One cannot write at length about a pot of simmering gravy and not think about Chianti, so naturally it follows that I will write to defend this often overlooked wine. I admit, there was a time when what was available here in the US made this region….well, questionable, but those days are long behind us. There are few reds that are so versatile, in my mind, and it is because Chianti is complex and not easy to define. It offer s a lot: a medium to full bodied red that is fruity, earthy, and hyper tannic, with lots of wonderful acidity, all of which means that it pairs really well with a lot of different meals. It can handle fat and high acid tomato, sweet vinegar flavors, char, rich meats, and bitter herbs. It is so versatile and easy.
For those who don’t know much about Chianti and are keen to learn, I will give a crash course:
It is the most widely recognized wine, according to my favorite wine education source, Wine Folly. Interestingly, despite that, many folks don’t know what the grapes are or even where it comes from.
Chianti is a region with many sub appellations in the heart of Tuscany.
The blend is primarily Sangiovese, blended with Caniolo, Canaiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and white grapes are no longer allowed.
depending on the sub-region the wine is aged anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years in oak barrels before bottling
There are aromas of tart cherries, oregano, espresso, and cured meats, with flavors of bitter herbs, aged vinegar, subtle smoke, and red fruits. On the finish you will experience tennis, a dryness on the palate that invites your next bite.
What I love about Sangiovese in Chianti in particular is the freshness and the nose. This is a red that has intensity of flavor with weight, it maintains a freshness that makes it delightful with food of all sorts. In addition the freshness, the nose transports me to Tuscany, where the earth is scorched by the hot sun and the sky is particular blue that I have not seen anywhere else, with a touch of purple behind it—perhaps it is the light reflecting off a glass of Chianti.
My ultimate pairing is the gravy I described in the last post, rich with meat and oil, smothering an enormous pile of spaghetti, followed by a salad of bitter greens with a balsamic vinaigrette. That is just me, you can try this with a roasted pork loin, a post of cassoulet, roasted duck breast. Yes, there is a theme, the wine wants meat. But fear not, my vegetarian friends, chef up a big pots of pasta fagioli with its of tomato and you, too, will swoon. Or take my Dad’s advice, and just make some popcorn—this classic pairing it is delightful and easy;)
I have a few favorites, so I will share them with you. In addition to the Carparsino that you saw in the previous post, which I absolutely love, I adore the wines of Villa St. Anna, where Simona makes a delicate fresh Chianti with supple smooth texture and just gorgeous fruit. The nose on her wine is so distinctive. Having visited her in Montepulciano, I know this comes from her cave, where the earth grows on the walls and the aromas stir into the wine magically. I must also mention Paterna, another small producer whose care and craftsmanship is clear on the very first sip. The wine is precise, and yet seems effortlessly to pour from the bottle simple, delicious, and satisfying. When you want to splurge a little, grab the Montevertine—you will not regret it. This unique property produces a seductive Sangiovese that has a gamy quality to it, so roast some duck and dive in!
All the wines are available right now at the shop, and Chianti’s are available for every table, regardless of your budget, we have you covered. Come in this and try one!