Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

by Aaron Winsor

Hello Prince Albert!

Most people are familiar with the name Chianti and often the first image that comes to mind is the wicker basket with the candle sitting on the table at the Italian restaurant.

This image is both quaint and misleading as a bottle of Chianti is so much more than a simple decoration in a restaurant and in fact, the style has a rich history as an area in Italy and also as a wine.

Let’s begin by looking at the symbol of Chianti Classico: the black rooster.

Legend says that the Florentines and people of Siena were disputing the territory of Chianti in the 13th century and the knights of these respective regions decided that on a specified morning they would both race towards the border of one another and where they met would mark the borders of their territory.

The Florentines chose a black rooster which they kept in a partially starved state and the knight of Siena chose a thick white rooster which was well-fed. The following morning, the black rooster crowed very early in the morning and the knight of Florence took off.

The white rooster rose much later and in consequence, the knight of Siena left much later then intended. By the time the knight of Siena had gotten started on his journey, the knight from Florence was within 20 miles of Siena.

The symbol of the black rooster can be found on all bottles of Chianti Classico whether on the front or the back of the label.

It is the official symbol of Chianti and is also a sign of high-quality wine with a rich heritage of winemaking tradition.

The term Chianti Classico refers to the original area where Chianti was founded. The term Chianti Classico received its DOCG designation in 1996 and is the highest-quality wine from the region.

The term Riserva found on the two wines I tasted this week indicates that the wine has received 2 years of oak age in addition to the requirements from its DOCG designation.

Wines with the term “Chianti” must be made with 80% Sangiovese grapes as well as 20% of other grapes including local and international varietals.

This creates a wine with a tangy cherry character backed by flavors from oak aging.

Chianti of any kind is very food friendly and not overly expensive, making it an excellent choice for social gatherings.

Charcuterie, cheese boards, smoked meats, pickles, olives, pizza, pasta and bruschetta are all natural pairing options since the acidity level of Chianti is often quite high and thus works perfectly with tomato-based foods.

Try some Chianti tonight and get a taste of the old world!

Here are my wine picks of the week!

Melini Chianti Classico Riserva 2013: (DOCG Chianti, Italy). Dry red, medium ruby color with slight fading at the edge. The bouquet of this red opens with notes of smoked ham, leather, sweet potting soil, earthy cherry, mushroom, strawberry, smoke and pepper spice. Earthy, spicy flavors of cherry, black pepper, oak, mushroom and cloves hit the palate on the first taste with a long finish of toast, tar, cherry and pepper.

Tannins are high but smooth which provide structure while medium-plus acidity livens the taste buds. Complexity is on show here with smoky leather notes and excellent intensity. The earthy cherry and spice combo is delicious and the medium-plus body creates a wine with serious flavor and potential for further aging. Drink within 3 to 5 years and pair with crostini and olive tapenade, lasagna Florentine, sautéed mushrooms or smoked brisket.

Very good! $27, 13.5% ABV

Castillo de Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2014: (DOCG Chianti, Italy). Dry red, deep ruby color with minimal fading. The nose displays black licorice, oak, sweet soil, mushroom, earthy red and dark cherry and dark chocolate and cocoa. The flavors on the taste begin with a sour cherry note balanced by medium-plus tannins, medium-plus acidity and medium-plus body. Some oak bitterness comes through followed by mellow vanilla and smooth pepper spice.

Dark fruits appear (black cherry, black currant) and blend into sweet black licorice followed by a long finish dominated by spice and oaky fruit. Tons of woody flavors from oak aging as well as elegant, earthy spice and developed fruit notes. Pair with charcuterie boards, olives, earthy cheeses, pasta pizza or bruschetta.

Very good! $26, 13.5% ABV

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Aaron Winsor is a Prince Albert resident who currently holds a WSET Level 3 certification in wine and will never turn down a good cigar or whisky. Check out his Instagram and Facebook page under Aaron The Wine Guy for wine, whisky and cigar reviews.