Okay, sorry that my travels in Italy pushed back the start of the new month, but let's get rolling here.
The wine of the month is <b>Chianti</b>, with specific focus on <b>Chianti Classico</b> and <b>Chianti Classico Riserva</b>.
I'll go into more detail in a <i>30 Second Wine Advisor</i> article soon, which I'll cross-post here, but as most of you know, Chianti is the historic red wine of Tuscany, with a heritage of 700 years or so in the hill country that generally lies between the cities of Florence and Siena. Sangiovese is the dominant grape (75 to 90 percent of the blend under current regs), blended in a range of specified proportions with Canaiolo, a less familiar red grape, and a tiny amount (or none) of white Malvasia or Trebbiano and, under modern regs, a splash of up to 10 percent of "non-traditional" grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon. Chianti Classico is limited to grapes made in the central part of the region, generally considered best and most traditional; Chianti Classico Riserva is aged for a total of three years (in oak and/or in bottle) before release.
In our parents' time, Chianti was a lightly regarded wine, usually sold in the traditional wicker-basket-wrapped bottle called a <i>fiasco</i> and thought of as a rough, harsh red for spaghetti and pizza. In modern times, the Chianti industry has largely turned that reputation around, and Tuscan wines - both Chianti and the modern blends called "Super Tuscans" - earn considerable respect.
I've always loved them, for their warmth and structure and remarkable food-friendliness. A great Burgundy or Bordeaux or Barolo may make me sit up and take notice, but Chianti almost always makes me smile.
For this month's studies, we'll accept any style of Chianti, and (note the "PLUS" above), we'll also open the door to comparing and contrasting any other Tuscan DOC wine, from Chianti cousins <b>Brunello de Montalcino</b> and <b>Vino Nobile di Montepulciano</b> to such lesser-known DOCs as <b>Chianti Colli Senesi</b> and <b>Morellino di Scansano</b>. But let's keep it to the DOC and DOCG categories, reserving the non-traditional IGT and Super Tuscans for another time.
You're also welcome to pop into the Forum Kitchen and talk about Tuscan food and recipes and wine matching. Tuscan cuisine is known for its hearty rustic simplicity, featuring grilled meats, considerable use of beans as starch (the rest of Italy jokingly calls Tuscans <i>Mangiafazoli</i> or "bean eaters"), and relatively little pasta.
Last edited by Robin Garr
on Wed May 02, 2007 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.