I am very excited for this week’s wine. Chianti is the wine that was my gateway to red wines. It is acidic and easy to pair with Italian food, which happens to be one of my favorite types of cuisine. Chianti is a wine region in Tuscany, Italy. It is primarily composed of Sangiovese grapes. While you’re shopping for a bottle of Chianti, you will commonly see descriptions of Reserva and Classico. These denote the amount of time the wine spends aging in an oak barrel. Classico (which will also have a black rooster present somewhere on the bottle), has to be aged for a minimum of 12 months in oak barrels, while Reserva is aged a minimum of 24 months in oak and an additional 3 months once it’s been bottled. The newest classification, Classico Gran Selezione, means it has been aged in oak for 30 months. All of these designations are strictly controlled by the Italian government.
The wine I have pulled from my cellar for this week’s tasting is from Marchesi Antinori, one of the largest producers of wine in Italy. In 1179, the Antinori family name appears on a deed of land which winds up being a vineyard that later became prominent in their production of Chianti Classico. According to their website, the family has been producing wine since 1385, when Giovanni di Piero Antinori joined the Florentine Winemakers Guild. However, it was not wine that originally brought the Antinori name to prominence. They rose in importance, when in 1269, Feo di Antinori became a member of the Silk Guild. The family was actively involved in the silk trade for hundreds of years, even once they began producing wines. In the 16th century, the family business focus shifted from silk to wine. They began exporting wines in the mid 16th century. As time has worn on, the Antinori family has continued to expand its properties, as well as be instrumental in improved viticulture practices in Italy. With these improved practices, the quality of Italian wines has been dramatically enhanced.
This week, I will be tasting 2016 Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico. To pair with dinner, it would be a perfect night to make spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, pizza, manicotti, baked ziti , or chicken parmesan, to name a few options! Chianti is a medium ruby color. In order to get the full effect of the aromatics, I had to stick my nose into the glass. It smells of chalk, minerals, cranberries, red raspberries, and red cherries. When I took a sip, I wanted to order cheese pizza! It had enough tannin to add a sandpaper feel to my teeth and tongue but they quickly faded. The chianti was dry with a moderate amount of alcohol and a healthy acidity (which aids in its food friendliness). On the palate, I initially get a note of anise, followed by minerals (like a chewable multivitamin), vanilla, chocolate, and red cherries. Chianti is always enjoyable to me because of its approachability. While it is excellent with food, it can easily be sipped on its own during a nice summer day.