Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Italians & Wine......

When you close your eyes and someone whispers in your ear, "You enter an Italian bistro, with red and white checked tablecloths, the aromas of tomato-based sauces stewing from the kitchen...." your mind's eye surely will see bottles of red wine in wicker-basket wrappings sitting on each table. Those bottles are known as "fiascos" from the Italian fare fiasco, which means "to make a bottle."

The bottles are narrow-necked with a round bottom and always contain wine made with grapes grown in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. The wine is made from Sangiovese grapes, sometimes with a small measure of white wine included with the red Sangiovese juice, to make an approachable wine that does not need ageing. Those fiascos also make great candle-holders or conversation pieces. Today, the best Chiantis do not come in a fiasco.....they come in traditional bottles made by some extremely accomplished producers. The most popular of the bunch is Ruffino, which makes 7 different wines from Chianti, including the Ducale Trilogy of wines that are very prolific and can be found in any local retail store. Ruffino's Ducale wines may be prolific, but they are not always the best value or best-tasting Chianti wines in the store. Here are a few recommended Chianti wines:

2003 Castello di Bossi - Chianti Classico DOCG -($17) made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, this is one of the best examples of a classic Chianti wine, with deep ruby color and a savory flavor on the finish that complements tomato-based sauces or pizza or foods with good acidity. The wine has some oak, combined with black cherry and bountiful fruit flavor and because it is young, the tannins are present and add to the wine's heft.

2003 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Reserva ($25) - 90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot/Syrah blend makes up this wine. The Volpaia wine is smoother with additional red fruit flavors thanks to the Merlot/Syrah in the final blend. This wine was juicy and ripe, full of cherry flavor and really well-structured. The wine received a 90pt score last year, and the extra time in the bottle helped to improve its flavor. A great wine!

One final recommendation is for a wine that has a special place in my heart, because it was named for a friend of ours, who's family is making some of the best wines in the Napa Valley. The wine is from Gargiulo Vineyards, on Oakville Cross Rd. in Napa, CA. The wine in question is called APRILE, and is named for April Gargiulo, the daughter of the vineyard owners. April is responsible for the marketing and distribution of the Gargiulo Vineyard wines. We visited with April in July and she is one of the nicest people in the industry. We drank her wines and loved the APRILE. Here's a review:

2oo4 Gargiulo Vineyards APRILE - ($28) - A 96% Sangiovese with 4% Cabernet Sauvignon wine sourced 100% from the Money Road Ranch vineyard owned and managed by the Gargiulo Family. The wine is classically Sangiovese, with lots of cherry flavors and some strawberry. The wine also has some spice flavors which add complexity without overwhelming the fruit. Deep flavor and dark colored wines combine with firm tannins. A great wine for everyday drinking and can also stand up to robust foods.

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