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.


You’ve gotta rub him the right way.

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.


Don’t forget the fava beans!

null 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.

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