Friday, April 2, 2010

Chianti Classico for tonight... Or for the ages.

Do you love Chianti? I think we've all been there. It's probably the most purchased Italian red by the average consumer, but sooner or later you begin to realize that not all Chianti is created equal. In fact, once you realize the heights that can be reached in Chianti, you can never go back. What's more, a well made Chianti from a good vintage, can be aged and the results can be amazing.

Let me introduce you to Castello di Monsanto. A producer of some of the best "quality to price ratio" Chianti in existence. To the average consumer, a $17 bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva from Castello di Monsanto will put you on the road to understanding how good chianti can be.
A warning though, if it's an overripe fruit bomb you seek, read no further. However, if it’s the very essence of the vine, earth and verve of acidity that traditional Italian wine can reach, then this will be right up your alley.

2006 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva - This bottle is a great example of how time, exposed to air, can effect a wine. When first opened, it showed sour berries, leather, fall leaves and a hint of confectioners sugar on the nose. After two hours in the bottle, you find fig and ripe berries with cedar and undergrowth. With black cherries and wild berries on the palate, then rosemary, and a hint of cedar. The medium-long finish is juicy and fresh as it flaunts its brisk acidity and it keeps you coming back to the glass for more. (Find this wine on Wine Searcher) (average price $16.99)

As I said, these wines can age and, as a testament to this statement, I provided the note below, which discusses a bottle of the 1972 Chianti Classico Il Poggio that I recently enjoyed. In a word: captivating.

1972 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio - Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico (4/2/2010)
I pulled the cork to find a partially saturated bottom half that broke from the top but, luckily, I was able to remove it from the neck of the bottle. The wine was decanted, the bottle rinsed, and then poured back into the bottle where it was given one hour of air in bottle.

The bouquet is stunning and evolved over the course of another hour. When first poured this wine showed sun dried tomato, prune and a bit of ocean breeze. With time, strawberry and roses came up front with a hint of undergrowth and fall leaves. The palate was mid-weight, soft and velvety, completely resolved and drinking beautifully with fresh plum, earth and savory broth. The finish showed minerals and light strawberry fruit.

I don't see this improving but I wouldn't rush to finish my last bottle either. This may have passed its peak, but I can't imagine it being any better than it was last night.
(Find this wine on Wine Searcher)

So whether you're looking for a bottle of Chianti Classico for tonight or for the ages, I urge you to try Castello di Monsanto. You might just find yourself enjoying a perfectly aged bottle of the 2006, fifteen years down the road. I assure you, you'll be thanking me then.

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