The Chianti "Classico" Divide
Have you ever found yourself looking for a “Chianti” on the restaurant menu or in the local liquor store and being overwhelmed by the vast selection of Chianti labels? And once there, the more perplexing question comes: Chianti or Chianti Classico? At first glance, not an easy differentiation.
Probably one of the most well-known facts to get you started is that Chianti is in Tuscany, Italy and Chianti wine comes from the same region of 8 municipalities within the Provinces of Florence and Siena. A lesser known fact, perhaps, is that production of Chianti Classico occurs within the central part of that same region. Both are DOCG, which is the highest recognition of quality given to Italian wines.
So, where is the differentiation?
Most importantly, Chianti may NOT be produced in the Chianti Classico region. And the difference is easily distinguished on the Chianti Classico bottle, which displays the “Black Rooster” accreditation on its bordeaux-shaped bottle.
Look deeper into a Chianti Classico and you will find a “Quality Organization Pyramid”. In 2013, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione was added to the top of that pyramid, above Chianti Classico Riserva and Chianti Classico Annata. The Gran Selezione makes up 5% of the Chianti Classico production and is either single vineyard or produced from a winery’s finest grapes: a truly premium wine.
The Chianti Classico Gran Selezione from Il Molino Di Grace (Chianti, Italy) is an excellent example of this elegant wine and has been awarded 94 Points by James Suckling. Il Molino Di Grace (http://www.ilmolinodigrace.it/) is a family-owned winery with vineyards that have been fruitful for over 350 years. Even more, its wine is certified organic!
This wine is available at the BC Liquor Stores:
Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017
White or Red? New Zealand replies, “BOTH!”
Marlborough, New Zealand! Beautiful to visit, especially for a wine-lover!
With a growing international reputation, two stunning grape varieties from the region are available around the globe: the crisp citrus fruity Sauvignon Blanc and the dark fruit, deep, and soft-tannined Pinot Noir.
It is rare to find someone who has not tasted and enjoyed the crisp citrus fruity flavour of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc has become New Zealand's most planted variety and is successfully grown throughout all its wine regions.
But, did you know that New Zealand also has a growing international reputation for several other grape varietals, including the princely Pinot Noir. New Zealand Pinot Noir has seen impressive growth in export sales and is now second only to Sauvignon Blanc in production volume.
In the last two decades, the area in New Zealand dedicated to pinot noir vines has expanded from 2,782 acres to more than 14,000 acres in several regions throughout the country, making it the country's most widely planted red-wine. Nzwine.com says “The huge diversity in climates and soil facilitates a wide range of Pinot Noir styles throughout the many regions (of New Zealand). Common to all, though, is structure and elegance overlaid by power and fruit-driven intensity.”
And the beautiful Marlborough Region of New Zealand’s South Island is the place to find excellent quality in both. Not dissimilar to BC's famed growing region in the Okanagan Valley, Marlborough is surrounded by mountains, with a cool, dry and sunny climate; growing conditions that lead to bold and fragrant wines.
Whether you enjoy the juicy and mouth-watering flavour, with lime, passion fruit, kiwi fruit, minerals and hints of green pepper of the Sauvignon Blanc, or the light-tannined, raspberry, cherry and plum taste of the Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand delivers.
Auntsfield, a family-owned winery in Marlborough, produces an exceptional single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Both of these products are available at the British Columbia Liquor Stores www.bcls.com.
Auntsfield Single Vineyard Pinot Noir SKU 738146: by the bottle
Auntsfield Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc SKU 738021: by the case (12 bottles)
An Excellent and Unique White from Chile
Chile continues to produce an interesting range of wines, that have established international popularity. Its unusual features of high altitude of the Andes, cooling winds off the Pacific, and extensive warmth and sunshine, are largely responsible for the success. White grape varietals have long been the most popular in Chile. In particular Sauvignon Blanc grows well in the cooler regions, which yield superb wines with high acidity and intense fruit and citrus flavours. Black varieties including a full-bodied Merlot are also planted extensively but enjoying more the warmest and sunniest sites.
Early in the 18th century, Merlot was one of the six noble grapes in Bordeaux. Another of the six, was the Carmenere – which is very similar to the Merlot grape in appearance, dark-purple colour, and significant fruity aroma. The Carmenere is distinguished by its more earthy flavour. In the 1860’s, a devastating root-feeding aphid quickly wiped out the vineyards throughout Europe. Replanting followed, but the Carmenere proved too difficult to resurrect.
This “lost grape of Bordeaux” was transplanted to Chile over a century ago but was simply ignored and assumed extinct. Until 1994, that is, when viticulturist Boursiquit revealed that the “free growing” grape among the thriving Merlot was in fact the forgotten Carmenere! An honest mistake. Oops!
In Chile, the rediscovered Carmenere has been cleverly blended with Sauvignon Blanc to create the apt-named (Oops) White. They have combined the beautiful Sauvignon grape with the pulp of Carmenere, without contacting the skin. The Carmenere softens the tangy citrus flavours of the Sauvignon Blanc with unique earthy undertones, creating a textured white wine with exceptional taste and excellent value.