Thursday, 21 November 2013
There is something rather alluring about a fine Chianti wine, especially in the traditional squat bottle, dressed in its straw Fiasco flask. It announces its presence with a certain rustic charm, true too of the fabulous Chianti region in central Tuscany from where it takes its name.
As with all wine regions, there are several districts that make up the Chianti region, though it all started in Chianti Classico, which is between Florence to the North and Sienna to the South, and is now held in high regard as housing the best producers of wine in the region. Most producers of Chianti Classico belong to a sort of watchdog who ensures that the high qualities of the wine are preserved. An easy way to spot one of these wines is by the signifier of a black Rooster
on the neck of the bottle, which itself has an interesting history. Arising from a medieval Tuscan legend, the black Roosteris a symbol of peace between Florence and Sienna - two Tuscan cities that had been rivals for centuries. It says thatafter years of violence, they decided to accept an offer of peace and would send out a knight from each of their villagesto redefine their borders at the cry of the Rooster on a certain day. The Sienese chose a white Rooster, while theFlorentines chose a black Rooster along with an element of subterfuge. They locked away the black Rooster for days
without food, so when they released it, it crowed immediately, ensuring the Florentines an early start and much wider borders.
To be labeled as a Chianti, the wine must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes, though some will contain 100%, themajority will also contain up to 10% Canaiolo and up to 20% of other approved grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot. It’s a dry wine, with deep aromas of cherry, spices and earth that billow out of the glass, andit goes perfectly with many dishes, including simple fare like pasta and pizza, but it’s a wine that’s often badly paired with Tuna salad. The Tuna will make it taste metallic, and the acidity of the Tuna will bring out sour flavours and tannins, so
avoid this. If you’d like to experience the many varieties, then a nice way is to go directly to the source. Head to Chianti inSeptember for the Chianti Classico Wine festival in Greve in Chianti (inside the Chianti Classico sub-region), which takesplace annually. It has a nice village atmosphere, and when you get there, you need to buy a wine glass and a ticket - this allows you to taste up to 8 wines from the wineries on display, or you can simply buy your wines directly from the seller, if
you prefer. But along with all the wine tasting, you’ll be glad to know there are other festivities including salami andcheese tasting and music and fashion exhibitions.
Chianti was once considered a cheap wine with poor grapes, but because of interventions by the Italian governmentsetting up the DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) to regulate its standards, it is now held in high regard with wine lovers the world over.
If you are tempted to indulge on a private Chianti tasting check Flavours cookery holidays in Tuscany.