The 2011 Wine Gala Wine Tasting held by the Italian Trade Commission was not as fat as years past. In these lean economic times, what really is these days? Macs, iPads, iPhones, and all things Apple? What else.
Yes things were lean but there were a few bright spots to be sure. Let me start with the wines of the uber popular estate of "Ruffino" and its most popular wines Chianti Riserva Ducale and its prestigious Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva "ORO," Gold Label. To the most serious and knowledgeable of Italian Wine Aficionados these wine are normally dismissed as commercial and passe, but to many Italian-Americans and older slightly moneyed New York Italian-Americans and "Guys with Bent Noses," and guys who like to emulate Guys with Bent Noses, Ruffino Ducale Gold Label is held in quite high esteem. This wine has a history and presence in New York when it was one of more or less a handful of Italian Wines in this country compared to the thousands available today. Back in the 60's and 70's Ruffino along with the wines of Bertani, Masi, and Pio Cesare were thee top of the line, and people dining at the many Old-School Italian Restaurants of the day gravitated to these wines like Flies on you know what.
Anyway, many more wines became available, more people visited Italy and explored the wines, many more wines became available and to many, the so-called "Old School" wines like Ruffino and Pio Cesare lost some of their luster. That being said, there is still a quite considerable number of people, especially men over the age of 50 (Italian New Yorker's) who still hold these wine in high esteem, and order them often in the Italian Restaurants of the day.
OK, so let's talk about the wine tasted this day. As usual the Ruffino Ducale Oro Gold Label 2005 disappointed. The wine which is a Premium Wine at a "Premium Price" quite often disappoints, as it did on this day. It just was not well balanced, it lacked fruit, and just was not enjoyable to put it in the simplest terms possible. The much cheaper wine in the Ruffino Ducale Chianti Riserva 2006 (Tan Label) on the other hand was very enjoyable and a "Superior Wine" to the Ducale "Oro" (Gold Label) 2005. The Ruffino Tan Label Chainti Riserva was well rounded with proper tannic and acidic components, with a generous amount of Fruit and weight that was just right, not too much nor too little. It was a pleasant wine to drink. And for those of the general public who don't normally know a great deal about wine as far as all the intricacies are concerned (which can be just a bunch of BS), but they know when they like and totally enjoy a wine, you should know that quite often the lesser simple wine's of any particular estate are better, tastier, more enjoyable than the supposedly "Better" more costly Premium wines, which is the case once again with the current vintages available from the estate of Ruffino. The cheaper wine, the Chianti Riserva (Tan Label) is far superior than the estates more expensive premium wine, the Ruffino Chianti Classic Gold Label.
At this Gala Tasting, the fine wines of Franco and Son Jacopo Biondi Santi were on hand from their two Tuscan estates Castello Di Montepo and their famed Brunello estate Tenuta Il Greppo where Franco and Jacopo's forefather "Created" Brunello.
First I tried the whole line of Super Tuscans and Morellino Di Scansano from the Montepo Estate. A wine that is one of my all-time favorite Super Tuscans, "Sassoalloro" was a bit of a disappointment this time around with the 2007 vintage. I have loved this wine over the years especially the 1993 Vintage which I drank with Jacopo Biondi Santi and 14 other noted New York Italian Wine Guys, which included; Renzo Rapiscoli, Charles Sciccoilone and myself at a wonderful Wine Tasting Dinner Jacopo hosted at Spark's Steak House back in 1998. The wines that evening where outstanding, including; the Sassoalloro, Schidione, Moscadello, and several vintages (1988, 90, and 93) of Biondi Santi's "Famed" Brunello.
So, back to the wines on this day. The Schidione was quite nice, the Morrellino good. The two Brunello's on hand for the day were showing nicely but will be at their optimum in a few years, as these wines are made to age, drinking best with 15 to 20 years or more on them. The Brunello's this day were the 2005 Normale and the 2004 Riserva, both excellent and showing great promise down the road. Bravo Jacopo.
Now down to the stars of the show and the wines of Castello Di Querceto in Greve in Chianti.
I met with Dottt. Alessandro Francois and Maria Antonietta Corsi of Castello Querceto and they tasted me on their wines, of which 3 of the 6 I tasted were absolutely outstanding. The base Chianti in the Querceto Chianti Classico 2008 was a enjoyable textbook Chianti, medium bodied, good Cherry fruit flavors, with a bit of zippy acid and just perfectly balance. Next up was the Chianti Classico Riserva "Il Picchio" 2007. A beautiful wine that had all the great characteristics of the previous Chianti with just a notch upward of fruit and bodied. I loved the Super Tuscan offering in the Querceto "Il Quercioaia" 2005. The wine had great balance, it was full in flavor with beautiful Cherry and Black Fruit flavors. made of 65% Sangiovese and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine was a joy to drink.
Let me note that all the Chianti's of Castello Querceto are "Real Chianti" and not aborted sacrilegious so-called Chianti that contain Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, which are allowed by the government because of political reasons in Chianti which is a "Complete and Total Sacrilege" which any true Chianti aficionado will tell you that, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syhrah or any none native grape should "Ever be Allowed" in bottle of wine labeled Chianti. Chianti is a great wine made primarily of Sangiovese with small quantities of other minor native grapes such as; Colorino, Malvasia Nero, Cielliegiollo, and Canaiolo.
All the Chainti of Castello Di Querceto are real Chianti in that they are all made with only native grapes which include about 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo. Thank you Castello Querceto and all other Chianti producers like Mansanto, Castello Verrazzano and others who make "Real Authentic Chianti," Chianti that contains only "Native Grape Varietals" and no trace of International Grapes such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
"STOP The SACRILEGE !"
Stop letting non-native Chianti Grape Varieties in CHIANTI !"
Make REAL CHIANTI !