We begin with Chianti Classico. The most popular Italian wine, at least by sales, Chianti is what many Americans first think of when they think Italian wine. Chianti is a red wine from Tuscany based on the Sangiovese grape, which originated in the neighboring provinces of Florence and Siena. Once a much maligned wine (nicknamed “spaghetti Chianti” by some, in reference to the very basic level of quality), Chianti’s quality and reputation has picked up in the last 20 years. Today Chianti can be produced in six provinces in Tuscany and has several “sub-zones” (more on this later). For much of the 20th century one of these sub-zones was Chianti Classico, which could be applied to Chianti produced in the original two Chianti provinces. In 1995 Chianti Classico was awarded it’s own DOCG region and the rules for how the wine could be made were slightly adjusted. Today a Chianti Classico can be made up of between 75 and 100 percent Sangiovese, up to 10 percent Canaiolo, up to 15 percent other red gapes (including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), and up to 6 percent Trebbiano or Malvasia (both white grapes).
This particular Chianti Classico, produced by Castello Banfi, has a nice deep, ruby red color to it. It has an intense bouquet of bright cherry and plum notes with a hint of cedar, giving it an overall quality that feels very much like what you would expect from a Chianti. It has nice acidity on the palate, giving the body some heft. More notes of cherry and plum come through strong on the palate, ending with a nice smooth finish. Overall quite a nice wine.
One down, countless more to go.