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Candoni Chianti 2015
Pairs exceptionally well with red meats, hearty soups, and aged cheeses.
Blend: 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Trebbiano
Famous for its food-friendly, approachable wines and their storied history, Chianti is perhaps the best-known wine region of Italy. This sub-zone of Tuscany has it all—sweeping views of undulating hills, the hot Mediterranean sun, hearty cuisine, and a rich artistic heritage. Historically packaged in short, round, straw-covered bottles known as “fiaschi” and containing insipid red liquid, Chianti today is typically not your Italian grandfather’s pizza wine. The heart of the Chianti zone is known as Chianti Classico, as the region has expanded its boundaries over time to capitalize on the wine’s fame, thus diluting its reputation. Within Chianti there are seven other subzones with unique characteristics, including Colli Senesi, Colli Fiorentini, and Chianti Rufina.
Chianti wines are made primarily of Sangiovese, with other varieties comprising up to 20% of the blend. Generally, local varieties are used, including Canaiolo, Mammolo, and Marzemino, but international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah have also been approved in more recent years. Basic, inexpensive Chianti is simple and fruit-forward and makes a great companion to any casual dinner involving red sauce. At its apex, it is savory and rustic with high acidity, firm tannins, and notes of tart red fruit, dried herbs, fennel, salami, balsamic vinegar, and smoky tobacco. Chianti Riserva, typically the top bottling of a producer, can benefit handsomely from a decade or two of cellaring.
Tuscan blends tend to be big, bold, and modern in style, sometimes with noticeable new oak, whose high quality can often command super-premium prices.
Their composition of international grape varieties or mix of international and indigenous varieties makes Tuscan blends unique. Where did the idea come from? Well, a few Tuscan winemakers who had become disenchanted with Italian winemaking law in the 1970s retaliated and decided to get creative. They started making wine solely from international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, or Syrah or adding these grapes to Sangiovese, in differing proportions, and the phenomenon was born.
The most famous Tuscan blends from Italy are called “Super Tuscans.” One of the most well-known, ‘Tignanello,’ created by Antinori in 1971, is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Marchesi Lodovico Antinori in 1981, with the help of renowned agronomist Andre Tchelistcheff, established Ornellaia. The property has changed hands but since 2002 Marchesi de' Frescobaldi has been the sole owner and its quality remains stellar. It is typically a blend of about half Cabernet Sauvignon, a third Merlot and the rest filled in with Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Sassicaia, another, has earned itself an extraordinary reputation and global esteem, so much so that the Sassicaia property was actually awarded its very own appellation with the 1994 vintage. It is typically 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc.