Sunday, October 29, 2017

Uncovering Corvina With Vigneti Villabella

Food and Wine at Villa Cordevigo

Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo
Tiziano Delibori and
Franco Cristoforetti (President of Consorzio)
In an attempt to further kick off our discovery of Chiaretto, the Consorzio Di Tutela Vino Bardolino facilitated a 'light lunch' followed by a Corvina wine tasting.  Our lunch took place at Villa Cordevigo located in Cavaion Veronese, the heart of Bardolino Classico, on the east side of Lake Garda. Villa Cordevigo is an enchanting eighteenth century manor house offering accommodations complete with vineyards, olive groves and a chapel. The Villa also promotes the estates' wines. Vigneti Villabella, the estate winery, was founded in 1971 by Walter Delibori and Giorgio Cristoforetti. Today, both families still own and run the Winery and Villa. Franco Cristoforetti, is actually the President of the Consorzio Di Tutela Vino Bardolino, so we were in for a real treat. In fact, they could have locked me up and kept me there if they so desired. According to its owners, the villa, which was acquired in 1998, is "a viticultural and natural oasis that is organically farmed. Here we have sought to preserve the genius loci of the countryside that surrounds the Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais." Villa Cordevigo is magnificent and is the very essence of what happens when a French chateau and Italian villa meet.   

Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Gardens
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Rooms
The Pool at Villa Cordevigo
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Park
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Vineyards
Now, let us discuss the Italian "light lunch."  I must say that a "light lunch" in Italy is never a light lunch. I suppose it could have been light, but I just kept eating. No regrets. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the spread set before me. No complaints. 

After our tour of Villa Cordevigo, it was time to manga! Lunch was replete with charcuterie, salads, breads, cheeses, soup and pasta. Delicious pasta that prepared by artisans that just compelled me to eat more and more. No regrets. No complaints. Bliss. Satiation. Moreover, this was when I had my first experience with a Chiaretto Spumante, and I enjoyed it this immensely. Villabella Bardolino Chiaretto Spumante DOC is obtained by traditional vinification of the indigenous Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes a brief maceration on the skins, followed by a long, slow fermentation. The Martinotti method is used for this 12% ABV cuvee. These bubbles have a delicate bouquet of strawberries, wild flowers and cherries on the nose, yet it was juicy, creamy and full-bodied on the palate. Villabella's Spumante is fantastic alone, as an aperitif or with a variety of fish and seafood dishes.  It was yummy, so I had it throughout lunch, with everything! 

Following this awesome lunch that was fit for a queen, I sat down for a wine tasting of their  Vigneti Villabella estate wines.👌Villabella wines are sourced from grapes grown around Bardolino and in each of the five Valpolicella communes. The combination of the stony and calcareous morainic soil and climate, due to its proximity to Lake Garda, yields more fresh and fruity wines. This is a prime location, as they are influenced by the circles of morainic hills. Vigneti Villabella produces all of the major regional wines, such as Chiaretto, Bardolino, Lugana, Custoza, Soave, Valpolicella (Ripasso and Amarone) and other Veronese IGT wines. I was able to sample a few of these, providing a nice overview of the wine region. However, the focus of this wine tasting was on the Corvina grape.  Corvina is the primary grape used in Chiaretto, the dry Italian rosé.  

Here are the wines I tasted:

Villa Cordevigo Bardolino Chiaretto DOC Classico Biologico 2016
The organic Bardolino Chiaretto Classico is produced with 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella grapes. Chiaretto is traditionally made, as are most rosé or skin-fermented wines, by macerating on the skins for a one night.  However, now Chiaretto is produced with just a few hours maceration, in order to extract a very light color. The cold fermentation serves to enhance the expression of the wine’s fruity and floral aromas. Bardolino Chiaretto Classico is pale pink with floral and citrus notes on the nose. The palate embodies freshness and minerality due to the morainic soils. Initially, the acidity is high, but the finish is dry and refreshing. Although the producers state that the wine should preferably be drunk within a year of the vintage, this wine does have aging potential. Chiaretto di Bardolino is bottled while young and usually released and presented in March. 12% ABV.

Villa Cordevigo Heaven Scent Bardolino Chiaretto DOC 2016
Heaven Scent is made from 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella grapes in mostly clay, morainic soil. The grapes are expertly harvested at the right time to ensure the right acidity and sugar, making this wine very well balanced. Its logo is even celestial-like to further convey its message and have international appeal. Named appropriately for the heaven-like place in which it was produced and the heavenly taste on the palate, Heaven Scent bears some similarity to the Chiaretto DOC, yet it is different. It is an intense peach pink with citrus and floral notes on the nose. The palate is young, fruity with good acidity, sapidity and round finish. 12% ABV.
Villa Cordevigo Bardolino DOC Classico Biologico 2015
The Bardolino Classico Biologico is a red wine produced from Corvina 70%, Rondinella 20%, Corvinone 10% organically-grown grapes from the pebbly clay soil of the Villa Cordevigo estate vineyards in Cavaion Veronese.  This wine undergoes fermentation and skin-contact maceration for 10 days and is then allowed to mature for one year in stainless steel tanks.  Bardolino Classico is aged in cool temps to preserve the fruit and freshness. I found this all very interesting, to be able to experience a red wine aged in stainless steel as opposed to oak. A light, ruby red in color with elegant aromas of violet and cherries. The palate was smooth and tangy with notes of bright red fruit, black pepper and clove. This is a classic, easy-drinking Bardolino wine that demonstrates its versatility and aging potential.  This particular varietal can be aged for 5-6 years. 
Vigna Morlongo Bardolino DOC Classico Anniversario 2013 & 2014
This fragrant red wine is made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione grapes from clay soil mixed with limestone.  It is aged in cool temperatures to preserve the fruit and freshness.  The wine matures in large oak casks.  Bright ruby, with a delicate bouquet of cherries, strawberries and red currants on the nose and spicy raspberry and cherry on the palate.  Dry, round, fresh and balanced. 13% ABV. This tasty wine is a winner of Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri Award.  
Villa Cordevigo Rosso IGT Veronese 2010
This delicious dry red red is made from 65% Corvina, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot 15% grapes, all grown in clay soil mixed with pebbles. After a late harvest, the grapes are dried briefly using the traditional technique employed in the Province of Verona.  The Rosso marked the first wine, of many, made from dried grapes tasted on this tour.  Next is maceration on the skins for 10-14 days at a controlled temperature to extract the wine’s ripe fruit aromas and flavors.  The wine is then aged for 30 months in cherry wood casks and tonneaux and at least 6 months more in the bottle. 

This awesome Rosso IGT is deep garnet to the eye and very aromatic.  Intense wild berries and tobacco on the nose, with dark, rich cherry and berry fruit on the palate.  This wine has smooth tannins and a long finish.  Sexy and seductive.  15% ABV. Balance was the goal for this wine, and it was certainly achieved. This wine is definitely one for my cellar, as it displays power and strength, along with excellent fruit flavor. Villa Cordevigo Rosso is absolutely a winner.  

Oseleta Rosso Veronese IGT 2007
This Rosso IGT wine is made from 100% Oseleta grapes grown in pebbly clay morainic soil.  Oseleta, which means “little bird” in the Venetian dialect, is an indigenous Veronese grape variety with small bunches that are particularly suited to undergoing the appassimento technique. Oseleta, thought to have been extinct, is related to Corvina Veronese and Rondinella and is making a huge comeback. After the drying of the grapes, fermentation and maceration, Oseleta Rosso is allowed to mature for 36 months in wood, barriques and tonneaux. The color, a deep purplish ruby, is mesmerizing. The nose is fruity and spicy, while it is very tannic on the palate. 14.5% ABV. 2007 was the first vintage produced, and although it has been aging, it is still a great candidate for more maturing. I tasted this wine solo, but would love to taste it again with a juicy steak, mature cheese or rich pasta in a tomato-based sauce.
Oseleta Grapes

Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2010
This bottle certainly presents another side of Corvina. It is produced with 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione from soil of limestone mixed with clay.  The grapes are sourced from each of the five Valpolicella communes  (Furmane, Marano, Negrar, San Pietro Incariano and Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella) and are produced with the ripassimento method, undergoing a second fermentation with dried grapes. This lends itself to a richer wine. Initial green almond and peppercorn spices on the nose, later opens up to notes of cherry and plum. The palate rich strawberry, black cherry cinnemon and carob. 14% ABV and not as big as Amarone, yet a palate-pleaser all the same. This Valpolicella Ripasso was a delicious 'baby Amarone.'
Fracastoro Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico Riserva 2007
Again, I was able to see a marked difference in the regions of Bardolino and Valpolicella. Fracastoro, named after the Italian physician, poet, and scholar in mathematics, geography and astronomy (Girolamo Fracastoro) who lived in Lake Garda region, is also made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione from limestone and stony clay soil in the Valpolicella Classico area. According to the the owners, climate change is having a huge impact on the vinification process.  The traditional ripasso technique of a second fermentation on the skins of the dried grapes sometimes occurs in 80-90 days, less than the regular 120. Following, a portion of the wines mature in traditional Slavonian oak casks and the rest in small Allier oak barrels. 

The resulting wine gain greater body, structure, and complexity.  The Monte Baldo winds lead to low temperatures which is good for the aromas, and this wine is absolutely aromatic.  A deep, brilliant garnet red appearance and an intense nose of black cherries, fig, brown sugar  and tobacco.  The palate is warm, dry, smooth and well-structured.  I loved the balance of fruit and spice in this Amarone as it went down.  Lingering finish and 15.5 % ABV.  Villabella Amarone Classico is elegant and drinkable, but it could certainly be aged.

My time at Villa Cordevigo tasting Vigneti Villabella wines was both well spent and appreciated.  It was a perfect way to learn more about the Corvina grape and its role in many of the regional wines.  The lunch was excellent too!

Should you find yourself in Verona or around Lake Garda, be sure to visit Villa Cordevigo and taste the wines of Vigneti Villabella.  Read more about The Lake Effect: Lake Garda's Impact on the wines of the region.

    About The Wining Hour
    The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #WiningHourChat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Lake Effect: Lake Garda's Impact on Chiaretto

Chiaretto, a Product of its Terroir

About Chiaretto

Chiaretto another Italian varietal that is on the rise and will surprise. Chiaretto (key-ar-et-toh) is a very pale, crisp, dry rosé wine produced around Lake Garda, which is about 30 minutes from beautiful Verona, in Northern Italy.  Its production spans the provinces of Verona in the region of Veneto and Brescia in Lombardy.  Chiaretto's origins date back to the 19th century and the Chiaretto DOC was created by Pompeo Molmenti in 1896, who applied what he learned about rosé vinification in France. In Italian, the name Chiaretto is derived from "chiaro," which means light or pale, and the process of making Chiaretto, like other rosés, involves limiting the juices' exposure to the grape's skins, resulting in Chiaretto's pale pink color.  There are two sides to Chiaretto: Chiaretto di Bardolino and Valténesi Chiaretto.

Excellent Chiaratto's
Azienda Albino Piona, Domini Veneto and Vignete Villabella
Chiaretto di Bardolino, produced on the east side of Lake Garda in Veneto, is made primarily from Corvina grapes, although it often includes Rondinella and Molinara.  Corvina is yet another indigenous Italian grape varietal, as Italy has over 430 grapes. Corvina is known to yield wines with crisp acidity, minerality, medium body and fine, light tannins (although it can also yield much more, as it is also a grape used for Ripasso and Amarone). Its profile includes a range of aromas from floral to herbaceous and/or citrus fruits to spicy berries, while the palate is young, fresh and vibrant.  Bardolino produces both the Chiaretto rosé, as well as a Bardolino rosso.  Visit Chiaretto Pink by the Consorzio Tutela Vino Bardolino DOC for more information about Chiaretto di Bardolino.

Map of Lake Garda DOC's
Photo Credit: Consorzio Valténesi
Valtenési Chiaretto, which is produced on the western side of Lake Garda in Lombardy, extends upwards to the foot of the Alps. The Valtènesi (vahl-tay-neh-zee) DOC was established in 2011, and similar to Bardolino, Valtenési also produces a rosé and rosso. The indigenous grape, Groppello, is primarily used. It is often accompanied by Sangiovese, Barbera, or Marzemino. Groppello is so named due to its resemblance to "groppi," clumps or knots.  Depending on the grape combination, Groppello can be fruity with notes of spicy cherry, violet and tobacco or it can be herbal with notes of sage. These wines provide vibrant acidity and tannins and are typically elegant, with great aging capability.  Visit the Consorzio Valténsi for more information about Chiaretto and other wines of Valtenési.

The various appellations surrounding Lake Garda bring different tastes.  Both Chiaretto di Bardolino and Valténesi Chiaretto are ideal as an aperitivo and are versatile enough to pair with many things. Pair chiaretto with salads, pizza, sushi, grilled fish, seafood and vegetables. 

Map of Valténesi
Photo Credit: Consorzio Valténesi
*It should be noted that there is a Chiaretto DOC and a Bardolino DOC, as well as a Valtenèsi and Valtènesi Chiaretto DOC, which will all be discussed in another post. 
Bardolino, Lake Garda-Italy

The Lake Affect

Location, location, location.  Ahh, we are all familiar with those three important words when it comes to buying, selling and producing.  Well, location absolutely plays a role in the production of Chiaretto, as well as the other wines surrounding Lake Garda.

Lake Garda, (formerly referred to Romans as Lake Benacus, due to a historic battle fought there by Roman Emperor Claudius II) Italy's largest lake and shoreline, spans the provinces Verona in the southeast, Brescia to the southwest, and Trentino in the north.  Lake Garda was created by a massive piedmont glacier flowing down from the Dolomite mountains during the Ice Age period. This is responsible for the region's unique Mediterranean micro-climate. According to Visit Garda, "The Garda area boasts all the characteristics of a “pre-alpine zero-thermal oasis”. It is a sub-Mediterranean climate, so mild and different from the other lakes."  The air and water temperatures in Garda are typically warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Therefore, the mild and temperate Lake Garda climate conditions the region, making it conducive and optimal for citrus lemon trees, olive trees and viticulture.
Shores of Lake Garda, near Monte Baldo
I can certainly attest to the moderate Garda climate and its impact on the viticulture and agriculture. I remember the warm lake breezes and the beautiful fauna and flora. In fact, on my recent visit, I was able to visit Torri del Benaco in Lake Garda, the home to the ancient Lemon Garden.  This lemon garden exists right in the middle of the mountains!  At Torri del Benaco, their lemon production is so broad that they even make lemoncello and export lemons to Germany and Russia. The temperature is moderate to the point that lemons grown all year round. Beautiful pristine waters of Lake Garda reflect the sun, thereby, keeping the temperature relatively warm and moderate.   
Lemon Garden at Torri Del Benaco, Lake Garda

Lemon Garden (Inside)

Lake Garda's geological formations not only impact the climate, but they also impact the soil. The alluvial and morainic deposits have resulted in soil that is fertile, loose and rich in magnesium and limestone.  The minerality keeps the wines fruity on the nose, and dry, crisp, and fresh on the palate. It contributes to wines that are typically lighter and more elegant, with the perfect balance of salty minerality and fruit. Hence, the "Lake Effect." 
Pink Limestone Slabs in Lake Garda
Lastly, the Garda mountains, also known as the Garda Hills, lead to beautiful high altitude winds. The winds descend from the mountains in the morning and go back to the mountains in the afternoon. The mountain climate is usually mild due to the Mediterranean Sea, and snowfall is a rarity. Therefore, only a few of the mountains are used for skiing and winter sports.  Instead, the focus in the Garda Hills is on water sports, hiking and mountain biking due to its temperate climate. I was able to see visit of the Garda Hills, Monte Baldo, which is a mountain range in the Italian Alps, located in the provinces of Trento and Verona. Monte Baldo is known as the Europe Botanic Garden for its biodiversity. The combination of the mountain winds, lake breezes and fantastic soil ensures that the Corvina and Rondinella grapes are more fruity, and perfect for the production of rose and other wines. It can be said that chiaretto is, in fact, a mountain wine.  

Check out our short clip of Lake Garda. Feel the breeze and smell the soil.

The ‘Lake Effect’ via the warm  breezes, Mediterranean climate and moronic soil is responsible for Chiaretto's remarkable freshness, and in fact, tremendously enhances and influences everything in the Lake Garda basin. This applies to Bardolino in the east, Valtenesi in the west and all areas surround Lake Garda.
Lake Garda, with views of Monte Baldo 
Today, the "Pink Revolution" is in full effect.  Rosé has been experiencing a golden age, and there is no end in sight.  Chiaretto di Bardolino is a key rosé-producing region.  There are approximately 100 producers of Chiaretto, generating approximately 10 million bottles production per year (about 9 million from Bardolino and 1 million for Valtenesi).  It is mainly sold in Italy and Germany, but there is an increasing interest in the U.S., Canada and Scandinavia.

Ultimately, Italy brings another rosé to the table, one that is unlike other Italian rosés. If you haven't already tasted Chiaretto di Bardolino, you should. Drink pink, #DiscoverChiaretto, the Italian dry rosé.
Photo Credit: Consorzio Tutela Vino Bardolino DOC
More articles will be posted regarding the shining producers of Chiaretto di Bardolino. Meanwhile, read about our Pregaming and Preparing to Plunge into Chiaretto.  

Learn more about the Corvina grape, as we Uncover Corvina with Vigneti Villabella

Subscribe and check back to read more about Chiaretto, the lesser known, but impressive rosé wine from Bardolino Italy.

    About The Wining Hour
    The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #WiningHourChat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

    For more information, please visit­­­

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pregaming and Preparing to Plunge into Chiaretto di Bardolino

Previewing the Palate-A Taste of Chiaretto 

Corvina Grapes, Used for Chiaretto
Photo Credit:
Consorzio Tutela Vino Bardolino DOC
Yes, preparation is everything, especially when it comes to wine.  The Chiaretto Consorzio Tutela Vino Bardolino DOC organized an amazing press tour to facilitate a closer look into this lesser known Italian indigenous varietal.  Chiaretto is a dry rosé wine produced primarily from Corvina grapes in Northern Italy on Lake Garda.  Production extends into the provinces of Brescia in Lombardia and Verona in Veneto.  As this was my first taste of this Italian DOC, I was very excited to taste the pink goodness! Chiaretto is light, dry, crisp and pairs well with a variety of foods. 

My palate was pleased with a wonderful preview of Chiaretto at a delicious Pizzeria in Lake Garda. Although many of these Chiarettos will be discussed in further detail in upcoming posts, here are some of the wines previewed:

Delicious Spicy Sausage Pizza and Caprese salad
Needless to say, these wines paired well with pizza and salads. Pregaming is always fun, and Chiaretto di Bardolino made the experience that much more enjoyable!

Remember, this was just an intro and a preview, so stay tuned to learn more about the keys to Chiaretto. Check out:

The Lake Effect: Lake Garda's Impact on Chiaretto

Uncovering Corvina with Vigneti Villabella

    About The Wining Hour
    The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #WiningHourChat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

    For more information, please visit­­­

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Chianti Superiore: A Wine with Many Faces #ChiantiExtravganza

Chianti-Taste one, taste all?

This month, the #ItalianFWT group decided to have a Chianti Extravaganza to further explore and celebrate....Chianti, of course!  We all know Chianti as the heart of Tuscany and the renowned wine region. However, there is much more to learn about this intricate wine region. The Chianti territory is vast and its boundaries are from Florence in the north to Siena in the south region and include Pisa in the west and Arezzo in the east.  To help manage the large area and to allow winemakers to attach wines they produce to their territory, sub-zone were established.  When referring to the vino, which is a red wine made predominantly from Sangiovese grapes, there's Chianti, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, Chianti Grand Selezione and Chianti Superiore, each of them having to abide by specific grape, territorial and aging requirements (See the chart and be sure to read the articles from my fellow bloggers!) Despite my regular and frequent visits, I am enlightened and awed each time. As we all took different directions for this Chianti Extravaganza, I want to draw more attention to Chianti Superiore DOCG.
Chianti Wine Classification
Photo Credit: Wine Folly

What is Chianti Superiore?

Chianti Superiore are DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wines that have been authorized since 1996.  Chianti Superiore is produced under strict regulations, as (1) it can only be produced from grapes cultivated in any of the Chianti sub-zone wine areas (except for the Classico sub-zone), (2) the wines must be aged for nine months, three of which must be in bottle before being released and (3) vineyards registered in Chianti sub-zones, outside of those in Classico, must omit the sub-zone name on the label. 
Map of Chianti and the Sub-Zones

Where in Chianti is Chianti Superiore produced?

Chianti Superiore wine is produced in eight sub-zones across the Tuscan provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. The sub-zones are: Colli Fiorentini, which stands for Florentine Hills, north of Florence; Montespertoli, which is southwest of Florence and within the Colli Fiorentini sub-zone; Chianti Rufina northeast of Florence; Classico, which is literally in the center of Chianti in the provinces of Florence and Siena; Colli Aretini in the province of Arezzo to the east; Colli Senesi south of Chianti Classico in the province of Siena, which happens to be the largest of the sub-zones and includes the Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano areas; Colline Pisane, in the province of Pisa to the west and Montalbano in the northwest part of the zone within the provinces of Prato, Pistoia and Firenze.

The Wining Hour Tasting of Chianti Superiore DOCG: 

3 Chianti Superiore DOCG Wines

We did a pound for pound, bottle for bottle, wine for wine comparison, as it were, of three Chianti Superiore wines from different sub-zones. We tasted Fattoria Fibbiano Chianti Superiore (Colli Pisane), Banfi Chianti Superiore (Colli Senesi) and Ruffino Chianti Superiore (Colli Senesi). Here's our findings: 

Fattoria Fibbiano Casalini Chianti Superiore DOCG (Chianti Colli Pisane)
Colline Pisane is the sub-zone west of Florence in the province of Pisa.  The region is a hilly area that is closer to the Mediterranean sea than most of the other sub-zones. This location contributes to a more moderate climate with warm sea breezes. Moreover, the Pisane area soil is in rich on fossil shells, composed of limestone-based clay and shale, as it was a seabed millions of years ago. The soil drains well and is very conducive to wine-growing. This was certainly manifested in Fattoria Fibbiano's Chianti Superiore. I had the pleasure of visiting this winery in the summer and was able to see and taste the fruits of their labor and the Chianti Pisane terroir.    
Vineyards at Fattoria Fibbiano
Terricciola, Chianti Colli Pisane

Casalini is produced from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo grapes grown in mainly clay soil. After harvesting and fermentation, the wine is aged for 8 months in Slavonian oak barrels where malolactic fermentation occurs, and then bottled to age for at least another 3 months.  Fattoria Fibbiano's Casalini Chianti Superiore is ruby red in color with intense aromas of cherry, raspberry and blackberry. The palate is full of dark, ripe berries, vanilla and spice. The earthy, clay pot notes are evident as well. As some Chianti wines can be quite light-bodied, Fibbiano's Chianti is more full-bodied, with a great layering of flavors, elegant tannins and a persistent finish. Casalini Chianti Superiore was enjoyed with a delicious rib-eye steak.  Other red meats, pasta and ripe cheese would be good accompaniments. 

Banfi Chianti Superiore DOCG (Chianti Colli Senesi)
Chianti Colli Senesi, in the province of Siena, is the largest of the sub-zones as it includes the southwestern part of Chianti Classico, far north to San Gimignano, and the areas of Montepulciano and Montalcino.  As this zone is so large and diverse, the climate and soil also varies. Parts of the terroir reach to about 1000ft (300m) above sea level, providing abundant sunshine and cooling. Other parts are influenced by the Mediterranean sea. The soils tend to be sandy clay that drain well.   

Castello Banfi is located in between the Orcia and Ombrone rivers in Montalcino. Their Chianti Superiore is made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo Nero grapes grown in Calcerous soil with a mixture of sand and clay.  After maceration and fermentation, the wine is aged in French oak barriques. Banfi's Chianti Superiore is an intense ruby red color, with fruit forward aromas and floral notes. Delicious violet, cherry, plum and red berries explode in the mouth. The oak contributes to the spicy fruit and tobacco flavors on the palate, along with vibrant acidity and structure. 
This made a great match for my lasagna.

As per Banfi, their Chianti Superiore is "crafted to the meticulous profile of our estate, is pleasingly smooth and satisfying with its clean and distinctive flavors."

Ruffino Ruffino Castello del Trebbio Chianti Superiore DOCG (Colli Senesi)
Athough another wine from the Chianti Colli Senesi sub-zone, Ruffino is very different. The location is different, the soil is different, the wine is different. First, Ruffino should not be confused with the Rufina sub-zone.  Ruffino is a huge, well-known winery in Monteriggione, Siena. "Ruffino was among the first wineries to rediscover the Chianti Superiore appellation, which forms the perfect bridge between simpler Chianti DOCGs and more complex, deeper Chianti Classicos."  Ruffino's Chianti Superiore is made from 70% Sangiovese blended with 30% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown in moderate clay and galestro rock soil. Following fermentation, this wine is aged in concrete and stainless steel vats and then the bottle. Ruffino Chianti Superiore is ruby in color, with more violet hues.  It has fruity aromas with blackberries, plum, cherries and blueberries on the palate. This Superiore is light to medium-bodied and well-structured. This wine would also go with lasagna, other pasta dishes and antipasto.  

Why Chianti Superiore or Chianti at all?

We tasted three very different bottles of Chianti Superiore. One was more rich and earthy, one more fruit forward and the other, aged in stainless steel, is more of a medium-bodied wine with darker fruit. It is clear that not all Chiantis taste the same.  Regardless of whether they are from the same sub-zone or from wineries adjacent to one another, each Chianti comes with its own character.  There are so many factors that impact wine production, including producer preferences and specialties, aging, cultivation and fermentation methods, amount of sun, level of elevation, and of course, the soil.  Different terroir results in different tastes.  In fact, we know that every vintage does not even taste the same!  I have been to many wineries throughout Chianti and its sub-zones.  They all have something different to offer. Each winemaker is able to reveal a different face, or should we say a different taste? Some Chiantis are more fruit forward, others more herbaceous, and others are chock-full of minerals and earth.  The versatile characteristics of Chianti across the region and sub-zones can be likened to family members who all bear a resemblance to each other, yet each one has their own distinctive characteristics.  Chianti is truly a wine with many faces. many personalities, many tastes.  One can be pleasantly surprised by the diverse characteristics embodied by this region. This makes Chianti a prime region to spend more time and explore.  After all, tasting one Chianti is NOT tasting them all!

What has been your experience with Chianti? Read on for more.

Join our Italian Food Wine and Travel group on Saturday Oct. 7 at 10am CDT on Twitter as we discuss our Chianti findings. We'll all be posting and chatting, join us! Just look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter Saturday morning! See what our Italian Food Wine & Travel Enthusiasts have to offer:
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy shares "Chianti of Terricola with Fattoria Fibbiano"
  • Nicole at Somms Table shares "Cooking to the Wine: Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico with Italian Meatloaf & Pasta Pomodoro"
  • Jane at Always Ravenous shares "Classic Tuscan Ragù Paired with Chianti"
  • Li at The Wining Hour shares "Chianti, A Wine with Many Faces"
  • Jill at L'Occasion shares "Chianti Lessons"
  • Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares "Rolling the Dice on a 1979 Chianti Rufina"
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares "Experience Chianti Classico with Montefioralle"
  • Katarina from Grapevine Adventures shares "Collaboration, Passion, and Tradition Makes You Stronger - Vignaioli di Radda"
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares "A Glass of Chianti & Dreams of Porchetta"
  • Gwen at Wine Predator shares "Chianti: Beyond the Straw Bottle"
  • Susannah at Avvinare shares "Wines from Chianti Colli Fiorentini - Worthy of Our Attention"

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