I love a good Chianti. It’s my “comfort food” wine. If you’re eating simple Italian food, particularly the Americanized versions such as pizza and pasta, you can’t go wrong with a good Chianti.
But, as I’ve said before, Chianti is confusing. There are so many zone and sub-zone classifications that I don’t know how the average consumer is expected to keep it all straight. I deal with wine every day and even I still get confused about what the different classifications mean. And the differences aren’t necessarily indicative of quality anyway.
Let’s face it, most wine consumers couldn’t tell you which is which if they were tasting a Chianti Classico, next to a Chianti Superiore, next to a Chianti Rúfina. Me included. So why does it all matter? Maybe it doesn’t. Although one important factor the designations do indicate is the length of aging the wines experience prior to release. That said, the aging requirements are similar for many different Chianti designations.
If you like Chianti, in general terms, and want to really get to understand it, where do you start? I would say, anywhere you want. Try a few different ones and when you find one that you like, focus on that designation for a while. Then branch out to some other designations.
This one from Banfi is a Chianti Superiore, which means it’s from the zones outside of the Chianti Classico region. It also means that the wine is aged for a minimum of 9 months, with at least 3 in the bottle, before release.
One of the things I like about this wine before I even taste it is the price. Chianti is a fairly popular wine, which results in the price of good ones often being north of $20. But the average retail price for this one is a mere $9.00. That’s a deal… if the wine is any good.
Another thing I like about this wine before I taste it, although it’s nothing unique to this brand, is the paper strip on the neck label. You’ll often see these on Italian wine as a “seal of authenticity” for a specific region. Given that wine is an experiential thing and opening the bottle is part of the experience, I’ve noticed that there’s something about this little paper strip that I like. Does anyone else like these?
The nose is rather tight, but does reveal some raspberry, tobacco and floral aromas. It’s also fairly light on the palate, offering tart cherry and plum flavors, with a slight peppery kick. The acidity is really good and the tannins are sufficient. It finishes with sour cherry and raspberry tea flavors. As I would expect from a good Chianti, this wine is really food friendly.
Honestly, it’s not the most exciting Chianti I’ve tasted. But it’s good. And for under ten bucks, it’s a steal!
Wine: Banfi Chianti Superiore
Variety: Chiani blend (predominantly sangiovese)
Find Banfi Chianti Superiore with Snooth
Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample.