Villa Mangiacane: It’s Chian-tastic! 01/17/11
I came to a startling realization the other day: I’ve now reviewed over a dozen wines on my incredible blog, and not a single one has come from Italy – perhaps my favorite country of them all, when it comes to wine production. You don’t have to worry though, because I’m about to rectify the situation; and yes, this will be accomplished in one of the more delicious ways available to me.
Italy: a land of delectable cuisines, sprawling mustaches and irresistible wines. Perhaps best known among these are the wines of Chianti, a designation in the Tuscany region. Today I’m going to be discussing the 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva from Villa Mangiacane, quoted at $39, but which I picked up for $18 thanks to the intervention of my trusty, price-reducing genie of the bottle, PA Liquor Control Board Chairman Patrick J. Stapleton.
Chianti wines are produced primarily from the Sangiovese grape, though often blended with other regional Italian varietals; this particular Chianti is 85% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo, and 5% Colorino. Here’s another factoid for you: the term Riserva (“Reserve,” for the linguistically challenged) is controlled by law in Italy, unlike in the US, where it means absolutely nothing. For a true Chianti to earn the label, it must have been aged in oak barrels for at least 27 months. I’ve had a few cheap Chiantis in the past, but this was my first Riserva, and without a doubt my first wine from the region that might actually stand up to the robust, gamey taste of human liver.
The wine poured a dark red in the glass, with a lovely brick-orange tint around the rim – a characteristic of red wines that have had some time to age. It smelled strongly of wild cherries and, beneath them, raspberries, along with a bit of smoke. Upon drinking, concentrated notes of cherry and cranberry washed across my tongue, with some tannins emerging mid-palate and leading into a long, anise finish.
This Chianti was medium- to full-bodied and wonderfully balanced, with its 14.5% alcohol barely going noticed until the bottle was finished. It paired well with mozzarella cheese but, surprisingly, went better with cheddar, where the flavors combined to create a sort of peachy, pineappley aftertaste. I dunno, I guess you had to be there.
I award the Villa Mangliacane 2004 Chianti Classico Riserva thumbs up – not a perfect ten because as good as this wine was, I’m really more a Nebbiolo man. I will note with some satisfaction, however, that I’m pretty sure I got a friend of mine to swear off box wine forever.