CHIANTI, Turning the Page: Notes from CHIANTI NYC 2013

CHIANTI, Turning the Page: Notes from CHIANTI NYC 2013

It’s no secret that Chianti has endured something of an image problem from wine lovers old enough to remember the fiasco straw-covered bottle. So, when a couple of twenty-somethings recently asked me to recommend a good Chianti, I was struck by two points: that they were asking for it at all, for one; but, more importantly, perhaps, that they referred to the Chianti brand.


Fact is that massive improvements in quality by Chianti producers along with great execution by the Consorzio around marketing activities are slowly turning the page to begin a new chapter for Chianti.

Chianti is a category of wine that offers the consumer great diversity. One can find: a more serious Chianti to enjoy with a grilled steak; a Chianti fun enough for a picnic; or one refreshing enough to accompany outdoor chores; Chianti wines that drink well in fine crystal stemware or simple tumbler glasses; purchase prices comfortable for a graduate student , stock trader and most everyone in between.

So it is with a sense of anticipation that I extend my tasting glass at today’s CHIANTI 2013 event in NYC: anticipation to sample a bit of Chianti’s next chapter; anticipation that a new generation of wine lovers are beginning to experience Chianti unencumbered by the baggage we old timers carry from a time when Chianti was, well, a little under par. While all the wines I tasted at the event were enjoyable, I shall make mention of a few that really impress:

Podere Alberese
Really love the cherry fruit and floral aromas of this producer’s Chianti Superiore 2009. The wine is a joy to hold in the mouth. The Riserva of that same year is elegant with more depth and finesse, lovely balsamic notes.


A pleasantly aromatic, harmonious and easy drinking Chianti (2009).

Chianti 2011 delivers impressively fresh berries on the nose, nicely balanced acidity and the good structure typical of this producer’s wines.

Le Fontia San Giorgio
Sublime scents of violets, red and black fruits, give this Chianti so much appeal. Great finish, too. The producer’s Chianti Montespertoli bottling shows a brighter fruit profile, smooth and warm in the mouth. In comparison, the Chianti Montespertoli Riserva is a bit more jammy, bringing hints of brown spice.

Adore Beconcini’s Chianti Riserva again this year. Traditional, smooth and expressive.

Fattoria Valacchi
Good muscle, yet graceful, smooth in the mouth, subtle hint of spice on a lingering finish.

Impressed with Cignozza wines last year, I remain a fan. Both the Chianti and Riserva are impressively harmonious wines, big in the mouth, soft and supple palate, with the Riserva obviously taking the lead with complexity / intensity.

Another producer that caught my attention last year as well. Like the fresh, simplicity of the traditional-styled Chianti Santa Caterina. Find the velvety soft palate of the Il Castelvecchio bottling incredibly alluring. A magnificent Riserva full of emotion, power, and strength.

Fumanelli Valpolicella 2009

Fumanelli Valpolicella 2009

Dinner dishes are cleared, a half bottle of wine still to drink. Outside, massive oak limbs creak in the wind, sympathy for logs crackling in the wood stove.

He’s looks at the chess board, then back at me, raises an eyebrow.

I return a steady gaze that says:
You want a piece of me? 😉

fumanelli-valpolicella-2009He hunches over the chess board, absent mindedly swirls a last sip of wine in his glass, pushes his Bishop forward. Really? Bishop’s opening? Popular back in the ‘60’s perhaps. Oh, he’s an old school boy, isn’t he? Classic chess, all the way.

Also showing some classic style tonight is a noteable, easy drinking Valpolicella from producer Marchesi Fumanelli who has been producing wines since 1470.

I had happened upon the Fumanelli bottle at a local shop awhile back. Although the producer wasn’t really on my radar at the time, I purchased a single bottle to give it a go. And glad I did. This Valpolicella brought timeless style to the table and continues to be distinguished company during these after dinner sporting moments.

The wine is produced from hand-picked grapes – Corvina Veronese ( 40%), Corvinone (40%), Rondinella (20%) – grown on the family’s Squarano estate (San Floriano) in the classic heart of Valpolicella. Fermented in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Fresh picked berries, violets, herbs and tobacco. Medium weight on the palate, cherry, notes of almond. Good balance all around, appetite-raising acidity and nice grippy tannins. Flavorful, easy drinking, classic style.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Pasta, risotto, veal and chicken dishes, burgers, pizza, hearty soups, cured meats, cheeses. I’d even do this wine with salmon.

Awakenend now from my Valpolicella reverie I find him peering over his spectacles at me.

“I’m sorry, did you say something”, I ask. “My move” ?

Strokes his beard, staring. “Checkmate”, he says.


A Visit to Munich Wine Company

There are few things one needs to feel happy on a sunny Munich morning beyond a good Butterbretzel and heiße Schokolade. But, today I am excited and extra happy to be heading out to Deisenhofen to attend a live wine auction at Munich Wine Company.

I have written ahead to Sommelier & Auctioneer Stefan Sedlmeyr asking if I might attend the auction (especially since I am not planning to bid), who pleasantly agrees to have me in house.

munich-wine-company-2aI am absolutely charmed by the shop’s intimate, cordial, professional atmosphere. Shop staff is immediately welcoming and arriving attendees are friendly and open to conversation.

During the pre-auction tasting several stunning wines catch my attention: ’76 Knyphausen Erbacher Michelmark Riesling TBA, ripe and powerful with impressions of caramel, still shows plenty of life, while that producer’s ’83 Erbacher Steinmorgen Riesling Eiswein seems generally lighter in comparison and displays less density, as might be expected. The ’99 vintage of that same wine reveals lively notes of citrus. A wonderfully evolved Chateau Pichon Comtesse, Pauillac 2eme Cru Classe ’84 blows me away with its magnificent, intoxicating nose and sublime tannins.

munich-wine-company-5aDuring the afternoon tasting break, of the white Burgundies I taste, it is the complex and enigmatic ’79 Laurent, Dominique Meursault 1er Cru Les Charmes, full of petrol, honey, butterscotch and gorgeous bitter almond which wins my heart. I appreciate, too, the ’00 Alzania Crianza that feels to me in style to be suspended somewhere between Bordeaux and California. But, it is again a Baron Knyphausen wine, the ’92 Kiedricher Sandgrub Riesling BA, which leaves me starry-eyed and happy.

Since the auction goes on for the better part of this still sunny Saturday, Munich Wine Company thoughtfully prepares a very tasty lunch opportunity, serving attendees during the afternoon tasting break some exceedingly delicious ravioli and antipasti.

I find Munich Wine Company staff to be exceptionally knowledgeable about the wines and vintages, and notice the great care taken to store onsite wines properly in EuroCave, Gaggenau and Leibherb. I would not hesitate to entrust my wines or personal purchase/sale activities to this fine house of wine.

Sincere thanks to Stefan and the Munich Wine Company for their generous, gracious, hospitality. It feels good to be around people who care so deeply about wine. If you happen to be in the Munich area, I recommend a trip out to Deisenhofen – easy via S-Bahn – to visit Munich Wine Company and say “hi” to Stefan and his excellent crew.

Impressive Chilean Red: De Martino Legado Cabernet-Malbec Reserva 2010

Impressive Chilean Red: De Martino Legado Cabernet-Malbec Reserva 2010

During last night’s virtual tasting held at, I was introduced to an impressive 2010 Cabernet-Malbec Reserva from the Chilean winery of De Martino.

de-martino-legado-cabernet-malbec-2010Snooth Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Dal Piaz, played host to Marcelo Retamal, winemaker for De Martino, who discussed the wines and region at length. Clearly a terroirist, Retamal proved to be an especially interesting guest with an international perspective.

De Martino Legado Cabernet-Malbec Reserva 2010 is a 50/50 blend of the two varietals, produced from estate-owned organic vineyards located in Chile’s Maipo valley. The wine is aged in x-passage barrels of French oak.

I can see this wine as a great cross-sell for anyone who appreciates the elegant florals and polished tannins that good Chianti Classico has to offer. Merlot lovers, too, I think, will respond to this wine’s round softness in the mouth, as will Cab fans for their fix of typical Cab spice.

BTW, if you have not attended a Snooth virtual tasting, I suggest you immediately amend your ways 😉 I found the Snooth virtual tasting experience packed with information, delivering great insights from the winemaker as well as good perspective from the tasting audience.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Stylish, sophisticated personality, perfumed of red fruit, florals, notes of tobacco, spice. Soft, round, sexy palate, a wine to love in the mouth. Polished tannins on the finish. Stunning, especially considering the ~ $18.00 price point.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Fire up your grill to throw on something simple yet elegant. Consider: a good rib-eye served with herb butter sauce; perfectly pink grilled lamb served with chimichurri sauce; grilled-bread panino with Gouda cheese, bacon and tomato; Vegetarian? Do the grilled-bread panino with Fontina cheese, mushroom and sage.

For more about the De Martino / Chile wines and tasting, visit Snooth here