Chianti Alert

The root of this week’s featured wine style: Chianti Classico is the term Chianti
itself. Some evidence suggests it derives from ‘clante’: the name of a person of
Etruscan origin; some believe it’s loosely associated to ‘clango’, a verb in Latin
that reproduces the sound of hunting horns and their announcement of hunting
season in the Tuscany territory. Moreover, the qualifying ‘Classico’ demarks the
territorial boundary beginning at the outskirts of Siena and reaching almost to
Florence. Wines from this official DOCG are often designated with a little Black
Rooster on the neck of the bottle: a distinctive emblem that signals membership
in the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico – the local consortium that’s charged with
setting standards for the composition and best practices of the region’s output.

A so-called Vino Nobile (king of wines), Chianti is primarily made with Sangiovese,
though this bottling’s blend includes a 5% splash of Merlot, which hints at some
of the changes that have gradually taken hold both in the vineyard and wineries
of Tuscany. Notably, this includes the judicious adoption of a few French grapes
as replacement of less-interesting indigenous varieties and an embrace of more
stringent pruning and post-harvest selection practices. However, indisputably,
Sangiovese does remain the most widely planted, red-berried vine in all of Italy.
High in acid content and showing firm tannins, this slow ripening variety benefits
from a long growing season and relatively, delayed harvest. After fermentation,
in the hands of many producers, maturation takes place partly in oak casks and
partly in Tonneaux: a 900 litre, wood barrel popular in the Middle Ages that was
eventually made into the smaller ¼ size version that is today’s standard.

The Rocca Delle Macie winery was founded by the late Italo Zingarelli, who was
for a time, a successful film producer best known for his very popular spaghetti
westerns in the early 1970’s. Having developed and then passing on the estate
to his son Sergio and daughter in-law Daniela, he leaves behind what is perhaps
an even-more enduring legacy. Hard fought for and won, the painstaking work of
renovation and replanting on the14th-century farmstead nearby to the village of
Castellina, has evolved into the property and winery becoming one of Tuscany’s
most reliable producers of higher quality Chianti.

As with many wines, context is all-important toward fully appreciating what each
has to offer, uniquely. Chianti is decidedly a food wine and will be less satisfying
as an apéritif. So cook up a big meal, open the bottle in advance and as you’re
enjoying all, imagine: oak, pine and chestnut forests, olive groves, vineyards lined
with rows of cypresses and the distinctive Terra Cotta roofs of the farmhouses
punctuating steep hills in this charming landscape, producing charming wines.

Rocca Delle Macie

ROCCA DELLE MACIE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2011
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #741769 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
Sale-priced until Mar. 1, 2015
Reg. $18.95
13% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Tuscany, Italy
By: Rocca Delle Macie S.P.A.
Release Date: Feb. 21, 2015

Tasting Note
This a savory, lively wine with flavours of dark cherries and stone fruit accented
with some typical notes of dried herbs. Try serving with heartier food fare such
as roast veal, pork, mushroom or squash risotto and pasta Bolognese.

Crémant Alert

Established in 1942, exports from the Clairette de Die AOC in the Rhône Valley
continue to be under-represented on North American store shelves. Largely
overshadowed by offerings from other French Crémant producing regions such
as the Loire Valley, Alsace and Bourgogne, this translates into very competitive
price-points for extremely well made bubbly – equally suitable to serve up as an
informal apéritif or to punctuate special events without breaking your budget.

As of the 20th century, the production recipe for sparklers from Clairette de Die
has evolved to include three white-skinned grapes varieties built predominantly
on a base of the region’s star Clairette, with Aligoté: a so-called ‘poor cousin’ of
Chardonnay and Muscat à Petits Grains: one the world’s oldest grape varieties,
rounding out the blend. Finished in the ‘méthode traditionelle’, this process is
defined by a secondary fermentation in the bottle that’s kick-started by adding a
dose of ‘liqueur de tirage’: a blend of wine, sugar and yeast. The gas-producing
step generates an abundance of Carbon Dioxide, infusing Crémant style wines
with its characteristically fine, frothy mousse. Rich flavour notes, particularly the
nutty or toasty ones most associated with traditional Champagnes, result from
the young wine being exposed to the expired yeast in the bottle (sur-lie) for at
least 9 months. Moreover, this wine typically doesn’t rely on the use of grapes
of a specific vintage year, rather it often incorporates several years of harvest
to better-ensure the unique consistency expected from each individual producer.

The Cave Poulet et Fils winery represents 4 generations of winemakers who’ve
passed on family traditions now guided by Emmanuel Poulet. 20 hectares of
vineyard property are situated next to the Parc Naturel Régional Du Vercors in
the southern, sheltering shadow of the Vercors Massif, a series of mountainous
limestone plateaus rising up between 2 tributary rivers that spill into the Rhône.
Here, vine stock thrives in the fertile, calcium-rich soils that have accumulated
as erosion deposit, typical in the valleys of this rugged and picturesque region.

You’re unlikely to find a more satisfying bottling of bubbly in this price category
and other judges agree, having awarded it a Gold Medal at the Concours des
Crémants de France et Luxembourg, 2013.

Cremant de Die

POULET ET FILS BRUT CREMANT DE DIE
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #392555 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 17.95
11.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Rhône, France
By: Earl Cave Poulet Et Fils
Release Date: Nov. 7, 2015

Tasting Note
Has light floral aromas with field berry accents followed by the expected flavour
tang of citrus and apple, hints of peach, apricot. Try serving at brunch with smoked
salmon, with starters such as asparagus or along with stronger cheeses.

Gavi Alert

Since 1956, the Piedmont winemaker Michele Chiarlo has been at the forefront
of innovation and the significant elevation of quality, particularly for Barbaresco,
Barolo and Barbera, as well as, some of the less well-known styles such as this
week’s DéClassé recommended Gavi. Now with official designation, the Gavi
DOCG lies in northern Italy: a region that enjoys a unique micro-climate which
is highly conducive to cultivation of early ripening grape varieties like Cortese.
On 60 hectares, the Chiarlo family operation continues to explore and develop
the full potential of a terroir in which the combined Alpine and Maritime weather
conditions sees the heat of summer alternating with fog-bound harvest seasons.

Orme Su La Court (Footsteps in La Court) is an additionally remarkable aspect
of a winery already blessed with the beauty of its natural surroundings. It’s an
art walk that expresses the influences of the four elements of Earth, Air, Water
and Fire. Designed in collaboration with Genovese artist Emanuele Luzzati, the
sculpture installations have been placed amidst the long rows of vines that wend
their way across the rolling hills of the La Court estate. A notable feature, is the
grouping of ceramic heads on poles called ‘Le Teste Segnapalo’. These are
the reinterpretation of a traditional practice of placing figureheads in the vineyard
landscape to ward away negative influences on the growth of the grapes. The
walk begins and ends at a cluster of farm houses where exhibits, film showings
and live performance offer visitors the delightful chance to mix the appreciation
and creativity of the wines with the experiences of art.

The North American market is still slow in grasping an appreciation for the wide
range of Italy’s dry white wine other than ubiquitous varieties of Pinot Grigio and
Soave; arguably the least distinctive of their exported offerings. Gavi, apart from
being a pleasing apéritif wine served alongside antipasti, is also complimentary
to main courses of grilled fish, light cream-based pasta or pesto dishes. Dare to
consider adding this to an evolving contingent of alternate and more-interesting
choices such as Pecorino and Verdicchio. Only available in LCBO’s Vintages
section, this limited, seasonal release won’t be on shelves for very long.

Gavi

MICHELE CHIARLO LE MARNE GAVI 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #228528 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Piedmont, Italy
By: Michele Chiarlo Azienda Srl
Release Date: Feb. 7, 2015

Tasting Note
This crisp, dry white wine has many of the typical characteristics of the Cortese
grape including delicate notes of honey, apples, vanilla and a touch of minerality.
Try serving with stuffed trout, roast pork or vegetable and cheese ravioli.