This is based on wine provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.

 

 

2011 Bolla Chianti

2010 Cecchi Chianti Classico

2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva

 

 

 

These samples were sent in conjunction with an online promotion to educate casual wine drinkers about the Chianti region and its different types of wines.

Chianti Rooster scaled

 About Chianti

The first time Chianti was recognized as a wine was in 1398.  At that time Chianti was a white wine, not red as it is today.  The first “official” borders for the Chianti region were drawn up in 1716.  In 1872, Baron Bettino Ricasoli, the second Prime Minister of Italy, created the “recipe” for Chianti.  This original recipe called for Chianti to be a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia.  Prior to this, Canaiolo had been the dominant grape in the blend.

 

In the 1970s, most people’s idea of Chianti was a wine in a fiasco, the straw-covered bottle you’d find at inexpensive Italian restaurants and pizza parlors.  At that time, with the growing popularity of Chianti, many producers were unfortunately more focused on increasing production instead of increasing quality.

 

The biggest change in the region occurred in 1996, when due to the increased popularity and quality of the so-called Super Tuscans, the Chianti laws were changed to eliminate the minimum amount of white grapes that had to be used and to allow up to 15% “international” grapes.  In 2006, the laws were again changed prohibiting the use of white grapes in the production of Chianti Classico wines.

 

 

banfi-crest

 About Banfi

Banfi is a private concern, founded in New York in 1919 by John Mariani, Sr. and today owned and operated by his grandchildren.  The company is focused on the production and import of wine.

 

Banfi Vintners is the sole U.S. importer of the Mariani family’s internationally renowned wine estates in Italy: Castello Banfi of Montalcino, Tuscany, and Banfi Piemonte of Strevi, Piedmont.  Banfi also imports the wines of several other producers, including category leaders Bolla, Cecchi, Florio, Fontana Candida, Placido, Riunite, and Sartori from Italy, Concha y Toro and Emiliana from Chile, and Trivento from Argentina, Wisdom & Warter Sherries from Spain and Stone’s Ginger wine from England.  The company has ranked as North America’s leading wine importer for more than three decades.

 

Additional references

 

The Race of the Rooster: How Chianti earned its famous emblem by Arianna Armstrong on Palate Press.

 

Visit the Crazy for Chianti page on Facebook.

 

The Crazy for Chianti organization also has a nice website.

 

 

 

This line up for this tasting:

Banfi Chianti Line up

Banfi Chianti Line up

 

 

 

2011 Bolla Chianti

Bolla Chianti wines are more of an every day wine.  This wine is available just about everywhere for under $10 a bottle.

 

The Bolla Chianti is generally a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo and other indigenous varieties.  The grapes are crushed and fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel for 10 to 12 days.

 

This wine has 13.0% alcohol.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a light, bright, ruby red color.  The very appealing nose has cherries, wild flowers, scorched earth, dried herbs, and spice.  This is barely medium body with soft tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate the tart, red cherries steals the show with some earthiness and spice in the background.  The finish has decent length and again is dominated by the tart cherries.  This is a nice Chianti for weeknight pizza, pasta, or lighter meat dishes.  This would also do well with a cheese/salami platter.  (86 pts)

2011 Bolla Chianti

2011 Bolla Chianti

 

 

2010 Cecchi Chianti Classico

The Cecchi Chianti Classico is a step up from the Bolla Chianti both in quality and price.  This wine has very good distribution and is usually available for under $15.

 

This wine is generally a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino Toscano.  After a traditional fermentation on the skins for 18 days, the wine is aged in small oak barrels and barriques for 9 to 12 months.

 

The wine is 13.5% alcohol by volume.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice ruby red color.  The nose is initially a bit shy but with some air it opens to show cherries, violets, warm baking spices, earthy underbrush, and a touch of licorice.  This has medium body, soft tannins and good acidity.  On the palate this is rich and plush with cherries, baking spices with some building earthiness on the back end.  The finish is a touch short with cherries giving way to some lingering earthiness.  This will pair well with the usual pizza and pasta but would be nice with lighter meat and poultry dishes.  (88 pts)

2010 Cecchi Chianti Classico

2010 Cecchi Chianti Classico

 

 

2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva

This Chianti Classico Riserva is the next step up in price and quality.  This wine also enjoys good distribution and is usually available for well under $20.

 

This wine typically is predominantly Sangiovese with small amounts of Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon.  After maceration and fermentation, the wine is aged for at least 2 years, with at least 12 months in Slavonian oak.  After bottling, the wine receives at least 6 months of bottle aging before release.

 

This wine had 13.0% alcohol.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a shade darker than medium ruby red.  The very open and inviting nose has cherries, plums, leather, earthy underbrush, wild flowers, dusty minerals, and a touch of licorice.  This has medium body, soft to moderate tannins, and good acidity.  On the palate there is a nice balance between the fruit, spice, and earthiness with none of the elements trying to overwhelm the others.  The finish has very nice length and again shows nice balance.  This could be slipped into a “Super Tuscan” line up and not stick out as a weak link.  This would stand up well to a meat dish, like roast beef, especially if it was finished with some nice Italian herbs.  This would rock with a pizza loaded with sausage or pasta with meat sauce.  (89 pts)

2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva

2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva

 

 

What would be better to pair with these three Chianti wines than pizza?  I picked up a pizza at the local pizzeria with a thin “cracker crust” that was loaded with pepperoni, sausage, and gooey cheese.

Pizza and Chianti

 

 

 

Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.

 

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Cheers!

 

 

This is original to CliffsWinePicks.com.  Copyright 2013 Cliff’s Wine Picks.

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

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