Well a Happy New Year to all and apologies for getting off to such a late start this year. It has been a busy January and we are about to get into February, so I thought a nice gentle start might be appropriate.
Recently I was teaching a wine course and one wine stood out. It was an inexpensive Chianti. Now many of you know that my heart sinks somewhat when we have affordable or everyday versions of famous wine regions – as they normally just do not hack it. A cheaper Bordeaux, Chianti, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Sancerre, Burgundy, you name it, normally gives only the vaguest idea as to what these wines are really about. No, to enjoy the classics you normally ned to go a little upscale.
I was delighted therefore to stumble across an exception and I enjoyed it so much that I thought it would be my first Wine of the Week of 2018.
This charming organic estate is in the northern bit of Chianti between Florence and Pisa and not far from Empoli, or Lucca for that matter. I know this patch pretty well as one of my favourite Tuscan producers, Pietro Beconcini Agricola is in nearby San Miniato, while Carmignano, home to Tenuta di Capezzana, is just a few kilometres away.
This lovely 28 hectare estate has been owned by the Antonini family since 1968 and has been certified organic since 2014. The vines grow on a series of gently rolling southwest facing hills at about 100 metres above sea level. The soils around here are fossil rich ancient seabed, just as at Beconcini, and would normally be regarded as much more suitable for white wines – the soil seems to emphasise the acidity – but also suits those Tuscan reds which should be all about verve, tension and balance.
This is their entry level Chianti and like all their reds is a traditional blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo and 5% Colorino.
The fermentation is spontaneous using the wild yeasts, to give more character and complexity. Fermentation is in concrete tanks while the wine was aged for 8 months in a mixture of large, untoasted, oak vats and concrete tanks.
The wine immediately looked lively and enticing in the glass – and stayed that way over 2 days – a medium ruby colour with some garnet hints creeping in.
The nose was fragrant, lifted and lively with fresh red plums, cherries, pepper, mocha, rosemary, freshly turned earth and a hint of creamy vanilla too.
The palate is medium bodied and very soft with a nice touch of fine grain tannins, lively red fruit and refreshing acidity giving balance and tension. All in all this is a lovely wine that is very drinkable and comes at an excellent price too. A proper wine that will go superbly with all manner of food and tastes far better than its price tag would suggest – 87/100 points.
Available in the UK @ £7.99 per bottle from Waitrose, Waitrose Cellar and Ocado.