I had the pleasure of attending the Consorzio Vino Chianti ‘Chianti Lovers’ Tasting held at the Refectory Ballroom at The High Line Hotel in Manhattan on April 27, 2015. Established in 1927, the Consortium protects over 3600 producers, working more than 15,500 hectares of vineyards, producing in excess of 800,000 hectoliters of Chianti. From selection of grapes to vinification, from testing of the chemical and physical properties to bottling, the Consortium ensures that the wines meet DOC and DOCG standards. The Consortium is committed to preserving and advancing the culture and history of Chianti, along with expressing the high quality the wine has achieved. Chianti DOCG is produced in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena in Tuscany, central Italy.
Over 30 winemakers and estate owners gathered to present their wines, many of which are in need of US importers and distributors [which is why price information is not available]. Each winemaker or estate owner I spoke with was enthusiastic to tell me the story of his or her wines, sharing details such as varietal blending methods and sustainable, environmentally-friendly vineyard and winery practices, along with vintage particularities. With a region as large as Chianti, each producer can have a vastly different vintage from his near neighbor. From vibrant and fresh to subtle and elegant, a vast array of the styles and vintages of Chianti were presented.
My third and final installment involves catching up with old friends and the meeting of new ones. The Chianti Tasting is always an informative, engaging event that I am delighted to be a part of. Cheers!
Pieve De’ Pitti
Pieve De’ Pitti is a family estate headed by Caterina Gargari and is located in the heart of the Alta Valdera. The estate consists of 198 hectares of woods and olive groves, along with 16 hectares that are hilly vineyards with sand/clay/fossil rich soil. It is this distinctive soil, coupled with “sea winds which come from across the hills of Miemo and Castellina”, that give their “grapes a mineral and savoury flavour”. ‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore is the estate’s first label and is based on a classic family blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes, traditionally crafted from the oldest vineyards in the estate. Caterina preserves this tradition and puts her own mark on it by using Sangiovese grapes from vineyards planted in 2001. Cerretello is aged in cement to allow the terrior and grapes to be the highlight of each sip.
The elegant, friendly wines are a reflection of Caterina; I always look forward to discussing vintages with her whilst enjoying her wines. Last year, we discussed how even though 2010 was a phenomenal vintage for many winemakers in Chianti, it was not her best. The slightest shift in sea breezes or isolated storm can make a world of a difference within one region for each producer. In fact, it was 2011 that she was watching develop into an outstanding vintage. This year, whilst enjoying her ‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore 2011, she took her analysis further, telling me that 2011 has become the best vintage her estate has had thus far. Looking to the future, she said that the 2014 harvest was abundant with great quality grapes, she is expecting an excellent vintage.
Cerretello Chianti Superiore DOCG 2011
With another year under its belt since my last visit, vivid, clean fruit flavours still take the spotlight. Silky smooth tannins in the full body balance leather, spices and soft earth, whilst the renowned salty mineral element drives the dry finish.
Cerretello Chianti Superiore DOCG 2008
Caterina credits the very mild weather in 2008 for conferring a refined elegance to the vintage. Well balanced flavours of cherry and strawberry with an earthy, forest floor undercurrent, velvety tannins and a plush finish keep you reaching for more.
Tenuta Bichi Borghesi
Niccolò Simonelli’s family has been crafting wine at Tenuta Bichi Borghesi for more then 4 centuries. The estate is located in Chianti Colli Senesi and consists of over 400 hectares. Niccolò lives in the original farmhouse and strives to make elegant wines that express where they are from, that are “traditional without being old”. With respect for the past and attention to future generations, protecting the environment and using organic methods is a key part to the estate [they are not currently certified organic].
Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2013
A lovely fruit forward Chianti with bright strawberry and cherry flavours, soft tannins and a plush finish.
‘Coppiole’ Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG Riserva 2008
Aged for 15-18 months in oak, Niccolò explained that 2008 was an “easy vintage” for the estate, therefore they used less oak, about 1/3 of the amount that they usually would use. Concentrated black cherry notes backed by tobacco and earth, a velvety finish of oak and cigar box spice.
Val di Botte
The Val di Botte estate consists of 30 hectares of vineyards located 20 km outside Florence. They strive to create a range of wines that are both affordable and of high-quality. The gregarious Simone Pezzatini presents the family estate’s wines; I greatly look forward to our engaging conversations and his insight into each wine’s character. After discussing the 2014 harvest with so many winemakers, I was ecstatic to see Simone brought a horizontal tasting of the estate’s 2014 vintage. It was fantastic to finally be able to give them a try!
‘Val di Botte’ Chianti DOCG 2014
Fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve the vivid fruit flavours, jammy strawberry and black cherry over an earth and leather backdrop, easy black tea tannins on the dry finish. Refreshing and super easy drinking.
‘Val di Botte’ Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2014
Easy drinking at 14% Alcohol, grapes were sourced from vineyards with large stone soil similar to many Chianti Classico vineyards. A traditional Chianti expression of balanced fruit/earth/spice flavours. A wonderfully straightforward companion at the table.
‘Val di Botte’ Chianti Superiore DOCG 2014
The Superiore is a small production label sourced from a 7.5 hectare vineyard with high quality grapes. Elegant and lively, well balanced fruit/earth/spice and clean tannins make this incredibly versatile at the table.
Val di Botte’ Chianti Riserva DOCG 2010
Contrasting with its younger siblings, the 2010 Riserva displays notes of dense cherry and plum backed by forest floor and peppery spice. Finishing with velvety tannins toasted oak and hints of vanilla. This is a rich, quiet glass whose lush, yet well balanced flavours aren’t overpowering.
Media event hosted by Consorzio Vino Chianti