Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sangiovese feast!

In my strongly opinionated wine world, to be honest, Sangiovese has never had a special place.
Nevertheless recently I have been tasting and appreciating a lot of Sangiovese wines and for the third time in a row I find myself writing about one of them!
This is probably because this grape can produce the most neutral and dull wines often characterized  by an excessive acidity (and you will find plenty of examples when looking at the cheap Chianti options on the supermarket shelves) but in the right place, with the right soil and micro-climate and, last but not least, in the right hands, its versatile character can give wonderful, unforgettable wines.

So when Francesco Gioffreda from Borgo Casa al Vento contacted me and asked me to taste his wines I was a bit skeptical at first, but then got curious as one of those (Foho 2008) had just been awarded with the 3 Gambero Rosso glasses, the most prestigious award for Italian wines.

I have to say that once again during my personal Sangiovese feast I was not disappointed.

The Chianti Classico Aria 2009 shows a good intensity of forest fruits and cherries, a vibrant acidity and soft ripe tannins. Ready to drink, fresh and extremely pleasant: an everyday wine.

The Foho, Chianti Classico Riserva  2007 has a deeper complexity: energetic red fruit, especially dark cherries and mulberries, seductive heartiness and developing notes of sweet spices coming from the oak aging. There is a good concentration of tannins showing their velvety ripeness. A well balanced acidity and a long satisfying finish. It is warm and rounded. A wine for food...maybe game or as well an aged Tuscan me, another surprising Sangiovese!!

Borgo Casa al Vento is not only a winery but a complete organic farm with hospitality structure set among the beautiful hills of Chianti, a very good spot for some wine tourism.

Vineyard picture is courtesy of Casa al Vento

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Wine based beauty treatments....

"Wine gives you beautiful legs".
This is how Francesca Colombini Cinelli titles her autobiography.
Francesca is a lady of Brunello, born in a wealthy family of Montalcino close to Siena at the beginning of the last century.

Her book of memories gives beautiful portraits of what life was in a small town of Italy in the 40's. She describes the countryside activities and habits, the celebrations, the hunting and the times of the WWII .She draws characteristic Tuscan personalities in a sort of Montalcino Anthology.

And in all these stories there is always wine.
And food. Intensely genuine food.
And I am finding quite funny that normal farmer meals during busy times of work like threshing were made of cheese, charcuterie, homemade bread, game roasts and of course a lot of good wine, things that we now consider gourmet food.

While reading and (only!) in order to test this beauty treatment, I have opened a bottle of Brunello.
A Fossacolle 2006.
A special wine.Especially for my poor budget (although not expensive as may other Brunellos).
And definitely worth the economic effort. The nose has a complex variety of intense dark cherries aromas, vegetal notes and a hint of delicate sweet spices. In the mouth it is deep and warm. Tannins are rounded and velvety but quite exuberant, probably they will need a bit more time to mature. Rich texture and a concentrated medium long finish. The oak is perfectly integrated and the wine shows the best features of a well handled Sangiovese. Distinctive and intense.

I am not really sure about the positive effect on my legs , but I can tell you that my palate was fully satisfied and on my face has appeared a big relaxed smile!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Last Sunday an Osteria saved my life...

From where my family is now living (in a small village in the Lazio's side of Maremma) Southern Tuscany is one of the best destinations for a day trip on a Sunday.
The area is still quite unspoilt and has a great rustic charm with its Medieval countryside towns perched on tufaceous rocks. Driving there is quite a peaceful experience among green hills of olive trees and vineyards and it can also be quite interesting if you would like to visit Etruscan ruins.
Here Sangiovese shows its potential in one of the its best expressions, the Morellino di Scansano.

These have always been the best ingredients for a perfect day out to me, so decision taken: Scansano was our destination, although the weather looked unusually miserable especially for the beginning of May (grey sky, fog and all day long rain) and a walk in the vineyards was not really appealing! The other option was to take a walk in the city centre, maybe visit the History of Wine Museum and finally sit down for a nice meal. Once there obviously the museum was closed for a long lunch break! So no more choice. We had to find a restaurant and cheer ourselves up with some Tuscan food and wine!

And this is how Osteria Rifrullo saved our day....
A cosy and warm  place nicely decorated with ancient instruments hanging from the ceilings and coloured frescoes on the walls. But as I am not that interested in interior design...what I was looking looking for was to taste their cuisine! Starting with a glorious polenta tart with cep mushrooms,
carrying on with a scrumptious plate of bichi (a particular homemade type of pasta similar to spaghetti in its shape) alla norcina (with a sauce made of sausage, chilli and cream) and finally having a satisfying sweet end with cantucci and Vin Santo.

How does it sound? Well, trust me, it tasted better than it sounds.Beautiful, filling, palate flattering, genuine food and that's it. On the other side the house wine is not worth a mention.Normally the Morellino is a medium structured wine with a good intensity of dark berries and even if possibly not the most prestigious Tuscan red it is certainly a very enjoyable wine, but the one we had for lunch was certainly lacking of  backbone and its acidity was overwhelming the whole palate sensations. But luckily I bought a good example of it at the enoteca of the main square. Celestina Fe' is an elegant wine with a good texture, soft, rounded tannins and pronounced aromas of black cherries.
100% of Sangiovese and no oak. A wine with a sophisticated character.

Now if you feel enough inspired to explore the area, I am sure you will find many more interesting places and good luck and enjoy!!