Tuscany- just about everyone has heard of this top vacation spot in Northern Italy. Inside it’s doors one finds a multitude of faces: mountains and hiking, coastline and beach, and the stand out for me, wine and food.
October is Chianti Classico month for the Italian Food, Wine and Travel writers (#ItalianFWT- scroll down for more great content). My second adventure with this group, I wasn’t sure what aspect to pursue. An early conversation resulted in clarifying Chianti confusion. But then a package showed up.
Greve is one of the original Chianti wine producing villages, also called historic “storico” Chianti. Wrapped inside this package were bottles from the tiny winery Montefioralle, located in a village of the same name, barely outside Greve. The above picture is Montefioralle village.
The Montefioralle winery farms a miniscule 2 hectares (5 acres) of grapes with vineyards south-east facing at 400 meters above the sea, and on limestone, clay and sandy soil. Annual production is 10,000 bottles. Conversion to organic farming began in 2015; prior to that, synthetic treatments and chemical herbicides were not used.
Unlike some wineries in this area, the estate has known the same family a relatively short time. The vineyards were ancient, maintained by priests from the church in Montefioralle. Renato Sieni assumed their management in 1964, planted new vines with his son Fernando, and eventually purchased the vineyard from the church in the early 1990’s. Fernando’s children now run the winery. In the scope of European things, 50 years is a short time!
Mark and my experience with Chianti reveals it has a scintillating personality. They tend toward a red fruit, balsamic, sometimes herbaceous, and classic tart character. A fair amount of tannins can be present too.
To say we were excited is an understatement. Having not partaken in Tuscan wine in quite some time, a cork happily popped on arrival day.
Montefioralle Chianti Classico 2015 (14.5% ABV, €12 / $16)
This young Classico definitely had “classic” characteristics: more earth than fruit, and an acidic structure. Many Chianti Classico are either 100% Sangiovese or it’s the primary grape with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot to soften the edges. This one has two grapes indigenous to Central Italy: Canaiolo and Colorino (more on these two below).
It aged 12 months in neutral oak barrels.
- Grapes: 90% Sangiovese, 6% Canaiolo and 4% Colorino
- Color: clear- pale garnet with a ruby rim
- Aromas: clean- cherry (a touch of non-sweet, bright, preserved cherry), dry forest/humus.
- Palate: cedar-pine-redwood, green tobacco, light pepper on a base of cherries, a balanced acidic-softer tannic structure.
- Conclusion: A nice, everyday wine that would be enjoyable with a variety of foods, including vegetarian.
Montefioralle Chianti Classico Riserva 2014 (14.5% ABV, €26)
Grapes for the Riserva come from the oldest vines- 30 to 50 years of age. They “green harvest, a technique whereby the quantity of grape clusters per plant are dropped in summer to reduce crop yield and concentrate flavors. At Montefioralle they choose four or five clusters per vine. Aging is 24 months in old French oak barrels.
- Color: clear- pale garnet
- Aromas: raspberry, cherry, vegetal/herbaceous quallity (like fresh evergreen trees in a forest after a spring rain)
- Palate: Aromas carry through, slight sweet balsamic and fresh green peppercorns, soft and dusty clutch of integrated tannins on the tongue. Medium acid, tannins, body and finish.
- Conclusion: This riserva has a streak of acidity lifting the flavors and belying the higher level of alcohol yet it softens. Refined and not invasive notes of fruit, as well as being sapid and a tad spicy on the finish. Very good quality.
A Vegetarian Dish With Montefioralle Chianti Classico Riserva
Having fun with food, the Riserva and Black Bean Crab Cake pairing was pretty amazing. Served over roasted sweet potato with Buffalo Mozzarella, the cake is topped with a chunky roasted pepper sauce spiked with red pepper flakes, greens and Chantarelle mushrooms. Rich, earthy flavors layered with tartness. Similar characteristics in the wine played on these elements. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine with this dish!
More on Canaiolo and Colorino – Indigenous Fruit and Color
Montefioralle has just a few rows of these grapes. They’re indigenous to Central Italy, and it’s thought Canaiolo is native to Tuscany. Whereas Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon tend to impart more characteristics on the wine, Canaiolo and Colorino let the Sangiovese shine.
Canaiolo is fruitier with less acid and tannins, having a softening effect on Sangiovese. Colorino is quite neutral but has intense color. Because Sangiovese is a thin skinned and light, the finished wine benefits from the injection of color.
Italian Food, Wine and Travel!
Take a look below to see what our #ItalianFWT group explored in Chianti Classico!
And please join us on Saturday Oct. 7 at 10am CDT (17h in Italy) on Twitter as we discuss our Chianti findings. We’ll all be posting and chatting. Just look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter (or type it into the search bar at the top) on Saturday morning!
- Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy shares “Chianti of Terricola with Fattoria Fibbiano”
- Nicole at Somms Table shares “Cooking to the Wine: Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico with Italian Meatloaf & Pasta Pomodoro”
- Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Classic Tuscan Ragù Paired with Chianti”
- Li at The Wining Hour shares “Chianti Superiore, A Wine with Many Faces”
- Jill at L’Occasion shares “Chianti Lessons”
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Rolling the Dice on a 1979 Chianti Rufina”
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares “Experience Chianti Classico with Montefioralle”
- Katarina from Grapevine Adventures shares “Collaboration, Passion, and Tradition Makes You Stronger – Vignaioli di Radda”
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “A Glass of Chianti & Dreams of Porchetta”
- Gwen at Wine Predator shares “Chianti: Beyond the Straw Bottle“
- Susannah at Avvinare shares “Wines from Chianti Colli Fiorentini – Worthy of Our Attention“
A special thanks to Montefioralle for providing these samples! All thoughts are my own.