Wow. The name is a mouthful on this one. I get just past the “Marchesi de” and I start to sound like a clumsy mid-westerner—which, I suppose in a way I am. But while some of the names on Italian wines can pose challenges to me, I still have a great appreciation for them. At one time, I was a Chianti nut. But in the last couple years Brunello, Barolo and Barbaresco have been my Italian wines of choice. Of course as a “cheap” wine guy, I don’t get to taste those very often.
While Italy isn’t at the top of the list of regions for value wines, there are still some bargains to be found. And some Chianti offers good value. But to be clear, “Chianti” is a relatively broad term. The name is based on the region where the wine is produced, and there are guidelines that must be followed in order to label the wine as Chianti. The wine must be made with 75-100% sangiovese, but it can have up to 10% canaiolo and up to 20% of other approved varieties. As you can imagine, this will create a bit of variation from one Chianti to the next. There are also several sub-zones within the Chianti region which end up as designations on the wine. There’s a lot to it, which I won’t go into detail about here. But if you want to learn more, start at the Chianti page on Wikipedia. Nonetheless, as far as regions go, this one from Nipozanno comes from the Rufina DOCG.
This happened to be the only Chianti I had in the house, so I did not taste it blind. Although, in a way I did. Before tasting it, this was a brand I was unfamiliar with, and as such I had no preconceptions about this wine. And that’s really the point of tasting blind.
The nose is quite pleasant, with a nice blend of fruit and spice aromas. Cherry, blueberry and raspberry aromas are the first to hit you, followed by undertones of cedar, clove and cinnamon. The intensity isn’t overwhelming, but it’s good. The palate shows plenty of cherry flavor, some astringent black tea tannins (remember, this is an Italian wine, not a California fruit bomb), some chocolate and black pepper. The acidity is great. It finishes dry and earthy, with a bit of a cherry and peat aftertaste. This is definitely a food wine, and a pretty good one at that.
At $22 it’s a little pricey for some consumers, but I’d still say it’s a good value. And remember, that’s the “suggested” retail price. So, you should find the actual to be less. An online search showed it available for under $13.00 at the time I’m writing this. NOW you’re talking about a bargain!
Wine: Nipozzano Riserva
Find Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Reserva DOCG with Snooth
Disclosure: This wine was received as a sample.