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Rocca delle Macie Fizzano Riserva Chianti Classico 1997
Bouquet: Intense but delicate, moderately spicy with great finesse.
Taste: Full bodied with rich berry fruit flavors and a backbone of tannin.
This bottle should be opened in advance and allowed to breathe, or preferably, decanted. It is a wine to be classified as "da meditazione", and particularly compliments red meat, roast and game dishes.
It was certainly not intended to be a hobby... it was a vocation, a desire to return to the soil." Zingarelli, who passed away in the spring of 2000, was always quick to point out.
Working closely with his son Sergio, Zingarelli set about restoring the property that Sergio together with his wife Daniela, who plays an active role in the day-to-day management of the estate, and their two children now call home. Then a tumbled down 14th-century farmstead near the village of Castellina in Chianti, it was surrounded by acres of neglected vines. Vineyards were replanted from scratch; further property, was acquired, and a state-of-the-art cellar built and installed with the latest winemaking equipment. The Zingarellis left nothing to chance in their quest to create a stellar Tuscan wine estate.
Organic fertilization, careful pruning, the introduction of small oak barrels for aging and harvesting by hand are just some of the practices Sergio and his father instituted at the estate. Rocca is an active member of the Chianti Classico growers' consortium, which takes the black rooster as its symbol.
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.
The perfect intersection of bright fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is the backbone variety in Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino. Elsewhere throughout Italy, it can make inexpensive wines for daily consumption ranging from inoffensive to deliciously easy. On the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed moderate popularity in California and Washington State over the last few decades.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with savory flavors of tart cherry, plum, tomato, fresh tobacco, anise, thyme, oregano, and dried earth. High-quality, well-aged examples will take on notes of smoke, clay pot, leather, gamey meat, potpourri, and dried fruits. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.
Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and grainy tannins create an affinity with tomato-based dishes, spicy meats, and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines (with price tags to match) that are typically monovarietal or a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.