Today’s wine comes from the outskirts of a medieval village in the Pisan Hills of Tuscany, Italy. The vineyard is just over 100 acres (42 hectares) perched some 350 feet (120 meters) above sea level on sedimentary, rather sandy and clayey soil that is rich in fossil shells. What about the grapes? They are grown biodynamically, which essentially means in harmony with nature, at least according to the proponents of this method. (See the end of this review for a fuller definition.) The fruit mix is 70% Sangiovese, the heart of any Chianti; 20% Cilieogo, a cherry-scented red, and 10% Canaiolo, a red or white often used to soften Chianti. Without taking the time to access wholesale Tuscan grape prices I am willing to guess that the two Cs cost a lot less than the S. Today’s companion wine is a very widely sold, inexpensive Portuguese blend made that includes two local red varieties that are unknown outside of the country.
Let’s start by quoting the marketing materials. Tasting Note: The 2007 L’Antico di Burchino Vigna Casanova is a gorgeous, mid-weight offering laced with perfumed, ethereal fruit. This is absolutely beautiful wine made from Demeter-certified biodynamic fruit. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2012. Score – 88. (Antonio Galloni at the Robert Parker website, Aug 2009.) And now for my review.
At the first sips this wine presented sweet cherries and nice acidity. The initial meal centered on a barbecued chicken breast in a thick, sweet tomato sauce. The Chianti was long with cherries (maybe that’s the Ciliegolo signing in), good acidity, and light oak. The wine’s acidity washed down that tasty grease from the side of potatoes roasted in chicken fat and I got some chocolate. When it met the oriental tomato, pimento, hot pepper and garlic salad the wine was powerful and once again I tasted chocolate.
The next meal was a boxed eggplant parmiagana that I freely sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. The Chianti responded with light tannins and discrete acidity. It had moderate length and tasted of dark cherries. Dessert was a French-style tart brimming with sliced apples and ground almonds. The wine actually stepped up to meet this delicious dessert and was slightly sweet.
My final meal involved slow-cooked London Broil with chickpeas. In response to the meat this wine gave dark fruit but its acidity was somewhat harsh. Its tannins were round and I tasted some oak. When I added Louisiana hot sauce the wine’s fruit was dark but the wine was definitely uni-dimensional. When it met the chickpeas the wine was mouth-cleansing but its acidity wasn’t fully pleasant. Perhaps surprisingly a commercial potato salad with pickles improved the wine acidity and the wine was very long.
For my first cheese I tried a Muenster. In response to this rather tasteless item, the wine tasted of caramel and was slightly sweet with good acidity and length. There were few tannins. When paired with something tastier, a goat’s milk cheese covered in spicy bruschetta, the Chianti’s acidity picked up and I got raspberries.
Final verdict. Given the popularity of the Chianti name and the cost of Tuscan wine production I would be very surprised to get a Chianti for $14, even more so a biodynamic one. Can we guess that biodynamic grapes add to the production cost? I’ll hesitate before buying another $14 Chianti and have no intention of buying this one again. The U.S. Demeter (the major biodynamic certification organization) website states « Biodynamic farming is a holistic and regenerative farming system that is focused on soil health, the integration of plants and animals, and biodiversity. It seeks to create a farm system that is minimally dependant on imported materials, and instead meets its needs from the living dynamics of the farm itself... »Access the companion wine A Wine Lover's Weekly Review Of $10 Wine - A High-Volume Portuguese Red
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would
rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario
French-language community college. His wine websites include
www.theworldwidewine.com and http://www.wineinyourdiet.com
Visit his website devoted to Italian travel www.travelitalytravel.com
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