Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Chianti Standout

Returning to the Italian Wine Masters tasting at Vino 2010—of which I acclaimed the undersung 2005 Brunellos in a previous post—I'd like to say something about the 2006 Chiantis, both regular and Riserva. More good news here. As has been well reported, the year was a great vintage for Tuscany, with conditions near perfect, with grapes achieving ideal ripeness and sugar levels. And the proof was in the bottles being poured at the Waldorf.

I had no complaints tasting the offerings of the wonderful houses of Isole e Olena (light, yet deep, and well balanced), the ever-dependable Fontodi (soft tannins and a light juiciness) and Castello di Ama (the rougher, spicier Vigneto Bellavista vineyard and the fuller-bodied Vigneto La Casuccia). Castello de Ama was also pouring the best Olive Oil in the house, hands down, fruity and complex. Many Italian wine houses manufacturer an olive oil just to get in on a good racket, and the results are negligible. Not so here. The oil was as good as their wine, and the owner (who was pouring) was right to boast of it as the best oil in Chianti.

Small Casaloste also showed well with its Riserva Don Vincenzo 2006, which was fresh and supple. But they also had a wonderful bargain wine up their sleeve, a 2004 Riserva Casaloste they're selling for only $45 a bottle. It was the best Chianti I had at the tasting, beautiful and deliciously deep and mature. Only 8,000 bottles were produced.

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