BITTER, PUNGENT, DRY, ACIDIC…does this describe something you would drink (and hopefully enjoy)?
Remember Ruffino in straw covered bottles?
Ruffino is a Chianti producer which became a generic name for Chianti wine in America during 1960’s and 1970’s. Chianti wine dates to 13th century in Tuscany (Toscana) and is a blend of Sangiovese grapes and other Tuscan varietals. In the 1960’s the blend had become infiltrated with inferior varietals such as bland white grapes. Chianti, Italy’s most important wine, was leading to extinction until 1975 when Antinori experimented blending other grapes (i.e. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) with Sangiovese. The new higher quality blend was called Super Tuscans and re-established Tuscany as the center of the wine universe. Seeing the success of super Tuscan wines, Chianti producers improved their quality with stricter regulations and modern wine-making practices in the vineyards and cellars.
The Chianti district in Tuscany is a vast area, larger than Bordeaux region in France and lies between Siena (south) and Florence (north). The region is comprised of eight sub-zones known as DOC or DOCG (controlled destination of origin guaranteed). Chianti Classico is the most well-known and largest sub-zone for its production of premium Chianti and is recognized by the Black Rooster label on its bottle neck.
Legend of Black Rooster: Red wine was produced in the Chianti region since since 1000 A.D. and Florence and Siena long feuded over rights to this region. Finally, around 1200, they agreed to end the feud with a competition. Horsemen were to depart from the rival cities at the crow of a rooster. Wherever they met would determine the boundary lines and settle the dispute once and for all. The Senesi (Siena) chose a well-fed white rooster but the cunning Florentines chose a starving black rooster. On the day of the event the white rooster crowed at sunrise as expected. But the hungry black rooster crowed long before sunrise giving the Florentine rider a considerable advantage. The Senese horseman didn’t get very far and borders were established with the larger region now belonging to Florence.
True story or not, the starving Black Rooster is now memorialized on every bottle of Chianti Classico!
ROCCA DI CASTAGNOLI Poggio a’ Frati Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 $19.
95% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino.
Aged for 27 months, Riservas require a minimum aging of 24 months and the best will age 10-20 years. Best served at 61-64°F after decanting. Chianti Classico requires a minimum of 80% Sangiovese where other Chianti DOC’s require only 70%.
Stephen Tanzer rating 92 says “good, full bright red. Captivating aromas of red plum, red licorice, minerals…firmly structured, this wine finishes with strong fruit and outstanding length and verve.”
FATTORIA SELVAPIANA Chianti Rufina 2012 $15.
70% Sangiovese. Chianti Rufina is another highly regarded Chianti DOCG. Region with the highest elevation in Chianti district, is known for fragrant red wines more approachable than Classicos. Wines are fruity, elegant, well-structured and worthy of aging. Selvapiana and Nipozzano are the most reputable producers.
Cheers, Bob the WineGuy
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