In Italian annals the lion’s share of attention has been graced to the wines of Piedmont and the subject of our latest excursion, Tuscany. Most famous in the past for Chianti that came in a basket bottomed fiasco, Tuscany became the region where winemakers pioneered new methods that would first upset and later overwhelm the traditional vintners. Keeping historical deference while embracing the latest ideas in vineyard and cellar techniques, Tuscan wines are now at the pinnacle of respect to wine lovers worldwide.
Red, a bistro on Hyde Park Square, was the setting for us to sample some notable examples while nibbling some Tuscan inspired food from Chef Elliott Jablonsky. A 2006 Vernaccia from the towered village of San Gimignano served as a welcome and warm up with nice full fruit and depth that made one yearn for an appetizer. We then sat to compare representatives from Chianti Classico, Carmignano, Montepulciano, Casanova, and Montalcino. These all are primarily made from the Sangiovese grape with several having lesser amounts of other varietals.
The Chianti Classico typified expected character with floral aromas, medium fruit and nice dry finish to match well with many foods. The Carmignano strayed a bit with a bramble nose and restrained understated fruit that became profound at the finish, possibly from a healthy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon. Our Montepulciano selection reached further showing violets, spice and elegance but had a lurking quality that perhaps could have profited from more bottle aging. While Giorgio Rivetti made his reputation with single vineyard Piedmont wines, his new venture in Casanova had a little Calabrino blended into the Sangiovese but had an interesting approachable nature that, while unmistakably Italian, seemed to hint at a New World style. The Brunello was all Sangiovese Grosso and as the oldest wine gave the most powerful showing with floral notes, massive fruit, and restrained elegance that implored for some of the delightful buffet items. Continued indulgence of wine and food assured our participants a serata di divertimento e di fraternità! Salute!
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse