Posted by Barbara Bontemps
Posted by Barbara Bontemps on Oct 15, 2013
Our October 9 meeting featured long-time Club member, Dave Englehart, who led us through a delightful tasting of fine Italian Chianti Classico, a little "Super Tuscan," and some very nice Vin Santo at Charles Mounzer's very popular Orinda bistro, La Piazza.
Dave is a well-established wine educator, having taught classes on "wineries of the world" for 20-plus years at both Golden Gate University as well as at the Orinda Community Center. He began his talk by asking us if we knew what the traditional straw covered bottle of chianti is called. It is a "fiasco" -- or flask. How it ever came to be associated with the word "failure," is a mystery.
He went on to explain that Italy is the world's largest wine producer with over 2 billion gallons per year. There are 20 provinces and 94 designated wine areas. Chianti Classico is arguably Italy's most popular wine and is typically produced in the region between Florence and Sienna, which is denoted by the famous black rooster or "gallo negro." Legend has it that to settle a war between Florence and Sienna, the Duke of Tuscany demanded a race be held between the two districts. Florence was represented by a white rooster, Sienna by a black rooster. The black rooster won the race and has from that day been the emblem of the region.
In the early days, Chianti production was unregulated and quality was poor -- hence the derogatory "Dago Red" characterization. But in 1859, producers agreed upon a formula which defined the composition, alcohol content and aging process for Chianti. That formula is still used today for Chianti Classico and it consists of 50 to 80 percent Sangiovese grapes (red), 10 to 30 percent Canaiolo grapes (red), and 10 to 30 percent Trebbiano and Malvasia (white) grapes. The minimum alcohol level is 12 percent for all chiantis and 12.5 percent for Chianti Classico. Chianti Classico Reserva must be aged a minimum of 3 years in the bottle or wood. Today, ItalianThese "super" wines often sell for $70 to $90 dollars per bottle.