Chianti

  (key-YAHN-tay)
Chianti used to be made from 70% Sangiovese grapes with other red and white grape varietals mandated by law. Now since 1995 it must be 80% Sangiovese grapes and can have up to 100% Sangiovese.
  (san-joh-VAY-zeh)
Synonyms: Sangioveto, Brunello, Prugnolo Gentile, Morellino, Nielluccio (Corsica)

Wine Name: Sangiovese, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montalcino, Carmignano, Morellino di Scansano, Sangiovese di Romagna, Tignanello, Flaccionello della Pieve

Background: Sangiovese grape is the mainstay grape of central Italy, especially Tuscany. It is used to produce Chianti, Brunello and Vino Nobile as well as just plain or blended Sangiovese varietals called Super Tuscans. It is not very aromatic but has dark fruit tastes, bitter cherries, blueberry, plum, violets, licorice, earthy and dusty. It is acidic with sometimes astringent tannins and medium to full-bodied. It can be similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon but it is much more acidic which pairs well with tomato and vinegar-based Italian cooking.

Brunello is one of the Italy’s best-known and most expensive wines. It is fuller bodied and more tannic than most Sangiovese wines but it is similarly acidic and not very aromatic. There may be subtle flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry, chocolate, leather and violets but the late release of the wine after harvest results in less fruit flavors. Generally there is a normale and a riserva bottling. The normale bottles are released on the market 50 months after harvest and the riserva are released a year after the normale.

Classic Brands and Sources:
Sangiovese – Italy – many producers; California – Atlas Peak, Au Bon Climat, Seghesio, Staglin, Shafer, Viansa; Australia – Brown Brothers, Coriole, Crittenden Wines, Scaffidi
Brunello – Valdicava, Casanova di Neri, Eredi Fuligni, Fanti, Mocali, Silvio Narda, La Poderina, Poggio Antico, Castello Romitorio, San Filippo, Terralsole

Characteristics:

Style #1 – Vino di Tavola (generic Sangiovese)

Body – medium

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – high

Style #2 – Chianti

Body – medium to medium (+)

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – high

Style #3 – Brunello di Montalcino

Body – full

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – high


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Pairs well with hearty acidic dishes such as red meats cooked in wine or tomato bases

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Olives, tomato-based pasta, roasted meats and game, chicken in wine sauce, mushrooms, pancetta, prosciutto, pizza , smoked meat, cold cuts, salami

Cheese Pairings:
Asiago, Bel Pase, Fontina, Grana, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Provolone, Romano, Taleggio