended.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted vine in the area of Montello, a small hill 30 miles north of Venice. Half of this is aged in big oak barrels, half in stainless steel.
The colour is purple, deep and dark and there are blackcurrant aromas with hints of herb. Straight away on the palate you'll notice its freshness, its fruit flavours and then that lovely acidity (food is a welcome accompaniment here!). Tannins are fine and the finish is lengthy. This warm and soft wine is Highly Recommended.