Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wine in Italy - 63 bottles and counting

Here's a post for the wine enthusiasts out there.

Tenuta Forci
One day while returning from a visit to the beach, we decided to test a short cut through the Lucca hills that we'd noticed on the map, and see what the road was like.  Well, it turned out to be steep in parts, an unmade goat track elsewhere, and undulating to boot - all in all a bit of a struggle for Zita (she's only 150cc after all).  It was very scenic too, with both sides of the road surrounded by grapevines, which I noticed were signposted as a familiar winery 'Tenuta Forci'.

Unsurprisingly, this road soon led us to Santo Stefano Road, home of two good wineries, and as we rode right past Tenuta Forci, we had to pop in.

Zita awaits the winetasters at the front of Forci 
We'd tried two of their wines previously at home and had been impressed - one in particular was excellent value.  Like many Italian wineries, Forci's cellar door offers a tasting of whatever happens to be open, but primarily the focus is selling wine, rather than tasting wine.  Right up, I enquired from the friendly lady who had opened up the cellar door for us about delivery, which they offered, also it's free of charge to central Lucca - perfect!  (although the winery is in the hills, it's only 6km out of Lucca).

As well as wine, they sold quality and well packaged and presented grappa, honey, olive oil and marinated olives, all of which are made at the winery.  We passed on the tasting as the thought of riding even 6km home through the hills after a tasting didn't seem such a good idea.  The cellar door was functional but pretty, and set in grounds with surrounding stone buildings and fantastic views into the Lucca valley.  We rode home, lighter of pocket, but glad of our visit.
The next morning, a wizened old man rang our doorbell to deliver 2 dozen bottles.  We'd ordered 1 dozen of their Rosso 2010 DOC (see 'What We're Drinking') and 2 bottles each of the others in their range.  The one I'm particulalry interested in, but haven't opened yet, is the 'Cardinal Buonvisi' 2008, which is a blend of 35% Cab Sav, 35% sangiovese, 20% merlot and a small amount of malvasia nera.

Winetasting in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence

So where is that winetasting happening...
Last month, Melanie and I went to Florence…..for a winetasting (not long after, we went to Pisa to go shopping – cultured tourists, we are).  This Florence Wine Event, showcasing 45 wineries from various Tuscan regions, was held in the magnificent Palazzo Pitti, visitors to Florence may know it as the entrance to the Boboli Gardens.

The tasting had a start time of 4pm but when we approached the ticketdesk just after 4pm, the lady informed us the winemakers were running maybe 30 minutes late, which of course means in Italian, they ran an hour late.  Shortly after we saw a few winemakers stagger in, no doubt coming from a long lunch.

Melanie and I had set ourselves a mission – to find a Chianti Classico with good QPR (Quality/Price Ratio) and buy a half dozen to bring back to Lucca.  In the end, we had a look at 10 different Chianti wineries, many of which also made a Reserve Chianti, and selected the Santo Stefano 2008 Chianti Classico which is a modern elegant Chianti but still with some savouriness belying it’s heritage.  Medium bodied, it was showing plenty of black fruit, along with some well balanced oak.  And a bargain at just 10 euros..
Marino with all his friends….

Other interesting wines on show included a delicious Brunello di Montalcino, but outside our budget at 35 euros, a few organic wineries, and some reliable and always cheap Morellino di Scansanos. Interestingly, 3 of the Chianti wineries were making something different: one with a 2006 Cab Sav (which reminded me straight away of Australia), one a Pinot noir that was less successful and lastly a straight merlot that for my palate anyway, lacked character, as many straight merlots seem to do.
After a late dinner at a modern Florentine restaurant, we headed off home to Lucca on the last train, which of course ran 30 minutes late, meaning we straggled into bed just on midnight.

Vino di casa - What we're drinking at home....

Rosso 2010 DOC from the Forci winery, located in the Lucca Hills.
5.50 euros.

65% sangiovese based wine, with 30% canaiolo grape, and 5% colorino grape. In the glass, it's violet/dark red with brown bricking.  Red berries and brambles on the nose.  On the palate, this medium bodied red (of just 12.5%) exhibits redcurrants and brambles with a savoury profile.

 .....and Something Better
Chianti Classico 2009 from Fonterutoli, near Castellina in Chianti.
14 to 17 euros.

Being Chianti Classico, it's at least 80% sangiovese, with the balance being other local red grapes, usually canaiolo and colorino - it's not specified on this bottle.

In the glass, it's dark red/almost purple. Ripe redberries on the nose.  On the (medium bodied) palate, concentrated and intense fruit combine with silky tannins produce an elegance that continues on the after palate. At 13.5%, it shows that a classy wine can be made without high alcohol.

This is our favourite chianti so far, although we haven't yet delved into any reserve chianti classicos - might wait until cooler weather sets in for the serious stuff.

* 63 bottles and counting.... is the number we've consumed at home since arriving on 12 April.

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