Focus on Wine

Tuscany and Chianti Classico

Tuscany, in Central Italy, is historically renowned for it's culture, history, and beautiful landscapes. From the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea, this land is famous for its romantic sunsets, rolling hills, olive groves, and centuries-old vineyards. There is even a tower that tilts to the side a little bit. The capital, Florence, was the intellectual and artistic center of the Renaissance, way back before cellphones and blogs and podcasts kept us too busy to paint chapel ceilings and sculpt giant biblical rock throwing guys. I've been to Florence and absorbed as much as I could in the short time I was there. I also consumed many dishes of gelato, because there are so many gelatorias (is that a word?) everywhere you go, it is not possible to not consume many dishes of gelato. It's GELATO, for goodness sakes, The non-gelato cuisine is also exceptional, and the wine, well, the wine is plentiful and marvelous.

When you are in Tuscany, or planning to go to Tuscany, or talking about Tuscany amongst friends (which we all do, right? Right??) you will encounter wine. And the wine you encounter will probably be made, all or in part, with Sangiovese, the omnipresent grape of Tuscany. This dark, purple grape is the plowhorse of the Tuscan wine world. It is incredibly verstile, thrives in the calcerous soil, and ripens perfectly in the Mediterranean climate where warm, sunny days are the norm. Some of the greatest wines of Italy are made with Sangiovese - this is true; it is also true that some of the most delicious, food-friendly wines made with Sangiovese can be found for under $20, heck, even under $10. All it takes is a visit to the Italian section of your local wine shop (may I recommend Dame's Discount Liquor & Wine in Plattsburgh?) and a helpful employee to point out wines made with Sangiovese.

The flavors of Sangiovese wines may vary depending on the area where the grapes were grown, the fermentation process and the type and length of ageing the wine. Typically, Sangiovese wines will show strawberry and wild cherry flavors, some spice and bright acidity. They pair well with pizza, lasagna, Pecorino and aged Asiago cheeses, and pasta with meat sauce. Try it with Tuscan Salami. Trust me. As a matter of fact, if the food comes from where the wine is made, it is a good sign that the pairing will work.

Between the cities of Florence and Siena lies the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Nearly 180,000 acres of land designated as a Production Zone for Chianti Classico. No other wine in the world may carry that disctinction. Chianti Classico wines are at least 80% Sangiovese. Up to 20% of the wine may be made up of other red varietals. Every bottle of Chianti Classico has a Black Rooster trademark logo, either on the neck of the bottle, or on the back label. The importance of these regulations cannot be understated. The quality of the wine is a testament to the area where it is grown, and the control over the product ensures that the wineries follow guidelines so that consumer trust is not weakened. Many wine regions throughout the world maintain strict rules for grape and wine production for those same reasons.

A fine example of Chianti Classico is produced by Banfi, a major name in Italian wine. A remarkable value at under $20, this wine has plum and cherry flavors, light spice notes and well-integrated tannins and acidity. It is a perfect complement to red sauce-based dishes and aged Italian cheeses.

We have a great selection of Chianti wines, from under $10. Come on in and stroll over to Italy. Your'e sure to find the right wine at the right price!