Chianti is the heart of Tuscany and Sangiovese, its star grape, is the soul. Eight million cases of Chianti are produced each year. The characteristic aromas of cherry, raspberry, plum, leather and tobacco can be heavenly.
I must admit, if I were forced to have but one grape varietal in my wine rack, it would be Sangiovese (but I would still cry over the others).
Some recent favourites:
I am starting out with the splurge this time because this time was so good, so smooth, so utterly perfect – I could have closed my eyes and been in Italy. It was the first bottle I opened after I returned home from Maine, and it made me miss the beach a little less. This is wine-making at its best. 100% Sangiovese grapes and scored an impressive 92 by Mr. Robert Parker’s peeps. $35.00 SAQ
The medium-bodied fruity wine also got a great nod from those with more refined palates than mine. I loved it. The cherry notes have a fruity finish. It is perfect Friday night wine to start your weekend. In fact, I plan to pick up another bottle this weekend. $24.95 LCBO
A respectable Chianti at the right price. It is a medium-bodied fruity wine for everyday sipping. Grown in the hills around Siena, you will recognize raspberry and currants. A nice easy drinking wine. $15.95 LCBO
If you have ever wondered what the difference is between a Chianti, Chianti Classico, or a Chianti Classico Riserva, here you go:
Chianti – a minimum 75% Sangiovese grape and 25% blend of other grapes that can come from anywhere in the Chianti region.
Chianti Classico – the largest of the seven sub-regions of Chianti. The percentage of Sangiovese jumps to at least 80%.. The minimum alcohol level is 12% with at least 7 months aging in oak.
Chianti Classico Riserva – same grape requirement as the Classico, but a Riserva must be at least 12.5% alcohol and aged 27 months.
Chianti Superiore DOCG – is produced with stricter guidelines than most Chiantis. The grapes can come from anywhere in the region except the Chianti Classico sub-zone and must be aged for a minimum of 9 months.
And then there is the..
The highly lauded and appreciated Brunello di Montacino, this King of Sangiovese could technically bear the Chianti name as it is produced from a clone called Sangiovese Grosso. But it chose to Go Your Own Way, just like the Fleetwood Mac song says..
And of course the wine often referred to as Baby Brunello, the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano of the Prungolo Gentile grape. Smooth, powerful and more affordable – it is one of my favourites.
Let us know if you have a Chianti favourite. I could spend years testing and tasting and never get tired of the adventure.